Smaller dog breeds may also have a smaller risk of getting cancer

Small dog breeds such as Chihuahuas and Pomeranians are likely to have less risk of developing cancer than bigger breeds, according to a US study. The study found that larger breeds tend to have higher cancer risks although the risk drops in the largest breeds because they tend to have shorter lifespans and so may not live long enough to develop cancer. The study also found that some dog breeds, such as the Flat-coated Retriever, Scottish Terrier, Bernese Mountain Dog and Bullmastiff had cancer risks above what you would expect for their size. Inbreeding was shown to shorten dogs’ lifespans, but in general, did not increase cancer risk.

Journal/conference: Royal Society Open Science

Link to research (DOI): 10.1098/rsos.231356

Organisation/s: University of California Riverside, USA

Funder: The author received no funding for this study.

Media release

From: The Royal Society

The effect of body size and inbreeding on cancer mortality in breeds of the domestic dog: a test of the multistage model of carcinogenesis

Royal Society Open Science

Different breeds of dog have very different risks of cancer. It is shown that much of this variation can be explained by the interaction of large breed size increasing cancer risk with the opposite effect of size decreasing lifespan. The result is that large, but not the largest, breeds generally have the highest cancer risk. The details of this pattern provide insight into the number of genetic mutations that cause cancer in dogs, and were used to show that inbreeding in the ancestry of a breed shortens its lifespan, but in general does not increase cancer risk.

Contact: Dr Leonard Nunney, University of California Riverside,,


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