By Jennifer Reed

Golden retrievers are one of the most cherished breeds among dog lovers. Their loyalty, intelligence and affable personalities make them the perfect canine companions; unfortunately, however, too many of these beloved dogs ultimately succumb to cancer.

More than half of all golden retrievers die from cancer and in fact, this disease is the leading cause of death in all dogs over 2 years of age. The Drake Center would like to help change these statistics by becoming a participating veterinary hospital in Morris Animal Foundation’s Golden Retriever Lifetime Study.

Enrolling up to 3,000 dogs and spanning 10 to 14 years, the Golden Retriever Lifetime Study is the largest and longest observational canine study ever conducted.

This study will identify genetic, environmental and nutritional risk factors for the development of cancer and other diseases. While the study itself is restricted to golden retrievers, the results will allow us to better understand and prevent these conditions in all dogs.

The Drake Center’s role in this study will be to:

  • Recruit eligible purebred golden retrievers to enroll in the study. Dogs must be healthy (confirmed free of any major health disorders or diseases, including previous medical conditions), under 2 years of age at the time of application (and over 6 months of age before any sample collection is performed) and have a three-generation pedigree (lineages must be traceable, but registration with the American Kennel Club is not required). Enrolled patients must also be microchipped.

  • Perform annual exams for the life of each enrolled patient. All exams for the Golden Retriever Lifetime Study will be scheduled with Dr. Smolley.

  • Collect blood, urine, feces, hair and nail samples at each annual exam and send them to a designated laboratory for analysis.

  • Provide care during times of illness and/or injury and collect samples for evaluation as needed.

We would like to encourage all clients with golden retrievers who fit the requirements of this study to enroll and help us learn how to prevent cancer and other diseases in our canine companions.

For more information on the Golden Retriever Lifetime Study or to enroll your dog, please visit