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Pet Health

Golden Retriever - breed information and advice

The Golden Retriever’s history as a gundog means the breed is popular as a guide dog, and also as a member of search and rescue teams because its soft mouth can pick up and carry things gently. With a friendly, fun-loving temperament and a willingness to please, Golden Retrievers make reliable family pets and are very easy to train.

To ensure your Golden Retriever is protected in case of an emergency, take a look at our dog insurance and puppy insurance policies.

Click on the hotspots below for illnesses seen in a
Golden Retriever

Golden Retriever

Essentials

Size: Large

Coat: Although thick and resilient, a Golden Retriever’s coat is reasonably easy to clean. Groom at least once a week to keep it in top condition.

Exercise: 2+ hours a day for adult dogs

Life span: 10+ years, although healthy Golden Retrievers can reach 16 or 17

Breed group: Gundogs were bred to flush out, locate or retrieve game shot down by hunters. They are usually highly trainable, keen to please and have a balanced, pleasant temperament.

Lumps and bumps

Like all dogs, Golden Retrievers can develop masses (lumps and bumps) in the layers of fat, skin and muscle that cover their bodies. These might be warts, cysts, abscesses, lipomas or tumours, such as mast cell tumours. Mast cells are normal skin cells that help dogs respond to trauma and damage by releasing histamine. However, these cells can sometimes replicate into a serious type of tumour called a mast cell tumour. They vary widely in size and shape, but most take the form of a solitary lump within the skin. Lipomas are benign (non-cancerous), slow-growing fatty lumps. Generally, treatment depends on the size, location and exact nature of the lump, but almost always involves surgical removal.

Fact

Lumps and bumps are the second most common conditions we see in Golden Retrievers

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Neurological conditions

Golden Retrievers can suffer from conditions that affect the brain, spine and some nerves. Epilepsy is a brain disorder that results in seizures or fitting, which may begin in dogs as young as six months old. Epileptic seizures look painful, but generally aren’t. Another disorder that Golden Retrievers can suffer from is Horner’s syndrome, wherein the cranial nerves that supply the eye (which connect directly to the brain) are damaged. Depending on the severity, epilepsy and Horner’s syndrome may need to be controlled with medication for the dog’s entire life to ensure a happy, normal existence.

Fact

In our experience, epilepsy is the most common neurological condition in Golden Retrievers

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Otitis

Like all dogs, Golden Retrievers are susceptible to various forms of skin problems, often involving the skin within the ear. The ear canal can become irritated by objects such as grass seeds, or by parasites, allergies or infections. This can lead to a condition called otitis, which simply means ‘inflammation of the ear canal’. It causes an intense itch, leading the dog to shake its head, flap its ears and scratch them using its back paws. If the otitis is due to an allergy, treatment is required for the lifetime of the dog.

Fact

In our experience, otitis is the most common ear problem in Golden Retrievers

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Thyroid disease

The thyroid glands, which secrete thyroid hormone, are located in a dog’s neck. Hypothyroidism is the name of the condition that occurs when the thyroid glands fail to secrete enough thyroid hormone. This leads to a slow metabolic rate resulting in weight gain, a slow heart rate and an intolerance of the cold. It can be managed effectively with thyroid hormone replacement tablets, which are required for the rest of the dog’s life.

Fact

We paid £2,968 to treat Charlie the Golden Retriever for hormone disorders in 2015

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Joint conditions

Larger breeds like the Golden Retriever can be prone to hip or elbow dysplasia. This develops when the bones that form the hip or elbow joint develop abnormalities in the cartilage which lines the surface of the joint or structures around it. Golden Retreivers can also suffer from cruciate disease, wherein the cruciate ligament, which crosses inside the knee joint, slowly frays and gets weaker. Like all dogs, they can develop arthritis from these conditions, and long-term treatment or surgery is required to keep them active.

Fact

In our experience, Golden Retrievers are most likely to need treatment for a joint problem

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