Common Small Dog Breed Health Problems To Be Aware Of

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Every dog can fall victim to health problems. Although some breeds might have better general health than others, certain issues are also specific to certain types of dogs. Large breeds are more vulnerable to bloat. But what about small dogs? Small dogs are adorable creatures with plenty of charm and full of personality.

Many of them are basically portable as a laptop. But it’s also because of the small size that makes them generally more fragile than their big cousins. Suffice it to say, small breeds have their fair share of health conditions.

As a loving pet parent, it’s important to be aware of the common health problems that your small dog might face. Happy and playful times are great and all, but it also pays to know what to expect if anything were to go wrong.

Let’s go over the 10 common small dog health problems you should know of one by one.

What is considered a small dog breed?

In general, small dogs range from 2 to 22 pounds. Their height should be around 6 to 18 inches. Some small breed dogs are Chihuahua, Dachshund, Beagle, and Yorkshire Terrier.

What is the average life expectancy of a small dog?

On average, small-breed dogs live to about 11 to 13 years of age. Nonetheless, there will always be some dogs that will live much longer, and sadly, those that will pass away sooner than that.

Why do small dogs live longer than large dogs?

There has always been a universal rule in the dog world, and that is small dogs almost always live longer than larger dogs. This fact has puzzled many researchers and scientists, as in the animal kingdom, generally, large beasts live longer than small ones. Well, it seems like the rule cannot be applied to dogs. Small dogs can enjoy more years simply because they grow much slower than large breeds who age at an accelerated pace.

Common Health Problems for Small Dogs

Health problems are a part of life. While it’s not something we eagerly talk about with others, it’s essential to educate ourselves about these conditions. Small dogs can suffer many illnesses and conditions and it’s surprising to learn just how common such illnesses can be. Let’s get on to business then:

1.Intervertebral Disk Disease (IVDD)

IVDD is also referred to by some as a ruptured, slipped, herniated, or bulging disc. It’s especially common in Dachshunds but can also occur in other breeds such as Pekingese, Beagles, and Shih Tzus. This condition happens when the center of the intervertebral disc ruptures through the fibrous outer layer and pushes on the spinal cord. As a result, the dog experiences severe pain or limited mobility, or worse, paralysis.

2.Mitral Valve Disease

One of the serious health problems on small dogs is heart-related. Mitral valve disease occurs when the mitral valve starts deteriorating. Consequently, the valve won’t be able to properly open and close and may cause some blood to leak backward into the

left atrium of the heart. If your pooch is still young, there’s nothing to worry about as this disease happens with age.


Do you have a toy breed? A sudden drop in blood sugar, or hypoglycemia, is particularly common fin toy breeds of 6 to 12 weeks of age. This condition is often caused by stress. Common signs of a hypoglycemic attack include weakness or lethargy, difficulty maintaining an even gait, and tremors, specifically in the face.


This disease can affect any size of dogs. However, pancreatitis tends to be more common in small dogs like the Miniature Schnauzer and Miniature Poodle. This condition causes the pancreas to be inflamed and enzymes used for digestion are leaked into the abdomen. Symptoms include vomiting, abdominal pain, fever, and diarrhea.

5.Patellar Luxation

Many small breeds have knee problems. Patellar luxation, which means a displaced knee, is the most common orthopedic condition for small dogs. In fact, 7% of puppies are diagnosed with this condition. Some of the most commonly affected breeds are Boston and Yorkshire terriers, Miniature Poodles, and Pomeranians. Dogs with luxated knees typically have trouble putting weight on their back legs or are walking with a locked, shaking, or straight leg.

6.Brachycephalic Airway Syndrome

This term is used for airway conditions and respiratory problems that are normally seen in brachycephalic breeds, or those who have short, flat noses, causing some breathing issues. Bulldogs and Pugs are two examples of this type of breed. The compressed respiratory system of these dogs makes it harder to breathe. As such, strenuous exercises like running are a huge NO for dogs like these.

7.Whelping complications

Little breeds have narrow pelvic openings and minimal endurance. This makes birthing difficult for them. Some of the most affected breeds are Boston Terriers, Toy Poodles, and Pugs. If you don’t want your dog to ever experience this, consider spaying your pet. If not, you can discuss getting a cesarean section for your small dog with your vet.

8.Dental disease

Small dogs have a higher risk of getting dental issues than larger breeds. They can have tartar and plaque build-up and periodontal disease. Another dental problem is overcrowding of teeth where there are extra teeth or misplaced teeth. Luckily, some dental issues can be managed with regular tooth cleanings, a healthy diet, and chew toys. For some problems, you may need your vet.

9.Legg Calve Perthes Disease

Legg calve Perthes disease is most common in toys and small breeds. It starts with the death of bone cells and degeneration of femoral heal. The bone loses mass, then eventually, the hip joint deteriorates. This condition leads to pain and lameness, and later on, shriveling of the muscles in the affected leg. It usually shows up on small dogs aging 4 to 12 months.

10.Tracheal collapse

Tracheal collapse is a progressive disease that’s most commonly seen in small dogs. It’s chronic and irreversible and happens when the windpipe starts flattening, making it harder to breathe. Overweight dogs and pups who live with smokers have higher chances of getting affected. Those who have tracheal collapse experience wheezing, strong coughing, fainting, and difficulty breathing.


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