Golden Retriever Health Issues You Should Know

Just as valuable as its name, the Golden Retriever is a well-loved and famous dog breed.

Coming up at number 4 on the American Kennel Club’s popular list, it is one of the easiest dog breeds to recognize.

Unfortunately, popularity comes with its share of challenges.

Because of the increasing demand for Golden Retrievers, breeders strive to meet up with enough supply.

The problem with this is that some pups are poorly bred, which results in some common Golden Retriever health issues.

So, before purchasing any of these dogs, you should be sure your preferred pup is well-bred.

Having said this, Its charms come from the adorable looks and endearing personality.

The Golden Retriever is the classic definition of a woman and man’s best friend, and it is affectionate with everyone it knows.

It is also highly intelligent, willing to please, and excellent with kids. All these traits make it suitable for both new owners and veterans.

Let’s take a look at some of the common Golden Retriever health problems, as well as ways you can care for your dog and reduce the chances of it falling ill.

The Common Golden Retriever Health Issues 

1. Hip Dysplasia

Hip dysplasia is a common illness that occurs more in bigger dogs, although it can appear in smaller dogs like Pugs and French Bulldogs.

Hip dysplasia is concerning to many pet parents because of the way it renders the ailing dog immobile to some extent.

It is mainly genetic and can be avoided if you’re sure the parents of your Golden Retriever don’t have it in their genes.

Some other factors like bad exercise and weight gain can make hip dysplasia more possible.

It occurs when the ball and socket of the hip joint don’t fit well, causing them to grind against each other.

Left untreated, the affected leg begins to deteriorate. 

Symptoms of hip dysplasia in dogs include:

  • Lameness
  • Abnormal movement 
  • Reluctance to move or exercise 
  • Stiffness in the limbs
  • Pain 

2. Cancer

Canine cancer is as dangerous as the human variant, and experts have shown that it is the leading cause of death for dogs that have lived over the age of 10.

Even more concerning is the fact that around 50% of these older dogs suffer from any form of cancer. That’s a 2 to 4 ratio.

No one is certain what exactly leads to cancer in dogs, though there is a high chance of it being genetic.

The Golden Retriever is prone to cancer, alongside some other breeds like Boxers and Bernese Mountain Dogs.

Hermanglocasoma is the most common Golden Retriever cancer that rapidly progresses and is more popular in dogs than cats.

Other forms of cancer include Lymphosarcoma, Mastocytoma, and Osteosarcoma. 

Symptoms of cancer in dogs include:

  • Bump and lumps under dog’s skin
  • Wounds or sores that won’t heal
  • Swelling
  • Excessive bleeding
  • Lameness
  • Sudden weight loss

3. Chest Conditions

The Golden Retriever can suffer from issues of the heart, lungs, and even the circulatory system.

These issues are scary because of how subtle they appear. 

Unlike other illnesses where the symptoms are overt, chest conditions are hidden and manifest in ways that could be confusing.

Once you notice any symptom that may be linked to a chest issue, contact a veterinarian. 

The most common chest condition in the Golden Retriever is subvalvular aortic stenosis (SAS).

It occurs when the Aorta gets narrow, disrupting the blood flow in the heart. Left untreated, it can be fatal. 

Symptoms include:

  • Lethargy
  • Display of pain
  • Reluctance to exercise
  • Coughing and gagging
  • Fainting

4. Skin Conditions

Alongside chest problems, the Golden Retriever suffers from some skin conditions, usually more seen in double-coated dogs.

The double coat gives a comfortable spot for bacteria to reside in, leading to a host of infections. 

Bacteria aren’t the only sources of skin infections, however.

Mites, pollen, fleas, dirt, ticks, parasites, and fungi are some other causes of skin issues. Allergies also fall under this category.

While skin infections aren’t deadly, they can be discomforting and should be treated.

Some of the skin conditions Golden Retrievers are susceptible to are lick granuloma, seborrhea, sebaceous adenitis, lipomas, and sebaceous cysts. 

Symptoms include:

  • Itching
  • Crusted skin
  • Pus and blood
  • Baldness
  • Standing hair

5. Von Willebrand’s Disease

This is a blood disorder found in Golden Retrievers and some other breeds like the Doberman Pinscher, the Rottweiler, and the Poodle.

It is genetic, but sometimes can be developed as the dog grows.

Von Willebrand’s Disease is caused by a lack of the von Willebrand factor, a protein that’s responsible for the platelets clotting.

Von Willebrand’s Disease happens more in dogs than in cats and should be taken seriously.

It is an incurable condition and it is unwise to breed any dog that’s predisposed to this.

Symptoms include any of the highlighted below:

  • Excessive bleeding especially after a surgery or injury
  • Nosebleed
  • Bloody urine
  • Fatigue
  • Blood in stool

6. Patellar Luxation

Patellar Luxation (also called luxating patellar or loose knees) occurs when the kneecap (or patella) shifts from its main position.

This kneecap is located at the femoral groove, and it is said to be luxating when it moves off there as the dog moves.

Patellar Luxation is more common in small breeds like the Chihuahua, but bigger ones like our dear Golden Retriever are not impervious to it.

Like cancer, Patellar Luxation has different causes. The most common reason for this issue is injury, but that is one factor amongst many others. 

Symptoms include any of the following:

  • Skipping in the place of walking
  • Lifting a leg while moving
  • Reluctance to exercise
  • Swelling
  • Pain during movement 

7. Bloating

Bloating is a critical issue that large dogs are prone to. Besides Golden Retrievers, breeds like Great Danes, Standard Poodles, Weimaraners, Doberman Pinschers, and St Bernards are prone to it.

According to AKC’s statistics, 30% of affected dogs die from bloating.

The mortality rate has reduced from 50% in past years but is still a cause for concern.

Also known as Gastric Dilatation Volvulus, Bloating is caused when the dog’s stomach fills with food, fluid, and gas, causing it to expand and twist.

This makes the stomach put a high amount of pressure on some other organs, leading to a stoppage of blood flow.

Blood could also end up getting stuck in the stomach. Bloating can put your Golden Retriever in shock and can result to death within hours. 

Symptoms of bloating in dogs include:

  • Discomfort
  • Swelling of the stomach
  • Drooling
  • Pain and whining
  • Rapid breething and panting

8. Ear Infections

Dogs with floppy ears are more prone to ear infections, and that includes the Golden Retriever.

Ears that stand get better airflow than droopy ones, which provide a damp environment for bacteria to develop.

Good ear care can significantly reduce the chances of your pooch suffering from ear infections.

Ear infections can be treated at home if you have the wherewithal to.

Early diagnosis is important to prevent it from developing into something more serious. 

Symptoms include:

  • Odor in the ear
  • A discharge
  • Redness
  • Scratching and pawing at the ear
  • Discomfort and whining 

9. Eye Problems

The Golden Retriever can suffer from some eye issues, the most notable being the cataract.

To understand the cause of cataracts, know that a dog’s eyes contain water and protein.

When the protein comes together to form a cloudy substance in the eye, cataracts occur. It is similar to the way it appears in humans.

Cataracts should be treated as early as possible or it would eventually lead to a loss of sight.

Other breeds besides the Golden Retriever that can suffer from cataracts include Australian Shepherd, Bichon Frise, Poodle, and French Bulldog.

In addition to cataracts, Golden Retrievers can also suffer from Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA) which happens when the retina begins to fail. 

Symptoms of both eye issues include:

  • Cloudy substance in the eye
  • Frequent bumping into objects
  • Night blindness
  • Eyes get a gray Color
  • Gradual loss of vision 

10. Hypothyroidism 

Hypothyroidism occurs when the thyroid gland—located in the Golden Retriever’s neck—doesn’t produce enough thyroxine which helps with the body’s metabolism.

Hypothyroidism is present in both dogs and humans.

Besides Golden Retrievers, some other breeds that are susceptible to this issue are Irish Setters and Doberman Pinschers. 

Symptoms of hypothyroidism in dogs include the following:

  • Muscle loss
  • Baldness
  • Flaky skin
  • Ear infections
  • Obesity 

Tips on Caring for Your Golden Retriever

Fluffy Golden Retriever Dog Lying on Grass

Now that we know some of the common Golden Retriever health issues, understand that the best way to keep your pooch healthy is by taking proactive steps in meeting its needs.

Though this breed doesn’t have a long life span, it can spend its days disease-free with your help.

Also, keeping your dog healthy saves money. 

Here are some tips you can implement:

  • Get your Golden Retriever pup from a reputable breeder. 
  • Groom regularly. 
  • Take your pooch to the vet for regular checkups. 
  • Feed it with a high-quality meal.
  • Keep your environment clean and free of harmful objects. 
  • Get your Golden Retriever pup vaccinated.
  • Contact the vet once you notice any unusual signs. 

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the most common health problems in Golden Retrievers?

The Golden Retriever is a healthy breed but can suffer from some health problems.

The most common ones include hypothyroidism, hip dysplasia, and some eye disorders.

Is Golden Retriever a healthy dog?

The Golden Retriever is a healthy breed and has a fairly long life span compared to other breeds.

The life expectancy of this breed falls between 10 and 13 years.

Do Golden Retrievers get sick a lot? 

Golden Retrievers can live healthy when well taken care of, but be ready to spend a good amount of money on vet payments when you own this breed.

This would include regular checkups as well as treatments. The Golden Retriever may get sick a lot, especially when poorly bred.

Final Thoughts on Golden Retriever Health Problems

Before buying a Golden Retriever, ask the breeder a lot of questions, especially on the health issues of the parents.

Many common health issues with Golden Retrievers are genetic and can be avoided if you are diligent enough.

Do not shop from a backyard breeder, irrespective of how cheap the price might be.

If you wish to adopt a Golden Retriever with special needs, make provision for it to live a normal life.

With enough effort from your side, you would be able to curb many illnesses and get early treatments for the ones it might suffer from.

You May Also Like:
Are Golden Retrievers Good Family Dogs? It’s Clear

References & Notes

  • AKC: “The Most Popular Dog Breeds of 2020”
  • WebMD Pet Health Center: “Dogs and Cancer: Get the Facts”
  • AKC: “Bloat (or GDV) in Dogs — What It Is and How it’s Treated”

Authored By

Ben Pierce

Ben Pierce is a canine behavioral and nutritional specialist, professional dog trainer, and the CEO of Puplore. A former military working dog handler, Ben founded Puplore to provide owners with breed-specific information and to act as a go-to guide to health, nutrition, care, and to help them find the confidence they need to step up to the plate and become the best pup parents they can possibly be. A firm believer in treating all animals with kindness and compassion, and that positive discipline is paramount in achieving a harmonious canine-human relationship, Ben’s former and present careers have enabled him to become a leading light in his chosen profession and business.

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