Veterinarian Reveals the Five Dog Breeds He'd Never Pick

Pugs and dachshunds have lots of dogged fans, but also lots of health issues.

Gael Fashingbauer Cooper
CNET freelancer Gael Fashingbauer Cooper, a journalist and pop-culture junkie, is co-author of "Whatever Happened to Pudding Pops? The Lost Toys, Tastes and Trends of the '70s and '80s," as well as "The Totally Sweet '90s." If Marathon candy bars ever come back, she'll be first in line.
Gael Fashingbauer Cooper
3 min read
A picture of a sleepy pug in the sun.

Lovable pugs have numerous health issues.

Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

Adorable dachshunds. Funny-faced pugs. Sweet Cavalier King Charles spaniels. These breeds may be beloved by their humans, but all of them made a list of the top five dog types one veterinarian says he'd never pick.

Ben Simpson-Vernon, a veterinarian in Chigwell, England, runs the Ben the Vet TikTok account. His post from Sept. 22 earned more than 6.7 million views in just five days, and it's no surprise. It gets into a controversial topic involving dog breeds many people love. Simpson-Vernon discusses the five dog breeds he, as a veterinarian, would never pick -- and some very popular breeds made his list. 

See also: Veterinarian Reveals the Five Dog Breeds He Would Consider

"Remember, it is ultimately my opinion," he warns before starting off. "You may disagree."

@ben.the.vet 5 dog breeds I would/could never own as a veterinary surgeon #dogsoftiktok #learnontiktok #veterinary #benthevet ♬ Waiting For Heartache - BLVKSHP

Chow Chow

The fluffy, sturdy chow chow, long a favorite of Martha Stewart, makes the list. Simpson-Vernon says he's sure there are some nice examples of the breed, but he often finds they "don't have a very nice temperament, they can be really aloof, and they're often very aggressive at the vet's." Eye problems are often an issue with this dog, he says.

Cavalier King Charles spaniel

Don't tell the new King of England, but the Cavalier King Charles spaniel made the list. Simpson-Vernon admits "they are the loveliest dogs" and he'd probably get one himself if not for all the health problems. A heart disease called mitral valve disease is common, making their last days difficult as they struggle to breathe.


Dachshunds are "really lovely dogs," Simpson-Vernon says, but "one in four of them develop back problems in their lifetime." These range from pain to paralysis, often requiring spinal surgery.

Shar Pei

The wrinkly Shar Pei breed even has a disease named after it -- Shar Pei fever. And their characteristic wrinkles cause health problems, too, as Simpson-Vernon notes some of them have to have their eyelids "tacked in place" so hairs don't rub on their eyes. They also frequently have skin issues, and Simpson-Vernon says they often "try to bite the faces off all the (vet) staff."

Pugs, French bulldogs, bulldogs

The No. 1 dog on the list isn't just one breed, but basically "any one flat-faced or brachycephalic dog breed," such as a French bulldog, bulldog, or pug.  (Singer Lady Gaga owns two French bulldogs, who were dognapped and returned unharmed in 2021.)  "They are so prone to so many problems," he says, mentioning spinal problems, skin issues and eye problems. Over half of these dogs need Caesarean sections to give birth, since the puppy's head and shoulders are too large for the mother to give birth otherwise. Simpson-Vernon has also written about brachycephalic dog woes on his site, Vet Reality Check.

I reached out to Simpson-Vernon to ask what kind of dog breeds he does recommend. While I haven't yet heard back, a post on his blog gives some insight. He writes that his own parents asked him to recommend a dog breed, and ended up getting a mixed-breed pup, or a mutt.

"(The) longer I have been a vet, the clearer it has become that a pedigree dog is, by default, usually a less healthy one," he writes. "I am by no means saying that a dog of no fixed breed is never going to become unwell. Nor am I saying that every pedigree dog is going to live a life of poor health. But sadly many do. I know this because I treat them every day."