Viral diseases

Dog Breeds Most Susceptible to Parvo

María Besteiros
By María Besteiros, Expert veterinary assistant and canine/feline hairdresser.. Updated: July 10, 2024
Dog Breeds Most Susceptible to Parvo

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Parvovirus in dogs is a potentially fatal disease which is caused by a viral strain known as canine parvovirus (CPV). Commonly shortened to parvo, this is a highly contagious disease which can be contracted by any dog in the right circumstances. Puppies are particularly vulnerable to this disease since their immune system is still immature. Advanced age and other health factors can also make dogs susceptible due to lowered immunity. There are also certain breeds which appear to have a greater genetic predisposition to parvovirus. Although our understanding of these genetic factors is limited, it does appear these breeds may have inherited traits or genetic variations which influence susceptibility to parvovirus.

At AnimalWised, we look at the dog breeds most susceptible to parvo. This complete list includes the Rottweiler, Doberman, Labrador Retriever and German Shepherd.

You may also be interested in: Most Common Viral Diseases in Cats
  1. Rottweiler
  2. Doberman Pinscher
  3. Labrador Retriever
  4. German Shepherd
  5. Other dog breeds susceptible to parvovirus


The high susceptibility of Rottweilers to parvovirus is well known. Like the other breeds mentioned in this article, they are dogs that are very easily infected, present more serious clinical symptoms or tend to show a poorer response to vaccination. All these reasons explain their inclusion in the list of breeds most susceptible to parvovirus, meaning we must take extreme precautions if we have adopted a Rottweiler into our family.

While vaccination schedules are vital for every dog, regardless of breed, we must be particularly scrupulous in updating vaccinations for Rottweilers. This means establishing a vaccination schedule soon after birth of the puppy and maintaining it throughout their lives. In the event of a suspicious clinical sign of disease, we should err on the side of caution. Consult a veterinarian if you observe any of the following in your Rottweiler:

  • Apathy
  • Anorexia or decreased appetite
  • Fever
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea (with or without blood)
  • General weakness

Being a disease of viral origin, parvo has no curative treatment. If our dog is affected by this disease, we can offer supportive measures to the animal until their immune system manages to control the infection. For greater chances of recovery, it is important that this begins as soon as possible.

Dog Breeds Most Susceptible to Parvo - Rottweiler

Doberman Pinscher

Also known as the Dobermann, Doberman Pinscher dogs are also breeds susceptible to parvovirus. As we explained in the previous section about Rottweilers, it is also due to a greater ease of infection or a tendency to respond worse to vaccines.

In addition to establishing and maintaining a vaccination schedule, there are other precautions you need to take to prevent parvo infection in your Dobermann. Until the puppy is completely vaccinated, it is not advisable to expose them to any potential viral infections. This means we should avoid interaction with others dogs if we are not sure of their vaccination status, nor take them for walks in areas with secretions from other potentially infected specimens.

As it Dobermanns respond worse to vaccination than other dog breeds, it must be taken into account that this breed may not generate enough antibodies to defend itself against parvovirus. This means they may also contract the disease during adult life, so we should be generally careful with potential exposure.

Compare this breed with another susceptible to parvo with our article comparing the Doberman Pinscher to the German Shepherd.

Dog Breeds Most Susceptible to Parvo - Doberman Pinscher

Labrador Retriever

The Labrador Retriever is a dog that enjoys great popularity as a companion thanks to their happy character and family loyalty. They are also often used as working dogs, especially in animal-assisted therapies. Unfortunately, they are also among the dog breeds most susceptible to parvovirus.

It is important to remember that this virus can affect dogs to a lesser or greater extent depending on the individual, regardless of breed. Some may suffer from the disease in a mild form with hardly any clinical signs and can recover with supportive treatment at home. Others that have been exposed to the same amount of viral concentration may develop dangerous symptoms such as severe dehydration or bloody diarrhea. In these cases, the dog will require hospitalization to be stabilized and to monitor their progress.

Even among the other dog breeds most susceptible to parvo, Labrador Retrievers are known to show particularly severe symptoms. For this reason, we insist on the importance of vaccinations, as well as veterinary consultation after observing the first sign of illness.

Learn more about some of the diseases to which Labrador Retrievers are most prone.

Dog Breeds Most Susceptible to Parvo - Labrador Retriever

German Shepherd

The German Shepherd is another very popular dog breed. While they make excellent companion animals for certain households, they are also greatly respected for their ability as a working dog. This is especially in security forces such as police or the army. As with the other breeds, their susceptibility to parvo is of genetic origin. This factor influences their ease of contagion, severity of symptoms and a tendency to respond poorly to vaccination.

It should be noted that not all types of German Shepherd dogs will be equally susceptible to parvo. This is because there are differences between individuals that mean that vaccines provide less or more protection. The lower protection may explain vaccine failures. In other words, even vaccinated animals could contract the disease, hence the importance of following the veterinarian's instructions.

Dog Breeds Most Susceptible to Parvo - German Shepherd

Other dog breeds susceptible to parvovirus

While the above breeds are considered the dog breeds most susceptible to parvovirus, it is not a definitive list. Each dog is an individual with their own health issues which might influence contagion. In addition to these dogs, the following breeds are believed to have some genetic predisposition to parvo:

  • English Springer Spaniel
  • American Staffordshire Terrier
  • American Pit Bull Terrier

Generally speaking, it is believed that purebred dogs are less resistant to virus such as parvo than mixed-breed dogs. However, breed is only one factor in the prevalence of viral infections in dogs. It is for this reason it is so important that we take our dog to a veterinarian from the time they are a puppy. They will establish vaccination and deworming schedules, as well as provide routine checkups to monitor their health status.

As we have stated, parvovirus is a potentially lethal disease which is highly contagious. If your dog is sufficiently unfortunate to contract this virus, different factors will determine their prognosis. You can learn more about these factors with our article on how long does a dog live with parvovirus?

This article is purely informative. AnimalWised does not have the authority to prescribe any veterinary treatment or create a diagnosis. We invite you to take your pet to the veterinarian if they are suffering from any condition or pain.

If you want to read similar articles to Dog Breeds Most Susceptible to Parvo, we recommend you visit our Viral diseases category.

  • Carlson and Giffin (2002). Practical manual of canine veterinary medicine. Madrid: Editorial el Drac.
  • Fariñas Guerrero, F. (2015). Animal-dependent vaccine failures: myths and realities. Veterinary Portal.
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Dog Breeds Most Susceptible to Parvo