Most Common Health Issues Related to Small & Adorable Dog Breeds


Small dog breeds are adorable and compact-sized pets that you can own irrespective of the available space. However, these small dog breeds have some common health issues that may cause some trouble for their owner.

For instance, they have a wide range of medical conditions that are associated with their compact and tiny body structure. If you own a small dog and want to avoid some common medical problems, we have got you covered.

Here, we are going to discuss 6 major medical conditions that are common in smaller dog breeds.

1.     Intervertebral Disc Disease (IVDD)

It is a degenerative condition, which is commonly observed in small dogs. In fact, Intervertebral Disc Disease (IVDD) is an age-related disease. Breeds that are susceptible to IVDD include Beagles, Dachshunds, Shih Tzus, and Basset Hounds.

This type of condition results in the dislocation of the cushioning disc, which puts pressure on the spinal cord. As a result, the animal may undergo various issues such as nerve damage, paralysis, discomfort, nerve damage, and even paralysis.


Listed below are the common symptoms of Intervertebral Disc Disease:

  • Abnormal posture
  • Shivering
  • Panting
  • Reluctance towards movement
  • Inability to jump or climb up or down the stairs

2.     Brachycephalic Airway Syndrome

The term Brachycephalic is a combination of two words ‘Brachy’ (shortened) and Cephalic (Head). Brachycephalic dogs usually have tiny faces as well as shorter nose bones. Hence, these dogs have a pushed-in face.

This type of appearance is normally observed in breeds like Boston Terriers, Boxer Dogs, French/English Bulldogs, Pekingese, Shih Tzus, and Chinese Pugs. The difference in bone structure also affects the growth of surrounding tissues.

Besides, an elongated palate, narrow nostril, and small trachea may cause airway resistance.


Here are the common symptoms of Brachycephalic Airway Syndrome.

  • Noisy breathing
  • Snorting when relaxed or excited
  • Gagging
  • Coughing
  • Vomiting and retching

3.     Legg-Calve-Perthes Disease

This disease is caused by the degeneration of a back femur into the hip socket. Some people relate it to hip dysplasia, which is a different medical condition. The symptoms usually show up within 4 to 12 months of age.

The joint cartilage deteriorates with the passage of time if the disease is left unattended. Due to extensive pain, the dog stops using the affected part.


Here are the major symptoms of this disease:

  • Sensitivity pain in one of the back legs
  • Obsessive grooming
  • Increased aggression
  • Abnormal hip joint movement

4.     Whelping Complications

Smaller breed dogs have narrower or shorter pelvic openings. With limited endurance, giving birth to puppies can be challenging. The affected breed includes small dogs like Pugs, Boston Terriers, and Toy Poodles.

When your dog is expecting puppies, it requires a proper medical checkup after a couple of weeks. The vet may also suggest a cesarean to lower the risk of complications.


This disease doesn’t have any known symptoms. Hence, regular checkup is the key to avoiding serious complications.

5.     Patellar Luxation

Patellar is the scientific name of the kneecap and the term ‘Patellar Luxation’ refers to a dislocated kneecap. This disease is relatively common in small breed dogs i.e. Pekingese, Chihuahuas, Miniature Poodles, Pomeranians, Daschunds, Yorkshire, and Terriers.

During this disease, the groove holding a kneecap becomes flat due to excessive wear and tear. Aside from being painful, this condition also affects the mobility of a dog. Hence, this disease should be treated without any delay.

There are four severity levels of this disease.

  1. The initial stage of Patellar Luxation isn’t severe, as the dislocated kneecap comes back to its original position on its own.
  2. The 2nd level is relatively severe, which involves dislocation of the kneecap for an extended period. Besides, doesn’t return back to its place on its own. Hence, it requires proper treatment.
  3. During this level, the kneecap dislocates frequently and stays in this position until moved back manually.
  4. This is the most severe condition where the kneecap stays misaligned even after manual manipulation.


Some of the most common symptoms of Patellar Luxation include:

  • Walking with a straight leg
  • Strong pain around the knee area
  • Moving on three legs
  • Shaking of the body

6.     Homeostasis Imbalance

Small dogs, particularly Chihuahuas seem to tremble continuously. Hence, they are comically referred to as nervous dogs. This is because their bodies aren’t properly insulated. Hence, most of the time, these dogs struggle to regulate or maintain their body temperatures.

Therefore, abrupt exposure to colder environments can lower their body temperature to a great extent. On the contrary, exposing these dogs to a hot environment does increase their body temperature. So, these types of small breeds require special care and caution.

For instance, you must keep your lovely little dog properly hydrated. By doing so, you can help these dogs to maintain a healthy body temperature. Besides, it would be a good idea to give them a warm hug when you find them doing a tremble.

Possible Ways to Tackle such Issue

In fact, there are numerous ways to handle the health conditions of small dog breeds. For starters, you can get your dogs a pet insurance plan in Malaysia. You can claim for your vet medical bills up to RM8,000 which covers an array of dog diseases and accidental injury. 

For preventative measures, you must carefully observe the needs and behaviours of your dog. Keep an eye on the behaviour and eating patterns of your dog. This is essential as certain behavioural changes do relate to the health condition of a dog.

For instance, small dog breeds show a strong response to bodily abnormalities or pain. Besides, you should consult a vet regarding the health condition of your dog. Early treatment can avoid the severity of such a medical condition.

In addition, the physical wellness of a dog can also help to prevent some common diseases. A healthy body can fight better against viral diseases. You can ensure this by offering a balanced diet to your dog. This could help you avoid such issues in the first place by taking necessary precautionary measures.

Apart from this, an active lifestyle is also essential to prevent various health conditions. So, don’t forget to take your small dog outside for a run.

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