A white wolf looks off to the side.

The Consequences of Selective
Breeding on Dog Health

An illustration showing a fierce wolf with an arrow to the right of it that points to four dogs of different breeds. These dogs are cropped so only their heads are visible. The breeds shown are an English Bulldog, a Poodle, a Bloodhound, and a Chow Chow.

From Wild Wolf to Your Best Friend

While all dogs are descended from wild wolves, dogs of different breeds can look and act very differently from each other.

It may be surprising to remember that the Pomeranian sleeping in your purse has wolf ancestry!

Illustration of a large Mastiff and a much smaller Pug looking at one another. There are star-like elements floating around them both.

Since humans domesticated our dogs’ ancestors over 15,000 years ago, we’ve been breeding them for specific behaviors like guarding, herding, friendliness and aggression, and for appearances, like body size, fur type and coat color.

Over many generations, we’ve bred dozens of unique, loveable and useful types of dogs. But this severe inbreeding also compounded the likelihood that genetic mistakes would be passed on.

Compounding Effects

Selective breeding has unintentionally caused significant health issues in today’s dogs.

A Dalmation sits



A bulldog sits

Respiratory Diseases

English Bulldogs

A Golden Retriever sits, mouth open


Golden Retrievers

A German Sheppard sits

Hip Dysplasia

German Shepherds

Another consequence: Big dogs live shorter lives.

Illustration of a Great Dane and a Chihuahua looking at each other.

Just like hip dysplasia in German Shepherds or deafness in Dalmatians, the abnormally short lifespan of large dogs is genetic.

Average Giant Breed Lifespan

7 - 9 years

Average Tiny Breed Lifespan

14 - 16 years

We can’t change history, but we may be able to affect the future.

We are developing drugs intended to compensate for the consequences of past selective breeding on your dog’s health today.

By doing this, we may be able to help dogs live longer, healthier lives.

Check out these articles for more on the unique evolutionary relationship between humans and dogs: