13:22 PM

Some high, some low: Purebred cancer rates you need to know

Nationwide’s pet health insurance team shares relative cancer claims risks for purebreds vs. non-purebreds, and rates cancer claims risks for the top 25 breeds

Columbus, OH – In findings presented today at the Western Veterinary Conference in Las Vegas concurrent with the release of the second in a series of white papers on cancer in dogs, Nationwide’s pet health insurance team analyzed the policy and claims data of 1.61 million dogs to help answer a question pet parents and veterinary teams alike ponder: 

Are purebreds more likely to get cancer than non-purebreds?

The answer is yes, but the picture varies significantly when looking at each of the top 25 breeds individually. While purebreds taken as whole are almost twice as likely to have a claim for cancer than non-purebreds, some breeds fare far better than the average and some, far worse. 

“With 40 years of policy and claims data since our founding as the first U.S. pet health insurer, we feel an obligation to use that information to pioneer positive change in veterinary healthcare,” said Dr. Jules Benson, Chief Veterinary Officer for Nationwide. “In analyzing the millions of claims over a six-year period (2015-21) and making that information public, we’re using our data to help pet parents and veterinary teams make more informed decisions about pet care, both in terms of early detection and treatment.”

Among the findings:

  • Purebred dogs as a group have a higher risk for cancer claims than do crossbred and mixed-breed dogs, at 1.9 times the relative risk. 
  • The relative risk for cancer claims in purebred dogs varies significantly: 
    • By breed. While some purebreds show as very high relative risk, the data show considerable variation across the 25 most popular breeds. 
      • The top three breeds for cancer claims: Boxer, Beagle and Golden Retriever.
      • Lowest three breeds for cancer claims: Pomeranian, Chihuahua and French Bulldog.
    • By breed and affected body system. The literature has long established that some purebreds are overrepresented in specific cancer types. Nationwide’s data allow us to quantify those risks, and to identify which other breeds and body systems may be at greatest risk. For example, the analysis shows that Rottweilers are 10 times more likely to have a claim for bone cancer than the average dog.
    • By breed and age. In examining which body systems are most commonly affected by cancer earliest in a dog’s life, the data show that some breeds see significantly younger average ages for cancer claims. 

 For full details, the white paper is available at www.PetInsurance.com/petdata.

“We insure hundreds of breeds, but we focused on the top 25 most popular in our white paper since they represent roughly 70 percent of all Nationwide-insured purebreds,” said Dr. Benson. “Despite the higher relative risk for cancer purebreds as a group show, the top 25 also contain breeds – all relatively small in stature – that have a relative risk for cancer claims not only below other purebreds but also below the average risk for all dogs. 

“The link between dog size and cancer risk is the topic of our next study on cancer in dogs, to be released later this year,” he said.

 In 2021 Nationwide reached the landmark of actively protecting more than a million companion animals in the United States. At the same time, the company established a dedicated veterinary analytics team with the goal of using insurance data to promote better health for all pets. This analysis is the second in 2022, with more planned other pet health topics and on the finances of veterinary care.

About Nationwide pet insurance
With more than one million insured pets, Nationwide is the first and largest provider of pet health insurance in the United States. Nationwide pet health insurance plans cover dogs, cats, birds and exotic pets for multiple medical problems and conditions relating to accidents, illnesses and injuries. Medical plans are available in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Products underwritten by Veterinary Pet Insurance Company (CA), Columbus, OH; National Casualty Company (all other states), Columbus, OH. Agency of Record: DVM Insurance Agency. All are subsidiaries of Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company. Pet owners can find Nationwide pet insurance on Facebook or follow on Twitter. For more information about Nationwide pet insurance, call 800-USA-PETS (800-872-7387) or visit petinsurance.com.

About Nationwide

Nationwide, a Fortune 100 company based in Columbus, Ohio, is one of the largest and strongest diversified insurance and financial services organizations in the United States. Nationwide is rated A+ by both A.M. Best and Standard & Poor’s. An industry leader in driving customer-focused innovation, Nationwide provides a full range of insurance and financial services products including auto, business, homeowners, farm and life insurance; public and private sector retirement plans, annuities, mutual funds and ETFs; excess & surplus, specialty and surety; pet, motorcycle and boat insurance. For more information, visit www.nationwide.com. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter.