Top 25 Dog Breeds Most at Risk for Arthritis

No one wants to see their pet in pain. For many people, pets are really just furry family members.

This is why it is so devastating to most owners that their canine companion has been diagnosed with arthritis.

Just like with humans, arthritis is more common in middle-aged and elderly dogs.

This is because the joints show wear and tear with age. However, some breeds are more at risk for arthritis due to birth defects or anatomy.

There are different types of canine arthritis, and a variety of cases are more commonly seen in many different dog breeds.

I'm going to tell you a bit about the types of arthritis in dogs, and I'll also explain which breeds are most prone to developing each type.

Symptoms of arthritis in dogs

Symptoms of arthritis in dogs

How will you know if your fur-baby is suffering with the pain of arthritis? Unfortunately, many cases in dogs are not caught until they are pretty advanced. As a part of their survival instinct, canines will hide pain for as long as possible.

Once you are aware, there are changes you can make around the house to make your fur-baby more comfortable. If you have the funds, there are even medications and treatments that can be administered by your veterinarian.

Here are the signs and symptoms so you can catch this disease as soon as possible.

  • Stiffness
  • Limping
  • Swelling and redness in joints
  • Difficulty getting up and lying down
  • Inability or reluctance to climb stairs and jump up
  • Whining, whimpering, and other signs of pain

Types of Arthritis

Dog Breeds Most at Risk for Arthritis

Rheumatoid Arthritis in dogs

This type of arthritis is caused by the canine’s immune system attacking its joints. It is progressive, with the damage and inflammation getting worse, causing pain and deformity.

Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) usually effects dogs in middle age, but has a higher chance of effecting younger dogs than Osteoarthritis does.

RA is believed to have a major genetic component, so dogs with RA should not be bred. This type most commonly effects dogs in the smaller breeds. About 1 in 100 dogs have Rheumatoid Arthritis.

Dog Breeds Most at Risk for Osteoarthritis in dogs

Osteoarthritis in dogs

This type of arthritis is more common.

Osteoarthritis is also known as Degenerative Joint Disease (DJD).

It affects 1 in 5 dogs. The older your dog gets, the more likely it is that he will develop this arthritis, which is caused by normal wear on the joints and injuries.

While there may be some genetic component, canines who are overweight or in large breed classes are more likely to get more serious cases at younger ages than normal.

Also, dogs who are active or working dogs will probably develop this type of arthritis in later years.

The more your pooch is active in extreme sports or exercise, the more likely it will have injuries.

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25 Dog Breeds Most at Risk for Arthritis

Dogs Most At Risk For RA

1. Poodle

Poodle - Dog Breeds Most at Risk for ArthritisThese dogs are affectionate and adaptable. Poodles are easy to train and can live happily in many situations, such as in apartments, homes with no yard, with big families, with other pets, etc…

A hypo-allergenic breed, the Poodle sheds very little. Many people are put off by the long hair and crazy cuts on these pups, but their coat can be kept clipped close.

2. Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever

Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever This little-known breed is actually pretty new. It wasn’t officially recognized by the AKC until 2003. These handsome dogs need some kind of job or activity to make them happy.

Tollers are also great for households with kids. However, you may not want to bring these pups into a household with cats. They were recently bred as hunting dogs, so they still retain the desire to catch and retrieve other furry animals.

3. Shetland Sheep Dog

Shetland Sheep DogCommonly called a Collie, this breed will always be linked to that famous dog “Lassie”. These intelligent, sensitive dogs are easy to train. Another traditional working breed, the Shetland Sheep Dog still loves to stay busy and feel useful.

These fur-babies generally do not participate in nuisance barking or destructive boredom behaviors. These traits make them a very popular dog.

RELATED: 30 Most Popular Dog Breeds That Are Famous All Over the World

4. Greyhound

GreyhoundSleek and slim, these canines cut a striking figure. Traditionally racing dogs, dogs in this breed still retain high energy levels and need lots of exercise. Great jumpers, make sure you have a high fence if you want to be an owner to one of these pups.

Greyhounds are easy to train, affectionate, and friendly. Most of these dogs are racing dogs, but their career is over when they are from 2-5 years old. Many people adopt them when they are “put out to pasture”.

Dogs Most At Risk For Osteoarthritis

1. Labrador Retriever

Pictured above, these easy-to-train dogs are smart and friendly. Labrador Retrievers are also very playful throughout their entire life span.

They make great pets for homes with kids and other dogs. These short hair canines do shed quite a bit. Activity levels and size make this breed more susceptible to arthritis.

German Shephard

2. German Shephard

Hard working and focused are the two traits that most describe the German Shepherd. They are not overly friendly with strangers, so they are not easily distracted when training and going about their business.

This breed is known for their intelligence and are often used as working dogs. Unfortunately, their size makes them more likely to get osteoarthritis.


3. Pug

The Pug is a mischievous breed that provides hours of entertainment to its companions. Unfortunately, these affectionate dogs are susceptible to arthritis. Also, their facial structure can cause breathing problems and over-heating.

Pugs are not usually very healthy dogs. Take care that the parents of the Pug you are considering are healthy, and make sure that you're adopting from a reputable breeder.

Alaskan Malamute

4. Alaskan Malamute

These double-coated canines do not do well in equatorial areas. They were made for the Artic, and cold weather is what they are healthiest in. A great work dog and guard dog, Malamutes are reserved with strangers.

These pups do love to dig, so be prepared! A lot of dogs in this breed are work dogs. Size and injuries mean they can develop arthritis.

Dog Breeds Most at Risk for Arthritis

5. Bloodhound

A symbol of search and rescue, the Bloodhound has a great sense of smell. Intelligent and affectionate, these canines are easy to train. A great family pet, this hound is friendly with everyone it meets.

This pup loves to follow his nose, so make sure you have a sturdy fence if you want one of these babies. The weight and bone structure of these dogs is what puts them on this list.

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Golden Retriever

6. Golden Retriever

One of the most popular breeds in America, these loving dogs are loyal and easy to train. Energetic pooches, they are best suited for the active, outdoors family. Golden Retrievers especially love water and mud holes.

Often used as hunting dogs, the retriever has its size and working class background to thank for making it more likely to get osteoarthritis. Keep in mind that this breed also requires more grooming than other short-haired dogs.

Dog Breeds Most at Risk for Arthritis

7. Old English Sheepdog

Adaptable and easy to train, the Old English Sheepdog is gentle and fun-loving. Also, called “Bobtails”, this breed is at home herding and guarding other animals – and kids.

This friendly dog does well in country or city life. While this dog is large, they are also hard workers. Herding animals put them more at risk for injury which heightens their chance of arthritis.

Dog Breeds Most at Risk for Arthritis

8. Samoyed

These intelligent pups are playful and athletic. Cold temperatures are the best for its health. If they are going to be outdoors in warm temperatures, you will need to keep its hair clipped short.

Samoyeds are gentle and do great with kids and other animals. The energy level and size puts this breed at risk for arthritis.

Dog Breeds Most at Risk for Arthritis

9. Rottweiler

Rotties are calm and brave. They are not known to be hyper and pesky. While the Rottweiler is friendly with its human family, they are not usually the same way with other pets.

These independent dogs need an experienced trainer. In fact, strict pack leader training works best with them. The sheer weight of this breed lands them on the list.

 Saint Bernard

10. Saint Bernard

An affectionate breed, the Saint Bernard is great for homes with kids and other pets. They cannot tolerate the heat well, so they are best suited for colder climates.

Saints don’t need a lot of exercise. In fact, they can be downright lazy. This lowers the risk of injury, but their size still puts them at risk for joint issues.

Bulldogs and Pit Bulls

11. Bulldogs and Pit Bulls
(French, American, Staffordshire Bull Terrier, American Pit Bull, etc.)

At one time, the members of the bulldog family were known as “nanny dogs” . These pups are naturally great companions for children. Unfortunately, breeding and training for aggression has destroyed their reputation.

Now it is recommended that only an experienced trainer own these dogs. These muscular dogs are known to have joint trouble including arthritis and hip dysplasia.

MORE INFORMATION: 20 Most Aggressive Dog Breeds

Catahoula Cur Dog

12. Catahoula Cur Dog

Bred for working in the swamps, this dog has endurance to spare. So, if you are into hiking and hunting, this pooch may be for you. They also have unusual looks that make a great conversation starter.

This breed is mostly found in Louisiana. Working in the swamps and marshes puts them at high risk for osteoarthritis.


13. Dachshund

These long dogs may not make good guard dogs, but they do make great watch dogs. While Dachshunds are usually suspicious of strangers, they are still loving and playful with their family.

“Weenie Dogs” also have normal energy levels, so they aren’t hyper active yappers. Even though they are small, their long spine makes them at risk for arthritis.


14. Newfoundland

A great family dog, these loving animals are very friendly. These pooches love to be around people and should not be left alone for long. Too much alone time can lead to destructive behaviors.

Patient and kind, these pups prefer the company of children or adults that are young at heart. The Newfoundland is another extremely large breed, which makes them a shoo-in for this list. Typically, the larger the dog, the more likely they are to develop hip and joint issues later in life.

Dog Breeds Most at Risk for Arthritis

15. Mastiffs
(Japanese (Tosu Inu), Bull, Brazilian, Neapolitan, Dogo Argentino, etc.)

An independent and strong willed breed, Mastiffs make great guard dogs. Needing a strong and experienced trainer, these gentle giants are still far removed from their war-loving ancestors.

While these pups have a bad reputation, most are not aggressive unless trained to be. Like Bulldogs, arthritis and hip dysplasia are more common in these breeds.

Great Dane

16. Great Dane

These gentle giants are loving and loyal. Danes make great pets for active families on the go. These canines have tons of energy and will need room to romp.

Potential owners should also keep in mind that everything is more expensive when you have to buy it bigger. Great Danes can be the size of a small horse. That makes these pups one of the most common dogs to have joint problems.

Basset Hound

17. Basset Hound

Calm and low key, the Basset Hound loves to just lie around and take it easy. These lazy dogs are great for first time owners, and ones who are lazy trainers.

Extremely friendly, you will never have to worry about aggressiveness in this pooch. Long and weighty, this breed is more susceptible to joint issues like dysplasia and arthritis.

Chesapeake Bay Retriever

18. Chesapeake Bay Retriever

Chessies are tough dogs. They are well adapted for the outdoors. The Chesapeake is suspicious of strangers and make excellent watch dogs. Chessies will not back down from a fight with any animal.

Their attitude and common job as a hunting dog make this breed susceptible to injuries. That combined with their size make them likely to get osteoarthritis.

Chow Chow

19. Chow Chow

These regal dogs need a strong trainer who is well-versed in “pack leader” training. Known to be aggressive, care should be taken in households with kids and other pets.

One thing this dog has going for it is that it is independent and does well with alone time. Another large breed, the Chow Chow is prone to joint and hip problems.


20. Boxer

These dogs are imposing in stature with their long, lean muscles; however, they are soft-hearted, loving animals.

These pups make great companions to adults, children, and other animals.

Dogs in this breed are usually very quiet.

One of their most coveted qualities is that they are not nuisance barkers.

Boxers are energetic and large, placing them squarely on this list.


21. Otterhound

These personable dogs are friendly and affectionate, but they are also good at entertaining themselves.

In fact, they are one of the best breeds for spending time alone.

Otterhounds will love attention and play, but they are not clingy and needy. This little-known breed is playful, energetic, and large.

That combination makes them a likely candidate for joint problems like osteoarthritis.

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Home treatments for arthritis in dogs

Maybe you don’t have a lot of cash to be able to give your dog daily treatments, surgeries, or daily medications.

Maybe you just want to know what more can YOU do to help your pooch live a happier, more pain-free life.

Well, here are some tips that you can implement in your home to do just that.

  • Raise the water and food bowls to prevent stooping
  • Get ramps for furniture, stairs, and vehicle
  • Provide an orthopedic dog bed
  • Never push your pup to exercise past his ability
  • Instead of taking long walks, take more short walks
  • Use a support harness

While arthritis may not always be prevented, it can be treated.

There are even medications that can slow the diseases progress.

At the first sign of pain and deterioration in your pet, make that vet appointment.

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The 25 Dog Breeds Most at Risk for Arthritis

Dom Naish is a Phoenix-based writer, vegan, cupcake addict and dog lover. Years in the animal rescue trenches have taught him every aspect of dog ownership from behavioral problems, personality and breed specific trait differences of all dogs.