Canine lymphoma is among the most frequently diagnosed type of neoplasia in dogs with incidence rates of 13–114 observed per 100,000 dogs (Teske 1994; Dobson et al. 2002). As a malignancy, it is comparable to non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL) in humans in many respects. The rise in incidence in humans has been mirrored in dogs, and it has been suggested that common environmental risks are responsible. Furthermore, similarities in clinical picture, molecular biology, treatment, and outcomes, and finally availability of genetic data combined with the high therapeutic treatment rates of dogs have led to the proposal that dogs are a promising spontaneous large-animal model for human NHL (Pastor et al. 2009).

Dog B cells

Staining canine B cells. Mouse Anti-Canine CD18 (MCA1780A647) and RPE conjugated Mouse Anti Canine-CD21 (MCA1781PE) used to stain for leukocytes and peripheral B cells. Data acquired on the ZE5 Cell Analyzer.


Breed, age, and size all have an influence on susceptibility. Larger dog breeds have an increased risk of developing lymphomas with the boxer, bulldog, and bull mastiff all having a high incidence of lymphoma (Edwards et al. 2003). Additionally, some breeds have a skewing in the immunophenotype of the lymphoma, for example T or B cell derived. The T cell based lymphoma has a direct genetic association, whereas the B lymphoma is associated with combinations of risk factors (Modiano et al. 2005).

Types of Lymphoma

Multicentric lymphoma

Multicentric lymphoma represents about 75% of all lymphoma cases; these are about 65% B cell based. They are classified according to the World Health Organization’s (WHO) five stages. The most common are lymphadenopathy (stage III) with metastasis of liver and/or spleen (stage IV) or blood and/or bone marrow (stage V). Lymphomas limited to a single lymph node (stage I) or spread to some secondary lymph nodes nearby (stage II) is seen less often (Ponce et al. 2010, Vezzali et al. 2010).

Mediastinal lymphoma

The thymic or cranial mediastinal lymphoma is nearly always T cell based (Fournel-Fleury et al. 2002, Lana et al. 2006). Clinical symptoms include polyuria/polydipisia, dyspnea, or the distinctive (cranial) vena cava syndrome. The latter showing head and neck edema, due to a large mediastinal mass that restricts venous return flow to the heart.

Gastrointestinal lymphoma

Gastrointestinal lymphoma is generally T cell derived with only some showing a B cell origin (Coyle and Steinberg 2004). It can be localized to the stomach, small intestine, large intestine, as well as multiples of these sites (Frank et al. 2007).

Cutaneous lymphoma

The cutaneous lymphoma is generally a T cell lymphoma and more often epitheliotropic than non-epitheliotropic, presenting as three forms: mycosis fungoides, Sézary syndrome, and pagetoid reticulosis. Cutaneous epitheliotropic lymphoma typically manifests itself as a chronic multifocal skin disease, which can also spread to the mucous membranes and mucocutaneus junctions (Moore et al. 2009).

Pulmonary lymphoma

Involvement of the lungs is common in lymphoma whether as a primary disease, or as a result of secondary symptoms of other lymphoma (Yohn et al. 1994). Pulmonary lymphoma can develop into in bronchial, alveolar, and/or interstitial infiltrates and lymphadenopathy (Geyer et al. 2010).

Rare lymphoma

Further types of lymphoma are encountered in dogs, but these are rare. They are hepatic lymphoma (Dank et al. 2011, Keller et al. 2013), nervous system lymphoma (Veraa et al. 2010), and ocular lymphoma (Massa et al. 2002).


Thoracic and abdominal radiographs together with ultrasonography of the abdomen and peripheral lymph nodes are standard techniques for the diagnosis of lymphoma. This is supplemented with cytological examination of, for example, a fine-needle aspirate from a neoplastic lymph node. While this is a quick and minimally invasive technique for diagnosing high-grade lymphoma, it may not be sensitive enough for low grade lymphoma. Here flow cytometry of fine-needle aspirates from neoplastic lymph nodes can provide the required sensitivity (Gelain et al. 2008, Comazzi and Gelain 2011). The preferred antibodies for the flow cytometric analysis of lymphomas include CD21, CD79α, and PAX5 for B-cell lymphoma and CD3, CD4, and CD8 for T-cell lymphomas (Caniatti et al. 1996).

Discover an industry leading portfolio of canine-specific antibodies for flow cytometric analysis in our online catalog. Validated antibodies with decades of peer reviewed use in scientific journals are available in several formats to enable multicolor flow cytometry staining.


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