Some dog breeds more likely to develop cancer, certain diseases

When it comes to health problems, turns out dogs are a lot like people. Just like some families are more likely to develop certain diseases, so are some breeds of dog.


Cancer in man's best friend is on the rise and it's commonly found in some of the most popular breeds like; Retrievers, Labs, and German Shepherds.

Veterinarians say they are not sure why that is, but similar to people, there is a signal, for the cells not to do what they are supposed to do.

And just as when people live longer, the likelihood of getting cancer increases, the same is true for our pets.

Researchers at the University of Minnesota Veterinary Medical Center where dogs go for chemo, radiation and other medicine treatments are working on new ways to attack cancer.

"We are seeing dogs coming in with a disease that used to be a death sentence and they walk out of the hospital wagging their tail and they live a full life and ultimately they will die of something else because we've cured them," said Dr. Jamie Modiano.     

Modiano added what they're learning from dogs about cancer treatments may one day help improve options for people too.


Big dogs, like Labs, Shepherds, and Rottweilers, are more prone to joint problems.

"Flash", a black lab, needed arthroscopic surgery to clean out a bad elbow joint that was making it hard to walk because of a common condition called elbow dysplasia.  His recovery program includes regular physical therapy sessions at VCA Pine Ridge Animal Hospital in Andover.

Hip replacements in pooches, are also becoming fairly routine.

"Unfortunately it is due to a lot of inbreeding in the past," said Dr. Kathryn Kaufman from BluePearl Animal Hospital in Eden Prairie.

Vets at BluePearl have done orthopedic surgery on dogs as young as six months and as old as 14.   

"We will have a lot of patients walk out of the hospital better than when they came in," Kaufman added.


Small dogs like Yorkshire Terriers are popular for their size and personalities, but there's a price to pay for breeding a compact canine, teeth that grow too big for little jaws.

"So everything is crowded and stuck together and those guys can be really prone to periodontal disease," said Dr. Donnell Hansen from BluePearl.

A lot of times the dogs don't show any symptoms of dental disease so it can be easily missed by owners.

Veterinarians say if you are picking out a dog and you want less medical problems consider a mixed breed which might have fewer health problems but that is no guarantee for a vet free life for any dog.