What Is The Average Life Expectancy Of A Golden Retriever?

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Written by AnnieTheGolden

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People choose their pets for various reasons.  It could be the breed they always wanted, it could be the breed's looks, temperament, or price may even be a factor. 

Not often do prospective owners really consider how long that pet will be a part of their family before they cross the rainbow bridge. It probably doesn’t even cross their minds when they see that adorable little golden face.

They do say that smaller dogs tend to live longer and the opposite is true for larger dogs. So, how long does a golden retriever live and what can we do to keep them with us longer?

Expected Life Span

A few decades ago, golden retrievers were known to have a lifespan of 15 to 17 years, with some living until 19 years of age.  


Now, many agree that 10 to 12 years is the average lifespan, with a few going as high as 12 to 15 years.


Why has a golden’s lifespan dropped?  What is causing this decline for this particular breed? And is there anything that dog owners can do to slow down this progression? 

Why Has A Golden's Lifespan Dropped?

The sudden drop in lifespan for the golden retriever has baffled many individuals.  So much so, that scientists have come up with a survey to look at what may be contributing to this change.  


This survey looks into three factors:

  • Environmental factors
  • Genetics
  • Health conditions

The survey is trying to see if there is a correlation between the increased incidence of cancer and influences from any of the above factors.  


In a 1998 study, golden retrievers were known to have a high incidence of cancer which was the leading killer for this breed at 61%. This has since lowered to 39% in a 2004 study.  The most common form of cancer is hemangiosarcoma, followed by lymphosarcoma, mast cell tumor and osteosarcoma.


Golden retrievers are known to have many health issues, some genetically influenced and some from environmental factors.  Are these contributing to their decline? It’s hard to say, the studies still need more time to gather data and will probably need at least a few more decades to analyze the findings.

What Can Be Done To Slow The Progression?

What can you do to help your golden live longer right now?  We know that it is hard to address genetic issues other then making sure that your pet’s history is up-to-date, all health issues are listed so that they can be monitored and preventative measures can be taken.  


Let’s look at what other steps can be done to keep our golden around longer:

  • Spay and neuter your dog – This will not only add one to three years but help with any cancer concerns: testicular for males, mammary for females.
  • High quality diet – Eating healthy and nutritious food will add years to your dog’s life, check with your vet to see what is best for your golden.
  • Exercise – This will help your dog maintain a healthy weight which will help reduce joint issues and other weight related concerns. 
  • Limit stress – Stress can make your golden more vulnerable to chronic diseases and can affect how long they live.
  • Regular Vet visits – Consistent visits will help your vet monitor any health changes and make sure that your golden receives vaccines in a timely manner.
  • Sun protection – Goldens need protection from the sun to prevent skin cancer, check with your vet for the right type of dog-safe sunscreen and where to apply it.
  • Health supplements – Since goldens have joint problems and other health issues, ask your vet about gluc​​osamine and chondroitin or Omega 3 fatty acids to help with inflammation.
  • Maintain a healthy weight – Do not give your golden table food/scraps, by keeping your dog lean you will add years to its life.
  • Teeth care – Brushing and cleaning will help prevent plague and the buildup of bacteria that can get into your dog’s bloodstream and damage vital organs.
  • Toxic exposure – Make sure to keep all chemicals, sprays, liquids away from your golden.  These items can have a toxic effect that can lower your golden’s lifespan.

The general belief or formula about a dog’s age is that one dog year is equal to seven human years.   This is misleading since scientist now believe it actually depends on the size of the dog. The new calculation is that for every 4.4 pounds of weight a dog has, its life expectancy is reduced by one month.  Goldens can be large dogs so is this contributing to their lifespan?


We really don’t know how much time we will have with our pet.  What we do know is that they become part of the family once they step in our house.  We should care for them and love them like there is no tomorrow. We should appreciate all the joy, smiles and love they bring to us each and every day.

About the author

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AnnieTheGolden

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