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14 Dog Breeds Most Prone to Cancer (Based on Science)

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By Emma Braby

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The big C is not just a worry for us humans, but it is also a worry for our beloved dogs. Nearly half of all dogs aged 10 and over die from cancer.1 The facts and figures show that all dog breeds can get cancer, but some breeds are more prone to cancer than others. For some, this can affect their choice of dog breeds, and for others, it merely means keeping an eye out for the signs.

Below, we will go through each dog breed and tell you a little about the science related to their cancer susceptibility. We’ve cited each piece of scientific data and research we’ve used in superscript numerals, and we’ve also included a vital section at the end of this guide detailing all the cancer signs. This is for all dog owners, whether you find your pooch on this list or not. In no particular order, here are the top 14 dog breeds most prone to cancer.Divider 8

The 14 Dog Breeds Most Prone to Cancer:

1. Golden Retriever

5Golden Retriever
Image credit: birgl, Pixabay

The Golden Retriever is the dog breed that is the most prone to cancer. A health study conducted in 1988 shows that 57% of female Goldens and 66% of male Goldens will be affected by cancer at some point in their lifetime.2 This cancer rate is more than double that of other dog breeds.

Although almost every cancer type has been found in the breed, the two most common are lymphoma cancer and hemangiosarcoma cancer. One in eight Goldens are affected by lymphoma, and one in five are affected by hemangiosarcoma. The study also showed that cancer is also more common in American Golden Retrievers than European Golden Retrievers.

2. Labrador Retriever

red fox labrador retriever
Image Credit: Fred Lalkens, Shutterstock

The Labrador Retriever is America’s number one breed. Unfortunately, not many people know that they are more likely to get cancer than the average dog breed. These dogs are prone to lymphoma, which is thought to affect the Labrador breed more than any other (including the Golden Retriever), and hemangiosarcoma.3

3. German Shepherd

German shepherd and alaskan malamute_BGsmith_shutterstock
Image credit: Steve Heap, Shutterstock

The German Shepherd is also more at risk of hemangiosarcoma compared to other breeds.4 This is a common type of cancer, and because it affects the blood vessels and cells, it spreads everywhere in the body. And unfortunately, many owners don’t realize until they rupture, and survival is bleak in this case. This is why it is essential to learn and be able to recognize all cancer signs.

4. Boxer

Image credit: Meli1670, Pixabay

The Boxer is at a higher risk of developing several types of cancers compared to other dog breeds.5 These include lymphoma, mast cell tumors, brain tumors, and skin hemangiosarcoma. Thankfully, skin hemangiosarcoma has a higher survival rate than general hemangiosarcoma because the change on the skin’s surface is more apparent.

5. Beagle

Image credit: Nick115, Pixabay

The Beagle is prone to many types of cancer but particularly lymphoma and bladder cancer.6 So much so that it is recommended Beagles should be given regular blood tests and checks for lumps and bumps. Beagles and their propensity to become overweight also increase their chance of getting cancer, so be sure to keep them in shape.

6. Great Dane

Great Dane
Image credit: Martin Tajmr, Pixabay

The Great Dane is a giant dog breed. Like most other giant dog breeds, they are more at risk of developing osteosarcoma.7 This is also known as bone tumors. They are also known to develop cancer at a much younger age compared to other dog breeds. They are also at risk of lymphoma and hemangiosarcoma.

7. Bernese Mountain Dog

Bernese Mountain Dog
Image credit: MBurdich, Pixabay

The Bernese Mountain Dog is a lovable, cuddly dog, known as being a gentle giant. Unfortunately, they have a short lifespan. Research by Dr. Audrey Ruple shows that Bernese Mountain Dogs with various orthopedic diseases are two and a half times more likely to develop histiocytic cancer than other dog breeds.8

8. Rottweiler

Image credit: Alexas_Fotos, Pixabay

Rotties are another dog breed that is more likely to get cancer compared to other dog breeds. In particular, bone cancer and lymphoma are the most common types of cancer in the breed. Thankfully, lymphoma is one of the most detectable and easily treated types of cancer in canines.9

9. Poodle

peach poodle on beach
Image credit: everydoghasastory, Shutterstock

Not all Poodles are at a higher risk of developing cancer. The standard-sized Poodle is at increased risk of squamous cell carcinoma of the digit (SCDD).10 Essentially, SCDD is bone cancer of the toes, and dogs who suffer from this have multiple recurrences. Research has shown that Poodles with a dark-colored coat are more at risk of this than light-colored Poodles who are rarely affected.

10. Bichon Frise

bichon frise
Image Credit: Vladimir Nenezic, Shutterstock

The heavenly Bichon Frise is more at risk of hemangiosarcoma compared to many other dog breeds. This is a type of bleeding tumor that commonly forms in the spleen, but they can be found in any other organ.11 It is recommended that their blood is checked yearly for cancer.

11. Doberman Pinscher

Doberman Pinscher
Image credit: patstatic, Pixabay

The Doberman Pinscher is one of the top five breeds most affected by cancer. Mammary cancer is a leading cause of death in female Doberman Pinschers.12 And again, because they are a large dog breed, they are more at risk of osteosarcoma.

12. Shetland Sheepdog

shetland sheepdog
Image credit: Pxhere

Shetland Sheepdogs are more prone to cancers that appear at an early age. Making it all the more important to research cancer signs before you welcome a dog into your life, not just as they age. A condition called Collie nose is also found in the breed. Although it is a skin condition, it can become cancerous if left untreated. Thankfully, chondrosarcoma, also known as nose cancer, is rare.13

13. Cocker Spaniel

Cocker Spaniel
Image credit: Katrina_S, Pixabay

Unfortunately, cancer is the most common cause of death in this breed. It is believed that up to 23% of Cocker Spaniels is affected by cancer at some point in their lifetime. They are prone to all types of cancer, and anal sac adenocarcinoma is prevalent in the breed.14

14. Portuguese Water Dog

portuguese water dog in the forest
Image credit: Brook Robinson, Shutterstock

Portuguese Water Dogs are one of four dog breeds that are most affected by hemangiosarcoma.15 It is one of the most common, and sadly, deadliest cancers found in canines. They are also known to develop lymphoma, too.


Signs and Symptoms of Cancer in Dogs

These can vary depending on the type of cancer in question, but here are the typical signs and symptoms to look out for:

  • Swollen lymph nodes (located throughout his body but easily detected behind the jaw or knee)
  • Enlarging lump
  • Weight loss
  • Loss of appetite
  • Limping
  • Lethargy
  • Chronic vomiting and diarrhea
  • Recurrent digestive problems
  • Abdominal distension
  • Lameness
  • Difficulty in passing urine
  • Unexplained bleeding
  • Lesions that won’t heal
  • Difficulty in breathing
  • Persistent cough
  • Oral odor

Overall, prevention, or in this case, early detection, is much better than a cure. As we all know, cancer is a nasty, and in some cases, a quick-spreading disease that is sometimes difficult or impossible to cure.

Thankfully, the above list could be common signs of many other health conditions. Just because your pooch shows some of the above signs doesn’t mean that they have cancer. So, don’t panic.

Keep up with your regular veterinary checks and take Fido for a checkup if they show any of the signs and symptoms above. Especially if their breed is on this list.

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Wrapping Up

Now you know which dog breeds are more prone to cancer. But remember, just because you have one of the above breeds doesn’t mean that they will get cancer. Similarly, it doesn’t mean that just because your dog’s breed isn’t on the list, it doesn’t mean they are cancer-worry-free.

Ultimately, it isn’t known what causes cancer. But keeping up with regular veterinary checkups gives you the best way of curing it if, god forbid, they get it.

If you’re interested in dog information backed with scientific data, have a look at some of our other related posts:

Featured Image Credit: Photographee, Shutterstock

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