Golden Retriever Lifetime Study Could Uncover Cause Of Cancer


Golden Retriever Lifetime study aims to find what causes cancer in dogs

The Golden Retriever has long been known as one of the friendliest dog breeds on the planet, a fact that makes them one of the best breeds when it comes to the family pet.

Now, even though they have no idea what is going on, more than 3,000 of these beautiful friendly animals are being used in what is one of the largest ongoing animal studies ever to be conducted.

A massive Golden Retriever Lifetime study is currently being conducted by researchers from Colorado State University and the Morris Animal Foundation to try to determine what causes cancer and other diseases in dogs.

Golden Retrievers were the breed of choice for the researchers, due to cancer being a very prominant cause of death in the breed.

Researchers state that cancer effects up to half of all Golden Retrievers during their lifetime, thus the reason for selecting them for their study.

There are multiple types of the disease that Golden Retrievers are predisposed too, with the main ones including: mast cell tumors, bone cancer, lymphoma or hemangiosarcoma (originating in the lining of blood vessels).

With more than 3,000 Golden Retrievers unknowingly taking part in the study, this is the largest nationwide study to ever be conducted in the United States.

Golden Retriever lifetime study

The goal of the massive study is to determine what causes cancer and other diseases in Golden Retrievers in order to better develop ways of preventing such diseases which in turn would allow the breed to live longer more meaningful lives.

Researchers do indicate that their study findings will hopefully impact other breeds of dog, and even humans as in many cases, dogs and humans respond in a similar way to various types of medical treatment.

So what do study participants actually do? Well the work is more for their owners, not necessarily for them.

Owners keep track of an array of different daily activities that their dogs partake in, ranging from how often they sleep, how long they sleep, what kind of food they eat, how often they get their teeth brushed, and when and how long they are frollicking on grass that has been sprayed with pesticides.

Some of “these dogs will get cancer as they age … but in the meantime, they are doing everything that dogs do,” said principal investigator Rodney Page, a veterinary oncologist. “some of these things seem kind of silly, but you never know what you’re going to identify as a significant risk factor with an outcome that you could easily change.”

Golden Retrievers “are right beside us when we’re running, when we’re having dinner, when we’re out traveling. They basically reflect a lot of the same exposures and activities that we have,” he added.

dogs are also subject to checkups, where hair and bodily fluid are collected and sent off for analysis.

All of the study participants are within six months, and two years of age, a fact that allows researchers to collect years of data on each dog.

There is even a Facebook group for study participants to paw around in, which is very active and growing as more dog owners come on board.

“We have a really passionate cohort, is the best way to describe it,” study veterinarian Sharon Albright said.

Study findings

The study, which kicked off back in 2012, has yielded some interesting findings so far, but no major breakthroughs when it comes to cancer related biomarkers.

One in five dogs sleeps with its owner. 22 percent of dogs in the study eat and drink from a plastic dish. 40 percent of dogs in the study swim at least once a week, and just over one out of every four eat grass on a regular basis.

Matt Morley, a lawyer in Chevy Chase, lost his beloved Golden Retriever Hayley to lymphoma in 2013 and says that results of the study could have a real practical application when it comes to humans as the drugs his dog was given to help combat her disease are the same that are given to humans.

“Whatever they learn in this study could have real human applications,” Morley said. “All the drugs my original dog was taking, they’re all drugs that
people who have cancer take.”

The Golden Retriever Club of America stands behind the study and openly is promoting it on their website for any owner of a young Golden Retriever who would like to participate.

Golden Retriever breed overview

The Golden Retriever is a sturdy medium to large dog; patient and loyal, playful and easily trainable.

Although they possess very little, if any, guarding instincts they have no problem announcing when strangers approach.

Males typically grow to a height of 22 to 24 inches, and can weigh between 60 and 80 pounds. Females are generally a little smaller, growing to a height between 20 and 22 inches and reaching a weight of 55 to 75 pounds.

Family life

The golden Retriever does really well with young children, and other animals. As far as their exercise requirements go, they need regular daily walks as they do have a lot of energy to burn and if not given that outlet, they can tend to become bored which can result in them getting in trouble due to distructive behavior.

Life Expectancy of Golden Retrievers

Golden Retrievers have a life expectancy between 10 and 12 years. As with any dog, how they are looked after plays a critical role in how long they actually live.


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