Cocker Spaniel

Spaniels and terriers among breeds with higher risk of mammary cancer

Researchers have found that certain breeds, including Springer and Cocker Spaniels, and intact (un-neutered) and older dogs have an increased risk of being diagnosed with mammary cancer.

The Royal Veterinary College (RVC) VetCompass study investigated the risk of mammary tumours in female dogs (bitches) over the course of one year.

Mammary tumours are the most common type of cancer in bitches, representing over half of all tumour types diagnosed among un-neutered bitches. In addition to this, a previous study reported that around half of mammary tumours are malignant (can spread to other parts of the body), highlighting the potentially severe negative impact of the condition.

Just over 1% of bitches were diagnosed with mammary tumours during 2016, according to the study. The average age at diagnosis was 10.0 years.

Compared to crossbreeds, the breeds with increased odds of mammary tumour diagnosis included Lhasa Apso, English Springer Spaniel, Boxer, Staffordshire Bull Terrier, English Cocker Spaniel, Yorkshire Terrier, Labrador Retriever, Border Collie and Jack Russell Terrier.

A history of pseudopregnancy (when a bitch shows signs of pregnancy but is not pregnant) was also associated with increased odds of a diagnosis of mammary tumours.

Dave Brodbelt, Professor of Evidence-based Veterinary Medicine at the RVC, said the findings would help guide vets when discussing with owners the risks of mammary cancer, particularly in older female dogs.

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