Dog health: 10 popular dog breeds & their common health concerns

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We know that a dog rapidly becomes a member of the family, and it can be heartbreaking if they become ill. But did you know some dog breeds are more prone to certain ailments than others?


To help make sure you're as well informed as possible when it comes to your dog, we've put together a guide highlighting some of the breed-specific conditions that affect 10 of the most popular dog breeds in the UK.

If you have any concerns about your pet and any breed-related health conditions, you should talk to your vet, who can provide further information and support to help keep your furry-friend healthy.

Bear in mind that the claims data we've included below is based on averages per individual claim. This means costs may increase and recur, depending on how much treatment your pet needs.

1. Cocker Spaniel

Cocker Spaniels are one of the most popular dog breeds in the UK. They're energetic, playful and seemingly always happy, with a continually wagging tail!

They were traditionally bred as gundogs, which explains their high levels of energy. This breed needs plenty of exercise.

There are three ailments we've found Cocker Spaniels to be prone to, based on our claims data:

Commonly claimed ailment Average treatment cost
Pyoderma (skin infection) £183.99
Growths/tumours £469.40
Elbow problems £458.48

Ear infections are also quite common among Cocker Spaniels due to their long, floppy ears. It's important that you clean your dog's ears regularly to help prevent infection. 

Cocker Spaniels have droopy eyes which can be prone to eye issues such as progressive retinal atrophy (PRA). PRA is the degeneration of the retinas in both eyes which causes gradual vision loss and ultimately leads to blindness.

Learn more about Cocker Spaniel pet insurance.

2. Shih Tzu


Shih Tzus are playful little dogs that love being around people and get on well with children. They don't need lots of exercise, so when they've had a walk they'll be happy to snuggle up on your lap while you relax.

Shih Tzus insured by Admiral have claimed most frequently for the following three conditions:

Commonly claimed ailment Average treatment cost
Anal gland disease £744.54
Gastroenteritis £484.02
Allergy £307.45

Shih Tzus may develop corneal ulcers and/or cataracts. Cataracts can lead to blindness. They're also prone to epiphora, also known as 'wet eye', which is where the eye waters excessively. Wet eye can often be the result of other eye infections causing blockages in the tear ducts.

Shih Tzus are particularly prone to eye conditions, largely due to their large, protruding eyes. Because their large eyes sit in shallow sockets, it's easier for debris to enter and cause infection.

Learn more about Shih Tzu pet insurance.

3. Jack Russell Terrier

Jack Russells are clever dogs that love digging! Although they're small, they're energetic and need plenty of exercise. They have short coats that need weekly grooming to keep in top condition.

The top three ailments Jack Russells are prone to are:

Commonly claimed ailment Average treatment cost
Gastroenteritis £629.80
Otitis externa (inflammation of the ear canal) £329.62
Growths/tumours £197.87

Like both Shih Tzus and Cocker Spaniels, Jack Russell terriers are susceptible to eye infections. They can also be prone to patellar luxation (kneecap dislocation).

4. Labrador Retriever

The Labrador Retriever is a versatile breed, originally bred as a working dog and commonly used as a service or guide dog.

They're large dogs that need lots of exercise, especially since they can be greedy and put on weight easily.

The most common issues claimed for with this breed are growths and tumours, which come with an average treatment cost of £342.40.

Due to overbreeding, Labrador Retrievers are prone to hereditary issues such as hip dysplasia and elbow dysplasia. These can result in instability and arthritis in your pet and lameness is the second most common kind of claim with this breed.

5. Border Collie


Border Collies are intelligent dogs that are quick learners and eager to please. However, because of their intelligence they can easily become bored, and they also have a strong instinct to chase things.

Active families make the best owners for Collies as they need lots of exercise. They were originally bred as sheep dogs, and working dogs tend to be active all day.

Our data shows that lameness is the top condition owners of this breed claim for. Border Collies are particularly prone to the common inherited condition hip dysplasia, which can lead to arthritis.

Border Collies also have an increased risk of epilepsy. Again, this is due to genetics. Epilepsy in dogs typically can't be cured but can be managed by medication.

6. Cockapoo

The Cockapoo is a very popular crossbreed developed from breeding a Cocker Spaniel with a Poodle. They came about when breeders tried to develop a new breed that had the intelligence and non-shedding coat of a Poodle – but unfortunately this isn't guaranteed.

They are loyal, happy dogs that make great pets if they're well trained and kept mentally stimulated.

According to our data, the ailments Cockapoos are most likely to suffer from are:

Commonly claimed ailment Average treatment cost
Issues with their feet/pads £271.52
Gastroenteritis £534.94

As with other long-eared dogs, cockapoos can easily develop ear infections, so it's important you clean your dog's ears regularly!

Similar to Cocker Spaniels (mentioned above), cockapoos are prone to both progressive retinal atrophy (PRA) and patellar luxation.

Learn more about Cockapoo pet insurance.

7. Border Terrier


Border terriers were originally bred as working dogs, but their friendliness means they make great pets too. Although they're small, they have a lot of energy and need at least an hour of exercise a day.

Our claims data shows this breed is prone to the following:

Commonly claimed ailment Average treatment cost
Heart issues £419.84
Urinary disorder £339.49

Border Terriers are particularly prone to hip dysplasia and heart defects. They are also prone to luxating patellas (dislocated knees) and epilepsy. Some Border Terriers may develop canine epileptoid cramping syndrome, which is characterised by tremors, muscle spasms and seizures.

8. Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

Cavalier King Charles Spaniels are a toy breed, which means they're small dogs ideal for companionship. They love attention, are very friendly, and are great with children and other pets. They also don't need a lot of exercise.

This breed is prone to a couple of ailments:

Commonly claimed ailment Average treatment cost
Congestive heart failure £173.79
Pancreatitis £175.73

Heart failure in this breed is often a result of mitral valve disease. These Spaniels are also more likely to develop syringomyelia (SM), which is incredibly serious and can be fatal. SM is when fluid-filled cavities develop in the spinal cord near the brain.

9. Yorkshire Terrier


This well-known small breed is a popular companion dog with a long lifespan. Yorkies have big personalities and can be stubborn – this can make training challenging but means they can hold their own around bigger dogs!

They can be prone to the following:

Commonly claimed ailment Average treatment cost
Eye issues £413.80
Gastroenteritis £726.66

Yorkshire Terriers may also suffer from:

  • Luxating patellas (dislocated kneecaps)
  • Pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas)
  • Hemorrhagic gastroenteritis (life threatening diarrhoea)
  • Collapsing trachea
  • Liver shunt (blood flow from the intestine bypasses the liver)

10. French Bulldog

French Bulldogs, or Frenchies, are one of the most popular dog breeds in the UK at the moment. They're playful and full of personality, making them great family pets.

French Bulldogs are prone to a number of conditions, including a problem with their spines called hemivertebrae which can be expensive to treat.

Commonly claimed ailment Average treatment cost
Spinal issues £2,289.67
Skin disorders £294.38
Corneal ulcer £141.49
Atopy £192.68

Frenchies are brachycephalic, meaning they have a squashed face and are prone to breathing problems. If you have a flat-faced dog (pug, other bulldog breed, etc) it's important that you're mindful of their breathing issues.

French Bulldogs are also more likely to develop eye problems like cherry eye, cataracts or entropion. Entropion is when the eyelid rolls inwards against the eyeball.


  • Collapsing trachea: The rings of cartilage around the trachea (windpipe) are weakened or abnormal, leading to the trachea flattening and making it hard to breathe.
  • Entropion: The eyelids roll inwards towards the eyeball.
  • Epiphora ('wet eye'): The eye waters excessively.
  • Hemorrhagic gastroenteritis: Life threatening diarrhoea.
  • Hip dysplasia: Abnormal formation of the hip joints.
  • Liver shunt: Blood flow from the intestine bypasses the liver.
  • Pancreatitis: Inflammation of the pancreas.
  • Patella luxation: Dislocated kneecaps.
  • Progressive retinal atrophy (PRA): Deterioration of the retinas in both eyes causing gradual vision loss.
  • Syringomyelia (SM): Fluid-filled cavities develop in the spinal cord near the brain.

Remember, while keeping your pet healthy is invaluable, veterinary bills can be expensive. Make sure your pet is covered. Visit our dog insurance page to find out more about protecting your furry friend.

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