What happens if your puppy was born with a hereditary condition such as cherry eye? Does pet insurance cover you for associated vet expenses? These are common pet owner questions. Searching for pet insurance for dogs can feel daunting if your pet was born with an inherited condition. However, it doesn't have to be this way.

Below, we look at the hereditary conditions that affect dogs the most and whether pet insurance companies cover these conditions.

Taking care of dogs with hereditary conditions

Finding out that your furry friend was born with a hereditary condition can be distressing at first. Depending on the illness, it may mean your dog will need frequent vet visits. Or that they must be on medication for the rest of their lives to help live a normal life. Yet, it doesn't mean your loveable pup can't have an excellent quality of life.

When it comes to taking care of a dog with a hereditary condition (and finding pet insurance for dogs), you need to understand its origins. Many purebred and mixed-breed dogs are prone to inheriting certain illnesses. For example, dalmatians are prone to developing urinary bladder stones. At the same time, epilepsy is an inheritable trait in golden retrievers. Many of these genetic disorders have been passed on through breeding for hundreds of years.

Knowing these hereditary conditions can be helpful if you're looking into dog adoption. While not all dogs will be born with a breed-specific condition, it may help you understand how to manage these dog health issues and what the financial requirements would be.

What are the most common hereditary conditions found in dogs?

What hereditary conditions do dog owners need to be aware of? While some conditions may be breed-specific, others can be found across all dogs. Understanding the most common inherited illnesses will equip you to become a better pet parent. It's also beneficial when looking for pet insurance that covers hereditary conditions.


Canines can be plagued with allergies as much as humans. Like us, some dog breeds are more prone to suffering from allergies than others (e.g., Bull terriers). Our dogs can be affected by various allergies, including food, dust, dander, and pollen. One in particular that can be quite concerning is canine allergic dermatitis.

Atopic dermatitis is an inherited condition that causes itching, chewing, scratching, hair loss, recurrent hot spots, and skin thickening. If dermatitis happens in your dog's ears, this can lead to ear infections. Several breeds can experience canine allergic dermatitis, including Irish setters, bulldogs, and most terriers.

Hip dysplasia

Hip dysplasia is a musculoskeletal disorder affecting both purebred and mixed-breed dogs. Although dogs of all sizes can be born with this condition, large breed dogs suffer from symptoms the most. Hip dysplasia targets the hip joint and leads to inflammation and looseness in the joint. Breeds with this condition experience pain, a reduced range of motion, and loss of muscle mass.

Hip dysplasia in dogs is treated with anti-inflammatory medications, joint supplements, and physical therapy. Dog breeds most likely to be born with this hereditary condition include Great Danes, Saint Bernards, German shepherds, and Labrador Retrievers.

Pet insurance for dogs that covers hereditary conditions typically includes coverage for hip dysplasia due to the sheer volume of breeds that are prone to it.

Elbow dysplasia

Many large to giant breed dogs suffer from a hereditary condition called elbow dysplasia. In this instance, the dog's elbow joint is affected. A vet can diagnose your dog with this joint problem if they experience front limb lameness or have the classic signs of arthritis. Elbow dysplasia is common among breeds such as Bernese mountain dogs, rottweilers, Chow Chows, and mastiffs.

Cherry eye

Some companies that offer pet insurance for dogs also provide coverage for a hereditary condition called cherry eye. This condition refers to the prolapse of the third eyelid gland. The extra eyelid is located inside the lower eyelid and provides additional protection. Typically, cherry eye doesn't cause your pet any discomfort, even if it looks unsightly.

Cherry eye symptoms usually arise in younger dogs under the age of two. If you have any of the following breeds, they’re more prone to this genetic condition: English bulldogs, Boston terriers, French bulldogs, Shih Tzus, and bloodhounds.

Brachycephalic obstructive airway syndrome

Brachycephalic obstructive airway syndrome (BOAC) is a common hereditary condition among smaller, "bully" breeds, such as pugs and French bulldogs. This genetic condition is a breathing difficulty caused by upper airway abnormalities that can be severe in purebreds. Many dogs with this condition will have noisy breathing, lack of energy, and gastrointestinal issues.

Pet owners looking for pet insurance for dogs that cover this hereditary condition should ensure their plans cover any medications and surgeries required as part of treatment.

Myxomatous mitral valve disease

Myxomatous mitral valve disease (MMVD) is a congenital heart disease commonly found in older toy breeds, such as Cavalier King Charles spaniels. This condition accounts for more than 70% of all canine heart diseases. It typically shows up as a heart murmur but then fully develops into congestive heart failure.

Inherited cancers

Many pet parents looking for pet insurance for dogs also need to consider whether a company will cover them for inherited cancers. Although cancer can affect any dog at any stage during their lives, certain cancers are hereditary. These cancers include, but aren't limited to:

  • lymphoma;
  • hemangiosarcoma;
  • mast cell tumor;
  • osteosarcoma;
  • malignant melanoma;
  • mammary tumors;
  • histiocytic sarcoma.

Cancer treatment for dogs can be expensive. Some dogs may have multiple surgeries and rounds of chemotherapy and radiation. Without pet insurance covering hereditary conditions, these procedures will need to be paid out-of-pocket.

Do pet insurance companies widely cover these conditions?

Unfortunately, not all companies include coverage for hereditary conditions as part of pet insurance for dogs. As an owner, you'll need to shop around for different policies and review each company’s FAQs. This will guarantee that if your dog is diagnosed with an inherited condition, your plan will cover any additional veterinary costs required. It's important to remember that if your dog is ill before you sign on, you might not be eligible for coverage—even if the company usually covers hereditary conditions.

Wagmo: Pet insurance that covers hereditary conditions

At Wagmo, our mission is to provide all dogs (even those with hereditary conditions) the coverage they need to get the care they deserve. After all, we can't control our genetics. With Wagmo, pet insurance for dogs is simple.
Sign up for a deductible option, and we'll provide 100% coinsurance reimbursement for various treatments. These treatments can include prescription medications, cancer treatment, or surgery. For more information, check out our Wagmo Insurance plans, or take our pet insurance quiz to find the right plan for your dog.