Health ProblemsIn general, small dogs live longer than larger dogs. This is partly due to the fact that smaller canine bodies don’t work as hard as larger canine bodies and so their physiological systems and internal organs stay in a better shape for a longer period of time. Of course any single dog, either big or small, can vary greatly with regard to its predicated life expectancy, but on average you can expect smaller dogs to outlive larger dogs.
This is not to say however, that small dogs are without medical issues. Small dogs do have breed related health problems and it is up to the dog’s owner to recognize and treat possible medical problems. The issue that often arises though is that owners of small dogs sometimes fail to recognize problems or think that the medical problems of small dogs aren’t as severe. This is totally false and a great example is hip dysplasia. Hip dysplasia is a painful condition that happens when a dog’s hip joint forms abnormally and it is usually seen in larger dogs. What most dog owners fail to realize is that small dogs also get hip dysplasia and they get it frequently depending on their breed. A larger dog with hip dysplasia will likely develop a very noticeable limp which is very painful. A small dog may only show a small limp. More precisely, the dog’s owner may only notice a small limp, but it’s a big limp for the little dog and causes great pain in our little friends.
Another medical problem that is common to some small dogs are brachiocephalic problems. These are problems that dog breeds with smooshed up or flat faces (like Pugs Pekingese and Shih Tzus to name a few) encounter. They often have trouble breathing and frequently wheeze and snort. Many dog owners of these breeds have no idea that this condition can be very serious. They mistakenly think that the snorting and weird noises are a cute part of the breed when in reality, they cause the dog stress. When left untreated, these dogs can expect a reduced lifespan.
Other conditions that are common in small dogs include luxating patella, collapsed trachea and oral disease. These and other diseases are serious and need to be treated even though they don’t present themselves as dramatically as in larger dogs. As always, it’s best to research the breed you’d like to get before buying or adopting. Small breeds are not immune from health problems and when they occur they are just as uncomfortable for small dogs as they are in larger dogs.