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Mast cell tumour (MCT) appears to be a frequent tumour type in dogs, though there is little published in relation to its frequency in dogs in the UK. The current study aimed to investigate prevalence and risk factors for MCTs in dogs attending English primary-care veterinary practices.


Electronic patient records from practices participating in the VetCompass animal surveillance project between July 2007 and June 2013 were searched for MCT diagnosis. Various search terms and standard diagnostic terms (VeNom codes) identified records containing MCT diagnoses, which were evaluated against clinical criteria for inclusion to the study. MCT prevalence for the entire dataset and specific breed types were calculated. Descriptive statistics characterised MCT cases and multivariable logistic regression methods evaluated risk factors for association with MCT (P < 0.05).


Within a population of 168,636 dogs, 453 had MCT, yielding a prevalence of 0.27% (95% confidence interval (CI) 0.24% - 0.29%). The highest breed type specific prevalences were for the Boxer at 1.95% (95% CI 1.40% - 2.51%), Golden Retriever at 1.39% (0.98% - 1.81%) and Weimaraner at 0.85% (95% CI 0.17% to 1.53%). Age, insurance status, neuter status, weight and breed type were associated with MCT diagnosis. Of dogs of specific breed type, the Boxer, Pug and Staffordshire Bull Terrier showed greater odds of MCT diagnosis compared with crossbred dogs. Conversely, the German Shepherd Dog, Border Collie, West Highland White Terrier, Springer Spaniel and Cocker Spaniel had reduced odds of MCT diagnosis compared with crossbred dogs. No association was found between MCT diagnosis and sex.

Clinical significance

This study highlights a clinically significant prevalence of MCT and identifies specific breed types with predisposition to MCT, potentially aiding veterinarian awareness and facilitating diagnosis.


© 2015 Shoop et al.; licensee BioMed Central. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly credited. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver ( applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.