Bone Cancer in Rottweilers


A study into Osteosarcoma in Rottweilers in the UK


This is the link to the Questionnaire which should be returned to Shareen by Thursday, 14th November:

Shareen Osteosarcoma Project Questionnaire


These are links to the talk given by Shareen Akhtar at the LASER  Open Show:




Osteosarcoma is a malignant bone tumour, which at present sadly represents a fatal progressive condition in the majority of affected dogs.  This generally presents with affected dogs becoming lame, sometimes significantly so and often a painful swelling develops in the affected bone.  The lameness may be subtle at first however can suddenly worsen as the affected region of the bone suffers a fracture.  Although commonly occurring on the limbs, these tumours can also arise in other sites including the bones of the skull, in the nasal cavity, the jawbone, ribs and hip bones.

Unfortunately in many dogs, particularly Rottweilers that are very tolerant of orthopaedic pain, this tumour only becomes obvious at a late stage.  This limits the ability of Veterinary Surgeons to improve their quality of life and their survival time is unfortunately limited.  This factor is a major drive to developing earlier methods of diagnosis to improve our ability as Vets to treat this disease successfully.

A number of breeds are suspected of having a higher incidence of Osteosarcoma.  The majority of these are giant breeds and include Irish Wolfhounds, Great Danes, Saint Bernards and Rottweilers.  A number of factors are thought to influence the development of Osteosarcoma and include early neutering, body weight and height.  There are a number of genes and molecules that have been shown to increase the risk of developing this disease.  Some of these also influence its aggressiveness and ability to spread and to enable it to persist and resist treatment.  A number of these have been shown in small studies to be present in Rottweilers.  As Rottweilers are suggested to be at an increased risk of developing Osteosarcoma it is very important for us to determine whether there is a clear genetic predisposition amongst Rottweilers in the UK.  The identification of underlying genetic susceptibility will lead to improvements in our ability to diagnose and treat this disease at an earlier stage.

At the University of Nottingham, research is already underway into discovering more about this disease (along with other types of canine and feline cancer).  Importantly, being able to determine whether an animal might develop a disease in the future is of great benefit.  Should this information be known, those factors that are recognised to increase the potential for development of this tumour can be minimised and the disease may not develop.

We are already investigating particular characteristics of Osteosarcoma in Rottweilers by liaising with histology laboratories and veterinary surgeons throughout the UK.  This will help determine the true prevalence of this tumour in the breed and enable us to determine more about its behaviour and development along with factors that seem to be influencing this.  Much of the work into Osteosarcoma in Rottweilers has been undertaken in the USA and this new study may therefore provide interesting and different information.

We have approached The Rottweiler Club who agreed we may have a small display and give a short presentation about this research at the Club Championship Breed Show on 30th March.  We would therefore very much like to see you there to encourage breeders and owners to take part in this valuable Project.

An important additional part of the study requires samples from as many Rottweilers as possible to investigate genetic influences in Osteosarcoma development.  This includes not only those dogs that are affected by the disease but also those that are not.  These samples will then be analysed using sophisticated genetic techniques to determine if there are any common features in all or some of these animals.  It is hoped we will be able to discover genes or abnormal areas of particular genes that might represent an increased risk.

We would be delighted for as many Rottweilers and their owners to take part in this study as possible.  The samples required are simple painlessly acquired cheek swabs.  These will provide sufficient genetic material for us to be able to analyse the samples.  The results will provide a fascinating insight into this frustrating and unpleasant disease and enable a brighter future for those unfortunate Rottweilers that are affected.  Therefore, we would very much like to see you at the Club’s forthcoming breed show where we will be able to answer some of your questions.

With best wishes

Dr Mark Dunning

Clinical Associate Professor in Small Animal Internal Medicine

School of Veterinary Medicine and Science

University of Nottingham


The Rottweiler Club feel honoured to have been approached by The University of Nottingham regarding this Project into Osteosarcoma research. 

It is hoped that as many breeders and owners as possible will take part in this Project.  Information will be available at the Club Show and it is to be hoped that you will encourage your friends and Rottweiler owners to take part in this simple cheek swab test.

A demonstration of the cheek swab test will be made at the Club Show by a colleague from the Project.