10 Dog Breeds With High Cancer Rates

We all want our dogs to live long, healthy lives. But unfortunately, many are prone to developing serious health issues, including cancer. Cancer in dogs tends to be more prevalent in certain breeds, though researchers haven’t yet pinpointed whether the root cause is genetic, environmental or (most likely) both.

The Vet Cancer Registry has collected data on cancer in dogs. Veterinarians from around the world could submit information on confirmed cancer cases to better identify patterns and improve treatment. Although breed popularity influenced the data by affecting sample size, certain dog breeds still showed proportionally more instances of cancer. These are the 10 dog breeds it found that have high cancer rates.

1. Golden retriever

The first breed on the Vet Cancer Registry list (after taking into account all of the cancer cases in mixed-breed dogs) was the golden retriever. Goldens are one of the most popular dog breeds for good reason. They’re friendly, loyal and smart. They were developed in the 1800s to be rugged, trustworthy sporting dogs, according to the American Kennel Club. And that will to work has served them well to this day as service dogs, in obedience training and simply as loving family pets. But sadly, many goldens end up developing cancer — with lymphoma being a common type, according to PetMD. They’re also prone to hip and elbow dysplasia, as well as some eye and heart conditions.

2. German shepherd

German shepherd lying outside in grassCredit: Bigandt_Photography/Getty Images

German shepherds came from various types of German herding dogs, crossed to create the ideal herder in the late 1800s. “The German Shepherd Dog is distinguished for loyalty, courage, and the ability to assimilate and retain training for a number of special services,” according to the AKC. And though they were bred to be powerful, agile dogs, German shepherds today are predisposed to several health issues, including cancer. Many develop elbow and hip dysplasia, as well as degenerative myelopathy (a spinal cord disease) and bloat.

3. Poodle

Poodles might look like the epitome of extravagance and luxury. But they actually were developed more than 400 years ago to be intelligent retrieving water dogs. They’re skilled swimmers and have an excellent nose. And those puffy coats they sport in dog shows once had a much more functional purpose. “Hunters wanted their dogs to have free range of movement in the water, but they also wished to protect vital areas of the anatomy from the cold,” the AKC says. “They shaved the legs, neck, and tail but left the chest, hips, and leg joints coated.” Besides cancer, some poodles are prone to hip dysplasia, eye diseases, epilepsy, skin problems and von Willebrand’s disease (a genetic blood-clotting disorder).

4. Boxer

Boxers are active, athletic dogs who love to play. But sadly they also face several health issues. Boxers don’t do well in extreme heat or cold. And some might develop heart conditions, thyroid deficiency, degenerative myelopathy and hip dysplasia. They’re prone to various cancers, with PetMD specifically referencing brain tumors. To detect signs of cancer, PetMD recommends “looking for changes in your dog’s appetite, water consumption, weight loss or changes in behavioral patterns like spending more time alone or sleeping in odd places or a sudden slowing down.” Plus, watch the skin for any new lumps or changes in the fur.

5. Rottweiler

outdoor portrait of a Rottweiler Credit: Bigandt_Photography/Getty Images

Rottweilers are loyal and confident protectors. After all, their ancestors drove and guarded livestock for the Roman army, according to the AKC. And after the Roman Empire’s collapse, the breed further developed in the cattle town of Rottweil, Germany. Later, Rottweilers found work as police and service dogs. But as robust as they seem, they’re sadly not free from health problems. Rottweilers are specifically prone to osteosarcoma (bone cancer), according to PetMD. They also might develop hip dysplasia, eye problems and heart issues.

10 Dog Breeds With High Cancer Rates

6. Shetland sheepdog

Shetland sheepdogs — or Shelties — are active, intelligent little dogs. Bred on the subarctic Shetland Islands, they’re much more compact than their collie cousins for good reason. “The Sheltie eats less than the Collie and other large herding dogs,” according to the AKC. “This is an important consideration in the harsh, cold climate of the breed’s homeland, where food can be scarce.” Still, while that adaptation had its perks, Shelties still are prone to cancer and other health issues. Some might develop thyroid disease, eye and skin problems, von Willebrand’s disease, epilepsy and gallbladder mucocele (distention of the gallbladder due to mucus).

7. Cocker spaniel

Cocker spaniels are happy, playful little companions. And because they originated as hunting dogs, they’re also pretty sturdy and athletic. In fact, they’re the smallest member of the sporting dog group, according to the AKC. But besides cancer, many are prone to hip, knee and eye issues. And it’s very easy for them to develop infections in their trademark long, flowing ears.

8. Doberman pinscher

Look out for the Doberman come tax time. Taxman Louis Dobermann originally developed the breed around 1890 to accompany him on his tax collection rounds, according to the AKC. At that time, the breed was even larger and “less refined” — with the black and tan terrier, German pinscher, Rottweiler and herding dogs all contributing to its makeup. Today, the Doberman is still a powerful protector, though it is susceptible to several diseases. The breed might develop cancer, hip dysplasia, dilated cardiomyopathy (an enlarged heart), von Willebrand’s disease, eye problems and hypothyroidism.

9. Beagle

beagle sitting in grassCredit: RyanJLane/Getty Images

Ever since Snoopy appeared on the scene, beagles have been one of the most popular dog breeds. They’re friendly and loyal companions, who are generally mellow unless their nose catches an interesting scent. As a bonus, they “do not drool or have a doggy odor, and shedding is minimal,” the AKC says. Sadly, these happy dogs are prone to cancer, as well as hip dysplasia, luxating patella (dislocated kneecap), hypothyroidism, epilepsy and eye problems.

10. Miniature schnauzer

The miniature schnauzer — the smallest of the three schnauzer varieties — is a smart, outgoing little dog. It was bred smaller from the standard schnauzer (mixed with some poodle and Affenpinscher) to work as a barnyard rat-catcher. And according to the AKC, its friendly, obedient personality relates more to its larger breed roots — rather than some other small terriers who tend to be more stubborn and independent. But this enjoyable little dog isn’t free from health issues. In addition to cancer, the breed is susceptible to cataracts, pancreatitis, hyperlipidemia, liver shunts and urinary stones.

Main image credit: Bigandt_Photography/Getty Images

61 comments

Kevin B
Kevin B1 months ago

thanks for sharing

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Frances G
Frances G2 months ago

tyfs

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Sophie A
Sarah A2 months ago

Thank you

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Barbara S
Barbara S2 months ago

thank you

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Ruth S
Ruth S2 months ago

Thanks.

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Ruth S
Ruth S2 months ago

Thanks.

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Elisabeth T
Elisabeth T2 months ago

Thank you for the information

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Connie O
Connie O2 months ago

Luckily my cockapoo never had cancer and lived to the ripe old age of 16.

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danii p
danii p2 months ago

thanks for sharing.

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danii p
danii p2 months ago

thanks for sharing.

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