When it comes to cancer in dogs, a diagnosis these days isn’t as bleak as it used to be. Indeed, 50% of all canine cancers are curable, if caught early enough. The disease is mostly an affliction of old age (though, sadly, some cancers strike dogs as young as two).
It may seem like more dogs get cancer than ever before, but it’s likely because they enjoy a longer life span, thanks to vaccinations against infectious diseases like parvovirus and distemper, and new treatments for congenital, degenerative and metabolic disorders. The good news is a long-term study of Golden Retrievers is providing the necessary data to reduce in the risk of cancer in all dogs.
The high incidence of cancer in American Golden Retrievers around 60 %, appears to be a relatively recent phenomenon. Interestingly, cancer risk in Australian and European Goldens appears to be significantly lower, with a mortality figure around 38 %.
Goldens in Australia/Europe and the U.S. may look similar, but there are enough DNA differences to separate the dogs into two distinct populations corresponding to their geographic regions. Gene pools on both continents are large, so breeding between the two populations is rare.
When studied in the lab, genomic differences suggest that risk for some types of cancer is related to recent genetic mutations in North American Golden Retrievers. And this could be good news: genetic differences between North American Golden Retrievers and other Golden Retrievers may be key to understanding the etiology of canine cancer overall.
The four types of cancers common in golden retrievers – lymphoma and osteosarcoma, which are dramatically similar to the same cancers in humans, as well as hemangiosarcoma and mast cell tumours.