10 of the Healthiest Dog Breeds

Thanks to irresponsible breeding, certain dog breeds don’t live as healthy of lives as they deserve. But some breeders got it right, promoting hardy specimens of dogs who live long lives generally free from disease. Although this certainly varies on an individual basis, here are 10 of the healthiest dog breeds.

10 of the Healthiest Dog Breeds

1. Australian cattle dog

  • Lifespan: 12 to 16 years

The Australian cattle dog is one of the healthiest, thanks to its breeding for athleticism and hardiness. Back in the 1800s, Australians imported British Smithfield collies and crossed them with wild dingos to boost the dogs’ tolerance of the climate, according to the American Kennel Club. Some other breeds — including the Scottish highland collie, Dalmatian and kelpie — were added to the mix to form a truly healthy, hard-working herding dog. These canines are intelligent, energetic and resilient. They’re generally very healthy, but some might be prone to deafness, progressive retinal atrophy or hip dysplasia.

2. Australian shepherd

  • Lifespan: 12 to 15 years

The Australian shepherd was another dog bred for its physical abilities over looks, making it a quite healthy breed today. Contrary to its name, the breed actually descended from herding dogs in the borderlands between Spain and France, according to the AKC. Then, some Europeans moved with their dogs to Australia in search of better ranching land. They mixed collies and border collies with their dogs to refine their herding ability, and eventually some moved to the United States’ West Coast. The ranchers there admired the shepherds and assumed they were an Australian breed — hence the name. Today, the dogs are still as intelligent and athletic as ever, though some might be predisposed to hip dysplasia, epilepsy, cataracts and some cancers.

3. Basenji

basenji standing in grassCredit: bruev/Getty Images

  • Lifespan: 13 to 14 years

Basenjis are one of the oldest dog breeds still alive today. “Paleontologists tell us that the first domesticated dogs looked a lot like Basenjis,” according to the AKC. And because they lived in relative isolation in remote areas of Africa for so long, they were sheltered from unhealthy breeding practices. Basenjis are still a little wild at heart, often acting independent, aloof and cautious of strangers. They exhibit great athletic prowess, but some might develop hypothyroidism, inflammatory bowel disease or hip dysplasia.

4. Belgian Malinois

  • Lifespan: 14 to 16 years

As with many of the healthiest dog breeds, the Belgian Malinois can attribute its resilience and longevity to good breeding. “They were first bred by serious dog people who were primarily concerned with producing dogs of sterling working character and who spurned passing fads and fancies of pet owners,” according to the AKC. “This emphasis on performance made the Mal the go-to dog for Belgian sheepherders and cattlemen.” These dogs are smart, confident and form close bonds with their families. Some might be vulnerable to hip and elbow dysplasia, as well as some eye conditions. But most live out long, healthy lives.

5. Bichon frise

  • Lifespan: 14 to 15 years

It may look like a marshmallow, but the bichon frise is one tough little cookie. While these comedic canines prefer a life of sitting in laps and performing for their loved ones, history hasn’t always been so kind to the breed. They originated in the Mediterranean and became favorites of European nobles in the 13th century, according to the AKC. But during the French Revolution, many of the dogs — and their owners — lost their cushy lifestyles. Bichons next found their place performing in circuses but again were cast away as luxury items during the world wars. Fortunately, the breed’s resilience allowed it to pull through the hard times. And today, many live good, long lives with only a few health problems, including allergies, bladder infections, luxating patella and eye problems.

6. Border collie

border collie running in a fieldCredit: happyborder/Getty Images

  • Lifespan: 12 to 15 years

The trend continues: Thanks to its breeding for physical ability over appearance, border collies are one of the healthiest dog breeds. “The overall look is that of a muscular but nimble worker unspoiled by passing fads,” according to the AKC. The border collie can thank the Roman Empire, as well as Viking raiders, for its origin story. Romans brought their big-boned herding dogs to Britain, and the Vikings contributed their smaller, more agile spitz-type herders. Crosses between these groups ended up producing the strong, compact, agile and highly intelligent dog we know as the border collie. The breed is generally very hardy and healthy, but it might be prone to hip dysplasia, eye problems, deafness and epilepsy.

7. Cairn terrier

  • Lifespan: 13 to 15 years

Toto fearlessly taking on the Wicked Witch exemplifies just how hardy cairn terriers are. And this little dog wasn’t only bred to romp around Oz with Dorothy. Cairn terriers are one of several scrappy terrier breeds used to hunt game in Scotland. They’re strong, yet nimble and exhibit enough intelligence, alertness and courage to make the Cowardly Lion turn a few shades of green. According to the AKC, they’re generally easy to maintain, though a few might be susceptible to some eye, patella and kidney problems.

8. Chihuahua

  • Lifespan: 14 to 16 years

Chihuahuas are truly big dogs in little bodies. And with that comes a resilience that contributes to their long, healthy lives. They’re one of the oldest breeds in the Americas, with their likeness depicted on many ancient artifacts. Centuries ago, the Aztecs refined a slightly larger breed into smaller, lighter dogs, and the breed went on to be treasured across Mexico, according to the AKC. They might not do well in cold weather or roughhousing with bigger beasts, but most chihuahuas live long, healthy lives. Some are prone to heart problems, eye disease, patellar luxation and epilepsy.

9. Foxhound

  • Lifespan: 11 to 13 years

Foxhounds are yet another dog who have careful breeding for physical abilities to thank for their healthy lives. And American foxhounds in particular should offer some gratitude to George Washington. According to the AKC, Washington kept a pack of hounds originating from the English variety mixed with some French hounds, and he maintained “meticulous records of his breeding program.” Today, the dog is known for its speed, endurance, work ethic and good temperament. Its most common health issues are ear infections (like many long-eared dogs), and a few might be susceptible to hip dysplasia and a blood disorder.

10. Siberian husky

Siberian husky sitting in snowCredit: format35/Getty Images

  • Lifespan: 12 to 14 years

One look at a Siberian husky, and you know it’s a strong, resilient dog. These canines were bred for their stamina as working sled dogs, as well as their ability to withstand extreme weather conditions. “His body proportions and form reflect this basic balance of power, speed and endurance,” according to the AKC. Their line of work has made them a generally healthy breed, though negligent breeding might result in juvenile cataracts, as well as hip dysplasia.

Bonus: Mixed breed

This list wouldn’t be complete without mentioning mixed-breed dogs. Although mixed breeds are not always healthier than purebred dogs — it still depends on the individual — the odds seem to be stacked in their favor.

One study on more than 27,000 dogs at the University of California, Davis compared the occurrence of 24 genetic disorders in mixed breeds versus purebreds. It found 10 of the genetic disorders — including aortic stenosis, dilated cardiomyopathy, elbow dysplasia and bloat — were more likely to occur in the purebreds. Just one disorder — ruptured cranial cruciate ligament — was slightly more likely to occur in mixed breeds. And the rest showed no difference.

Plus, besides genetic disorders, you might have to deal with several other health and behavioral issues if you acquire a purebred dog from an irresponsible breeder (or a puppy mill). But the same could be said about a poorly run animal shelter. Really, it all boils down to a little genetics, a little luck and a lot of TLC from you to keep your dog as healthy as possible.

Main image credit: Carmelka/Getty Images

90 comments

heather g
heather g8 days ago

Only vet statistics tell the true story.

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Glennis W
Glennis W13 days ago

Thank you for caring and sharing

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Glennis W
Glennis W13 days ago

Great story Thank you for caring and sharing

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Glennis W
Glennis W13 days ago

ASdorable dogs Thank you for caring and sharing

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Glennis W
Glennis W13 days ago

Interesting Thank you for caring and sharing

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Sophie A
Sophie A13 days ago

Thank you for sharing

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Mona M
Mona M25 days ago

thank you will fwd your article to my dog's lovers friends

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Paula A
Paula Aabout a month ago

Thank you for sharing

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Emma L
Emma L1 months ago

Thank you

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Louise R
Past Member 1 months ago

thank you

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