Data analysis links purebred dogs to higher cancer rate

Investigators from pet insurer Nationwide looked into the claims of 1.6 million dogs

Claims data analyzed by Nationwide’s pet insurance team indicated that purebred dogs are more likely to be diagnosed with cancer than non-purebred dogs. As a group, purebred dogs have a 1.9 times higher relative risk than cross-breed and mixed-breed dogs.

The results of the analysis were recently revealed at the Western Veterinary Conference in Las Vegas and have been published in a series of white papers.

Investigators analyzed policy and claims data from 1.61 million dogs. They found that the prevalence of cancer in purebred dogs varies by breed. Data from 25 breeds were analyzed and investigators found that although purebred dogs overall were twice as likely to have a cancer claim as non-purebred dogs, some breeds did well. better than average while others do much worse. The 3 most claimed breeds for cancer were boxer, beagle and golden retriever. The 3 least claimed breeds for cancer were Pomeranian, Chihuahua and French Bulldog.

“We insure hundreds of breeds, but we’ve focused on the 25 most popular breeds in our white paper because they represent approximately 70% of all purebred animals insured by Nationwide,” said Jules Benson, BVSc, MRCVS, Nationwide’s chief veterinarian, in a company release.

According to Benson, Nationwide was the first pet health insurer in the United States and has compiled policy and claims data over a 40-year period. “By analyzing the millions of claims over a 6-year period (2015-2021) and making this information public, we use our data to help pet owners and veterinary teams make more informed decisions about pet care. animals, both in terms of detection and treatment,” he added.

National investigators also found the following:

  • By breed and body system affected. The literature has long established that some Thoroughbreds are overrepresented in specific cancer types, according to Nationwide. Data analysis identified the breeds and body systems most at risk. For example, analysis shows that Rottweilers are 10 times more likely to have a bone cancer claim than the average dog.
  • By breed and age. Looking at which bodily systems are most affected by cancer early in a dog’s life, data shows that some breeds are seeing significantly younger average ages for cancer claims.

“Despite the higher relative risk for pure breeds of cancer as a group exposure, the top 25 also contain breeds – all relatively small in size – that have a relative risk of cancer claims not only lower than other breeds. pure, but also below average risk for all dogs,” Benson said in the company’s statement.

In 2021, Nationwide reached the milestone of actively insuring over one million pets in the United States. At the same time, the company has established a dedicated veterinary analytics team with the goal of using insurance data to promote better health for all pets.

“The link between dog size and cancer risk is the subject of our upcoming canine cancer study, to be published later this year,” Benson added.


Some high, some low: purebred cancer rates you need to know. Press release. At national scale. March 8, 2022. Accessed March 11, 2022.

Jeanetta J. Stewart