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Cancer In Flat-Coated Retrievers: Is It Common?

Flat coated golden retriever

The Flat-Coated Retriever is a gundog breed from England that breeders created to retrieve on land and in water. It’s a versatile and multitalented dog with a strong desire to please. They are popular rescue dogs in the United Kingdom due to their strong sense of smell. One of the questions we get asked most frequently is if these dogs are prone to cancer. Unfortunately, cancer is common to this breed, but keep reading while we look into how often it occurs and if it’s something that should influence your decision about purchasing this breed to help you be better informed.

Cancer In Flat-Coated Retrievers

Unfortunately, cancer is one of the leading causes of death in flat-coated retrievers as it affects up to 69% of the breed. There is no genetic testing for the types of cancer that affect the Flat-Coated Retriever, so your best option is to find a reputable breeder that allows you to look into your pet’s ancestry to see if any types of cancer are common.


Canine hemangiosarcoma is a mysterious disease that causes your pet to develop tumor cells that lie in the blood vessels. It’s quite common and makes it more than 5% of tumors in dogs, and it usually affects dogs older than six though it can occur at any time. It’s common in Flat-Coated Retrievers as well as Golden Retrievers, Burmese Mountain Dogs, German Shepherds, and many other breeds.


Melanoma tumors appear on the skin of many dogs, and they require immediate medical attention to find out if the tumors are malignant or benign. Benign tumors do not spread and usually do not present any danger to your pet other than they may be invasive to surrounding tissue. You usually see these as dark raised patches and head, paws, and back. Malignant Melanoma tumors will spread, and it can cause significant health problems.


Lymphosarcoma is another common cancer that affects many dog breeds, including the Flat-Coated Retriever, Rottweiler, German Shepherd, Golden Retriever, and Basset Hound. As the name suggests, it affects the lymphatic system reducing your pet’s ability to fight off bacteria and viruses. Symptoms include swelling in the abdomen, limbs, and jaw, and your dog may be lethargic and disoriented. Unfortunately, this disease often goes undiagnosed until it’s too late, so it’s important to have your pet checked frequently.


Mastocytoma affects the cells that reside inside connective tissue, especially those close to external surfaces like the lungs, nose, skin, and mouth. Symptoms include tumors on or under the skin that can fluctuate in size. Your dog may also have an enlarged liver and experience vomiting, loss of appetite, and even diarrhea.

Malignant Histiocytosis

Malignant Histiocytosis is an aggressive form of cancer that’s a major concern for owners of the Flat-Coated Retriever as well as the Burmese Mountain Dog, Rottweiler, Golden Retriever, and others. Survival time is only about two to four months, and even expensive chemotherapy has little effect though some new drugs are showing promise.


Adenocarcinoma is a kind of intestinal cancer that affects the lining of your pet’s internal organs. Symptoms include vomiting, weight loss, poor appetite, abdominal pain, and bloody feces. In some cases, surgery can help prolong the dot life of a dog with adenocarcinoma.


As you can see, there are, unfortunately, many different types of cancers your flat coated retriever can get. These cancers are also prevalent in many other dog breeds. The only good news is that most of these cancers take hold later in the dog’s life, so you can still have many great years with your pet, and its best years as a hunting dog will likely be behind it. Looking into your pet’s ancestry before purchasing from a breeder can help you avoid some cancers, and a proper diet and environment can help boost your pet’s natural defenses.

We hope you have enjoyed a short guide and found the answers to your questions. If we have helped you be better informed, please share our look into if cancer is common in the Flat-Coated Retriever on Facebook and Twitter.

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