Cookies on VetMed Resource

Like most websites we use cookies. This is to ensure that we give you the best experience possible.


Continuing to use  means you agree to our use of cookies. If you would like to, you can learn more about the cookies we use.

VetMed Resource

Veterinary information to support practice, based on evidence and continuing education

Sign up to receive our Veterinary & Animal Sciences e-newsletter, book alerts and offers direct to your inbox.

News Article

Lipoma in UK dogs: prevalence and breed predilections

Study confirms lipoma is a common clinical occurrence and identifies strong breed associations for both lipoma predisposition and protection

A study by the Royal Veterinary College (RVC) has found that lipomas (also known as fatty masses or fatty lumps) are common in UK dogs, affecting 1 in 50 of all dogs each year. Springer Spaniels, Dobermann Pinscher, Weimaraners and Labrador Retrievers were found to be most susceptible.

Veterinary research has largely ignored lipomas because these cases are rarely referred for specialist treatment and the majority of veterinary research relies on cases that are referred to specialist institutions. However, the RVC’s VetCompass™ Programme collects anonymised clinical data on dogs from first opinion practices. Consequently, this study has been able to specifically analyse the frequency and associations of lipomas in the general populations of dogs in the UK. The findings are published in Canine Genetics and Epidemiology.

The RVC study identified 2765 lipoma cases from a population of 384,284 VetCompass™ dogs under primary veterinary care in the UK during 2013. Other key findings included:

  • At least one lipoma was diagnosed in 1.94% of dogs during the single year of the study.
  • Individual dogs with an adult bodyweight that was equal or higher than their breed/sex average had 1.96 times the odds of lipoma.
  • As dogs age, their odds of getting lipoma increase. Dogs aged between 9-12 years were over 17 more likely to be diagnosed with lipoma compared to dogs aged 3-6 years old.
  • Neutered dogs had higher risk.
  • Insured dogs had 1.78 times the odds of diagnosis.
  • Purebred dogs had 1.16 times the odds compared with crossbred dogs.


Dr Dan O’Neill, RVC Veterinary Epidemiologist and Vet Compass researcher, said: “Lipomas in dogs are a common and scary diagnosis for owners to hear but yet, to date, there has been very little solid evidence on which dogs are at high risk. Evidence from thousands of dogs in VetCompass is finally helping owners to understand the risks of diseases such as lipoma and therefore reduce the sense of ‘fear of the unknown’ when their dog gets such a diagnosis These results also suggest strong association between obesity and lipomas which can help in prevention in high risk breeds.”

Dr Lynda Rutherford, Clinician and Lecturer in Small Animal Surgery at the RVC, said: “This paper has supported the theory that lipomas are more common in older, overweight dogs. This information is useful as can be discussed with owners and used as another reason to keep pet dog’s weight under control. It also provides a useful insight into how common lipomas are within the UK dog population.”

Read article: Lipoma in dogs under primary veterinary care in the UK: prevalence and breed associations by Dan G. O’Neill, Caroline H. Corah, David B. Church, Dave C. Brodbelt and Lynda Rutherford published in Canine Genetics and Epidemiology (2018) 5:9, doi: 10.1186/s40575-018-0065-9

Article details

  • Date
  • 10 October 2018
  • Source
  • Royal Veterinary College
  • Subject(s)
  • Dogs, Cats, and other Companion Animals