My Version of the Top 10 High Maintenance Dog Breeds

I saw a post on Facebook today with a link to the “top 10 high maintenance dog breeds” (  I clicked and followed and the list in my head totally did not match the list on that website.  I skimmed the descriptions, and it seems they are referring to “high maintenance” in terms of “doing stuff for/with the dog”. 

In my mind, from a veterinary standpoint (and not a Kardashian standpoint, as I bet all those girls are very high-maintenance, although Chloe seems nice based on her radio spots on MixFM), “high maintenance” refers to cost and amount of vet care required for said breed.

So without further ado, I came up with my own list of high maintenance breeds (I consulted with Dr. Rogers on this, and she and I both had exactly the same #1 and #2 breeds, and were close on the others, bear in mind this is just my OPINION):

1. English Bulldog.  If you get one of these save up around $5-10,000 because there is a good chance it will cost you that in vet bills for joint, respiratory and skin maladies. Really, any breed with “bull” in the name seems to be high maintenance, mostly from a skin standpoint, but the English ones are the highest maintenance. (here’s a great article on the subject: )

2. Shar Pei.  Sometimes referred to as “practice builders” for their skin, kidney, weird breed related (amyloidisis, swollen hock syndrome, other), and eye issues. They also seem to have a predisposition to various types of cancer.    Chow Chows have similar problems minus the amyloidosis. 

3. Schnauzer.  Kidney stones, bladder stones, pancreatitis, allergies. 

4. German Shepherd. They have a whole slew of weird issues that are special just to them.  Perianal fistulas, pancreatic insufficiency, some kind of horrible skin bacterial infection (I’ve never seen it, but I’ve heard of it), pannus (eye issue that can lead to blindness), degenerative myelopathy, immune deficiency, hip dysplasia and more.

5. Cocker Spaniel.  Horrible stinky ears, skin problems.  Heart problems.  Back and neck issues. Autoimmune disease.

6. Labrador Retrievers with allergies. Can be an absolute nightmare.

7. Bug-eyed breeds.  Lhasa Apso, Shih Tzu, Boston Terrier, Pekingese, etc.  Lots and lots of eye problems, and skin problems, and sometimes back problems.

8. Dachshund. Skin problems, back problems (each back surgery costs around $2000)

9. “Doodles”.  For some reason, there seems to be an overabundance of Labradoodles  and Goldendoodles with horrible, terrible skin allergies.  Starting as young as 6 months.  I confirmed this with the boarded dermatology guys. 

10. I think I will give this one to the Boxer.  They are wonderful happy dogs, but they are tumor factories that produce a litany of cancerous and non cancerous tumors throughout their lives.  Golden retrievers are the next most cancer-prone breed. 

11. I was planning on stopping at 10, but I have to mention those breeds that tend to have severe dental problems:  sighthounds (greyhounds and such), Chihuahuas, Yorkies, Maltese and most “toy” or small breed dogs.  Brush those teeth, it will save you a ton of money in dentistry and extractions and save those dogs from a lot of pain and suffering. 

Any DVM’s out there have any opinions/additions/changes to the list? Client opinions? 

And if I wrote this for Pet MD, I would be hearing from the mean  people about how people who get purebred dogs are evil and should be stoned to death at the city gates.  I see mutts with horrible health issues too, granted with much less frequency.  Purebred problems are just more predictable.  And people love their breeds, so I don’t think they’re going anywhere.


5 thoughts on “My Version of the Top 10 High Maintenance Dog Breeds

  1. I have to agree that high maintenance would/should mean things other than “doing stuff with your dog”. It would/should be more along the lines of how much oversight and veterinary care does the dog need? (I spend a whole lot of time hovering and worrying about potential problems.)

    Your last paragraph made me laugh out loud – and scare the cats – because you’re so right about the purebred folks that attack at the slightest inference that MIGHT mean you’re against purebred critters, even if all you’re doing is stating facts.

    You really lit a lightbulb for me, though, with what you wrote about purebred problems are just more predictable. That’s very true. I wonder if I started adopting purebred kitties, if I could worry about just one or two things instead of the myriad of problems that a cat might have!

    1. Oh, cats are a whole ‘nother can o’ worms. Keep up the vigilance because regardless of breed, their maladies are often vague and difficult to assess.

      1. I hover with the best of them!

        I can also be very persistent. It took 5 (yes, FIVE) doctor visits to get Winston Alexander’s lymphocytic lymphoma diagnosed. We started with non-invasive testing and worked our way up.

        Luckily the vet is very, very patient and takes me seriously when I say that the critter is 5 degrees off normal. I’m convinced that finding Winston’s cancer (before he really showed symptoms) allowed us to treat earlier and it gave us at the very least an extra quality 6 months.

        Sometimes it’s just a hunch, too, and that’s how we found the beginnings of liver problems with another kitty. The liver problems were treated and resolved!

  2. I actually like both lists… a medical high-maintenance list like you came up with is really important for people to know (hopefully before committing to that new puppy) but the other list has a point too.. after all – at least in my experience – more dogs are surrendered to shelters and rescues for behavioral (and sometimes grooming) issues rather than medical problems. The more people know what they’re in for with a high energy hunting or herding breed, or a “non-shedding” breed that grows hair like there’s no tomorrow and needs to be groomed frequently, the happier everyone will be.

  3. I agree 100%! I own a very high-maintenance boxer because of medical issues. He shares a lot in common with GS dogs. If I would have known what to expect to pay for him each year, I would have invested in pet insurance. Thank you for posting a more thorough list than the others I have seen on the internet!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s