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Common health issues in Golden Retrievers

The playful and adventurous Golden Retriever is among the most popular breeds among families and sportsmen alike. When bred responsibly, these robust and warm-hearted dogs can live long, active and healthy lives.

With any dog breed, there are health risks that are more prevalent among Goldens than among other breeds. Here are a few common health problems to watch for in your Golden Retriever.

Hip Dysplasia

Among the most common health problems seen in Golden Retrievers is hip dysplasia. As in humans, the canine hip is a ball-in-socket joint, where the head of the femur (thigh bone) rotates smoothly within the socket of the pelvis. These large bones are held in place by powerful ligaments. Deformation of either the hip socket or femoral head can cause uneven bone wear and can unduly stress the attached ligaments.

Advanced cases are characterized by joint inflammation, pain, stiffness, and degeneration of the bone itself. Dogs with symptomatic hip dysplasia will often have trouble performing simple tasks like climbing stairs or jumping onto a chair. Your vet can use imaging technology to assess the severity of the dysplasia and can prescribe symptom relief. In severe cases, particularly among younger animals, surgery can correct the disorder, but as the Canine Journal notes, the procedure can cost between $1700 and $4500.


The cancer rate among Golden Retrievers is unfortunately among all dog breeds. It is estimated that 56% of female and 66% of male Goldens will die as a result of some form of malignancy. Hemangiosarcoma is an aggressive and fast-growing form of cancer seen in dogs overall and in Goldens in particular. It arises from the blood vessels and can be diagnosed microscopically in its early stages. Other forms of cancer often seen in Golden Retrievers include Lymphosarcoma, Osteosarcoma, and Mastocytoma. The key to prevention and successful management of these conditions is vigilance. As with all cancers, improved outcomes are associated with early detection.

Cardio and Respiratory Conditions

Like other large breeds, Golden Retrievers are at risk for a variety of conditions affecting the heart, lungs, and circulation. Among the most common and most damaging is subvalvular aortic stenosis (SAS)—a narrowing of the vessel that carries oxygenated blood from the heart to the body. Narrowing or partial blockage of the aorta causes the heart to work harder than it should and can have serious effects, including death. If your pet shows signs of lethargy, weakness, or difficulty breathing, see your vet immediately to rule out SAS.

Skin Conditions

Golden Retrievers tend to have a dense undercoat of insulating fur covered by a longer outer coat. This created an ideal environment for potentially harmful bacteria to grow and thrive. They are also at risk for allergic skin reactions—and the presence of mites, ticks, and other parasites can exacerbate existing skin reactions or produce new ones. Regular bathing, grooming, and parasite prevention can help lower the incidence of skin problems in your Golden. Also, be aware that your pet may have a contact sensitivity to certain molds, dust, or other environmental agent. Goldens are also susceptible to granulomas (granular non-cancerous tumors), sebaceous cysts (inflamed oil glands in the skin), and lipomas fatty, usually benign tumors) beneath the skin. Regular vet visits can help to diagnose these conditions and to determine the best course of management.

Other Conditions

Golden Retrievers are at risk for several other conditions not mentioned above. These include:

  • Cataracts (a white or yellow film that clouds the eye and impairs vision)
  • Hypothyroidism (low thyroid activity)
  • Bloat (gas of fluid buildup in the stomach, causing pressure on other organs)
  • Ear Infections

Cecily Kellogg is a pet lover who definitely has crazy cat lady leanings. Her pets are all shelter rescues, including the dog, who is scared of the cats. She spent eight years working as a Veterinary Technician before becoming a writer. Today she writes all over the web, including here at Figo.

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