Golden retriever health and longevity

Golden retriever health and longevity

The golden retriever is one of the most popular and desirable dog breeds worldwide, and is a very good natured and versatile dog that is popular with owners of all types. A large breed of dog that was first bred as a gun dog and retrieving dog, the golden retriever loves to be outside, playing and working, and is also very keen to swim, with a natural affinity for water.

The golden retriever has a long, silky golden coat that tends to shed heavily, and requires a reasonable amount of grooming and coat maintenance to keep them in good condition and stop their fur from spreading all around the house! However, despite this, their kind, playful and outgoing natures, great tempers, and affinity with children makes them very popular as pets, as well as being good working dogs. The golden retriever is an intelligent breed that tries hard to please, and this means that they can often be seen working as assistance dogs, comfort dogs and in a wide variety of other roles, as well as taking part in canine sports such as agility.

If you are looking for a large, personable family dog that is active, kind and gentle, the golden retriever is definitely worthy of consideration. However, like all purebred dogs, the breed does have a hereditary propensity to certain health conditions, which may affect the dog’s longevity and quality of life. In this article, we will look at golden retriever health and longevity in more detail. Read on to learn more.

Golden retriever longevity

The average lifespan of the golden retriever is 11-12 years, which places them firmly in the middle of the pack in terms of longevity across the board for dogs of a similar size. They are generally robust and healthy dogs that are not prone to falling for minor ills and viruses, but they do have some genetic and hereditary health problems that the potential owner should be aware of, although of course, it is important to note that by no means all dogs of the breed are likely to be affected.

Hip dysplasia

One of the most common conditions that presents itself within the golden retriever gene pool as a whole is hip dysplasia, which is a hereditary condition. Hip score testing can be undertaken on potential parent dogs prior to breeding, in order to identify a potential predisposition to the condition in their offspring.

Hip dysplasia is caused by a malformation of the ball and socket joints of the hips, causing them to fail to sit properly together, which leads to an unusual gait and sometimes, problems with movement, accompanied by pain. Hip dysplasia does not become fully apparent in dogs until they reach around two years of age, and if the condition has not been diagnosed by this age, it is unlikely to present itself later on.

There are various surgical options to correct or improve hip dysplasia in dogs, but more importantly than correcting a condition later on, hip score testing is recommended for the breed so that affected dogs are not bred from.

Elbow dysplasia

Elbow dysplasia also affects a reasonable number of dogs of the breed, which again, is a condition that can be screened for prior to breeding. Between hip dysplasia and elbow dysplasia, around 20% of all golden retrievers will be affected with one or both conditions, which again, makes pre-breeding testing in order to reduce the incidence rate of the conditions very important.


Cancers of various types widely affect the golden retriever dog, although most of the common cancers faced by the breed tend to occur in maturity or old age. As of a 1998 survey in America, over 60% of golden retriever deaths in maturity were due to cancer, making it the biggest terminal health risk faced by the breed as a whole.

The most common cancers to affect the golden retriever dog breed are hemangiosarcoma, lymphosarcoma, osteosarcoma and mast cell tumours. While some of these conditions can be treated successfully either by means of surgery or chemotherapy/radiotherapy, many of the various types of canine cancers do have a tendency to recur.

Eye conditions

The golden retriever breed is particularly prone to a very diverse range of eye conditions, with cataracts in maturity being the most common eye disease seen within the breed as a whole. Other potential eye conditions can include progressive retinal atrophy or PRA, which leads to eventual blindness, glaucoma, and entropion. Corneal dystrophy and retinal dysplasia are also seen within the breed, but with a lower rate of prevalence.

Heart problems

There are several cardiac problems that can affect the breed as well, including cardiomyopathy, sub-valvular aortic stenosis, and heart murmurs. These conditions will often have a hereditary element to them, and may not become apparent until they begin to affect the dog’s quality of life.

Joint conditions

As a large, lively dog, there are various joint conditions that can affect the breed, which often come about due to a combination of a hereditary predisposition to the condition, and strain or impact when exercising. These conditions include patellar luxation, panosteitis, and cruciate ligament problems, as well as osteochondritis.



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