Are Ridgebacks Prone to Cancer? Let’s Sniff the Science

Do Rhodesian Ridgebacks have a higher cancer risk? Find out what these key scientific studies reveal.

Ridgeback Puppy at Vet

Good News for Poodles, Rough News for Ridgebacks

Rhodesian Ridgebacks are known to have a higher risk of cancer compared to other breeds according to a recent study conducted in South Africa.

It’s not just humans who have to worry about cancer – dogs can get it too! But this study has some interesting findings. Turns out, spayed females and neutered male dogs are more likely to get lymphoma. Who knew spaying and neutering could have such an impact on our furry friends?

According to the study published in the Journal of the South African Veterinary Association, Van Rooyen and colleagues found they are more prone to developing mast cell tumors, a type of skin cancer, as well as bone cancer (osteosarcoma) and lymphoma.

What did the study find?

The study looked at the prevalence of lymphoma and its predisposition in different dog breeds in South Africa.

Using retrospective data from two study populations, the researchers calculated odds ratios for 49 dog breeds, along with their 95% confidence intervals.

The findings showed that 14 breeds had significantly increased odds of developing lymphoma, and 1 breed had significantly decreased odds. The median ages of the two lymphoma populations were 6.5 and 8.0 years, and the 6.1–9.0 year category had significantly increased odds of developing lymphoma.

What does this mean in words a puppy would understand?

  • Scientists looked at data from two groups of dogs to see if certain breeds were more likely to get cancer.
  • They figured out the chances of each breed getting cancer and found 14 breeds were more likely to get cancer, and only 1 breed was less likely.
  • They also found that dogs between the ages of 6.1 and 9 years had a higher chance of getting cancer.

Interestingly, higher proportions of males and neutered females were found in one of the lymphoma populations compared to its reference population. The study suggests that sex hormones may play a role in lymphoma pathogenesis.

Cancer in large breeds like Ridgebacks

New research has now confirmed that larger breeds, such as Rottweiler, Great Dane and Rhodesian Ridgeback, have a greater risk of osteosarcoma than smaller breeds, as well as showing breeds with shorter skulls and legs have lower osteosarcoma risk.

Another study in the journal Canine Medicine and Genetics confirms that larger breeds have a greater risk of osteosarcoma, a painful and aggressive bone tumor in dogs.

Breeds with shorter skulls and legs have lower osteosarcoma risk.

  • The study included 1,756 laboratory-confirmed osteosarcoma cases in dogs compared with 905,211 dogs under veterinary care.
  • The breeds identified with higher risk of osteosarcoma include Rottweiler, Great Dane, Rhodesian Ridgeback, Mastiff, and German Pointer.
  • Breeds identified with reduced risk of osteosarcoma include Jack Russell, Border Terrier, Bichon Frise, French Bulldog, and Cavalier King Charles Spaniel.
  • The findings could inform future breed health reforms and studies into the way tumours develop from normal bone.

Bone tumors are more common in certain breeds and conformations, indicating that genetics play a role in bone tumor development.

The data suggests that Rhodesian Ridgebacks have significantly higher odds of developing osteosarcoma compared to crossbred dogs. The odds ratio for osteosarcoma in Rhodesian Ridgebacks is 11.31, which is quite high.

Should I worry?

It’s important to remember that not all dogs in these breeds will develop the disease, and many dogs of other breeds can also develop osteosarcoma.

It’s always a good idea to be aware of the signs and symptoms of osteosarcoma, such as lameness and painful bony swelling, and to consult with your veterinarian if you have any concerns.

It’s not all doom and gloom for our RR babies. With proper monitoring and care, pet owners can give their dogs the best shot at a long and healthy life.

Steps owners can take to monitor for risk of cancer

  1. Regular check-ups: Regular check-ups with a veterinarian can help detect any signs of cancer early on. This includes physical exams, blood work, and imaging tests.
  2. Maintain a healthy lifestyle: Providing your dog with a healthy diet and regular exercise can help keep their immune system strong and reduce their risk of developing cancer.
  3. Spaying and neutering: The study suggests that neutered females and male dogs are more likely to get lymphoma. However, spaying and neutering can also reduce the risk of other types of cancer, such as breast cancer in females and testicular cancer in males.
  4. Be aware of the signs and symptoms: Knowing the signs and symptoms of cancer, such as lumps, swelling, and changes in behavior, can help catch cancer early on.
  5. Consider genetic testing: If you have a breed that is known to be at higher risk for certain types of cancer, you may consider genetic testing to determine if your dog has any genetic predispositions to cancer.
  6. Avoid exposure to carcinogens: Minimizing your dog’s exposure to carcinogens, such as tobacco smoke, certain chemicals, and pollution, can also help reduce their risk of developing cancer.

While the research has confirmed that larger breeds like Rottweilers, Great Danes, and Rhodesian Ridgebacks have a greater risk of osteosarcoma, not all dogs in these breeds will develop the disease, and many dogs of other breeds can also develop osteosarcoma.

Stay on top of regular veterinary checkups

Overall, the findings of both studies could be helpful for veterinarians and pet owners in understanding the risk of lymphoma in certain breeds of dogs.

If you have a Ridgeback, it’s important to be aware of the potential risks and to stay on top of regular veterinary checkups to catch any issues early on. With this knowledge, you can help ensure that your beloved pet lives a long and healthy life.

Where to get more information

It’s important to consult with a veterinarian if you suspect your dog may have cancer or have concerns about their risk of developing cancer.

There are several online resources where you can find more information about cancer in dogs, including:

  1. American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) – provides comprehensive information on cancer in dogs, including prevention, diagnosis, and treatment.
  2. American Kennel Club (AKC) – offers information on various types of cancer in dogs, including their symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment options.
  3. Veterinary Cancer Society (VCS) – provides information on cancer treatment options for pets and a directory of veterinary oncologists.
  4. National Canine Cancer Foundation (NCCF) – offers information on cancer prevention, diagnosis, and treatment in dogs.
  5. Morris Animal Foundation – provides resources on canine cancer research and treatment options.
  6. Canine Cancer Awareness – a nonprofit organization that aims to educate dog owners about cancer in dogs and promote early detection.

I'm Amanda, a fitness enthusiast who loves exploring new trails with my RR, Max. I share recommendations for outdoor gear on my website and also post photos and stories of our adventures. Join us and get active with your pup and explore the great outdoors yourself!