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Dog Breeds Most Susceptible to CCL Injury

by Jen April |

Dogs may experience various health complications and injuries in their life. One of the most common injuries is an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) tear, otherwise known as a cranial cruciate ligament (CCL) injury when referring to dogs.

The playful nature of dogs is one of the primary reasons they develop a CCL injury. However, there’s a factor that’s often overlooked as a risk factor.

The breed of a dog is believed to play a part in why they develop a CCL injury. While all dog breeds can experience it, some are more susceptible. Genetics and other breed-specific factors contribute to a dog’s likelihood of getting a CCL injury.

What is an Anterior Cruciate Ligament Injury?

The ACL ligament is located in the stifle (knee joint) of your pooch. It stabilizes the mechanism in their knees and prevents the tibia (shin bone) from moving in front of the femur (thigh bone).

ACL injuries in dogs are some of the most common orthopedic injuries they may experience. They commonly cause degenerative joint diseases in the stifle joint, such as arthritis. When the CCL ligament is not functioning correctly, they can’t walk, run, and be their playful self. CCL ligament tears sometimes happen unexpectedly during their day-to-day activities.


Depending on the severity of your dog’s injury, there are many symptoms you can watch out for. Your dog may be unable to use one or both of their limbs or are entirely unable to bear weight on the affected leg/s. You may also notice a decrease in their range of motion and their hind leg being extended when they sit down.


There are many risk factors for a CCL injury, including being overweight, lack of exercise, overexertion, and repetitive stress.

Being overweight and obese is the most common risk factor for an ACL injury in dogs. It causes unhealthy pressure on your dog’s joints and ligaments. Additionally, dogs who don’t get enough exercise can develop weak bones and muscles.

Overexertion can be tied to the varying intensity of activities that your dogs do. For example, if your dog is generally inactive and lax during the weekdays but suddenly has to do intense tasks on the weekends, it could increase their likelihood of sustaining an injury. Likewise, if your dog is naturally athletic, it also increases their risk of getting a CCL tear.

Playing fetch with your dog regularly may also be an issue, if you’re not careful. While retrieving is an instinct for many dog breeds, repetitive motion and abrupt changes in direction can cause injury. Moreover, the strain they put on their joints and muscles can also make their ligaments prone to wear and tear.

Is Your Dog Prone to an ACL Injury?

Understand how a dog’s breed plays a role in this orthopedic complication. We’ve rounded up the dog breeds prone to an ACL injury:

German Shepherd

German Shepherds are some of the most popular dog breeds in America. Because they’re highly intelligent, they are easy to train and can become working dogs. Moreover, they are known for their courage, loyalty, and innate guarding instincts. They’re active and like having something to do, such as getting their daily exercise. If poorly bred, they can become nervous and aggressive.

German Shepherds can weigh 30 to 40 kgs for males and 22 to 32kgs for females. Because of their size, they are at high risk of developing hip dysplasia which puts extra pressure on their legs.

Labrador Retriever

Labrador Retrievers are not only friendly companions, but they are also working dog breeds. They’re muscular and athletic, making them excellent search and rescue dogs and partners for hunters. Because of their sweet and loving nature, they can work as therapy dogs as well. On the other hand, their intelligence makes them ideal assistance dogs for people with disabilities.

Labrador Retrievers love to eat, which can cause them to become obese very quickly. Male Labradors should typically weigh from 29 to 36 kilograms, and female Labs should typically maintain a 25 to 32-kilogram weight. To be efficient as working dogs and avoid being overweight, dog owners must measure their meals and give them plenty of exercise.


Also known as Newfie or Newfs, Newfoundlands are a strikingly large dog breed that’s heavy-boned. These majestic creatures often express their affinity for kids, which gives them the reputation as “nanny dogs.” Apart from keeping an eye on children, they are known to be excellent in the water. They can work as lifeguards or play water sports.

These noble giants are some of the world’s biggest dogs and can easily outweigh their owner. Males can weigh as much as 60 to 70 kilograms while females up to 55 kgs. Newfoundlands should get at least half an hour of exercise daily to stay fit and in shape. Because of their build, they are at risk of various health conditions, including cardiac diseases, cystinuria, and hip dysplasia.

Bichon Frise

Bichon Frises are small, cheerful dogs with a baby-doll face and elegant, fluffy white coat. They are always happy, affectionate, and gentle. They are often recommended to people with allergies because they don’t shed like other breeds. These traits make them excellent family pets. However, they are known to suffer from separation anxiety, so if you tend to leave your dog alone for an extended period of time, then Bichons Frises may not be for you.

Are you surprised to see this small dog breed on our list? The petite size of a Bichon Frise makes them more vulnerable to injuries. They may experience lameness or the inability to use one or more of their limbs. Although Bichons Frises are playful, they get tired quickly. As pet owners, we advise that you strengthen your dog’s muscles and bones through regular exercise.


Don’t be fooled by the broad shoulders and heavily-muscled exterior of a Rottie. They may display strength on the outside, but you will see a mellow, intelligent, and fearless dog when you look into their eyes. Rottweilers are playful and silly, and would even plop on your lap to get some affection. Well-bred Rotties are often calm, confident, and courageous but not aggressive.

Rottweilers are descendants of the Asian Mastiff, and it’s no wonder they can become quite large themselves. Male Rotties can weigh from 43 to 61 kilograms while their female counterparts weigh only 36 to 45 kilograms. They take a longer time to reach their full size compared to other breeds. They can reach their height around one year but would take two to three years to achieve their maximum weight, depending on their size.

St. Bernard

St. Bernards are good-natured dog breeds that initially rescued people from the Alps’ cold winds and snows. They would use their soft fur and body heat to keep lost travelers warm. Their name comes from St. Bernard Hospice, a refuge for backpackers between Italy and Switzerland.

Apart from being search and rescue dogs, they also make great indoor dogs and family pets. They are incredibly protective and affectionate with their family, especially children, and can become aloof when around strangers. Although they are quick to learn, they can become quite stubborn.

St. Bernards can weigh 63 to 81 kilograms for males and 54 to 63 kilograms for females. Due to their massive size, they can put a lot of unhealthy pressure on their bones, joints, and ligaments. You can take your St. Bernard on regular walks and occasional hikes to keep their weight in check.

Let Your Dog Live a Happy and Healthy Life

While these dog breeds are susceptible to experiencing an ACL ligament tear, it won’t stop them from having a happy life.

Make sure your dogs are happy and healthy by monitoring their weight and giving them regular exercise and a proper diet. However, if your pet does incur an ACL injury, there are various treatment options and ways you can help them recover.

Get in touch with us to know more.

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