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Golden Retriever Lifespan: How Long Do Golden Retrievers Live?

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Last Updated: February 27, 2023 | 14 min read | Leave a Comment

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The Golden Retriever is a long beloved dog breed that makes a wonderful companion. They are known for their loyal, intelligent, gentle personalities and fluffy, golden-hued coats. Pet parents always want to keep their four-legged companions around as long as possible. Before adopting any breed, it is good to know a little more about them, including their health and expected lifespan. The Golden Retriever’s lifespan is longer than some other breeds, but these pups have some factors that impact how long they live.

Goldens, as they are affectionately called, are a popular pet and an often picked breed to crossbreed. They constantly make the list of favorite breeds for a good reason. There is nothing to complain about with this lustrous breed.

Paw parents are constantly working to keep their pups healthy and happy. Every canine owner’s goal is to keep their pup alive and well for as long as possible. Understanding the different factors that impact life expectancy is essential. In this article, we discuss some of the most influential factors that affect how long Golden Retrievers live, as well as talk about some things owners can do to help their dogs live as long as possible.

Golden Retriever Breed

Golden retrievers eating kibble out of bowls while being pet by girls
Goldens are medium to large-sized dogs and eat a lot.

Golden Retrievers not only make excellent pets, but they are also active and highly intelligent animals. This breed is often trained as therapy and service dogs because of their gentle nature, intelligence, eagerness to please, and high trainability. They make lovely pets for families, especially those with young children.

The Golden breed can be traced back to 19th-century Scotland. They were developed by an avid hunter and nobleman named Dudley Coutts Marjoribanks, the first Baron Tweedmouth, who bred many dogs from 1854 to 1894. Baron Tweedmouth wanted to create a particular type of hunting dog. He wanted the skill of a Retriever in a dog that could easily survive the soggy, rough, chilly Scottish weather. Tweedmouth bred the dogs at his home, the Guisachan Estate, which is considered the birthplace of the Golden Retriever breed.

The original breeds involved were a yellow golden coated wavy coated Retriever and the now extinct Tweed Water Spaniel. Three puppies were born from this pairing, the basis of what is known today as the Golden Retriever. Those puppies were bred with others, including Red Setters and another Tweed Water Spaniel, creating the adorable Golden, though they were often called Guisachan Retrievers then. The flaxen breed was well-recognized in the UK and Canada. The breed made its way to the US and was recognized by the American Kennel Club (AKC) in 1932. Today they are ranked as the third most popular breed in the US.

They reach between 55 and 75 pounds as adults and stand 21 to 24 inches tall from paw to shoulder. Their coats are long and double-coated. The undercoat is softer and fuzzy, while the outer coat is long and smooth. Colors can range from gold, red, and cream. Goldens are incredibly friendly to both people and other animals. They are energetic pups who need daily exercise but are also more than happy to take an afternoon siesta.

How Long Do Golden Retrievers Live?

Golden Retriever Laying in Grass
When it comes to the average lifespan of a canine, it is essential to consider how it compares to other breeds.

The lifespan of a Golden Retriever is generally around 10 to 12 years, although some can live longer with proper care and attention to their health. Factors impacting lifespan include genetics, diet, exercise, and overall health care. This breed is predisposed to some health conditions that can affect lifespan.

The oldest Golden Retriever on record was a female from Oakland, Tennessee, named B.L. Augie. Augie lived an exceptional 20 years and 11 months. With great care, top nutrition, and hard work, it is not unusual for this breed to live about 13 years. Unfortunately, the breed’s expected lifespan is decreasing. Though it is now 10 to 12 years old, about 50 years ago, the breed was expected to live 16 to 17 years.

Please remember that this information is a reference and an average, not an exact bracket or prediction of how long every Golden lives. Each dog has a unique set of circumstances that will contribute to and impact life longevity. Genetic makeup plays a significant role, as does nutrition and lifestyle. Always discuss any specific concerns about your dog’s health with your veterinarian.

There has been much interbreeding within the breed and crossbreeding with other breeds. If you are still determining if your bark baby is a purebred, you can get a canine DNA test to determine his exact roots. Always do your research when adopting a puppy from a breeder, especially due to the interbreeding in this breed. You want to ensure your pup is healthy, so ask questions and ask about health screenings, treatments, and disease prevention from the breeder.

Generally speaking, a Golden Retriever’s lifespan is on par with other large canines, such as German Shepherds and Labrador Retrievers. However, some breeds have a longer life expectancy. For example, the Chihuahua is one of the longest-living dog breeds, with an average lifespan of 14-18 years. Other breeds that live longer include the Jack Russell Terrier, the Shih Tzu, and the Pomeranian.

Health Factors That Impact Golden Retriever Lifespan

Doctor and assistant checking up golden retriever dog in vet clinic
This information is not intended to be used in place of a consultation with your veterinarian.

Goldens are prone to a few different health conditions that impact lifespan. We discuss the most common. This may be a good breed to proactively consider pet insurance for, as it can help manage the cost of emergency and long-term care, depending on your plan.

Cancer

Cancer is a leading cause of death in Goldens. Unfortunately, cancer is found in them more than in any other canine breed. This is likely due to genetic mutations and interbreeding. It is estimated that over half of Goldens die from cancer. It often appears after they reach two years old. Boxers are another breed highly affected by cancer.

In Goldens, there are four most common types of cancer:

  • Hemangiosarcoma – This cancer starts in the circulatory system and is often found in the spleen and heart. This is an aggressive, very often fatal malignancy of the lining of blood vessels.
  • Lymphoma – this cancer affects lymphocytes (white blood cells).
  • Mast cell tumors– Mast cell tumors are a prevalent form of canine skin cancer.
  • Osteosarcoma – This is an aggressive form of bone cancer prevalent in larger canine breeds.

You can help keep your Golden healthy by keeping up with regular veterinary visits. Specifically, ask your vet about cancer scans and have them regularly. Contact your vet for an exam if you notice your pup to have unexplained pain, swelling, skin lumps, terrible breath, loss of appetite, wounds that do not heal, unexplained bleeding, diarrhea, or vomiting, as these can be symptoms of cancer.

Heart Concerns

Golden Retrievers are also a breed prone to heart disease and malfunction. They can have a hereditary heart condition called aortic stenosis, which obstructs the blood flow from the heart. These flaxen doggies are also at risk for dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM). DCM causes the heart to enlarge and weaken, preventing it from adequately supporting the dog.

Kidney Malfunction

Goldens can inherit a condition called renal dysplasia. It is caused by a genetic defect that happens in the womb. It can range in severity. Sometimes renal dysplasia will present in young puppies. Other times it can occur when they are a little older.

Hemophilia

This is a bleeding and blood clotting disorder resulting from a genetic mutation. Hemophilia A is an inherited condition carried on the X chromosome and is a sex-linked recessive condition. Females are carriers, and affected offspring are almost always males. Canines with Hemophilia A do not make enough of the blood clotting factor VIII 98). They will bruise easily and may start bleeding spontaneously. This is a very serious condition and can be fatal if a dog has severe untreated internal bleeding.

Hemophilia B is also a sex-linked recessive condition carried on the X gene. It is inherited in the same way as Hemophilia A. This type causes a malfunctioning low level of coagulation factor IX (9). Though milder than Hemophilia A, it also causes spontaneous and sometimes severe internal bleeding and bruising. Ask your veterinarian about testing your dog to see if they are either a carrier of the gene or if you suspect Hemophilia.

Epilepsy

Epilepsy is a neurological disorder that causes spontaneous and recurrent seizures without any identified cause, a condition called idiopathic or primary epilepsy. These seizures can cause canines to suffer physical convulsions and even consciousness. Repeated seizures over time will affect cognitive function and physical wellness. Unfortunately, the Golden is often an affected breed. Epilepsy can range in severity and can appear in pups as young as six months old. It usually occurs between then and age three. The severity and impact this will have on a dog’s life depend on the individual animal, as well as the care they receive.

Canines with epilepsy will behave as normal in between seizure episodes. These episodes are both physically and mentally exhausting. Dogs will need time to recover afterward and may need time to regain their bearings fully. They often need a long rest to regain their full mental and physical function. Canines can live complete, contented lives with epilepsy, though they need extra special support and care. The impact of the seizures on their body and brain will influence their overall health and expected lifespan.

Obesity

An obese dog is at higher risk for several serious health conditions that will impact overall health and lifespan. Obesity is a considerable worry, as it can lead to diabetes. An obese pup puts intense pressure on the musculoskeletal system. It will also overburden their heart and circulatory system, causing long-term, often irreversible damage. Research has been done for many years, determining that nutrition directly impacts the canine lifespan. Overweight canines can lose up to two years off their lives compared to their leaner counterparts.

Dental Disease

Dental disease is a chronic issue among all canine breeds. Goldens are very likely to develop dental problems and diseases. It is essential to make oral hygiene a priority for this breed. It is estimated that it impacts at least 80% of all dogs by the time they are two years old. Dental care is highly effective in helping prevent bacteria and tartar building up.

Canines suffering from dental disease can face long-term health harm, including inadequately functioning kidneys, liver disease, heart malfunction, and joint concerns. It is estimated that canines with dental disease can lose up to three years of their lives.

Hip & Elbow Dysplasia

The Golden is susceptible to developing hip and elbow dysplasia. This condition affects a dog’s joints and general physical strength. They can lose cartilage and develop scar tissue in their joints. This can cause pain, limping, stiffness, difficulty walking, running, or jumping, unsteady gait, loss of leg and thigh muscle, decreased range of motion, and a tendency to lean or walk primarily on their front legs.

Other Factors That Impact Golden Retriever Lifespan

Along with health concerns, other factors impact Goldens’ lifespan. Some of these, like genetics, are out of an owner’s control. Owners can make a big difference in other things like care, lifestyle, and nutrition.

Nutrition

Nutrition is integral to any dog’s health and lifespan from the very first day they are born. Puppies need their mother’s milk first to get vital nutrients for development. After that, they need healthy, age-appropriate food throughout their lives. This is a very food-motivated breed, so it’s imperative to control their portion size.

Avoid dog foods with poor-quality ingredients and lots of fillers like corn and wheat gluten. Look for foods that list real animal proteins as the first ingredients and those that meet the American Association of Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) guidelines. Try to buy the best quality dog food that you can afford and consider different options like dry, fresh, wet, freeze-dried, and even raw food diets.

Genetics

Genetics is a significant factor that impacts every breed’s lifespan. The specific genetic makeup of a dog, a dog’s parents, and bloodline play a role. Adopting puppies from a reputable breeder is a way for owners to get a healthy dog tested for hereditary health issues. With so many genetic health concerns running in Golden Retrievers, this is a wise step. Mixed breeds tend to be healthier and may live longer than purebred parents.

Puppies who come from a long line of healthy and well-cared-for ancestors are more likely to live longer than those whose family history includes a number of health problems or poor care. Always ask questions, ask to see health tests, and inquire about the lifespan of the parent dogs and previous litters. Additionally, canines age faster than humans. An ongoing research project through Princeton University called The Dog Aging Project is working on learning more about how canines age and how their genetics impact lifespan.

Spay & Neuter

Spaying and neutering dogs are not just about regulating breeding but also about prolonging the lifespan. Research conducted by the University of Georgia revealed that these procedures could increase the life expectancy of female dogs by 26.3% and males by 13.8%. Canines that are not neutered or spayed have a lower lifespan of approximately two years. Unneutered female dogs are more vulnerable to developing uterus and mammary gland cancers and Pyometra, a uterus infection. This infection can be deadly if it enters the bloodstream. Intact males, on the other hand, are more prone to prostate infections and cancer.

Care & Lifestyle

Just like humans, the type of lifestyle a canine leads will impact life expectancy. A dog’s care and lifestyle are directly under the owner’s control. Owners need to make sure dogs are getting enough exercise. Medium to large breeds like this need about two hours of exercise daily. Take care not to overwork them, as this puts undue pressure on their joints and bones. Dogs who do not have enough physical activity can start to have developmental issues and become mentally unhappy. Owners are responsible for ensuring their dogs are constantly receiving proper care and live healthy lifestyles.

This includes ensuring they have a healthy, comfortable home to live in and are always kept on leashes or in contained areas outside to avoid accidents or injury. Dog ownership is a lot of fun but also a huge responsibility. Remember, our pets have no choice in what we feed them, when we take them for walks, how often we let them outside, or the kind of medical care they receive. Owners must do everything possible to ensure their dogs get the best possible care and live a healthy lifestyle.

Health & Vaccinations

How healthy a canine is throughout life is also a significant factor in life expectancy. Puppies should be screened for any kind of underlying or hereditary health condition. Puppies will need to visit the vet several times during their first year and then have regular visits about twice a year for the rest of their lives. As they get older and start to age, preventative care will become more critical. It is essential to keep up with preventative health visits and ensure your dog is always up to date on vaccinations. Even though there is a higher focus on vaccinations for puppies, these are very beneficial in helping adult dogs stay healthy and avoid illness.

Remember that the Golden Retriever is predisposed to some health conditions, and some pups may need more medical care than others. Some conditions affect lifespan, while others only impact the quality of life. Always make your bark baby’s health a top priority. Make sure to discuss any concerns with your veterinarian, especially if you have a dog living with a long-term health condition. Your pup may need extra support as living with medical issues or diseases takes a significant physical toll on their body.

How to Help Your Golden Retriever Live A Long Life

Though many things are out of our control, pet owners often wonder how to increase their dog’s lifespan. Owners can do a few things to ensure their bark babies are healthier and live longer lives.

  1. Owners should always provide their puppies with a breed-suitable, high-quality diet from the moment they are in their care. High-quality puppy food and age-appropriate dog food should keep them in good shape. Puppies require more calories and should eat medium to large breed-specific puppy food. Take care not to overfeed your Golden. When canines reach adulthood, they need well-balanced nutrition to support health and activity. Senior dogs need fewer calories and fat, so ensure you feed life-stage-appropriate food.
  2. Dogs need to communicate regularly with their people to remain mentally active. These four-legged friends are highly intelligent and can quickly become bored. They need mental activity as much as physical exercise. This breed is highly suited to trying out puzzle feeders and interactive toys.
  3. Physical exercise is necessary. Goldens need to be taken for daily walks and to have the chance to play with their people outside daily. Developing a habit of a favorite game or a regular walk spot is a wonderful plan. They look forward to and depend on these daily sessions and may become discouraged and physically unfit if they miss them.
  4. Exert caution when engaging your pup in physical activity. Golden Retrievers’ enthusiasm for human interaction and playing can quickly become exhausted. It is best to divide physical playtime into shorter segments instead of one long session.
  5. Safety should be the priority. Every year, pet fatalities are often the result of accidents and injuries, which can be avoided if dogs are restrained correctly on a leash. Check the fences and gates regularly to ensure they are not broken, worn down, or damaged. Do not let your bark baby roam without supervision, and make sure they are on a leash in areas close to traffic or anything that could lead to injury.
  6. Start providing dental care for your dog from an early age. Dental health is a frequently ignored factor in canine health and can cause damage to other organs, such as the liver, kidneys, and heart. Brush their teeth daily for the best results and to prevent bacteria buildup leading to dental disease. A professional cleaning every few months is also a fantastic way to keep those doggie incisors as clean as possible.
  7. Stay up to date with your pet’s veterinarian appointments, including preventive measures. Be sure to chat with them regarding any dietary changes or supplements you want to give your pet. Be sure to check and stay up-to-date on vaccinations, and always do your best to follow the vet’s instructions. Do not disregard flea and tick protection and prevention against heartworm. It may be beneficial to research pet insurance to decide if it can help cover your dog’s long-term health and medical needs.
  8. Spay or neuter your pup at the appropriate time. Discuss this with your vet early on so as not to wait too long or do it too early.
  9. Make sure to socialize your canine with people, other dogs, and other animals, such as cats, from an early age so they can learn to interact politely and confidently. If you need help with how to do this, consider bringing in an expert trainer for support. Undue anxiety, depression, and fear-related issues can arise in pups who are not socialized properly.
  10. Give your dog lots of love and affection. They are part of our lives and deserve as much attention and adoration as possible. Pets who feel cherished and valued will be generally happier and healthier and live longer.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is the Golden Retriever an unhealthy breed?

This is not an unhealthy breed, but they are susceptible to some hereditary health conditions. Part of a dog’s health is genetics, while a good portion of it depends on care and lifestyle.

What is the most common death for Golden Retrievers?

Unfortunately, this breed has an incredibly high chance of passing on from cancer. Cancer is the most prevalent reason for death in the breed. About 60% of Golden Retrievers are estimated to pass away from cancer.

Can a Golden Retriever live 15 years?

Though it is not common, the breed can live to be 15 years old. Most will live between 10 and 13 years old, though those with extra special care and powerful genetics can live longer. While this is the exception, it is possible.

What is considered old for a Golden Retriever?

A Golden is a senior dog when they reach 8 years old. Owners will start to notice their dog’s energy levels dropping and their activity levels slowing.

Final Thoughts

Goldens are amazingly popular dogs and make fantastic companions. They will likely be a family favorite for a long time. The average lifespan of a Golden Retriever is 10-12 years, though this number can vary based on several factors. Diet, exercise, environment, and genetics can all influence life expectancy. Regular veterinary checkups, vaccinations, an active lifestyle, and a balanced diet can help to ensure that your bark baby lives a long, healthy, and happy life. As with any pup, factors like nutrition, genetics, lifestyle, and health will affect lifespan.

If you are considering adding a Golden pup to your family, it is essential to ensure that you get a healthy puppy. Look for a breeder who can provide you with the pup’s health records and documentation of vaccinations and regular vet checkups. By following these tips, you can ensure that you and your furry friend can enjoy each other’s company for as long as possible.

Dog's paws in sand crossed

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