OBJECTIVE To determine mortality rates for dogs undergoing cholecystectomy and variables associated with failure to survive to hospital discharge. DESIGN Retrospective cohort study. ANIMALS 70 dogs that underwent cholecystectomy for biliary tract disease at a companion animal referral hospital from 2009 through 2015. PROCEDURES Medical records of dogs were reviewed and data collected; dogs with biliary diversion surgery were excluded. Included dogs were grouped by whether cholecystectomy had been elective (ie, dogs with no or mild clinical signs, with no indication of biliary obstruction, or that initially underwent surgery for a different procedure) or nonelective (ie, dogs with icterus and questionable patency of the biliary system). Mortality rates (proportions of dogs that failed to survive to hospital discharge) were compared between various groups. RESULTS 45 (64%) dogs were included in the elective group and 25 (36%) in the nonelective group. Group mortality rates were 2% (1/45) and 20% (5/25), respectively, and differed significantly. Overall mortality rate was 9% (6/70). Serum albumin concentration was significantly lower and serum alanine aminotransferase activity and total bilirubin concentration were significantly higher in nonsurviving versus surviving dogs. Dogs with vomiting, signs of lethargy or anorexia, icterus, or azotemia were less likely to survive than dogs without these signs. CONCLUSIONS AND CLINICAL RELEVANCE Dogs that underwent elective cholecystectomy had a considerably lower mortality rate than previously reported. Elective cholecystectomy may be an appropriate recommendation for dogs with early signs of biliary disease to avoid the greater mortality rate associated with more advanced disease and nonelective cholecystectomy.