Golden Retriever diseases and health

Golden Retriever diseases and health Helena Lopes
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It is one of the most popular dogs in the world. Its health is particularly well known with countless scientific publications on its health.

The Golden Retriever has a good lifespan with a median of 12.25 years and a maximum of 17.25 years.

The main conditions reported in this breed concern:




The Golden Retriever is considered to have a certain predisposition to certain cancers such as fibrosarcomas (skin or mouth), hemangiosarcomas, lymphomas or mastocytomas.



The Golden Retriever has a markedly increased susceptibility to pericardial effusions (7.4 times greater than the canine population). Hemangiosarcoma, a cardiac tumor, is a common cause of pericardial effusion in this breed.

Aortic stenosis is a congenital heart defect described in the Golden Retriever with a relative risk compared to the general canine population of 6.8 times. A genetic origin is suspected.



The Golden Retriever has been reported to be predisposed to several skin conditions, in particular

  • Juvenile cellulitis, which is a family disease that is probably hereditary and generally affects puppies between 1 and 4 months of age.
  • Atopic dermatitis is also called atopy. In this breed, signs can appear as early as two months of age.
  • For pyotraumatic folliculitis, which is quite common in Golden Retrievers, the risk is 2.3 times higher than in the general dog population, and young dogs are predisposed.
  • Finally, ichthyosis is a common skin disease with 30% of Golden Retrievers developing symptoms of varying degrees. The disease affects very young dogs and is hereditary (PNPLA1 gene mutation). A genetic screening test exists. Ichthyosis has no impact on the quality of life of the dog but gives him an abnormal appearance, called “dirty dog”.


Certain predispositions to gastrointestinal disorders have been reported in Golden Retrievers such as acquired megaesophagus or congenital portosystemic shunt. Clinical signs of congenital portosystemic shunt usually appear before the age of 1 year and are most often intrahepatic forms.

Hematology and immune system

In the Netherlands, a population of Golden Retrievers with hereditary spectrin deficiency has been identified.

A familial predisposition to hemophilia A has also been described in Golden Retrievers.


Idiopathic renal hematuria has been described in Golden Retrievers with a median age of 48 months. The mode of transmission of this condition is unknown.

In Golden Retrievers, a predisposition to urinary silica stones has been reported in one study with a predisposition of males and a mean age of 5.8 years.


Idiopathic epilepsy (essential epilepsy) is not uncommon in Golden Retrievers and a genetic origin has been suggested. The disease occurs between 6 months and 6 years of age.

The Golden Retriever is also considered to be predisposed to an idiopathic form of Claude Bernard Horner Syndrome.


In the Golden Retriever with generalized progressive retinal atrophy (GPRA), autosomal recessive inheritance is suspected. Two forms have been described: one occurs in the first two years of life, the other is later (after 5-7 years).

A form of cataract appearing between 6 and 18 months of age, non-evolving or of slow evolution is described, with suspicion of heredity. A congenital form, probably hereditary, is also described.

Distichiasis is a fairly common condition in the Golden Retriever.

In this breed, two forms of retinal dysplasia have been described and appear to be hereditary.

In the Golden Retriever, retinal pigment epithelial dystrophy (formerly central progressive retinal atrophy or CPRA) has been described and inheritance is suspected. This eye disease is more frequent in the United States and Great Britain, but its incidence has been reduced thanks to the implementation of screening programs. The first signs are observed in dogs of 3 years of age and vision problems appear around 5 to 7 years.

In some forms of entropion of the external angle of the lower eyelids, a polygenic hereditary origin is suspected.

Primary glaucomas of probably hereditary origin, as well as glaucomas secondary to pigmentary uveitis or uveal cysts, have been described in this breed.

A predisposition of Golden Retrievers to iris and uveal cysts has been reported with an average age of 7 years. In one study, 34.8% of dogs in the northeastern USA had uveal cysts. Some forms, associated with an inflammatory pathology, pigmentary uveitis, may have an impact on visual prognosis.

Orthopedics – Musculoskeletal system

Hip dysplasia is a fairly common condition in Golden Retrievers, with a predisposition to neutered males.

Elbow dysplasia is a common cause of front leg lameness in young Golden Retrievers. There are several forms. In this breed, osteochondritis and fragmentation of the medial coronoid process are hereditary.

In the Golden Retriever, a sex-linked hereditary myopathy comparable to Duchenne disease in humans has been described.

In the Golden Retriever, a clear predisposition to osteochondrosis of the shoulder has been reported, especially in males. This joint disease is bilateral in 50% of cases and the average age of onset is 4-7 months, sometimes later. The stifle joint (knee) is also affected by osteochondrosis.

Metaphyseal osteopathy (or hypertrophic osteodystrophy) is a bone disease that affects young dogs (2 to 6 months), with a possible predisposition of males. The risk is 5.4 times higher in Golden Retrievers than in a population of common breed dogs.

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