Common Golden Retriever Health Problems You Should Watch Out For

Golden retrievers are a favorite breed for most dog owners. They are friendly, highly intelligent, eager to please, and very trainable. Generally, they are also healthy. However, because of irresponsible breeding in the past, this breed has developed certain genetic disorders and is prone to some health problems.

Golden Retriever health

(Photo by Chiemsee2016 |

It should be noted though that not all golden retrievers will be affected by these problems. Dog owners, however, are expected to be familiar with these, so you know what to watch out for. Below are some common golden retriever health problems:


According to a 1998 survey conducted by the Golden Retriever Club of America, cancer of various types is the most common cause of death among American golden retrievers. In fact, the rate of mortality due to cancer was as high as 61.4%. The most common types include the following:

  • Malignant melanoma. A form of skin cancer arising from the melanocytes which are the cells in the skin responsible for creating dark pigment.
  • LymphosarcomaCancer involving the lymphocytes in the lymphatic system.
  • Osteosarcoma. The most common form of bone cancer affecting dogs.
  • Hemangiosarcoma. A soft tissue tumor arising from the blood vessels.

Treatment for cancer usually involves chemotherapy and the removal of the tumor with the organ affected.

Hip dysplasia

Hip dysplasia is common among large breed dogs such as golden retrievers. It is a genetic disorder characterized by the abnormal development of the hip joint. Dog owners should watch for limping and bunny hopping, which are common signs of hip dysplasia. Your golden retriever may show lameness and pain on one of both rear legs. Still, some dogs with hip dysplasia do not indicate obvious discomfort. The severity of the disease can range from mild to severe.

When getting a new golden retriever puppy, it is advised to ask the breeder for proof that the parents were tested for hip dysplasia. Treatment includes surgery and medical therapy. Extra care should be taken for dogs with this problem as this can cause paralysis.


Canine cataracts are mostly the same as in humans. They are characterized by cloudy spots on the lens of the eyes which grow over time. Cataracts could develop at any age and usually do not affect the dog’s vision. However, some severe cases may involve vision loss. Surgery is the best treatment for cataracts, although it is quite expensive.

Gastric dilatation-volvulus

Gastric dilatation-volvulus is commonly known as bloat, a potentially fatal disorder affecting large, deep-chested dog breeds such as golden retrievers. It is the distention of the stomach because of rapid gas fill up. The bloated stomach may rotate and twist, keeping the blood from entering the organ. Bloat usually occurs when a golden retriever eats one large meal a day, drinks a large amount of water, eats rapidly, or exercises vigorously after eating. Because of the dropping of the blood pressure, the dog with bloat may go into shock. Failure to provide immediate medical assistance can kill your dog.

Signs of bloating include abdominal distention, excessive drooling, and retching without throwing up. There may also be restlessness, lethargy, and weakness with a rapid heart rate. When suspected of bloat, bring your golden retriever to the vet immediately.


Allergies are also common among golden retrievers. These are usually caused by allergens such as flea bites, airborne pollen, dust, food, and to some extent mold. Allergic reaction in dogs may be manifested by intense itching, scratching, licking, and ear infections. In cases of suspected allergies, be sure to bring your dog to the vet immediately. While allergies are common, adequate and proper physical and dietary care can help prevent their occurrence.

Separation anxiety

Another problem common among golden retrievers is behavioral. Because this dog breed is highly friendly and loyal, they quickly get attached to their owners and are thus prone to separation anxiety. This behavior can easily irritate an impatient owner. However, take extra care to prevent reacting harshly as this may have negative effects on your golden retriever’s personality. To prevent separation anxiety, make your arrival and departure as discreet as possible. Therefore, decrease interaction with your dog before leaving and upon arrival. You may also distract them with toys before leaving.

While golden retrievers are adorable and a bundle of joy to be around, they are not immune to health problems. The good news is most of these problems are preventable. Be sure to educate yourself on the common illnesses in golden retrievers, so you know what to watch out for.


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