top 10 healthiest dog breeds

If you're looking for a new canine companion, it's easy to go for the first cutie you connect with. But something important to consider is the general health and longevity of certain breeds over others — so you're not hit with heartbreak and hefty vet bills down the road.

Almost all breeds are susceptible to certain hereditary and health issues, but some dogs are much more likely to live longer lives and/or experience fewer health problems.

It's impossible to list these breeds in any specific order because of the individual characteristics of each one, but every prospective canine parent can benefit from this general list of the top 10 healthiest dog breeds.

bergamasco

This large sheepdog from Italy is known for having an excellent health record, and lives an average life span of 13 to 15 years. Because this breed is rare, overbreeding and popularity have yet to take a toll on its general health. No specific diseases have been tied to Bergamascos, but it's wise to ask your vet about the potential for gastric torsion, eye problems, and hip dysplasia.

These dogs are often companion or show dogs, and are usually very affectionate toward children and humans in general (and even cats and other dogs). Bergamascos are territorial and make for great watch and guard dogs.

australian cattle dog

Sometimes known as the Blue Heeler, Red Heeler, and Queensland Heeler, the Australian cattle dog (ACD) is a hearty herding breed. These dogs were developed by sheep herders from the land down under, and are known for their intelligence, playfulness, and trainability.

The medium-sized canines have a lot to offer individuals or families that live more active lifestyles (plus they're known for being great around kids and, well, decent around cats too!).

ACDs are known for having minor health issues and for having one of the longest life spans of any breed of its size at 12 to 14 years. Typically, the only major health problems ACD owners have to be aware of include hip and elbow dysplasia, deafness, and progressive retinal atrophy which can cause blindness.

beagle

With an average life span of 13 to 16 years, these English hounds are extremely hardy. Beagles have very few genetic diseases, and possess a medium size and stature, a normal snout, and bones that fit into joints without much (or any) friction or displacement.

Owners of this breed should look out for hip dysplasia, certain heart conditions, and obesity as their dog ages (though the first 2 are relatively rare, and obesity can be avoided with a healthy diet and plenty of exercise).

Beagles are known for their affection toward humans and other dogs, their affinity for sniffing everything in sight, and their playfulness. One thing for city dwellers to keep in mind — they've got quite a bark on them.

english foxhound

With an average life span of 10 to 13 years and generally no major health issues to worry about, English Foxhounds are one of the healthiest breeds around — given proper care and plenty of hard exercise. Since they're bred more for performance than for looks, breeders have been able to weed out debilitating illnesses and proneness to injury.

Primarily bred for fox hunting, they are rarely seen as a companion animal, but they still make a great fit for active individuals or families who live in rural areas or on large farms. Their loud bark carries far and they like a decent amount of space to run and romp, so a more urban environment is probably not best for these dogs.

azawakh

With an eccentric name and an equally unique (but quite beautiful) appearance, Azawakhs aren't necessarily a well-known breed. But they certainly should be — they have an average life expectancy of 10 to 13 years, no known instances of hip dysplasia, and have very few hereditary and congenital health problems.

Azawakhs are known for being aloof and quiet, yet extremely loyal and dependent upon their owners. These dogs must live indoors with their families because of their attachment to them. Unless raised with the dog at an early age, cats and other small animals should steer clear despite the Azawakh's affinity for people.

german shorthaired pointer

This breed has a 12 to 14 year life span and fits best with active individuals or families. Since they're hunting dogs, German shorthaired pointers require a lot of physical activity and mental stimulation. They make for excellent watchdogs and protectors, and are known for their playfulness, loyalty, and trainability.

These dogs can be prone to certain medical conditions, including hypothyroidism, hip dysplasia, and gastric torsion. Still, with a life span as long as theirs, they're generally healthy, robust dogs that will run, jump, and play ball with you well into their later years.

shiba inu

This small breed native to Japan has a fox-like appearance and an attitude bigger than its size would indicate. Shiba Inus are tough little dogs, but are known to be affectionate companion animals with irresistible charm.

These dogs tend to live between 12 and 16 years. They're known for their hardiness, but there are a few conditions Shiba owners should look out for, including eye problems, patellar luxation, hip dysplasia, and allergies. But with regular checkups, dental cleanings, and adequate exercise, you usually don't have any serious health issues to worry about.

Shiba Inus are pretty verbal which makes them great watch and guard dogs, while still being very apartment-friendly.

belgian malinois

These highly adaptable, intelligent, and playful herding dogs make excellent guard and watch dogs. Plus, they excel in search and rescue, agility, and basically any activity you can train them to do (like hiking, running, and playing catch). Needless to say, this is another breed that needs vigorous daily activity.

Belgian Malinois have average life spans of 12 to 14 years, but pet parents should be aware of some possible medical complications including cataracts, epilepsy, thyroid disease, hip dysplasia, and progressive retinal atrophy. Nonetheless, these problems are showing up less and less because of selective breeding.

siberian husky

Bred for running long distances and pulling sleds through harsh conditions, it's obvious the Siberian Husky is a particularly sturdy, strong breed. In fact, this breed ranks as one of the least likely to develop hip dysplasia, ranking 155th out of a possible 160 breeds!

Still, racing and working dogs are usually more likely to have injuries because of their tough and very active lifestyles. This medium-sized breed can also be prone to cataracts, progressive retinal atrophy, and hypothyroidism.

But with an average life span of 12 years and very rare health issues (given proper care and adequate exercise), Siberian Huskies are certainly one of the healthiest breeds.

australian shepherd

These herding dogs live an average of 12 to 16 years and generally experience relatively few health issues. However, they can be sensitive to certain medications, and develop hip dysplasia, certain eye diseases, and epilepsy.

Still, with plenty of vigorous exercise, affection, and social interaction with both humans (namely children!) and other dogs, these pups are resilient and long-lasting. Aussies are known for their incredible intelligence, trainability, playfulness, and watchdog abilities.

help keep your 4-legged friend healthy

Regardless of breed, it's important to provide your dog with plenty of physical activity, mental stimulation, and adequate space to, well, be a dog. It's also important to help your dog maintain a healthy weight in order to avoid obesity and other health complications.

Routine wellness care including general checkups, dental cleaning, and vaccinations can also help lengthen your dog's life.

And last but certainly not least, affordable pet insurance through Esurance can help protect your canine companion and your wallet. Learn more when you get a quick, free quote online.

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