Tuesday, March 14, 2023

What Are the Golden Retriever Genetic Problems?

by Mel Dawn

Before you adopt a puppy or an adult dog you want to know about any possible health problems. This isn’t to screen out any high-risk breeds, but more to be prepared so you can care for your pooch the best you can. Many purebred dog breeds have specific health issues. If you love the golden retriever breed, and have the opportunity to adopt a pup, or maybe you’ve seen a golden retriever at your local animal rescue center, you need to do your research first. You want to know what are the golden retriever genetic problems to expect?

Here is some value information so you can decide if you can afford vet care if there are any future issues, and also to be mentally aware, should you have to bring your newly adopted dog to the vet clinic in the future. 

Are Golden Retriever Dogs Healthy?

The golden retriever dog breed is generally healthy, and they can live up to 10 to 12 years. Unfortunately, some dogs are poorly bred, so this can lead to specific genetic issues. You need to be aware that your dog could have allergies and asthma, an eye or ear condition, hip or elbow dysplasia, hypothyroidism, heart disease, and cancer. Dogs that suffer from these medical conditions can have a bad temperament (just like people who don’t feel well either). While it’s important to adopt a golden retriever dog from a good breeder, at times that isn’t possible if you’re adopting one from an animal shelter or a friend, where you don’t know their history. And many health conditions occur in senior or elderly dogs, so it can be difficult trying to find a dog breed that will be healthy their entire life. 

Minor Skin Health Issues

Golden retrievers have thick coats. If they love swimming, you should be aware that they may develop bacteria under the skin. This leads to what are called hot spots. Your dog may incessantly scratch their skin. The skin will become inflamed and infected. This may lead to sores, scabs, and hair falling out. These hot spots can appear anywhere. The good news is that with regular bathing, and a topical and oral medication, this condition can easily be cured when it flares up. 

Another skin condition that golden retrievers are prone to is called atopic dermatitis, or atopy for short. This is more related to allergies. This condition is caused by allergens that float through the air. They may be from plant pollen, tree pollen, or flower pollen outdoors, or from indoor dust mites, or mold. If your dog is going to suffer from this condition then it usually occurs from around two to four years old. Like hot spots, your dog may also scratch the problematic regions. It’s treatable with ointments. If the skin isn’t treated, constant scratching can lead to bacterial or yeast infections that are more difficult to treat. The most common locations for these skin conditions are around the eyes, the groin, the paws, and the mouth. 


Hypothyroidism is a health condition that is due to an endocrine disorder of the thyroid gland. The gland loses its ability to produce enough hormones. There may be weight gain and decreased energy levels in your dog. Skin and ear infections will increase. Their coat may thin and they may have skin conditions. This health condition occurs around the middle ages, and is not as serious as hyperthyroidism, fortunately! 

Hip & Elbow Dysplasia

These are inherited orthopedic conditions where the bone does not sit securely in the joint. This causes them to rub against the socket, causing arthritis and pain. In hip dysplasia, the dog can having trouble getting up, and having trouble walking and running. They may be reluctant to walk up or down stairs. There may be one leg that is awkwardly held out. Elbow dysplasia is similar, but affects the elbow joints. Surgery may be required with both conditions. This condition can be prevented by spaying or neutering your golden retriever dogs. 

Eye & Ear Conditions

Golden retriever dogs can be susceptible to ear and eye conditions. Their ears hang done loosely and ear wax can accumulate. This can lead to infection and inflammation in their ear canals. And since they enjoy swimming, that can also lead to ear infections too. Signs include red ears, brown or yellow debris in the ear canal, scratching or rubbing ears against furniture, bad odor, head tilt, and imbalance. Pigmentary uveitis is an inherited eye condition that can affect golden retrievers too. This involves small fluid-filled cysts in the uvea or pigmented region of the eyes. These cysts are benign, and can start growing around five years of age. You can glance at their eyes to see if they have this condition. While it is benign, it can lead to vision loss, and more serious eye conditions such as cataracts and glaucoma. Medication is used to treat it.

Terminal Health Conditions

Lymphoma, lymphosarcoma, and hemangiosarcoma are also cancerous conditions that can affect lymph nodes, spleen, liver, and heart. If caught early, chemotherapy is the best treatment. Various types of heart diseases can also affect your dog. Subaortic valvular stenosis and nutritional dilated cardiomyopathy are heart conditions that can cause issues too. It’s important to give your dog a healthy diet and to exercise them on a regular basis. 

The golden retriever dog is one of the most popular breeds today. When you look at them and interact with them, you can easily understand why. These dogs are smart and loyal to their family. They are simple to train and highly affectionate. They do well with children and other pets. But like with other dog breeds, they can bring with them specific genetic health conditions. The good news is that you are now aware of these health issues, and you can keep an eye out for them in the future. Your golden retriever will appreciate how much you love and care for them!

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