Number 10 – The Rottweiler
And right here at number 10, we see one of the most powerful and effective guard dog breeds in the world: The Rottweiler. Because of its considerable size and bulk, this fearless protector is prone to a few health concerns, for example hip- and elbow dysplasia and bloat. Rotties can also suffer from epilepsy and osteochondrosis, which is a degenerative bone disease.
Number 9 – The Doberman
At number 9, we have another large German guardian breed: The beautiful, sleek Doberman, who can suffer from a number of serious diseases, such as cardiomyopathy, cervical vertebral instability and Wobbler's syndrome (a disease of the neck causing nerve problems and neck pain). Some minor problems seen in this breed are hip dysplasia, von Willebrand's disease, gastric torsion and osteosarcoma (which is a type of bone cancer).
Number 8 – The Bernese Mountain Dog
Our number 8 spot goes to the beautiful Bernese Mountain Dog - a breed more known for its glorious long, tricoloured coat than for its health-issues. But unfortunately, these dogs are three times more likely to develop dysplasia, arthritis and other musculoskeletal problems than any other breed. They also can develop von Willebrand’s Disease (which is a serious genetic disorder that can cause life-threatening bleeding), cruciate ligament rupture and several forms of cancer. Unfortunately, Bernese Mountain Dogs usually live only 7 to 10 years.
Number 7 – The Boxer
And here at number 7 we have another German guardian breed that surprises us with its long list of health problems. Even though Boxers are prone to brachycephalic airway syndrome due to their short heads and muzzles, they have to battle far more serious problems. From early puppyhood onwards, no less: Approximately 22% of puppies are said to die from infection before reaching 7 weeks of age. And according to a health survey conducted by the UK Kennel Club, almost 40% of Boxers’ deaths are due to cancer, followed by cardiac and gastrointestinal issues. To make matters worse, Boxers are extremely prone to epilepsy.
Number 6 – The Cane Corso
On our number 6 spot, we have one of my own favourite guard dog breeds – the Cane Corso. Once the legendary war dog of the Roman armies, the Cane Corso is an extremely capable protector and an amazing family guardian. However, this breed does come with a delicate health. Corsos are prone to epilepsy, bloat, skin conditions and seasonal allergies. Being a large breed, they also can develop bloat, hip- and elbow dysplasia. Oftentimes, Cane Corsos experience digestive problems that are not easy to manage, despite feeding them expensive high-quality kibble. Which is why more and more owners transition their dogs to a raw diet. Number 5 – The English Mastiff
Whilst the English Mastiff may not be the healthiest guardian breed, it certainly is the heaviest: Adult English Mastiffs can weigh up to a stunning 113 kilos, or 250 pounds. Unfortunately, this weight goes hand in hand with a short life-expectancy of an average 7 years – and with numerous health problems. If exercised too much in their youth, the dogs can suffer damage in the growth-plates of their joints. More common health issues include gastric torsion, cystinuria and bone cancer. Some dogs can suffer from allergies, cardiomyopathy, cruciate ligament rupture and persistent pupillary membranes.
Number 4 – The Neapolitan Mastiff
And on our number 4 spot, we have “the king of droop and drool” – the wonderful, one-of-a-kind, Neapolitan Mastiff. With an average life span of only 7 years, this amazing guardian comes with various eye- and skin problems related to the vast amounts of loose skin on its head. More serious conditions include cancer and the uncurable heart disease cardiomyopathy. Apart from the more common health issues of pretty much any large breed dog, like hip- and elbow dysplasia and bloat, Neapolitan Mastiffs also can suffer from congenital defects - like aortic stenosis, patent ductus arteriosus, pulmonic stenosis and mitral dysplasia.
Number 3 – The Great Dane
Now we come to my TOP three picks for the title “most unhealthy guard dog breed in the world”. And on the lowest place on the podium, on the Bronze Medal spot, we have THE largest dog breed in existence: The majestic Great Dane. A true gentle giant, the Great Dane nevertheless comes with a high intimidation factor – but sadly, also with a number of health concerns. As their hearts are too small for their large bodies, Great Danes are prone to heart conditions such as dilated cardiomyopathy and numerous congenital heart diseases. Which sadly contribute to these affectionate giants short life-expectancy of only 6 to 8 years. In addition, Great Danes can suffer from all the typical health concerns in large and giant breed dogs, such as bloat, elbow- and hip dysplasia.
Number 2 – The Bullmastiff
And on the Silver Medal spot, we have another breed that is very dear to me personally – the Bullmastiff. In my opinion the best family guardian breed on the planet, the Bullmastiff also is one of the unhealthiest guard dog breeds. These absolutely devoted and loyal dogs are extremely prone to developing heart conditions and lymphoma, which is an aggressive form of cancer. Other health concerns include Entropion, arthritis and progressive retinal atrophy. And that is on top of the common health concerns in large dog breeds, which include bloat, hip- and elbow dysplasia.
Number 1 – The Dogue de Bordeaux
And our pick for the number one spot on our list of the TOP 10 unhealthiest guard dog breeds is a beautiful, loyal and devoted French breed: The Dogue de Bordeaux, also known as French Mastiff, is an absolutely stunning dog – large, heavy and equipped with plenty of the deep facial folds typical for Mastiffs. Sadly, these adorable companions have an extremely short life expectancy of only 5 to 6 years.
Like the Boxer, the French Mastiff’s massive, blocky head is brachycephalic, which can cause breathing problems. However, there are various more severe conditions that this loveable breed is up against, for example the uncurable heart conditions dilated cardiomyopathy and Aortic stenosis. Over 50% of Dogues de Bordeaux are said to be affected by hip dysplasia, and another 21% by elbow dysplasia. In fact, this breed is SO unhealthy that the Kennel Club of the UK has classed it as UK Kennel Club's Breed Watch system, the Dogue de Bordeaux is classed as a “Category 3 breed”, which basically means dogs have conditions or exaggerations likely to cause them pain or discomfort.