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June 25, 2018 5 min read

Different dog breeds come with different personalities and susceptibility to diseases. As a dog owner to a pure breed, it is imperative to know your dog’s strengths as well as its weaknesses. Dog cancer is the number one dog killer, and it affects different dogs in different ways. Some dog breeds are more susceptible to different types of cancers than others. Although most dogs develop the disease in their old age, it is essential to know the early signs of cancer in dogs and to keep checking your dog regularly. In this article, we are going to look at the dog breeds that are most susceptible to cancer.


German Shepherd


The German Shepherd, also known as the GSD is a working dog with origins dating back to 1899. German Shepherds originate from Germany where they were primarily used to herd flocks of sheep, hence, their name. Their intelligence and versatility make them useful for different capacities like police dogs, rescue dogs, and companion animals. Despite their intelligence and agility, German Shepherds are some of the dog breeds that are genetically predisposed to cancer. The most common types of cancer in German Shepherds are hemangiosarcoma, osteosarcoma, and mammary glands tumors. Hemangiosarcoma affects the circulatory system and appears as a tumor on the heart or spleen. Osteosarcoma is common in large dogs like the German Shepherd and occurs mostly in the legs. Osteosarcoma is very painful and causes the dogs to limp. Amputating the affected limb can stop the osteosarcoma from spreading to other parts of the body. Mammary glands tumors occur in female dogs but are preventable by spaying the dog early before it is one year old.



The Rottweiler is a medium-large dog with origins dating back to the Roman Empire. Just like their counterparts the German Shepherds, Rottweiler dogs were mainly used to herd and guard herds of cattle. Due to their guard instincts, fearless nature, and high intelligence, Rottweilers serve as search and rescue dogs, police dogs, and guard dogs. The Rottweiler, just like its counterpart, the German Shepherd, is susceptible to certain types of cancer. The most common types of dog cancer in Rottweiler dog breeds are lymphosarcoma and osteosarcoma. Lymphosarcoma is a cancer of the lymphoid tissue and lymphocytes. Osteosarcoma is a type of bone cancer most prevalent in large dogs.


Labrador Retriever


The Labrador Retriever, also known as the Labrador, is a dog breed that dates back to the 1800s. The Labrador was used as a gun dog to retrieve game for hunters. Labradors are loyal and friendly dogs, making them the perfect family pets. They also act as therapy dogs, screening dogs for law enforcement, and disability assistance animals for the blind and those with autism. The Labrador breed does, however, have a high cancer rate. Labradors are predisposed to certain cancers such as lymphosarcoma and mast cell tumors. Mast cell tumors are the most common form of skin cancer.


Bernese Mountain Dog


The Bernese Mountain Dog is a large dog breed whose origin is the Swiss Alps. The history of the mountain dog dates back to the early 1900s when it served as a general farm dog for Alpine dairymen and herders. Bernese Mountain Dogs are calm, confident, and easy-going, making them the perfect family pets. They, however, have a higher rate of fatal cancer in dogs than other breeds. Bernese Mountain Dogs are most susceptible to fibrosarcoma, lymphosarcoma, osteosarcoma, malignant histiocytosis, and mast cell tumors. Fibrosarcoma manifests as cancerous tumors growing under the skin. The cancerous tumors are removable by a surgical operation, but they tend to recur after surgery. Malignant histiocytosis is a hereditary disease specific to the Bernese Mountain Dog breeds. It mostly affects the liver and lymph nodes though it might also affect the spleen, liver, and the central nervous system.


Golden Retriever


The Golden Retriever is a long-coated large-sized dog breed whose primary ability is retrieving game for hunters. They are naturally loyal, affectionate, and obedient, making them the ideal family pets, disability assistance dogs, and emotional support animals. They also have a love for water and are relatively easy to train. Golden Retrievers have a high rate of cancer infections compared to other dog breeds. The most common cancer types in Golden Retrievers include; hemangiosarcoma - an aggressive tumor of the blood cells, osteosarcoma, mast cell tumors, and lymphosarcoma.



The Boxer is a short-haired medium-sized dog breed originating from Germany in the late 1800s.  The Boxer dog breed served as a hunting dog to capture and restrain prey until the hunter arrived. Boxers are naturally curious and outgoing making them perfect pets for active families. They require plenty of exercises for about two or more hours daily. Boxers are highly susceptible to cancer such as mast cell tumors, brain tumors, and skin cancer especially for white Boxers and those with large portions of white color on their coats. Skin cancer is, however, easily preventable with the application of a sunscreen spray on your dog whenever he is playing outdoors in the sun.


The Flat-Coated Retriever


The Flat-Coated Retriever is a gun dog originating from England. The dog breed dates back to the 19th century when it was a favorite for retrieving game on land and in water. The Flat-Coated Retriever is an exuberant and confident dog that makes an affectionate family dog and companion to children. Their impeccable sense of smell also makes them highly valuable sniffer dogs and disability assistance dogs for the blind. Flat-Coated Retrievers are highly prone to fatal dog cancer especially cancer of the bones, fibrosarcoma (skin tumors), Lymphosarcoma (lymphoid tissue cancer), and malignant histiocytosis (cancer of the lymph nodes and liver.)


Giant Schnauzer


The Giant Schnauzer is a large-sized working dog breed with roots in 17th century Germany. The Giant Schnauzer was initially a guard dog for farmers but later became a military dog in the first and second World Wars. The breed’s agility and obedience make it suitable for use as a police dog, a herding dog and a search and rescue dog. They make great pets and guard dogs due to their territorial nature and high intelligence. They are also very trustworthy with children. Dark colored Giant Schnauzers are genetically predisposed to develop certain types of skin cancer like melanoma and squamous cell carcinoma. They are also known to develop skin tumors although most of the tumors are not cancerous.


In conclusion


Dog cancer is the number one killer disease in dogs. Although the breeds we have mentioned here are more likely to develop cancer in their lifetime, dog owners with different dog breeds should also keep a lookout always because there is not a single dog breed that is immune to cancer. As a dog owner, you are highly encouraged to be proactive in the fight against cancer in dogs by carrying out regular checks. It is also essential to provide your sick and old dog with supplements such as Life Gold to rejuvenate their immune systems and provide anti-oxidant protection.

Yunnan Baiyao Store
Yunnan Baiyao Store

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