hereditary issues commonly faced by famous pet breeds

Posted by Dr. Kim Smyth on May 31 2011

It’s time for the spotlight to shine on some of our favorite famous pets again! Below, we’ll introduce a famous pet, and then highlight some of the conditions to which his or her breed is prone. Remember, this topic is recurring, so if you have a special place in your heart for a famous pooch (or kitty!), be sure to comment so that we can feature him or her!


Adorable, lovable and instantly recognizable, Snoopy is likely the country’s most famous beagle and may be one of the most recognizable comic book characters in the world. He made his debut on October 4, 1950 and was first identified by the name “Snoopy” on November 10th of that year. While Snoopy may seem to lead an ordinary life, lying lazily upon his dog house, we often get a glimpse at his fantasy life, where he patrols the skies as a World War I Flying Ace, transforms into “Joe Cool”, and bangs out the next great American novel on a typewriter atop his famed red house.

Some of the most common conditions that Beagles are genetically prone to include:

  • Pumonic stenosis: Pulmonic stenosis causes obstruction to blood flow from the heart to the pulmonary artery and can lead to congestive heart failure.
  • Cataracts: Cataracts are a cloudiness in the lens, which is the focusing tool of the eye. If severe enough, cataracts cause blindness and lead to other disease like glaucoma and uveitis.
  • Cervical Vertebral Instability (Wobbler’s syndrome): This is an instability of the spinal bones of the neck. This can lead to weakness in the hind limbs and progress to front limb weakness as well.
  • Deafness: Inherited deafness in one or both ears occurs due to the degeneration of the structures of the inner ear.


The Collie originated as a herding dog of England and Scotland, and you can’t see a Collie without immediately thinking of our favorite Collie, Lassie. Erik Knight’s novel Lassie Come-Home was published in 1940 and adapted into a movie in 1943, and that’s when the world came to meet Lassie, played by a dog named “Pal.” Lassie, like all Collies, is a devoted family dog (especially to children) as evidenced by her loyalty to her pet parents, Jeff and Timmy. Despite the fact that Lassie is a female dog, all Lassies have been played by male dogs, as their fuller coats made for a better look on the screen. Eight generations of Pal’s descendants have played Lassie, and continue to do so even today.

Collies, like all purebred dogs, are prone to a few hereditary conditions, some of which are:

  • Collie Eye Anomaly: Collie Eye Anomaly (CEA) is an inherited disorder of the deep structures of the eye. Mild cases cause few problems, but severe cases can cause blindness.
  • Dermatomyositis: Dermatomysitis in an inflammation of the skin and muscle due to a defect in the immune system. Some pups outgrow this condition while others are treated symptomatically for flare-ups. In the most severe cases, euthanasia may be recommended.
  • Cataracts: Just like Snoopy, Collies are predisposed to cataracts.