Hereditary Dog Diseases

Hereditary dog diseases are those which are passed down from one generation to another through genetics. If a hereditary disease is known to affect a particular breed of dog, it does not necessarily mean that every dog of that breed will be affected. It simply means that there is a genetic tendency towards that particular disease. Some dog breeds are known for being more predisposed to certain diseases over others.


Ectropion is a hereditary disease which affects the lower eyelids. When ectropion is present, the eyelid hangs down and exposes the eyeball. When the eyeball is exposed, it becomes susceptible to all kinds of bacteria and germs which could lead to conjunctivitis or a more serious eye condition.

In order to correct ectropion, the use of eye drops may be helpful if the eyelid is not overly sagging. However, when the eyelid exposes a greater portion of the eyeball, or there is serious irritation due to ectropion, surgery may be the only option,

Ectropion is known to be a hereditary disease in the Bulldog, Basset hound, Boxer and Bloodhound.

Hip Dysplasia

Hip dysplasia appears to be one of the most common of all hereditary diseases. Hip dysplasia occurs when the hip joint, or socket, do not fit correctly with the ball of the hip joint. Under normal conditions, the ball and socket fit snugly together, allowing just enough movement for the joints of the hip to move freely. However, when the socket is too shallow, or the ball is deformed, the fit is not correct and produces the onset of hip dysplasia.

Hip dysplasia is a common hereditary disease in the Bulldog and usually can only be corrected with surgery.


Hypothyroidism is a hereditary condition which occurs when the thyroid does not produce a sufficient amount of thyroid stimulating hormone, or TSH. When a dog is diagnosed with hypothyroidism, he will show general signs of fatigue, intolerance to cold, weight gain and his coat will likely begin to appear as though it is unkempt.

This condition is highly treatable; however, in most cases it will require your dog to be on thyroid hormone medication indefinitely.

Congenital Deafness

Congenital deafness is a hereditary condition which occurs as a result of an improperly formed inner ear structure. It can start off in one or both ears, but usually both ears will end up being affected.

What is interesting about congenital deafness is that it seems to have a color preference; being more commonly known in piebalds, merles and predominately white colored dogs. Congenital deafness also takes precedence in the Doberman and Dalmatian breeds.

Respiratory Disorders

Respiratory disorders are common in breeds which are considered brachycephalic, meaning that the airway is naturally constricted due to body structure. In breeds such as the Bulldog, Boxer and Pug, the nose is very short and leads to a very narrow tracheal path.

These types of respiratory disorders are considered genetic because the structure of the face determines the size of the nasal and tracheal pathways.