Cancer is the focus of the Cancer Committee.  

Cancer is a condition common to all dogs, not just Portuguese Water Dogs. It is commonly fatal, depending on the type of cancer and how early it is detected. Treatment frequently consists of surgery, chemotherapy, radiation, nutritional support and homeopathies.

Why the PWDCA is addressing this:

Cancer is currently the number one cause of death of Portuguese Water Dogs, based on the 2014 Health Survey. That survey found that 42% of the 357 deaths reported in the survey were caused by cancer with a little over 50% caused by hemangiosarcoma (HSA).

How the PWDCA is dealing with this:

The PWDCA will continue to support ongoing cancer research in the hope it will someday lead to answers to or treatments for canine cancers. The PWDCA and the Cancer Committee will continue to raise funds to continue supporting canine cancer research.

What the PWDCA is doing:

The PWDCA is supporting cancer research by collaborating with a variety of veterinary organizations, such as:

Dr. Jaime Modiano VMP, PhD. is working on a project that is looking at treatment and a test for the early detection of hemangiosarcoma. Dr. Modiano is in need of blood and tissue samples from dogs affected with hemangiosarcoma for his research. In the event that your dog is suspected of having hemangiosarcoma, please have your veterinarian contact Dr. Modiano’s lab at 612-624-1352 or by email at [email protected]. If time allows, they will send supplies and complete instructions to your vet for the collection of the tissue to be used in their research. They will provide your vet with a pathology report for the tumor samples provided to them. More information on this research can be found at Modiano Lab at the University of Minnesota.

Dr. Modiano provided the PWDCA with an article that describes the current knowledge of Hemangiosarcoma and it was published in the January/February 2007 issue of The Courier — the Official Publication of the PWDCA, and the full text of this article is available at

Dr. Modiano updated the state of research on HSA with another article in The Courier in 2014 entitled Recent Advances in Hemangiosarcoma Research– Light at the End of the Tunnel.

Information on how to submit a tissue sample:

The Georgie Project was an autopsy project. The PWDCA, along with owners who generously made their dogs’ health information available, worked with Dr. Gordon Lark’s research team at the University of Utah. to unlock information regarding cancer in the Portuguese Water Dog. This effort involved more than 600 Portuguese Water Dogs and was in existence from 1996 to 2016. The Georgie Project was collaboration between owners and breeders of Portuguese Water Dogs and scientists at the University of Utah and was named in memory of Georgie, a Portuguese Water Dog owned by Dr. Lark that died of an autoimmune disease. The Georgie Project Phase II ended August 31, 2016.

If your Portuguese Water Dog has been diagnosed with hemangiosarcoma, please visit Dr. Ostrander's lab site or contact Dana Mosher (study coordinator) by email. Blood samples to map genetic susceptibility in this breed can be submitted directly to the National Human Genome Research Institute at the NIH.

The PWDCA Board also approved funding via the AKC Canine Health Foundation in February 2017 to support a study by Dr. Jennifer A. Luff, VMD, PhD at North Carolina State University entitled “Investigating a Biomarker and Novel Therapeutic Target for Canine Diffuse and Large B Cell Lymphoma”.


The PWDCA and its members continue to help fund important research projects with the hope of helping to finding some answers to the treatment and/or prevention of cancer in our dogs.

  • The Portuguese Water Dog Foundation, Inc. is involved in providing funds for cancer and other health research. Contributions to the Foundation are needed to help fund this research. To view the research grants that have been funded, go to the Foundation's website.
  • Tax-deductible donations to the AKC Canine Health Foundation Please use the two pull down menus–first, Donor Advised Funds and second, Portuguese Water Dog DAF. This allows the PWDCA to prioritize the research grant support on an annual basis.
  • Non tax-deductible donations may be made via the PWDCA Treasurer at any time to the Cancer Restricted Health Fund.

Other Important References

Here are some articles, books, research projects, and websites for additional information:

  • "Pets Living With Cancer: A Pet Owner’s Resource" by Robin Downing
  • Modiano Lab of the University of Minnesota. This site has quite a bit of useful information and links to other sites:
  • Information on how to submit samples for the Shine On Hemangiosarcoma detection study: Early Detection Target Hemangiosarcoma Cells In Dogs-Shine Project
  • The American Kennel Club’s Canine Health Foundation. For detailed information on active and completed research projects see their web site at
  • Guide to Internet Resources for Cancer--Cancer in Animals--Veterinary Oncology:
  • American Veterinary Medical Association:
  • VetInfo-A Veterinary Information Service:
  • Colorado State University—Researchers at the University are looking for dogs that have cancer to participate in a study to make chemotherapy more powerful. People interested in having their dog participate in the cancer drug trial should contact the Animal Cancer Center in Fort Collins at:
  • American Animal Hospital Association—2006 Vaccination Guidelines:
  • The Golden Retriever Club whose dogs are also affected by cancer has a very informative website. Look under their Health Section-"Health Concerns" & "Ongoing Research" for information regarding Lymphoma and Hemangiosarcoma. Most informative is the Hemangiosarcoma FAQ’s. View the website Understanding Cancer In Golden Retrievers, Rhonda Havan’s 7-page pdf article that is linked is well worth reading even though it is a decade old.


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