4 Common Cancers in Bulldogs

Are you familiar with the most common cancers in Bulldogs? Cancer can strike any dog no matter the breed or age. However, Bulldogs rank 23rd among dog breeds with the highest incidence of cancer. 

Cancers in Bulldogs

Cancer is a serious threat. However, detecting cancer early can help save your Bulldog’s life. Thus, it is important that you should familiarize yourself with the common cancers in Bulldogs and their symptoms. 


Common Cancers in Bulldogs #1: Skin Cancer

Seeing a tumor on your Bulldog can be disturbing. All dogs, no matter the breed or age, can develop skin tumors. Sadly, such tumors can be a sign of skin cancer, which is one of the most common cancers in Bulldogs. The good news is most skin tumors in dogs are benign and only about 20 to 30% of them turned out to be malignant. 

Mast cell cancer or mastocytoma is one of most common types of skin tumors in Bulldogs. Mast cells are immune cells that release histamines and other substances after being stimulated by an allergen. They are found throughout the body but a large portion of them are within the skin.  The underlying cause of mast cell tumors is not yet known. 

Mast cell tumors make up to approximately 20% of all canine skin tumors. Unfortunately, this type of skin cancer is seen more frequently in Bulldogs. It is also found in other breeds, such as Boston Terriers, Golden Retrievers, Beagles, and Pugs. 

This type of skin cancer is diagnosed via fine needle aspiration. Once diagnosed, the mast cell tumor is removed surgically and is evaluated to determine the next line of treatment needed. Low-grade mast cell tumors only require full tumor excisions. High-grade tumors, which have a high probability of growing back and metastasis, require surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy. 


Common Cancers in Bulldogs #2: Oral Malignant Melanoma

About 30% to 40% oral cancers in dogs are melanomas, a type of cancer found in the skin. Melanoma tumors occur in melanocytes or pigment-producing cells. These tumors are most commonly found in the skin. Melanomas are often benign, but it is a completely different story for melanomas found along the gums, lips, tongue, and palate. They can easily metastasize to nearby locations, such as the brain, bones, and lungs. 

Diagnosis of oral malignant melanoma in Bulldogs involves gathering tissue samples from the tumor via surgical biopsy or fine needle aspiration. The samples are then evaluated by a veterinary pathologist. If the results come back positive for cancer, your veterinarian may suggest more tests to evaluate your pet’s overall health and the stage of cancer. 

The best way to treat this cancer is via complete surgical removal. If the cancer is detected at a later stage, radiation and/or chemotherapy may be needed to keep the cancer cells from migrating to other parts of the body and creating more tumors. There is also a vaccine that helps prevent the spread of this type of melanomas. 


Common Cancers in Bulldogs #3: Testicular Cancer

Testicular cancer is one of the most common cancers in Bulldogs and is often associated with cryptorchidism.  

Dogs are born with their testicles in their abdomen. They normally descend when the pup is 8 weeks old. In dogs with cryptorchidism, one or both testicles fail to descend from the abdomen. If the condition is not addressed, it can lead to the formation of sertoli cell tumor, which is a form of testicular cancer. 

Signs of testicular cancer in Bulldogs include inflammation of the one or both testicles, asymmetrical testicles, enlargement of teats, atrophy of one testicle, anemia, and infertility. Affected dogs also lose their urge to mate, squatting to pee, and attraction to fellow male dogs. 

If the veterinarian suspects testicular cancer in your Bulldog, he may request for the following laboratory tests:  

  • CBC,  
  • Urinalysis,
  • Biochemistry profile,
  • Abdominal and scrotal ultrasound 

Samples from the tumor may also be gathered via fine needle aspiration and evaluated by a veterinary pathologist.  

Neutering or castration can both prevent and treat testicular cancer in Bulldogs. If the tumor is located in the testicle that is stuck in the abdomen, an incision may be done to take out the testicle and tumor.  

In case cancer has started to spread to other parts of the body, chemotherapy and radiation therapy must be pursued.  


Common Cancers in Bulldogs #4: Breast Cancer

Breast cancer is the most common in older intact dogs. This disease refers to the uncontrolled growth of tumors or abnormal cells in the breast. However, not all tumors are cancerous; only 50% of tumors in dog breasts are found to be malignant. Although the exact cause of breast cancer in dogs hasn’t been identified yet, hormones and genetics play a huge role in its development. Older female dogs who have not been spayed are at the most risk of breast cancer. 

Signs of breast cancer in dogs include inflamed nipples, hard and firm lumps in the breasts, and skin irritation that may or may not be ulcerated. Like in humans, breast cancer in dogs can be diagnosed by getting samples of the breast cells for biopsy. The veterinarian may also request for x-rays and blood tests to check for metastases to the lungs or other parts of the body. 

Even in dogs, treatment of breast cancer involves surgically removing the masses in the breast and even removing all breasts. Radiation and chemotherapy may also be performed after surgery.  

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