From the GRCA Health & Genetics Committee - February 2011
ALERT: New Cancer Submission Form
How to Participate in Pigmentary Uveitis Research
Hereditary and Breeding Concerns
Care and Management
The GRCA Health and Genetics Committee welcomes you to the Health section of the GRCA website. While attending veterinarians are generally the best source of health information about individual dogs, this Health section provides educational material on general health issues affecting the breed.
Families interested in purchasing a Golden Retriever may find the Health section useful, but more specific and detailed information may be found in GRCA’s Searching for a Golden Retriever.
Hereditary and Breeding Concerns
So where can you find information about hereditary issues which may affect the health of Golden Retrievers? A general introduction to hereditary health issues is found Health Concerns . The Golden Retriever Club of America National Health Survey contains data detailing what Golden Retriever owners report about the health of the breed. Recent research on hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia, heart conditions, and inherited eye disease has provided new information on these four common disorders of the breed, much of which is summarized in Hips, Elbows, Eyes and Hearts: Update on the Big Four . Very recent information on a re-emerging eye disease in Golden Retrievers, prcd-PRA, is available online from Optigen and additional information is available in the September-October Issue of Golden Retriever News The evolving situation with eye diseases has also increased the importance of annual eye exams and submitting findings to the Canine Eye Registry Foundation . Frequently asked questions about elbow dysplasia are answered in our Elbow Dysplasia FAQs .. This website also includes information on one of the most common disorders of Golden Retrievers, hypothyroidism . In addition, this website includes links to some conditions of Golden Retrievers which have been investigated through CHF studies, including swallowing problems and bleeding disorders. General health information, including information on many conditions of purebred dogs can be found by using the Health Resouces section of our website.
The list of potentially important diseases of dogs in enormous. The inherited diseases of dogs are included in an online searchable database which includes descriptions of many inherited conditions of domestic animals, Online Mendelian Inheritance in Animals. This website is modeled after an even more detailed searchable database which includes descriptions of the inherited conditions of man, Online Mendelian Inheritance in Man. The potentially inherited concerns of Golden Retrievers are really quite intimidating both for the prospective breeder and for the prospective owner. However, these concerns should be kept in perspective. Just as inherited conditions can occur in humans, they can occur in dogs. It is recommended that breeders investigate potential problems in the pedigree, avoid breeding individuals with similar pedigree problems, breed only healthy individuals with the clearances noted in the GRCA Code of Ethics, and work to maintain quality, preferably using individuals who display outstanding temperaments and who have succeeded in competition. This requires more than simply mating two purebred, AKC registered Golden Retrievers; it requires knowledge, dedication, and a lot of hard work. Prospective owners should realize that a knowledgeable breeder with a history of producing solid, healthy, breed representatives may be able to help stack the odds in their favor for obtaining a typical, healthy, and friendly Golden Retriever. In addition to hip and elbow dysplasia, eye abnormalities, and heart disease, the described inherited conditions of Golden Retrievers include bleeding disorders, cancer in young Goldens, epilepsy, kidney failure in young Goldens (renal dysplasia), ectopic ureters, vascular shunts, hypothyroidism, hypertrophic osteodystrophy, knee cap (patella) problems, osteochrondrosis dessicans, hypoadrenocorticism (Addison’s disease), X-linked muscular dystrophy, congenital diaphragmatic hernias, cryptorchidism, overshot bites, undershot bites, skin conditions, food allergies, swallowing disorders, and temperament problems. Thus, the value of the knowledgeable breeder may include control of far more than just the most common health problems of Golden Retrievers. Caring, informed breeders and caring, informed owners often work together to produce some of the most outstanding and healthy, once-in-a lifetime Golden Retrievers. This website includes information on one of the most common disorders of Golden Retrievers, hypothyroidism. In addition, this website includes links to some conditions of Golden Retrievers which have been investigated through CHF studies, including swallowing problems and bleeding disorders. General health information, including information on many conditions of purebred dogs can be found by using the Health Links section of our website.
GRCA’s Code of Ethics provides breeding guidelines for Golden Retrievers belonging to GRCA members. These guidelines are intended to improve and protect the health of Golden Retrievers, and ideally should be followed by all owners who are considering breeding a Golden, not just GRCA members. The good news is that according to GRCA’s first health survey, the average female Golden Retriever lives to 11.3 years of age and the average male Golden Retriever lives to be 10.7 years of age.
Care and Management
In addition to genetic concerns, owners also influence the health of their Golden Retrievers, and tips on preventive health care please read Preventative Health Care Through Risk Management . In addition, fleas and ticks may carry diseases known as vector-borne diseases and answers to some common questions about vector-borne diseases may be found here.
There are many additional health issues which affect Golden Retrievers, and the Health & Genetics Committee maintains an online Forum at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/GRCA_Health_Genetics/ to respond to questions of general interest. Of course, in searching for information online, it is always important to consider the source. While we cannot verify the accuracy of any online resource, in Health Links we provide links to sites which GRCA members have found useful in the past. Remember, however, that no online resource is a substitute for good veterinary care, and please consult your Golden’s veterinarian for additional information about health issues relevant to your dog.
According to the Health Survey, the major cause of death in Golden Retrievers is cancer. More information about two cancers that account for about half of all cancer deaths in the breed,hemangiosarcoma and lymphosarcoma (lymphoma),can be found in our article from the Health Seminar at the 2000 National Specialty. Some of the most common questions from owners and breeders regarding hemangiosarcoma are discussed in Hemangiosarcoma: Frequently Asked Questions. For information about supporting and advancing cancer research through allowing your own dog to contribute tumor or blood samples, please see our information for participation in Golden Retriever Cancer Research
Canine health and genetic information has exploded in recent years. This is partially due to extraordinary research efforts supported by not-for-profit organizations including the AKC-Canine Health Foundation, the Morris Animal Foundation and the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals . The AKC-Canine Health Foundation Biennial National Parent Club Canine Health Conference summarizes many recent advances in our understanding of dog diseases.
In addition, the Golden Retriever Foundation supports research, rescue, and education. Information about current research funded by the Golden Retriever Foundation can be found at : http://goldenretrieverfoundation.org/Research.html
If you have a Golden with cancer and wish to participate in a study, click here for instructions for your veterinarian.. The Ongoing Research portion of our website contains additional recruitment requests for studies involving spontaneous diseases of Golden Retrievers.