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Would cancer change your dog breed preference?

September 16, 2013 Leave a comment Go to comments

Woman Rubbing Noses with PuppyWould you avoid getting a certain dog breed if you knew it had a higher chance of getting cancer?

That is the question I asked myself as I read some recent data on dogs and canine cancer. The data was posted on The Institute of Canine Biology but came from a scientific veterinary review article by Jane Dobson titled “Breed-Predispositions to Cancer in Pedigree Dogs”.

The data was both interesting and sad. In breeds where the prevalence of cancer is high, the attributing factor is most likely genetics. Certain breeds of dogs are just genetically pre-disposed to get cancer more than others.  Whether this is due to closed breed registries I cannot say (I’m just not knowledgable enough about dog breeding to know) but it certainly does give one pause to wonder.

As I looked at the list of dogs, I automatically found myself scrolling down the list to see where Shetland Sheepdogs and Labrador Retrievers fell. Labs were higher on the list (31%) than Shelties (22%), but certainly not as high as the irish Water Spaniel (55.8%) or the Flat-coated Retriever (50.3%).

I found myself whispering a silent “Thank God” and then wondering to myself whether a higher-risk for cancer would change how I felt about a certain breed. If Shetland Sheepdogs were higher on the list would I feel differently about getting a Sheltie again? Would the data influence my decision to stay away from certain breeds? To be honest, I don’t think so, but then again, I am not the owner of a Bernese Mountain Dog or a Vizsla or a Rottweiler or one of the other breeds topping the list. Maybe I would feel differently if my favorite breed was one of these dogs. I just don’t know.

How about you? Would you choose another breed of dog if you knew cancer was more of a possibility?

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  1. Sherrell fick
    September 16, 2013 at 10:56 PM

    No, I do not think it would change my mind . I love my lab but it does make you wonder. She is now 9ys old and in great health. Knock on wood!!

    • Mel
      September 17, 2013 at 6:43 AM

      Same here Sherrell.

  2. September 16, 2013 at 11:09 PM

    Not sure it depends on the circumstances

  3. September 17, 2013 at 12:01 AM

    I don’t think it will change anyone’s mind about a dog they already have and love. But if one were looking for a new dog, this may be one of factors to look at, among many others.

    • Mel
      September 17, 2013 at 6:42 AM

      Good point!

  4. Rebecca
    September 17, 2013 at 2:47 AM

    No,I don’t believe it would change my mind or affect how I feel about certain breeds.

  5. Beckylouise2904
    September 17, 2013 at 6:22 AM

    I think this is an interesting piece of research – like weliveinafla said if someone already has a dog and love it then it probably won’t make a difference. It is informative for prospective owners – particularly if you are looking for a pedigree, whereas having a mutt (mongrel or Heinz 57) you might not be able to find this information out.

    I do think there are genetic factors to predisposing certain breeds of dogs to certain types of cancer, however, what is not mentioned in the study is the diet of the dog; I am sure as with humans, there are other dietary risk factors. It would a fantastic (possibly impossible) to add this information and determine which diets contribute to cancers for the future.

    For me, it would influence my decision I think if I was looking for a new dog but then I prefer the mutts to the pedigrees! 🙂

    • Mel
      September 17, 2013 at 6:41 AM

      I agree on both counts. It certainly wouldn’t change my mind about my dogs.

      Diet most certainly could be a factor, but prevalence in certain dog breeds is also pretty well-known. For instance, most flat-coated retrievers know that cancer is a likelihood not a possibility.

      I prefer mutts too. 🙂

  6. September 17, 2013 at 6:23 AM

    Wow, this is a tough call. I’ve always been a Lab person and don’t know if I could or would want to change if I knew of this. Probably not because our time with them is too short anyways and I guess I’d want to enjoy them no matter what for as long as I could. Tough call though.

    • Mel
      September 17, 2013 at 6:35 AM

      You echo my thoughts exactly. I love Labs. I don’t know that I would change because of cancer, but maybe at some point it would be too much? I know a family who has lost 4 Bernese Mountain Dogs to cancer in the last 20 years. It’s so tragic to have experienced it over and over again.

  7. September 17, 2013 at 6:46 AM

    I guess my breed “Vizsla” is cancer free….Not even mentioned on the entire pdf file.

  8. September 17, 2013 at 7:05 AM

    Since I’m pretty attached to the Newfoundland breed, the risk that they have of getting cancer would not change my preference. However, to be honest, if I was looking to add another breed into the mix I would not go with a breed that was considered a high risk.

  9. September 17, 2013 at 8:07 AM

    Having gone through cancer with two cats, one at six and one at nine, I would avoid it. Any purebred dog needs a close scruitiny on the health risks and breeding practices, it’s a reason a lot of people adopt mixed dogs. Cats can be with you for 20 years, it’s so heartbreaking to go through the pain and death so early. Also, people inbreeding so much shouldn’t be encouraged.

  10. September 17, 2013 at 8:29 AM

    Very interesting research but cancer doesn’t necessarily ascribe to a breed preference. I have two purebred labs and two mixed breeds. It is my really mixed up mixed breed who has the cancer out of the four. All I can do is love the pups that end up at the Litt Palace of Puppy Love and this list would not change my mind.

  11. September 17, 2013 at 9:25 AM

    My breed of choice (Cardigan Welsh Corgi) is somewhere in the middle at 28%. I don’t think that would keep me from getting another as I love their characteristics. But what I would do (and am currently doing with my two) is work toward giving them the best chance at avoiding cancer by providing the highest quality diet, filtered water, keep them slim/exercised, and avoid exposure to lawn chemicals, etc. that contribute to the problem.

  12. September 17, 2013 at 9:27 AM

    Of course I checked the list and was happy to see Newfoundlands very low on it, but I really don’t think that would’ve made a difference in any future dogs we may add to the family. After all, even though cancer isn’t a big risk, lots of other things are in giant breeds, like hip dysplasia. We knew that going in and it didn’t affect our decision. And goodness knows Moses’ health history has certainly put that resolve to the test. But I’m pretty stubborn that way. It might not be logical, but sometimes that’s okay when it comes to pets.

  13. September 17, 2013 at 9:33 AM

    Mom says that would not change her decision because she feels there is still such a good chance the dog would not get cancer and also if you keep it healthy it may help. The only thing that has influenced her thinking is age. She loves huge dogs but the short life span is just too hard, so she will not own those breeds that only live around eight years.

  14. September 17, 2013 at 9:47 AM

    Very interesting. I happy to see that German shepherds (my dogs) are underrepresented on the cancer charts, but they are effed with health in so many other ways. Frankly, almost all purebred dogs have some horrific malady specific to their breed. In the future, I’d fall toward mixed breeds.

  15. September 17, 2013 at 10:08 AM

    I always worried about cancer because Cali was a golden mix and I know many goldens die of cancer. The thing I noticed about that report is that the median age was older than I would have guessed. We feel very lucky that Cali lived to be 14 1/2 (even though, in the end, it was cancer that took our sweet girl from us). It does make me think twice when considering a golden (we just LOVE them), because it is so painful to lose a dog to cancer. Report or no report – any dog could get cancer, all we can do is feed them the best foods and give them lots of love, right?

  16. September 17, 2013 at 10:58 AM

    I can answer this based on experience! When we adopted Brooks he got cancer and we lost him in less than a year. It was heartbreaking. We learned that goldens are one of those dogs highly prone to cancer. But we fell in love with the breed. And now we have Ike!

  17. September 17, 2013 at 3:44 PM

    It would not affect my decision. It was only when we lost our golden a few months ago to cancer that we found out it was common in them. I’ve always thought genetics probably played a factor, but environment also. We also lost a mixed breed dog to lymphoma at only the age of 6. I think you just can never know for sure. But like Emma said above, I would not choose a breed of dog that has a shorter life span.

    • Mel
      September 17, 2013 at 8:28 PM

      You are one of many who have mentioned losing a mixed breed dog to cancer. I guess all we can do is try to care for them the best we can with a good diet, exercise and love. Thanks for sharing Jan.

  18. September 17, 2013 at 4:02 PM

    Wow…I guess it depends on the person’s financial status or tolerance for health-related issues. If I already owned a dog with a cancer risk, I couldn’t give her up. However, if I wanted to add a new canine to the family, I’d choose a breed based on personality, size, grooming, health, temperament and any other important factors before making my final decision.

    • Mel
      September 17, 2013 at 8:27 PM

      Great point. I hadn’t even thought about expense or tolerance for health issues. I think both factors would be something to consider. Temperament is very important to me too. More so than a risk for cancer.

  19. September 17, 2013 at 4:29 PM

    No, it would not affect my decision at all. I lost a wonderful mixed breed dog to cancer when he was barely 3 years old. Mutts are supposed to have hybrid vigour and be healthier than pure bred dogs! It wasn’t until well after I adopted Beryl that I discovered that Greyhounds are quite prone to cancer. I couldn’t find them on the list in the survey though. I don’t dwell on it. If Beryl gets osteo we’ll fight it together but hopefully she won’t. And hopefully my next Greyhound won’t either because my next dog will be a GH 🙂

    • Mel
      September 17, 2013 at 8:26 PM

      I had heard GH’s had a high incidence of cancer too. I am so sorry for your loss Sue. That must have been awful to go through, especially at such a young age. I don’t think I could stop myself from getting a breed I love, including Greyhounds.

  20. September 17, 2013 at 8:05 PM

    After having a dog die of a weird auto-immune disorder, we did consider diseases before our next dog . . . and ended up with a mutt. Now 3 + years after treating our dying dog, I don’t think the risk would effect our choice if we found the right dog for us. We are most likely (if we have other dogs in the future) to get rescued dogs who are likely mixes anyway!

    • Mel
      September 17, 2013 at 8:23 PM

      I am so sorry for your loss. It must have been very hard. I love mutts. Any dog is lucky to have your love, mix or not.

  21. September 18, 2013 at 11:29 AM

    I’m a lab girl through and through! I also try to be proactive with my dogs in terms of monitoring their food, shots, supplements, exposures etc. I don’t know if that makes a difference, but I love my labbies and wouldn’t trade them for anything!

  22. Y. Short
    September 18, 2013 at 3:30 PM

    I must be a glutton for punishment. Golden Retriever is my breed of choice. I currently have goldens. My previous golden died of cancer at an early age. That did not change my choice when I added to our canine family after his death.

  23. September 18, 2013 at 6:37 PM

    No! Goldens forever!

  24. September 18, 2013 at 6:59 PM

    Even though our last 3 dogs are mixed-breeds, our Australian Shepard/Border Collie developed lymphoma and poor Toby, the mixed breed of who knows what, had everything else BUT cancer. So, does it matter? We love them no matter what and you do the best you can to keep them safe–good food, lots of exercise and tons of love.

    Sage’s Mom

  25. September 20, 2013 at 12:21 AM

    Tough question that doesn’t have a simple answer. Would I get a Golden Retriever? Most likely not, as lovely as they are. Would I steer away from the Rottie? No, because we have a special relationship with the breed.

  26. September 21, 2013 at 1:14 PM

    There is a lot to be said for reading the ingredients of vaccinations, flea meds. pharmaceuticals and dog food, especially grocery store dog food. It’s not a wonder why dogs and cats get the same diseases as humans. I prefer fresh raw, whole food, its what they crave and I what they need to be healthy and happy.

  1. September 19, 2013 at 7:15 PM

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