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Study highlights bone cancer risk in giant dogs

Very large dog breeds have a significant risk of osteosarcoma, a cancerous bone tumour, compared to crossbreed dogs, new research shows.

Analysing veterinary clinical records for a sample of 905,552 UK dogs over the course of one year, the Royal Veterinary College (RVC) study found that osteosarcoma was much more common in giant breeds and dogs with heavier bodyweights, longer legs or longer skull lengths. Scottish Deerhounds were 118 times more likely to develop osteosarcoma than crossbreed dogs, Leonbergers were 56 times more likely, Great Danes 34 times and Rottweilers 27 times.

Breeds with a relatively low risk of osteosarcoma in comparison to crossbreeds included English Cocker Spaniels, Shih Tzus and Jack Russell Terriers.

Osteosarcomas are painful and aggressive tumours that can develop in any bone, but are most common in the leg. Dogs with osteosarcoma often show signs of lameness with bony or soft tissue swelling.

Greater bodyweight and ageing were associated with increasing risk of osteosarcoma. The average age at diagnosis was 9.64 years and the average adult bodyweight of affected dogs was 33.04kg, compared with an average of just 13.95kg in dogs without osteosarcoma.

Bill Lambert, Health, Welfare and Breeding Services Executive at the Kennel Club, said that the study findings would be used as part of the organisation’s breed health and conservation plans, creating strategies to tackle health priorities within affected breeds.

In this Petwise blog we take a look at various health conditions that could affect your senior dog’s legs or their ability to walk.