Golden Retrievers are one of the most adored dog breeds, thanks to their playful, friendly and loyal nature. Because of this, they’re among the most popular choices for family pets. But one of the hardest things about choosing a pet is knowing that your dog likely won’t be around as long as you’ll be. So what is the average Golden Retriever lifespan?
On average, a Golden Retriever’s lifespan is 10 to 12 years, which is similar to other breeds of dog that are the same size. Of course each dog is different, and many Goldens live either longer or shorter than these ranges.
Let’s look at typical lifespans of Golden Retrievers, what factors may contribute to them, and what you can do that may lengthen them.
Things That Can Affect the Average Lifespan of a Golden Retriever
One of the leading causes of Golden Retriever death is cancer. In fact, a study made by the Morris Animal Foundation found that around 60% of Golden Retrievers are impacted by cancer. This is almost double the rate of any other breed of dog.
Golden Retrievers, like a lot of other purebred dogs, are susceptible to a host of different medical conditions, including lymphoma, seizures, skin problems, eye disorders and hip and elbow dysplasia.
Don’t let this discourage you from getting a Golden, however, as there are ways in which you can prevent your dog from developing some of these conditions, and help them lead a full and happy life.
Do Bigger Dogs Live Shorter Lives?
It’s very common for bigger dog breeds to live shorter lives than their smaller counterparts. No one is quite sure why this happens, but research generally shows that larger dogs age more rapidly than smaller dogs.
Researchers believe this is because larger dogs live faster, more intense lives.
How Fast Do Golden Retrievers Age?
A common old wive’s tale is that dogs age seven years for every human year. However, a more accurate developmental equivalent is that dogs are considered to be around 15 human years old when they’re one year old. In their second year, they age 9 human years. After that, they age approximately 5 human years for every year of their life.
Using the conventional 7 dog years for every human year, a 12 year old Golden Retriever would be the equivalent of 84 years old. Using the alternate formula above, that same 12 year old Golden Retriever would be 74 human years old.
And a 15 year old dog would be 105 human years old using the old 7/1 year formula, but 89 humans years old using the adjusted formula. Since it’s fairly common for a Golden Retriever to live to be 15 years old, the formula that translates to 89 human years old makes much more sense.
In 2020, a Golden Retriever in Tennessee named Augie set the world record for becoming the oldest known Golden Retriever ever at 20 years old.
Factors Which Influence a Golden Retriever’s Lifespan
There are a couple of different factors which can affect the lifespan of any dog, not just Golden Retrievers. The biggest factor would definitely have to be genetics.
As we mentioned earlier, Golden Retrievers are an extremely popular dog breed choice. According to the American Kennel Club, they are actually the third most popular breed.
Unfortunately, due to their high demand, there are some poorly treated and over-bred Goldens, which are typically found in puppy mills. Female Goldens that are overbred tend to give birth to puppies that are more prone to health problems.
This is usually because the mother is under constant stress, and forced to breed too often. In some cases, puppy mills may even inbreed, which brings about a whole other host of problems. Puppies can often be taken away from their mothers too soon as well, so they may not have gotten all the nutrients they needed from their nursing mothers.
When picking any dog, it’s important that you make sure your dog has been well-bred.
As we also noted earlier, Golden Retrievers are particularly susceptible to cancer. There is no solid reason known yet as to why there has been a sharp increase of cancer-related health issues for Goldens, However, a recent genetic mutation is suspected to be the likely culprit.
Golden Retrievers who have lymphoma and hemangiosarcoma have genetic alterations which make them much more likely to develop cancer. A 2015 study made by the Golden Retriever Lifetime Study found that Goldens are much more likely to die from bone cancer, blood cancer and lymphoma than any other breed of dog.
Other common health problems, which also affect other large dog breeds, include arthritis and joint problems, bloating, and diabetes. As they age, Goldens are also susceptible to heart conditions, cataracts, hip dysplasia, and Hypothyroidism.
There are, of course, ways in which you can help prevent your Golden from developing some of these conditions, and can influence how long they will live by monitoring things such as exercise and nutrition.
Ways You Can Help Prolong Your Golden Retriever’s Life
Before we begin, we must clarify that there are no guarantees that you will be able to increase your Golden Retriever’s life, but you can certainly help make it more possible. Here are some common-sense measures you can take that can help increase the odds of your Golden living a long and full life.
Choose the Right Dog
This may sound obvious, but choosing a healthy dog can mean that your dog will have fewer or no health problems.
As we touched on earlier, due to their popularity, there are a lot of problems surrounding Golden Retriever breeding, so it’s important that you pick a good breeder.
Start researching your breeder. Knowledgeable and caring breeders will do extensive health testing before breeding any dog. If a dog “fails” a health test in any way, they won’t breed them at all.
It’s worth remembering that a good breeder will encourage you to meet the mother of the litter, and will ask you about why you want a Golden. They’ll also quiz you a bit about the breed, how you’ll raise the dog, and how you plan to take care of them. Reputable breeders want to know as much about you as you do about them. They’re not just looking to make some quick money off of you, they care about maintaining and improving the breed.
A typical breeder red flag is if the breeder has only been operating for a short amount of time. Similarly, if the puppies haven’t had any vet visits, or haven’t been vaccinated or dewormed, then you should also take that as a warning sign.
Well-established breeders will usually provide you information regarding the puppy’s lineage. They will also have AKC (American Kennel Club) papers. Be warned, however, that puppy mill breeders may also have AKC papers, which doesn’t necessarily mean that the dog is well-bred.
You can also choose a rescue Golden. Sometimes rescue centers will be able to tell you if the dog came from a puppy mill, but it’s much more likely that they won’t have that information. Just remember that not every rescue Golden will have health or behavioral problems.
Spay or Neuter Your Golden
Deciding to spay or neuter your dog is entirely up to you, and you should never feel forced to do so if you don’t want to. We are only suggesting this as many experts recommend this as a way to prevent certain types of cancer that may develop in your dog’s later years.
Spaying will reduce a female dog’s risk of developing breast and uterine cancers, false pregnancies, uterine torsion, pyometra, and vaginal and uterine prolapse. Neutering male dogs will completely eliminate the risk of them developing many cancers that affect male dogs. It will also reduce the risk of several other forms of cancer.
Neutered dogs will have a zero or reduced risk of testicular cancer and prostate problems, testicular infections, anal tumors, and hernias. Neuterings males often decrease territorial and hormone-driven behaviors, which includes aggression towards other dogs. It’s certainly no guarantee of doing so, however.
Keep Your Golden at a Healthy Weight
Diet and exercise can have a significant impact on your dog’s health. An average adult male Golden Retriever will weigh somewhere between 60 to 75 pounds, while females should weigh somewhere between 55 to 65 pounds. However, if you’re not sure what your Golden should weigh, make sure you check with your vet.
In general, a Golden Retriever should have a well-defined waistline. Goldens should look lean, not chubby. Similarly, you shouldn’t be able to see their ribs, but you should be able to feel them under a light layer of fat.
It’s important not to overfeed your dog. Make sure you’re giving them the right type and quantity of food according to their age and weight.
It’s also important that Golden Retrievers get enough exercise, as they’re a very active breed of dog. Long walks, playing and swimming will help your dog keep fit and trim. You can also ask your vet to provide you with an exercise program if you’re unsure.
Just remember that excess weight can add a lot of strain and pressure to your dog’s bodily systems. Overweight dogs are more susceptible to joint disorders, diabetes and heart failure.
Look After Their Dental Hygiene
Just like humans, dog’s need good dental hygiene to look after their overall health. Without it, they can develop periodontal disease. This is where bacteria can enter their blood system and attack their kidneys, liver, heart and lungs.
To put into perspective how important canine dental hygiene is, 80% of dogs show signs of dental disease by the age of three. To keep your dog’s teeth in check, vets recommend regularly brushing your dog’s teeth – try and do it on a daily basis if you can.
Regularly Groom Your Golden
It’s important that you maintain your Golden’s coat, nails, paws and ears. Not only will this keep your dog looking good, but it’ll also help keep them healthy. Goldens generally don’t need to be trimmed (and you should never shave them).
Regular grooming will also reduce the risk of your dog developing any skin conditions. It will also make it easier to detect any lumps and bumps that could be potentially life-threatening before they cause any fatal damage.
Also, as Golden’s have “floppy” ears, they are much more prone to ear infections. It’s important that they are regularly checked and cleaned when necessary.
Take Them for Regular Checkups
If you want to make sure your Golden lives a long and healthy life, it’s important that you take them to the vet regularly. This will increase the chances of diseases and conditions being caught early on, before they have any serious effects on your dog’s health.
It’s also important that you take your Golden for regular vet checkups to make sure their vaccinations are up to dates, as these will protect your dog against common diseases.
Use Dog-Safe Sunscreen
Although Golden Retrievers have luscious fur, it isn’t enough to protect them from the intensity of the sun. Because of their light-colored fur, Goldens are actually prone to sunburn, and just like humans, dogs can get skin cancer.
So, it’s important that you apply sunscreen on your dog’s tummy, ears, around their eyes and on the tips of their noses. Be sure to ask your vet for safe sunscreen recommendations.
Limit Their Stress
Golden Retrievers who are under stress are much more vulnerable to chronic diseases, so it’s important that you do things to keep your dog happy.
Keep your dog close to you and give them plenty of attention – Golden’s are very sociable dogs – and try to include them in any family activities, especially play time. You should also address any stressful situations such as anxiety and bullying from other dogs or pets.
Golden Retrievers are extremely loyal and playful dogs, which makes them the perfect canine companion. The only problem is that Goldens are extremely susceptible to developing a number of chronic health conditions and diseases.
However, if you follow some of the advice provided above, you can help reduce the risk of your pet developing some of these conditions, which can contribute to them living a longer and happier life.