The histological grade of 340 cutaneous mast cell tumours derived from 280 dogs was determined by an established histological grading system; 87 of the tumours (26 per cent) were well differentiated, 199 (59 per cent) were intermediately differentiated and 54 (16 per cent) were poorly differentiated. The one-year survival rates for the dogs with tumours of these three grades were significantly different (P=0-0001), being 100 per cent, 92 per cent and 46 per cent, respectively. The median survival time for the dogs with poorly differentiated tumours was 278 days, significantly shorter than that for the dogs with either intermediately or well-differentiated tumours, which were both over 1300 days. Regrowth of the tumours was identified in 10 (19 per cent) of the dogs with poorly differentiated tumours, 12 (6 per cent) of the dogs with intermediately differentiated tumours and one of the dogs with well-differentiated tumours; only three of the tumours which regrew had initially had complete margins. The results suggest that wide surgical margins are not a prerequisite for a successful long-term outcome in dogs with well-differentiated cutaneous mast cell tumours.