Golden Retriever

Golden Retriever - Agoura Hills Animal Hospital

Photo courtesy of AKC. For more information on 153 AKC recognized breeds, visit

Golden retrievers are one of the most gentle and sweet-natured breeds. Highly affectionate, loyal and eager to please, these large, lovable dogs not only like people and other animals, they crave attention. Goldens make ideal companions for children. They also excel in agility, tracking and obedience competitions.

Breed-related concerns

Every dog breed carries a distinct set of genetic advantages and health risk factors. The following are the most common diseases found in the Golden Retriever breed. Hopefully, your Golden retriever will not face these problems. However, early detection and preventive healthcare can make all the difference in helping your dog live a longer, happier life (see breed-related disease descriptions below).

Puppy (birth to 1 year)*

  • Developmental bone/joint disease (hip dysplasia cannot be definitively diagnosed until 2 years of age)
  • Subaortic stenosis

Adult (1 to 6 years)*

  • Hypothyroidism
  • Lymphoma
  • Allergic dermatitis
  • Ear infections (Otitis externa)
  • Cataracts

Senior (7 years and older)*

  • Hemangiosarcoma

Breed-related disease descriptions

Listed in alphabetical order *Please note that these common diseases can occur earlier or later in the dog’s life.

Allergic dermatitis. Skin inflammation due to an allergic reaction to something in contact with the skin, inhaled dust or pollen, food or fleas. Itchiness, scratching, rubbing, excessive grooming and licking are the main signs. Other signs may include head shaking, red skin, hair loss, smelly skin, skin thickening and skin darkening.

Cataracts. Opacity (loss of clearness) of the lens of the eyeball. Signs may include cloudiness in the inside in the center of one or both eyes, poor vision or blindness.

Developmental bone/joint disease. Affects predominantly young, large-breed dogs (It starts in young dogs, but a lot of the time it is not evident until the dog is older). Dogs may show no signs or may show pain, lameness, and reluctance to exercise. With hip dysplasia, there may be muscle wasting in the hind legs.

Ear infections (Otitis externa). Infection or inflammation of the ear canal. May be due to bacterial, yeast or ear mite infection, foreign bodies, allergies or hormonal disorders. Signs may include head shaking, smelly ears, scratching and rubbing of ears, reddening of the ear flap, discharge from ears, and pain on touching around the ears.

Hemangiosarcoma. Cancer of the cells lining the inside of blood vessels. Affects mainly the spleen, liver, heart and skin. Symptoms include masses, weakness, a distended abdomen, acute collapse and pale gums.

Hypothyroidism. Insufficient thyroid hormone production caused by disease of the thyroid glands. Symptoms include hair loss, obesity, lethargy, cold intolerance and skin infections.

Lymphoma. A cancer of the immune system cells. Signs may include enlarged lymph nodes, loss of appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, weight loss, lethargy, increased thirst and urination.

Subaortic stenosis. Birth defect resulting in narrowing of the aorta (main vessel leaving the heart) where it exits the heart. Signs may include sudden death at an early age or a murmur heard during a physical exam.

Help your dog live a longer, healthier life. Ask your veterinarian about a breed-related preventive health plan.

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