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Golden Retrievers | Commonly Found Health Issues with Golden Retriever Dogs

Golden Retrievers | Commonly Found Health Issues with Golden Retriever Dogs

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Golden Retrievers | Commonly Found Health Issues with Golden Retriever Dogs

Golden Retrievers | Commonly Found Health Issues with Golden Retriever Dogs

Golden Retrievers are medium-sized dogs that were traditionally bred in Scotland and first recorded by The Kennel Club in 1903. They are one of most popular dog breeds in the UK and are a firm family favourite.

Golden Retrievers are a powerful and strong breed of dog with a broad head and a recognisable double-coat; often yellow or golden in appearance.

Retrievers, however popular as a family pet, sadly experience a number of common health issues from conditions that impact the whole body including higher than average levels of hip dysplasia and joint issues such as canine arthritis. Further commonly reported issues with Golden Retrievers are allergic skin conditions and canine eye problems and unfortunately the breed does record higher levels of cancer than other breeds.

The average lifespan of a Golden Retriever is 12 to 13 years.

Not only is the breed well recognised due to its colour; Golden Retrievers are well known to be a highly intelligent, easy to train and an obedient breed. They make for wonderful companion dogs and are commonly trained as guide dogs or therapy dogs. Interestingly, Golden Retrievers have very low guarding instincts which make them great pets with young families and many of them retain many of their gun dog retriever instincts such as having a great smell and the natural ability to retrieve - so throwing a ball for them is highly recommended! 

Unlike other breeds of retriever dogs though, Golden Retrievers are generally not very good swimmers as their double-coat is thought to weigh them down.

Let’s take a closer look at what some of these common health conditions found with Golden Retrievers are are and how we can identify them.

Golden Retrievers like to retrieve so throwing them a ball is a top game

Joint conditions in Golden Retrievers

There are a vast number of musculoskeletal problems found in Golden Retrievers which can lead to health complications and mobility issues in dogs.

Hip & Elbow Dysplasia

Both the dogs hips and elbows are at high risk of developing Hip or Elbow dysplasia. As the dog ages their elbows and hips become less mobile and often this will lead to lameness and an inability to get up off the floor. Left unattended and without support this condition can lead to pain and discomfort.

Canine Arthritis

As with any breed, Golden Retrievers can develop canine arthritis in any joint which is overworked. Canine arthritis can lead to severe pain and will often require ongoing care and treatment. Many dog owners now look towards advanced magnetic therapy to help their dog with canine arthritis.

Patella Luxation

Patella Luxation is a common health condition in Golden Retrievers and occurs when the dogs kneecap continually slips out of place. The condition can cause pain and discomfort and as with many conditions we have mentioned in this article, if caught early can lead to a good prognosis moving forward.

Whatever joint condition your Golden Retriever may be showing there are a plethora of treatments, therapies and products to help manage their condition.

Alternative therapies such as massage and hydrotherapy are growing fast within the canine community and advancements in technologies are leading to more dog owners using advanced magnetic therapy.

Diet-related conditions in Golden Retrievers


Diabetes is a serious condition in dogs and is common across all dog breeds, with Golden Retrievers having an above average incidence of the disease.

Just as with humans, dogs with Diabetes are unable to regulate the metabolism of sugars in their bodies and require daily insulin to help them survive.

It is vital to diagnose the condition early and if caught early and managed accordingly will not reduce the animals life expectancy.


Due to the fact that Golden Retrievers are a common family pet, they are prone to easily becoming overweight. This can impact their ability to move around and their overall quality of life. On top of this, any dog that is obese is more likely to have issues with its health compared to its healthy weighted counterparts.

With many dog owners now treating their dogs like 'one-of-the-family' this can lead to further complications around diet related issues, often from over feeding. Try to avoid sharing your own snacks with them, however cute they may look at you. These snacks are often high in salts and sugars.

If they are regularly begging by your side when you are eating try and remove them from the room or provide a natural and healthy option alongside your food to pass to them. Remember, it is for their own good.

Feed your Golden Retriever a diet rich in nutrients and help maintain their weight with regular exercise. Finding the most appropriate diet for your dog can provide significant health advantages.

If you are unsure on all the options available to you; why not ask your local pet shop their view and what other Golden Retriever dog owners feed their dog and spend some time online researching about the breed and what suits them best.

Many dog owners now feed their dogs natural foods to help their dogs overall health and wellbeing.

Golden Retrievers need a natural diet consisting of the correct nutrients and vitamins

Cancer in Golden Retrievers

In a study published by the University of California in October 2023, Golden Retrievers are the most likely breed of dog to develop cancer with 65% expected to develop cancer in their lifetime. These statistics show worrying signs of this number increasing. In the USA the lifespan of the breed has been reduced from 17 years in the 1970’s to around 10-14 years today.

Although studies are beginning to show that genes have a significant part to play in why cancer is so common in the breed, other factors such as sun exposure and diet are also thought to be a factor.

With such a common breed, controlling the breeding program with a view to attempting to reduce breeding with unhealthy dogs is a major challenge and most likely unachievable.

Research on canine cancer is extensively funded across the canine world and as such a preventative vaccine based on several proteins found in canine cancers is currently in development. Immune therapy is also being heavily researched.

There are three commonly found types of cancer found in Golden Retrievers, we take a quick look at them;


Lymphoma is a ‘systemic cancer’ which means that it can effect the whole body rather than staying localised to just one area. These cancers effect the bodies natural immune system and have four main types which can be useful in understanding to recognise if your dog is beginning to show any symptoms.

Multicentric Lymphoma - This affects the whole body.
Alimentary Lymphoma - This affects the dogs gastrointestinal tract.
Mediastinal Lymphoma - This affects the animals lungs or chest cavity.
Extranodal Lymphoma - This normally affects the skin.

Catching Lymphoma early is key so it is widely recommended that Golden Retriever owners have quarterly visits to there vets to carry out the relevant blood tests.

Extensive research and funding has led to a broad understanding of cancer in the breed and most diagnosis of Lymphoma cases, when caught early, have a high success rate in achieving remission.

taking golden retrievers to the vets for regular blood tests for lymphoma is important


Hemangiosarcoma is a type of cancer which creates tumours and bleeding.

Hemangiosarcoma is unfortunately quite common in dogs and more so in Golden Retrievers than other breeds - although we have no idea why. In the USA studies have shown than over 50% of Golden Retrievers will develop canine cancer in their lifetime.

Hemangiosarcoma is rapidly growing within the canine community and often shows no clinical signs until the cancerous tumour has become very large.

If developed in the skin and not transferred to other parts of the body, tumours can often be cured with complete surgical removal of the tumour.

The tumour often appears in the spleen, on the dogs liver or on the righthand side of the heart. In most cases the tumours can be visible under the skin. If the tumour develops in the right atrium then this can lead to heart failure.

Mast Cell Tumours

Mast cell tumours are a particularly aggressive and nasty form of cancer, again more commonly found in Golden Retrievers than other breeds. The quicker these tumours are removed the higher chance the dog has to survive, left alone and they are fatal.

As they can look very similar to harmless lumps and bumps found in dogs, all suspicious or new lumps or bumps should be tested and surgically removed if possible.  

Golden Retrievers with skin conditions


There are many types of ticks, fleas, mites, worms and bugs which can invade your Golden Retriever and as they have a lovely and thick double-coat these can be more prevalent than with other breeds of dog.

Fleas and ticks are not a serious health condition but left alone can cause severe distress for your pet and lead to further complications and skin conditions.

Although the majority of parasites can be treated using chemicals and/or natural remedies, worms such as Hookworms, Heartworms or Whipworms can lead to pain, discomfort and in some cases can be fatal. It is important that your dog is regularly tested for worms and many dog owners now administered preventative measures.


Hypothyroidism in Golden Retrievers is more commonly found than in other breeds of dog and although it is not typically a skin condition it can affect the dogs hair.

Hypothyroidism is a condition which effects the dogs thyroids which impacts the dogs metabolism and temperature control. The condition leads to symptoms of being lethargic and will often create changes in the dogs behaviour.

Golden Retrievers often have wonderful plume-like tail feathers, with Hypothyroidism these feathers can often be effected and lead to “rat tail” where the tail loses all its hair.

Although not completely understood, Hypothyroidism appears to be inherited and as such many breeders will not breed a dog with signs of the condition.

The condition can be treated and managed through the animals life and not effect its lifespan. 

Parasites love Golden Retrievers as they have double coats

Eye conditions with Golden Retrievers

It is widely recognised that Golden Retrievers can inherit or develop a number of eye conditions, some of which can lead to severe loss of sight and even blindness. It is not known why Golden Retrievers develop these conditions more than some breeds.


Cataracts are a common eye condition in elderly Golden Retrievers where the lenses begin to appear cloudy which can lead to loss of sight. Magnetic dog collars, such as the highly-rated DOG StreamZ collars are gathering lots of followers to help with ‘cloudy eyes’.


Glaucoma is an eye condition which can be extremely painful that if left untreated will lead to blindness. In some more severe cases the dogs eyes may appear swollen but in many cases cannot be detected by dog owners. Glaucoma is a medical emergency and requires immediate attention.


Distichiasis is a canine condition which is caused by hairs inside the dogs eyelids growing and rubbing on the surface of the eye. Although widely inherited across many breeds, Golden Retrievers are prone to developing this painful condition. Prognosis is good with Distichiasis as the hairs can be permanently removed.

Golden Retrievers can develop eye conditions such as cataracts

In summary

Golden Retrievers are a wonderful breed of dog who have managed to capture the hearts of human beings and become one of the most popular pets in the world.

Unfortunately they do have some common health conditions which are found more than with other breeds.

Dog owners should be aware of these as a good understanding of these conditions (alongside the breed) can be vital in diagnosing a problem early and providing the best care for the dog moving forward.




Matt Campbell

Matt is a leading expert in the magnetic therapy industry and writes articles for StreamZ Global and various other publications.