Rates of Cancer by Dog Breed

What are the rates of cancer by breed? That was a request that was sent in in response to Dr Riggs' guest post on cancer in dogs and cats and one worthy of a post of its own.

In fact, there aren't many facts about relative rates of cancer by breed so I went to the source for the data. Dr. Steven Steinberg of VCA Veterinary Referral Associates, LLC has been collecting data on rates of cancer by breed over at the Vet Cancer Registry and built the following table based on a database of confirmed cancer cases compared to the numbers of AKC registered dogs in that breed. 

You can see that breeds such as Golden Retrievers, German Shepherd Dogs, Poodles and Rottweilers seem to have greater incidences of cancer than many other breeds.   

Breed

Number Registered

Rank by Number Registered

Percent of Total Registered

Number with Cancer

Rank by Number with Cancer

Percent of Total with Cancer

Mixed Breed

1150

1

20.11%

Labrador Retrievers

154,616

1

17.46%

74

13

1.29%

Golden Retrievers

56,124

2

6.34%

561

2

9.81%

German Shepherd Dogs

46,963

3

5.30%

197

3

3.45%

Beagles

44,610

4

5.04%

105

10

1.84%

Dachshunds

42,571

5

4.81%

71

14

1.24%

Yorkshire Terriers

37,277

6

4.21%

43

21

0.75%

Boxers

34,340

7

3.88%

155

5

2.71%

Poodles

33,917

8

3.83%

178

4

3.11%

Chihuahuas

28,466

9

3.21%

18

38

0.31%

Shih Tzu

28,294

10

3.20%

86

12

1.50%

Miniature Schnauzers

23,926

11

2.70%

105

11

1.84%

Pomeranians

23,061

12

2.60%

10

45

0.17%

Rottweilers

22,196

13

2.51%

143

6

2.50%

Pugs

21,774

14

2.46%

32

24

0.56%

Cocker Spaniels

20,655

15

2.33%

125

8

2.19%

Shetland Sheepdogs

17,453

16

1.97%

140

7

2.45%

Boston Terriers

15,983

17

1.81%

52

20

0.91%

Bulldogs

15,810

18

1.79%

34

23

0.59%

Miniature Pinschers

15,230

19

1.72%

1

51

0.02%

Maltese

13,049

20

1.47%

25

32

0.44%

Siberian Huskies

12,350

21

1.39%

58

18

1.01%

German Shorthaired Pointers

12,174

22

1.37%

25

33

0.44%

Doberman Pinschers

11,829

23

1.34%

124

9

2.17%

Basset Hounds

10,789

24

1.22%

60

17

1.05%

Welsh Corgis (Pembroke)

9,921

25

1.12%

26

31

0.45%

Bichon Frises

9,706

26

1.10%

20

37

0.35%

English Springer Spaniel

9,128

27

1.03%

24

36

0.42%

Great Danes

8,975

28

1.01%

29

28

0.51%

Weimaraners

8,774

29

0.99%

25

34

0.44%

Brittanys

7,846

30

0.89%

41

22

0.72%

West Highland Terriers

7,814

31

0.88%

55

19

0.96%

Collies

6,252

32

0.71%

32

25

0.56%

Pekingese

5,822

33

0.66%

8

47

0.14%

Mastiffs

5,797

34

0.65%

12

41

0.21%

Australian Shepherds

5,789

35

0.65%

31

26

0.54%

Lhasa Apsos

5,259

36

0.59%

30

27

0.52%

Saint Bernards

5,188

37

0.59%

5

49

0.09%

Papillons

4,547

38

0.51%

4

50

0.07%

Chinese Shar-Pei

4,437

39

0.50%

61

16

1.07%

Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

4,028

40

0.45%

6

48

0.10%

Akitas

3,987

41

0.45%

10

46

0.17%

Chesapeake Bay Retriever

3,829

42

0.43%

15

39

0.26%

Cairn terriers

3,812

43

0.43%

29

29

0.51%

Scottish terriers

3,516

44

0.40%

71

15

1.24%

Newfoundlands

3,121

45

0.35%

11

42

0.19%

Vizslas

3,106

46

0.35%

25

35

0.44%

Bullmastiffs

2,900

47

0.33%

15

40

0.26%

Airdale Terriers

2,841

48

0.32%

29

30

0.51%

Bloodhounds

2,804

49

0.32%

11

43

0.19%

Great Pyrenees

2,773

50

0.31%

11

44

0.19%

Totals

885,429

4208

73.59%

As Dr Steinberg would say, this table is only the first step in understanding cancer in different dog breeds but it's a good start.

Related Articles:
April is Cancer Month at Embrace Pet Insurance
Guest post: veterinary thoughts on dog and cat cancer
Cancer claim example: Grade III Mast Cell Tumor
Cancer Claim Example: Anal Sac Apocrine Gland Adenocarcinoma
Rates of Cancer by Dog Breed

If you want to read more, the information below was presented with the table above at the session "Using a Practical Veterinary Cancer Registry" at Tufts' Canine and Feline Breeding and Genetics Conference in 2003 and more details and graphs can be found on VIN.

For the past thirty years the veterinary literature has been hampered by small numbers of cases even in the best-designed scientific studies. Every month we read of questions raised about human medical research where thousands of individuals have been included and yet we have been at the mercy of the results of veterinary studies in which rarely more than 30 individuals have been the basis of the study.

Individual institutions usually don't generate enough consistent cases in large enough quantities to solve this problem and only by applying collated data collected cooperatively is veterinary medicine going to address this issue.

The Vet Cancer Registry is a web based (www.vetcancerregistry.com) data collection point for confirmed veterinary cancer cases. Cases have been registered from all over the world and only those cases with confirmed diagnoses are accepted into the database. This service is totally free and has been developed to be user friendly. There are currently more than 7600 cases on the website and cases are being added at a rate of about 12-18 per week. The website is recording about 2000 to 4000 hits per day. There are 5,718 dogs and 1,959 cats registered at this time in the registry.

Although the data are of a general nature, by looking at thousands of cases at one time one can notice trends that would not be evident in evaluating only a handful of cases. The search format is extremely interactive and allows for creative pursuits that are left to the imagination of the investigator. There is also a mechanism to query case submitters and to encourage collaboration among researchers.

We can associate the popularity of various dog breeds with the collected data from the Vet Cancer Registry by breed. In the following figure the top 50 dog breeds are listed with the number of individuals registered by breed according to published data from 2002 for the AKC. This table denotes trends where various dog breeds are over or under represented based on number of cancer cases reported in the registry in relation to popularity based on AKC registration. These kinds of trends are rarely used when a popular breed is noted to be susceptible for a specific disease in an institution's population. For example, Labrador Retrievers are by far the most popular breed, yet they are only number 13, among the top 50 breeds, in dogs most affected by cancer in cases registered in the Vet Cancer Registry. Similarly Chinese Shar-Peis are 39th in popularity according to the AKC but 16th , among the top 50 breeds, in dogs reported to have cancer in the Vet Cancer Registry.

Even this most simple study starts to reveal trends that as with all scientific endeavors raise more questions than they answer. Only by attaining significant numbers, will we obtain the knowledge to truly recognize incidence and treatment response trends.

Reprinted with permission of H. Steven Steinberg, VMD, DACVIM