Dr. Kim Freeman, DACVIM Oncology

Who doesn’t love a Golden Retriever? Their soft, shiny coat and big goofy smiles always bring a smile to my face. They are so happy and loving!

But, did you know that about 60% of Goldens get cancer? This is higher than the average risk for cancer in the entire dog population, which is a 1 in 3 chance! The two most common cancers seen in this breed are hemangiosarcoma and lymphoma. About 1 in 5 Goldens get hemangiosarcoma and 1 in 8 are diagnosed with lymphoma.

Why is cancer so common in Goldens?

Veterinarians and breeders are exploring the issue and worry that these diseases may be heritable, meaning that they are passed on from one generation to the next. We don’t know if this is from over- breeding or some other cause. Figuring out whether cancer is heritable can be a long process that is hard to prove. One way you can help is by participating in the “Golden Retriever Lifetime Study” sponsored by the Morris Animal Foundation. They are asking all Golden Retriever owners to get involved to learn how to better prevent, diagnose and treat cancer and other dog disease. If you have a Golden, check out the study and register at www.CanineLifetimeHealth.org. The goal is to determine risk factors for major health disorders in this breed, the ways in which genetics, environment, and diet may affect risks for disease, learn how to better prevent, diagnose and treat cancer, and improve the health of future generations of Golden Retrievers.

Just because these dogs are at higher risk for cancer, does not mean that they are all dying at a younger age. Although I do see some young Goldens with cancer, the average lifespan for this breed is still 10 to 12 years. They are great dogs and we continue to get better at early detection and treatment! Check out our blog post to know what to look for: ”Detection of Cancer in Dogs and Cats: I think we caught it early!”

And don’t forget to see your veterinarian twice a year, if your dog is 8 years of age or older!

For more information about cancer in Golden Retrievers, here are some good links:

UC Davis, Understanding Cancer in Golden Retrieviers

Golden Retriever Club of America