Cadherin-catenin complexes play a critical role in intercellular adhesion, and their altered expression has been implicated in tumour progression. In this study, the expression of E-cadherin, P-cadherin and beta-catenin was analysed in 65 canine malignant mammary tumours and correlated with clinicopathological parameters, proliferation and survival. Reduction in E-cadherin expression was significantly associated with increased tumour size, high histological and invasion grades, lymph node metastasis and high mitotic index. Reduced beta-catenin expression was associated with high histological and invasion grades. Anomalous expression of P-cadherin was only associated with invasion. In 39 cases for which follow-up data were available, reduced E-cadherin and beta-catenin expression was significantly associated with shorter overall survival and disease free survival. Abnormal expression of adhesion molecules is a common phenomenon in canine mammary malignant tumours and may play a central role in tumour progression.