Golden Retriever Health Problems

Golden Retriever Health Problems

So, you want a Golden retrieverOpens in a new tab. to add to your family and mix it up! Nothing says, “I adore you,” and “please rub my head as much as you like,’ than the happy expression on a Golden retriever’s face.

This breed will gladly be your playmate, your children’s playmate, and the household welcoming committee all rolled into one fluffy, furry, jovial, and enthusiastic dog, no matter how young or old they may be!

Just don’t expect this gentle, charming, and sweet furball to greet an intruder with a vicious bark, growl, or bite because they will happily receive them just like everyone else and guide them straight to your jewelry, safe or silver! This breed is not watchdog material.

The Golden retriever is generally hearty, robust, and blessed with plenty of energy. If you are considering getting a Golden retriever, you may wonder if they are a healthy breed.

In this post, I will give you information on Golden retriever health problemsOpens in a new tab. and answer the question, “What kind of health problems do Golden retrievers have?” Also included will be Golden Retrievers’ health problems symptoms.

To check your Golden Retrievers’ health status or their DNA checks, please visit the Embark vetOpens in a new tab. website for all the help you may need.

Golden Retriever Health Problems
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Do Golden Retrievers Have Health Problems?

Golden retrievers usually live to be between ten and twelve years. Unfortunately, some of those years may not be especially healthy ones.

This does not mean that your Golden retriever will suffer from any health issues but some conditions can be a concern especially for this breed.

The Golden retriever is the fourth most popular dog breed Opens in a new tab.according to the American Kennel Club.

The three dog breeds preceding this retriever are the German shepherd, the French bulldog, and in the number one spot, the Labrador retriever.Opens in a new tab.

When dogs are so high in popularity, there is a bigger demand for them and more breeding occurs.

This may sound like a good thing for future golden retriever pet parents but in actuality, it may not be. If breeding is not carried out by responsible breeders, the result can be unhealthy dogs that will develop diseases that are genetically passed down.

Good breeders need to test their breeding dogs for any underlying conditions and diseases and not breed them if they carry any bad genes even if they don’t actually suffer from a disease themselves.

Your best chance of acquiring a healthy Golden retriever begins with the breeder you choose and is in their hands.

Common Health Problems And Golden Retriever Health Problems Symptoms

“So,” you may ask, “what kind of health problems do Golden retrievers have?” Listed below are more common health problems to this breed. Just because they are common, it doesn’t mean that your Golden retriever will developOpens in a new tab. any of them.

hip and elbow dysplasia

Both hip and elbow dysplasia can be found in Golden retrievers. As a large-boned dog, hip dysplasia Opens in a new a worry.

Hip and elbow dysplasiaOpens in a new tab. are generally inherited and cause joint pain and swelling due to the abnormal development of joints leading to eventual osteoarthritis.

Hip dysplasia occurs in the hind legs because the femur bone does not fit into the hip socket due to a malformation. It fits loosely and does not move smoothly. Symptoms can begin as a puppy and are:

  • Limping
  • Lameness
  • Hopping
  • Painful when touched
  • Difficulty sitting, standing, lying
  • Off balance
  • Reluctance for play or walks
  • Difficulty climbing stairs, getting on furniture, getting into cars
  • Grinding or grating noises from joint
  • Stiffness

Elbow dysplasia develops in the front legs and also is caused by an abnormality in the elbow joint, which causes an improper fit. This can occur in dogs from five to eighteen months of age. Symptoms are:

  • Stiffness
  • Pain when touched
  • No interest in play or walks
  • Swollen joints
  • Limping
  • Lameness
  • Difficulty sitting up, standing, doing stairs, getting on furniture or in cars

Even though both hip and elbow dysplasia are hereditary, other factors play a role in the worsening of this condition.

When large-boned dogs grow too quickly, are overfed, and become overweight or engage in too much strenuous exercise when joints and bones are still developing, this can worsen or even cause hip or elbow dysplasia.

Do Golden Retrievers Have Health Problems?
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Hip and Elbow Dysplasia Treatments are:

  • Physical therapy and gentle exercise
  • Water therapy
  • Pain relievers (NSAID’s or steroids)
  • Supplements for joints (glucosamine, chondroitin)
  • Weight loss, if overweight
  • Surgery

Luxating Patella

A luxating patella is not as mysterious as it sounds. It occurs when the kneecap becomes dislocated.

It is a bigger issue in smaller breeds, but it can happen in golden retrievers too. Luxating means “dislocated” or “out of place” and the patella is the name for the kneecap.

This is a genetically predisposed condition that causes abnormal workings of the kneecap and ligaments due to deformities and over time wear and tears cause the kneecap to dislocate. Sometimes it is one or both kneecaps. Symptoms are:

  • Limping
  • Extending the leg to relieve pain
  • Holding the offending leg up to relieve pain

This condition is graded from I-IV in severity. Treatments can include pain management, but often surgery is required and the type depends on the grading. Surgery should be performed before arthritis sets in, which is a definite with luxating patella.

Aortic Stenosis

Aortic stenosis is a heart condition to which Golden retrieversOpens in a new tab. are susceptible. It is a genetic disease and can appear before your pup’s first birthday.

This disease causes a narrowing in the aorta. A valve there sends blood, which is oxygenated, to your retriever’s entire body, When this begins to narrow, the opening is not wide enough for blood to pass through, and therefore, blood flow is blocked.

Your golden retriever’s heart has to work harder and this eventually takes its toll and leads to death.

In mild cases, there may be no symptoms and it doesn’t affect your pup’s quality of life but dogs with this disease should not be bred. In moderate to severe cases symptoms may be:

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Weakness
  • Fainting
  • Sudden death

Clinical diagnosis is necessary with chest x-rays, an echocardiogram, and an electrocardiogram.

Even in severe cases of aortic stenosis, your pup may look normal and healthy with no signs or symptoms and death can be sudden. This can be a shock. Death can also occur before a year.

Common Health Problems And Golden Retriever Health Problems Symptoms
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Cancer seems to be a worry for everyone these days, as we see so much of it. Unfortunately, dogs develop cancer too, and sadly, Golden retrievers have the highest incidence of cancer among all breeds, and not a lot is known as to why this is. Below are some types of cancer that can affect golden retrievers.

  • hemangiosarcoma

hemangiosarcoma – This is a blood vessel cancer that can grow swiftly and become deadly. There are subtle signs which can be, fatigue and lethargy leading to internal bleeding, collapse, and sudden death.

  • mastocytoma

mastocytoma – This is cancer where mast cells develop in the skin forming a tumor. These tumors can have many different appearances and often are caused by vaccinations and occur at the vaccination site.

These tumors are staged from 1 to 4. In stage 4 they have metastasized or spread to other parts of the body. Chemotherapy, radiation, and surgery are treatments for mastocytoma.

  • Lymphosarcoma

Lymphosarcoma – This is blood cell or lymphocyte cancer and can be present in bone marrow, lymph nodes, liver, spleen or gastrointestinal tract. Chemotherapy is the most common treatment.

  • Osteosarcoma

Osteosarcoma – This is a bone cancer that is very aggressive and spreads rapidly. This cancer has a very poor prognosis.

Symptoms can be similar to other less threatening diseases: lameness, swelling, bone, and joint pain, and tiredness. Chemotherapy is sometimes used for treatment.


In dogs and humans, the thyroid gland produces hormones, which regulate metabolism. In Golden retrievers with hypothyroidism, their thyroid hormones produced are much lower than normal. Symptoms can be:

  • Weight gain
  • Weakness
  • Lethargy
  • Not as alert
  • Dry coat and skin
  • Skin infections
  • Excessive shedding
  • Hair loss which can be patchy

Replacing the thyroid hormone with daily levothyroxine should stabilize the thyroid and gradually eliminate symptoms. Routine bloodwork is needed to keep hormone levels steady.

Ear infections

Golden retrievers are prone to ear infections due to their soft, long, floppy ears that keep circulation down, moisture in, and can become a breeding ground for dirt and bacterial growth. This moisture and bacteria can lead to infection. Symptoms are:

  • Head shaking
  • Scratching ears
  • Bad odor
  • Ugly discharge

A trip to the veterinarian may be in order and antibiotics will be needed as ear drops and/or oral medication. Cleaning your pup’s ears regularly can help avoid ear infections.

Adding a healthy golden retriever to your family begins at the breeders. This is why it’s so important to do some research on breeders and to speak with pleased and satisfied pet parents about these breeders. Asking your breeder about the breeding dog’s family health history is very important.

When you take your Golden retriever puppyOpens in a new tab. home, their health becomes your responsibility in providing high-quality nutrition, exercise, training, grooming, and veterinary care.

Doing your part as a responsible pet owner can help to ensure a long and healthy life for your golden retriever.

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