If you have a purebred dog, be on the look out for problems that are more common in your dog’s breed.
Different breeds are more prone to certain health issues. Many are familiar with genetic diseases like hip dysplasia, more common in large breed dogs. However, there are more examples of breed-associated diseases, and cancer is no exception.
At this time, the Golden Retriever is the breed most prone to cancer. It is estimated that up to 75% of Goldens will contract cancer during their lifetimes.
Some common cancer types in Goldens are osteosarcoma (bone cancer), lymphosarcoma (cancer of the lymph nodes and system), and hemangiosarcoma (cancer of blood vessels, common in the spleen).
Cancer is also common in the Boxer. Some examples of cancers found in this breed are lymphosarcoma, brain cancers, and mast cell tumors ((a cancer involving specialized cells called mast cell, common in the skin and other body sites).
Scottish and West Highland White Terriers, along with Shetland Sheepdogs, are more prone to getting transitional cell carcinoma (a tumor usually found in the bladder).
Pugs and Shar Peis have a higher incidence of mast cell tumor.
Rottweilers, Great Danes, and other large and giant breed dogs are prone to osteosarcoma.
These are just some examples of breed-related cancers (for more information, see the Guide).
The reason certain breeds are more prone to cancers is that there are genes that increase the risk of cancers. But, how does a dog end up with cancer genes?
When a dog breed is created, dogs with certain physical traits are bred in an effort to serve a purpose for people. In days gone by, dog breeds were used for work purposes such as pulling or guarding. As time went on, breeds were used for human entertainment (bull or bear baiting), or for help on the hunt.
Later, dog breeds were created for certain looks and personalities that people found enjoyable.
Many dog breeds are now popular, since we have grown to love their particular personalities and physical traits.
When we use smaller groups of dogs and breed them together repeatedly, we the puppies have genetic traits that are more common than other dogs. This is how Golden Retriever puppies look like their parents. The Golden Retriever genes are similar.
However, when the risk of a disease increases due to genes, the more carriers of the bad genes that are bred together, the more likely the disease will eventually emerge.
This is the reason certain breeds are more cancer-prone.
There are many other risk factors that contribute to cancer in dogs. The Dog Cancer Survival Guide has more information on cancer and its causes in man’s best friend.