Golden Retrievers are one of the most popular breeds. They love hoomans and are great with kids, which makes them one of the top choices when it comes to family dogs.
But, there is one thing plaguing these playful pups: Cancer. As a result, the lifespan of Goldens has declined dramatically over the years. In 1972, these dogs lived for 17 years. Now their lifespan is a mere 9 or 10 years, according to veterinarian Michael Lappin.
That is a heartbreaking statistic.
Researchers at the Morris Animal Foundation, based in Colorado, want to find out what’s causing the spike in cancer rates. In 2012, the foundation launched a lifetime study of 3,000 Goldens across the country. Scientists will examine the general health conditions of the pups, their breeding background and any environmental factors that might be at play.
The foundation’s CEO, Dr. David Haworth, tells The Santa Cruz Sentinel that canine cancer is becoming the next major epidemic of the dog world.
“You don’t see dogs running loose that much anymore. We don’t see a lot of infectious diseases and the vaccines we have today are very good. Canine cancer has become a dog owner’s greatest fear.”
Cancer isn’t the only disease limiting the lives of this breed. 33% percent of the dogs in the study had skin diseases and ear infections. 17% suffered from gastrointestinal illnesses. 11% had urinary disease.
Researchers will be studying the causes of these ailments, as well as chronic conditions like diabetes and obesity.
Seven of the dogs in the study have already died of cancer or gastrointestinal illness.
Lappin, who is overseeing the care for 19 Massachusetts dogs involved the study, says that useful data won’t really emerge for 6 or 7 years, but all of the researchers involved hope that the data will help, not only Goldens, but other breeds and maybe even benefit human cancer research, as well.
Even though it will be a long time before the study yields any results, the good thing is that science is working on a way to save these cherished pups!
Featured image via @cathrynbrickley.