Black Labradors and Leukemia

by Ray Pranga
(Shohola, PA)

Reader Question: We recently bought a Black Lab puppy, with a Black Lab mother, and a chocolate Lab father. Someone else bought another puppy from the same litter, and found it to have Leukemia, and they put it down yesterday.

We are concerned about ours, and wonder if all the pups in the same litter will have it also (we haven't got a blood test yet). Ours is very energetic and has a good shape to him -- where as the one that had the disease, was bloated, had a sore on his neck and would only play for a couple of minutes, then sleep for a few hours, he also would shake or shiver.

Can dogs in the same litter, not have the disease, because ours seems perfectly healthy??

Vet Suggestion on Genetic Aspects of Leukemia in Dogs

Hi Ray,

What a sad story! I am afraid there is a lot we don’t know about the potential genetic aspects to leukemia in dogs so I don’t have a scientific answer to your question. In my opinion, it is certainly possible that your puppy is perfectly healthy and will never develop leukemia, but I suspect that he is at a somewhat higher risk than the general population.

If he were my patient, I’d recommend running some baseline blood work at this point, and if it comes back normal, simply keeping an eye on his general condition. At the first sign of any problem, I’d want to recheck his blood work and compare it to his past results. To be on the safe side, I’d recommend against breeding any puppies from this litter or breeding the parents to each other again.

Best of luck,

Jennifer Coates, DVM

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