January 2012
Peer Reviewed


Mast cell tumors (MCTs) arise from malignantly transformed mast cells. In dogs, most of these tumors arise as primary tumors in the skin. They are the most common skin tumor in dogs, accounting for roughly 20% of all reported skin tumors.


  • Breed predilection
    • Any breed may be affected but certain breeds are predisposed, including golden retrievers, Labrador retrievers, Boston terriers, boxers, and pugs.
    • Pugs are more likely to have multiple MCTs at diagnosis (56% of dogs in 1 study), but these tumors demonstrate more benign behavior and rarely lead to death.
  • Age & range
    • MCTs can affect dogs of any age but typically affect middle-aged to older dogs. However, MCTs are a common tumor identified in young animals.

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