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What Breed of Dog is Most Likely to get Cancer?

What Breed of Dog is Most Likely to get Cancer?

When it comes to cancer, some breeds of dogs face a higher risk of developing the disease than others. Among purebred dogs, there are certain breeds that have predispositions for specific forms of cancer. Our Long Island veterinary team shares a few of the breeds with an increased risk of developing cancer.

Dog Breeds & Cancer Risks

If you're getting a new dog, you're likely comparing the different personality traits and health risks that come with different breeds. Cancer is particularly common in dogs, especially among purebreds. It is important that you are aware of the risks for the breed of dog you are choosing as a new pet so that you can support and monitor your dog's health.  

Choosing a Dog Breed

It's important to understand that cancer can affect dogs of all sizes and breeds, even mixed breeds. However, among purebreds, there are certain breeds that are more susceptible to the disease. 

Deciding on a dog breed with a lower risk of developing cancer does not guarantee that your pet won't get cancer during its lifetime. Dog breeds with longer lifespans may be more likely to develop cancer because they live long enough for the disease to take hold. It is estimated that cancer is the main cause of death in 45% of dogs, especially those over the age of 10. 

That said, you may want to do a little research into different dog breeds and learn which dogs are at the highest risk for developing cancer. 

Types of Cancer in Different Dog Breeds

There are many factors to consider when determining a specific dog breed's risk of cancer when compared to another breed.

Among purebreds, certain dog breeds have predispositions for specific types of cancer. For example, mast cell tumors are more common in short-nosed breeds like Boston terrier and boxers, whereas bone cancer is often seen in large long-legged dog breeds such as Great Danes. Skin cancer is most often diagnosed in short-haired breeds with fair skin, and there is a type of ear cancer commonly seen in cocker spaniels but rarely seen in other breeds. 

Dog Breeds Most Prone to Cancer

Golden Retriever

  • Golden retrievers are beautiful dogs that are revered as family pets, however, they are at a higher risk of developing cancer. Lymphoma and hemangiosarcoma (cancer of the blood vessels) are aggressive forms of cancer commonly seen in this breed. In recent studies, researchers have identified two genes that are related to the development of cancer in golden retrievers, this finding could lead to a method of detecting the genes before cancer has an opportunity to develop.

German Shepherd

  • German shepherds have been a long-time favorite breed among dog lovers and trainers. Unfortunately, this breed has a high risk of developing cancer, with the most common form being hemangiosarcoma (cancer of the blood vessels).


  • Beagles are adorable, cuddly, and smart hunting dogs. This breed is at a higher risk of developing bladder cancer and may have recurrent urinary tract infections. This risk is increased if dogs are frequently exposed to lawn chemicals such as pesticides and herbicides.

Bernese Mountain Dog

  • Bernese mountain dogs are confident dogs with a calm disposition that make them wonderful family companions. Sadly, they have a short lifespan and a higher risk of developing a variety of cancers including mast cell tumors and malignant histiocytosis (histiocytic sarcomas). 


  • Rottweilers are known for their strength and guardian skills. They are playful and protective of their family. However, when it comes to cancer they have a higher than average risk of developing a number of different cancers including soft tissue sarcomas, osteosarcoma (bone cancer), lymphoma, mast cell tumors, transitional cell carcinomas (bladder cancer), and hemangiosarcomas (cancer of the blood vessels).


  • Boxers are loyal and affectionate dogs and can be terrific family companions. Unfortunately, this breed is often diagnosed with mast cell tumors,  a form of slow-growing cancer most often found on the skin.

Great Dane

  • Great Danes make well-mannered family companions and are known for their graceful appearance and hunting skills. With an average lifespan of 7 to 10 years, this breed of dog tends to suffer from a variety of health conditions, including cancer, cardiomyopathy, and gastric torsion.

Choosing Your Pet Companion

Whatever breed of dog you decide on will come with a variety of characteristics and potential risks for various health conditions and diseases, including cancer. If the breed you choose has a higher than average risk of cancer, it is important that you take the time to learn about your dog's genetic background and identify ways in which you can mitigate the health risks for your pet. Monitoring your dog's health and regular veterinary visits will help to detect early stages of cancer and will allow for potential treatments.  

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. Please note that Atlantic Coast New York Veterinary Specialists does not offer veterinary oncology services.

If you think your pup is showing signs of cancer, contact our Long Island vets and we can refer you to a veterinary oncologist.

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