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Predisposed health conditions could cost dog owners £1,144 over a lifetime

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Vets have urged dog owners to find out if their pet is at higher risk of health issues because of its breed, as research revealed that breed-specific illnesses cost an estimated £1,144 over the a dog’s lifetime.

Golden retrievers cost their owners the most, with the average claim for a predisposed illness coming in at £816, according to data from Direct Line Pet Insurance.

Cocker spaniels ranked next, with each claim typically costing £804. 

The research found that over half of vets believed owners were not fully aware of the health conditions their dog was at risk of, or how much they could cost to treat. 

There are a number of popular dog breeds that sadly suffer with predisposed conditions

There are a number of popular dog breeds that sadly suffer with predisposed conditions

Some 76 per cent of vets said they had seen an increase in the number of breed- related conditions they had treated in the past five years. 

With over four million Britons having purchased or rescued a dog since lockdown began, which accounts for around 24 per cent of all dog owners, vets could soon be seeing an even greater rise in demand for treating breed-specific complaints. 

Vets estimate that some 56 per cent of all illnesses experienced by pets are directly linked to their breed. 

This is not including the other ailments dogs may have during their life. 

After golden retrievers and cocker spaniels, border collies racked up the highest bills for predisposed conditions, with the average claim coming in at £793, and cavalier king charles spaniels at £791. 

By comparison, the average claim for a Staffordshire Bull Terrier is £744, and for a Labrador, £770. 

Common conditions in popular breeds include ear infections in Cocker Spaniels, intervertebral disc disease in daschunds and hip dysplasia and obesity in labradors.

Cockapoos will often inherit cataracts and liver disease, whilst french bulldogs could find themselves with respiratory problems and joint disorders.

Jack Russell Terrier's are most predisposed to having eye conditions and lacking co-ordination

Jack Russell Terrier’s are most predisposed to having eye conditions and lacking co-ordination

AVERAGE CLAIM COST FOR POPULAR BREEDS
Breed Average Claim Cost
Staffordshire Bull Terrier  £744
Labrador   £770
Jack Russell Terrier  £774 
Boxer  £783 
Cavalier King Charles Spaniel  £791 
Border Collie  £793 
Cocker Spaniel £804
Golden Retriever £816
Source: Direct Line Pet Insurance   

Meanwhile, staffordshire bull terriers often develop skin and eye conditions, and german shepherds are at risk of skin allergies and hip dysplasia.

Despite this, 20 per cent of dog owners did not think it was important for them to know whether their dog was susceptible to certain health conditions. 

Another 19 per cent did not think they needed to know if the dog’s parents had any known conditions, and 23 per cent did not think it was important to know about susceptibility to certain behaviours.

However, 36 per cent of dog owners across the country said they had seen breed-related chronic or ongoing conditions in their dog.  

Madeline Pike, veterinary nurse for Direct Line Pet Insurance said: ‘It’s always really exciting choosing a new dog to join your family, but it’s important to make sure you choose the best breed for you.

Border collies will often suffer from eye conditions and epilepsy which could be costly

Border collies will often suffer from eye conditions and epilepsy which could be costly

COMMON CONDITIONS TOP 10 DOG BREEDS ARE MOST PREDISPOSED TO
Rank of breed Dog breed Predisposed conditions
1 Labrador retriever Obesity, hip, and elbow dysplasia
2 Cockapoo Cataracts, liver disease
3 French bulldog Respiratory problems, joint disorders
4 Cocker spaniel Ear Infections, eye conditions
5 Dachshund Intervertebral disc disease/hip dysplasia
6 Staffordshire bull terrier Skin and eye conditions
7 Jack russell terrier Eye conditions, lack of coordination
8 Border collie Eye conditions, epilepsy
9 Chihuahua Joint disorders, heart disease
10 German shepherd Skin Allergies, hip dysplasia
Source: Direct Line Pet Insurance   

‘It’s vital to check things like how big the dog will be, how much exercise it needs and what its training requirements will be, but it’s equally important to check for any conditions or illnesses it is predisposed to.

‘Owning a dog can be expensive, so understanding what issues the dog may face during its lifetime will help you budget, and also understand what you can do to make sure your dog is as healthy as possible. 

‘Always double check any limits or exclusions on conditions before taking out a pet insurance policy.’ 

Direct Line surveyed 2,000 adults and 100 vets across the UK in August of this year. 

German shepherds suffer from skin allergies which owners should be aware of before owning

German shepherds suffer from skin allergies which owners should be aware of before owning

Staffordshire bull terriers are a popular dog breed that can suffer with skin and eye conditions

Staffordshire bull terriers are a popular dog breed that can suffer with skin and eye conditions

What to know about health of ‘designer’ cross breeds 

In recent years there has also been a rise in the popularity of so-called ‘designer’ cross-breeds such as cockerpoos, labradoodles and puggles.

While traditionally cross-breeds can be healthier than pure breeds, vets warn that owners still need to be careful when choosing a puppy – as there is a risk that it could inherit predisposed conditions from two different breeds.

Direct Line Pet Insurance has offered the below information about the health of these cross breeds:  

• Early on, ‘designer dogs’ were a mix of two dogs that have fewer health problems. However, now they are a breed in their own right so have as many, if not more, genetic problems as their ancestors.

• There are breed-specific issues in cross-breeds too, so owners need to be careful about understanding the potential predisposed conditions in both breeds their dog is bred from.

• Health problems can occur in both pedigree and designer dogs, it all depends on the ancestry and what health issues were common with the breeds in the ‘mix’.

• It is not fair on the dogs or their owners to recklessly breed animals without prior research. If proper screening is done this can greatly improve the lives of designer dogs crossed correctly.

• Only professional dog breeders with sufficient medical knowledge should breed animals with potential health risks, so source a reputable dog breeder to avoid an avalanche of health issues and expensive vet trips. 

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