8 Dog Breeds That Are Predisposed to Cancer

8 Dog Breeds That Are Predisposed to Cancer


Cancer is a devastating disease that can affect any dog, regardless of breed. Unfortunately, pet cancer experts have observed patterns regarding certain types of cancer and dog breeds that tend to suffer from them the most.

More research on dog cancer is necessary, but current data shows that certain breeds are more susceptible to cancer than others. Pet parents of these types of dogs should keep a close eye out for signs of cancer as their dogs age to ensure the fastest treatment and best prognosis.

Here are eight of the most cancer-susceptible dog breeds and the types of cancer they tend to develop the most.


  1. Golden Retriever: Golden Retrievers are some of the most common family pets. These loyal and gentle dogs often suffer from lymphoma, a type of cancer that affects the lymph nodes, and hemangiosarcoma. Golden Retrievers experience cancer at extraordinary rates compared to other dog breeds—approximately 60 percent of all dogs of this breed will die from cancer.
  2. Labrador Retriever: Another common family pet is the Labrador Retriever because of their gentle and fun nature. Unfortunately, they are also commonly afflicted by various types of cancer as they age. The average Labrador Retriever lives between 10 and 12 years.
  3. German Shepherd: German Shepherds are high-energy, intelligent dogs that require a lot of physical activity and training. In addition to being susceptible to health problems like arthritis, they are also among the breeds most commonly affected by cancer—particularly hemangiosarcoma.
  4. Great Dane: Great Danes, known for their hunting abilities, are also commonly afflicted by cancer. The breed tends to experience osteosarcoma the most often, with some color varieties experiencing other health problems more frequently. Great Danes are also prone to shorter lifespans.
  5. Rottweiler: Rottweilers are powerful, athletic dogs that have lots of energy and require lots of exercise. Sadly, Rottweilers are some of the most commonly cancer-afflicted dogs. Rottweilers commonly fall ill to lymphoma, mast cell tumors, osteosarcoma and hemangiosarcoma. 
  6. Bernese Mountain Dog: The Bernese Mountain Dog is another common family pet because of their calm demeanor. Unfortunately, this breed is particularly susceptible to mast cell tumors, among other health issues. Bernese Mountain Dogs live an average of six to nine years.
  7. Bichon Frise: The Bichon Frise, a small, playful breed, is prone to numerous health problems, including cancer. These dogs tend to live a little longer than most, averaging 12 to 15 years.
  8. Boxer: Boxers are sturdy, athletic dogs that enjoy staying physically active. Unfortunately, Boxers are particularly afflicted with mast cell tumors. In fact, they have the highest rate of mast cell tumor development of all dog breeds. Boxers are also more likely to develop brain cancer.

Why are certain breeds at a higher risk?


With the understanding that certain breeds tend to develop cancer more often than others, it’s natural to wonder why cancer in these dog breeds is so frequent. Unfortunately, nobody knows the exact answer to this question. Pet cancer experts continue to study this subject extensively to find links between cancer and particular breeds.

While there is no definitive answer as of yet, experts do have a few general ideas regarding the link between dog breed and cancer. First, some experts believe that smaller dogs have a reduced risk of cancer compared to large dogs. Small dogs like Chihuahuas have a cancer rate of less than 10 percent, which is significantly lower than that of medium to large breeds. One potential reason for this is a link between cancer and a hormone that controls bone and tissue growth, which smaller dogs have less of.

Another potential cause of breed-related cancer is genetics. A genetic mutation that has been passed down through generations of bred dogs may be behind why certain breeds experience particular types of cancer more frequently than other breeds.

Early detection is key in cancer-prone breeds

If you own a dog whose breed is susceptible to cancer, it’s important to remain vigilant about their health—especially as they get older. Conduct frequent at-home check-ups to spot lumps and bumps or other signs of illness. And, of course, take your pet in for their annual veterinary exam and discuss the possibility of cancer with your vet. They may recommend more frequent testing to ensure any signs of cancer are caught as early as possible.

The sooner a diagnosis can be made, the faster you can get your pup treatment and hopefully prolong your furry friend’s life.