Your Purebred Puppy, Honest Advice About Dogs and Dog Breeds

Sensible advice for raising your Golden Retriever puppy so he lives a long healthy life and seldom needs to visit the vet. Learn about the most common health problems and issues in Golden Retrievers, the best dog food diet for feeding Golden Retriever puppies and adult dogs, the truth about vaccinations, spaying and neutering, and natural health care.


11 Things You Must Do Right To Keep Your Dog Healthy and Happy, my best-selling dog health book

Golden Retriever dog breed

Golden Retriever Health Problems and Raising a Golden Retriever Puppy to be Healthy

By Michele Welton. Copyright © 2000-2013

Quiz – How Long Will Your Dog Live?
How To Raise a Healthy Dog
Feeding the Best Dog Food
Feeding the 2nd Best Dog Food
Vaccinations: Needed or Not?
Are You Sure Your Vet Is Good?

The most common health problems in Golden Retrievers:

The Golden Retriever Club conducted a health survey that included nearly 1500 Goldens and concluded that 1 of every 2 Golden Retrievers will develop cancer. Hemangiosarcoma is the most common cancer in Goldens, followed by lymphosarcoma, mastocytoma, and osteosarcoma. In the club survey, 65% of the Goldens who died at 3-8 years old died of cancer. 70% of the Goldens who died at 8-13 years old died of cancer.

Skin diseases are also rampant, with 1 of every 2 Goldens developing some type of skin condition, especially allergies, which cause itchy skin and often lead to bacterial skin infections (pyoderma). Other skin diseases in Goldens include seborrhea, sebaceous adenitis, and lick granuloma. Non-tumorous growths (sebaceous cysts and lipomas) are frequently found on Golden Retrievers.

Golden Retrievers suffer from high rates of hip dysplasia and elbow dysplasia. The Orthopedic Foundation of America evaluated the hip X-rays of over 109,000 Golden Retrievers and found 20% dysplastic. That's bad, and the true rate is even higher because most of the obviously bad X-rays were not sent in for official evaluation. Over 14,000 elbow X-rays were evaluated and 12% were dysplastic, with the true rate even higher. For comparison, Flat-Coated Retrievers have a 4% hip dysplasia rate and a 1% elbow dysplasia rate.

Other common orthopedic health problems in Goldens include luxating patella (loose knees), osteochondritis, panosteitis, and cruciate ligament rupture.

Heart disease (especially sub-aortic stenosis and cardiomyopathy) is a major problem in Goldens, with up to 15% of the breed affected by some form of heart problem.

Epilepsy (seizures) is a major concern in Golden Retrievers, with an estimated 7% of the breed affected.

Cataracts are the most common eye disease in Goldens, with up to 13% of the breed affected. Cataracts can occur in Golden Retriever puppies or in middle-aged dogs and may or may not lead to blindness.

Eyelash abnormalities and an eyelid abnormality called entropion are common in Goldens. More serious eye diseases such as glaucoma, retinal dysplasia, and progressive retinal atrophy (PRA) can also occur.

Hormonal/endocrine diseases include hypothyroidism (the Michigan State University Thyroid Database reports up to 18% of Golden Retrievers have low thyroid levels), Cushing's disease, and occasionally diabetes.

von Willebrand's blood-clotting disease occurs regularly.

As with all deep-chested breeds, Golden Retrievers are at higher-than-normal risk for the emergency gastrointestinal syndrome called bloat.

Ear infections are common in Goldens due to all the hair inside the ear canal.

Other Golden Retriever health problems include autoimmune hemolytic anemia, megaesophagus, myasthenia gravis, laryngeal paralysis, and liver shunt.

Goldens are prone to losing pigment on their nose in the winter – this is usually a harmless condition called "snow nose". Also note that many Goldens turn white around their muzzle at a fairly young age, and this is normal for the breed.


You probably want to know if you can prevent those health issues from happening to YOUR Golden Retriever.

Yes, often you can.

  1. Some health problems are genetic, which means inherited from parents. Genetic health issues are common in Golden Retrievers today because of unwise breeding practices. My book, Dog Quest: Find The Dog Of Your Dreams, shows you how to find a Golden Retriever puppy who is genetically healthy.
  2. Other health problems are environmental, which means they're caused by the way you raise your dog. My best-selling dog health book, 11 Things You Must Do Right To Keep Your Dog Healthy and Happy shows you how to prevent environmental health problems by raising your Golden Retriever puppy (or adult dog) in all the right ways.

Here are my dog health tips for raising a healthy Golden Retriever puppy or adult dog:

Dog lifespan quiz How Long Will Your Dog Live? – Take This Quiz!
Based on your dog's breed and how you're raising him, this personalized quiz will help you understand how long your dog might live – and most importantly, how you can increase his life expectancy.


Obedience instructor and author Michele Welton Dog Health Care – The Sensible Way
Read my advice on daily health care so your Golden Retriever lives a long, healthy life and seldom needs to see the vet.


Real homemade dog food The Best Dog Food For Feeding Your Golden Retriever
The best diet for feeding your Golden Retriever is real food. Real chicken, turkey, beef, bison, venison, fish....This is not "people food" and I'll tell you why.


Natural dog foods for your Golden Retriever. The Second-Best Dog Food For Your Golden Retriever
If you can't feed homemade dog food, here are your next-best choices.


Information on booster shots for your Golden Retriever. Vaccinations and Booster Shots: Needed or Not?
How many vaccinations does your Golden Retriever puppy really need? Does your adult Golden Retriever need yearly booster shots? The vaccination guidelines have changed. Find out what some vets aren't telling you....


Information on choosing the best vet for your Golden Retriever. The Type of Veterinarian I Recommend
Is your veterinarian really the best choice for your dog? Learn about the differences between vets who practice conventional, holistic, and alternative veterinary medicine.


Information on spaying your Golden Retriever. Spaying Your Female Dog: Pros and Cons
Advantages and disadvantages of spaying your female Golden Retriever.


Information on neutering your male dog. Neutering Your Male Dog: Pros and Cons
Advantages and disadvantages of neutering your male dog.