With a playful personality and a fiercely loyal nature, it’s no wonder that golden retrievers are one of the most popular dog breeds in the United States.1
These lovable wheat-yellow dogs carry a hunting heritage but are more often coveted today as the ideal family pooch. They’re gentle with children, highly trainable, and enthusiastic play partners. And, of course, their goofball tendencies are delightfully infectious!
When a golden retriever dog becomes part of your family, they’re going to loyally stick by your side for as many years as they’re able—which on average is between 10 and 12 years.2 Let’s explore this beloved large dog breed in more detail so that you can treasure each moment with your new furry best friend to the fullest.
Typical Lifespan for Golden Retrievers
Interestingly, the average year count for a golden retriever’s average lifespan has been decreasing over the years. Where today’s average lifespan ranges from 10 to 12 years, just 50 years ago, golden retrievers were recorded reaching the ages of 16 and 17.3
This is a testament to the amount of care needed to support their health, as golden retrievers are increasingly falling ill to ailments like cancer and heart disease—and at much higher rates than other dog breeds.
At the moment, there aren’t definitive answers for this regression. But research is active: The Morris Animal Foundation recently started a lifetime dog health study tracking over 3,000 purebred golden retrievers over 15 years.4
Even without an answer, there’s still so much that dog owners can do to give their goldens a long, healthy, and satisfying life.
How to Support a Long Lifespan for Your Golden Retriever
It’s safe to say that, as dog owners, we love our dogs wholeheartedly and want to spend as much time with them as possible. So how do you maximize the time that you can spend fetching, bounding, giggling, and galloping together?
A huge part of supporting a lengthy life span for your golden retriever dog is caring for them throughout their whole life, not just in sickness or once they reach old age. Below are a few ways you can proactively stay informed about your golden retriever’s needs.
#1 Learn About Common Health Conditions
Every dog breed is different, as is each dog breed’s propensity for certain health conditions. Most senior dogs will start showing a few age-related signs and symptoms. There are a few ailments that are very common to golden retrievers, so staying aware of them and their symptoms is vital to supporting your golden retriever.
- Hypothyroidism – One of the most common health issue is hypothyroidism. This occurs when a dog’s thyroid gland isn’t producing hormones at the rate it should, leading to sudden weight gain, fatigue, thinning fur, and repeated infections of the ears and eyes. Golden retrievers are particularly prone to hypothyroidism, usually falling ill to the ailment during middle age.5
- Hip and elbow dysplasia – An inherited condition, dysplasia is an orthopedic condition affecting some of the most important joints of a dog’s skeleton. For golden retrievers, hip and elbow dysplasia are wildly common, so their bones won’t be comfortably connected at the joint, causing discomfort and eventual arthritis.5
- Pigmentary uveitis – Uveitis causes cysts to form within the eyes, though they’re usually benign. However, these cysts can cause inflammation and pressure build-up, risking glaucoma and cataracts—and, ultimately, blindness. Uveitis or not, blindness is very common in golden retrievers, so we recommend watching for symptoms like stumbling.7
- Subaortic valvular stenosis – This heart disease causes masses of tissue to form within the heart, blocking vital blood flow. Subaortic stenosis is genetic and develops early, meaning golden retrievers start showing symptoms like lethargy before their first birthday. A routine vet exam can catch this condition during their annual golden retriever puppy visit.5
- Hemangiosarcoma – In cases of hemangiosarcoma, golden retrievers can develop a cancerous blood-filled tumor. Symptoms include loss of appetite, ragged breathing, bodily weakness, and tell-tale whitish gums. The tumor’s rupture can be life-threatening and requires immediate emergency treatment.5
While there’s no saying whether or not these afflictions will affect your golden retriever in their lifetime, we recommend regular vet visits—ideally once a year—to stay on top of any adverse health developments. This is key to preventing sickness and treating it quickly if it does arise.
#2 Exercise Golden Retrievers Regularly
Exercise is a universal need for all dogs, but for golden retrievers, it’s especially true. As they were bred for sport (hunting, to be specific, which demands whip-fast speed and endurance), golden retrievers are no stranger to wanting to move—and move a lot.
You’re going to want to give your golden retriever at least a full hour of consistent high-energy exercise. It’s ideal to split this time into two half-hour sessions per day, so your furry friend doesn’t get bored (and you don’t get winded). They also need more frequent exercise at younger stages of their life, so be prepared to play often with antsy pups.6
The options for exercising your golden retriever are endless, and could include:
- Taking them to the dog park (bonus points for socialization!)
- Walking or running them on your local nature or bike trail
- Letting them chase squirrels in the yard to their heart’s content
- Setting up an amateur (or professional) agility training course
- Practicing nose work to exercise both their body and mind
#3 Offer Them A Well-Balanced Diet
Both dogs and humans share this commonality: the food we eat is paramount to our health. For canines, a healthy diet is a fuel that powers them to play, explore, learn, and fight illness.
Make sure your golden retriever is receiving the necessary nutrients for them to thrive, including:
- Protein – Choose a dog food that has a minimum of 30% protein content.7 High protein helps with cellular regeneration, like strengthening tissues and muscles as well as supporting the growth of healthy skin and hair. Younger golden retrievers need more protein than their older relatives, but that extra hard-boiled egg will do all ages well.
- Carbohydrates – For such playful and energetic dogs as golden retrievers, sufficient carbohydrate intake supports their high activity level. Carbohydrates also supply glucose to the brain, which fuels their mental development. Try to make your golden’s diet at least 35% carbohydrates, with natural foods like potatoes, whole wheat, and rice to incorporate healthy, energizing carbs.7
- Fats – Similar to humans, fats and oils supply vital ingredients to neurological health. Fats are a primary energy source for the canine nervous system. Sufficient fat consumption also helps stave off joint and bone ailments that are unfortunately common for our beloved goldens. You can introduce Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids as supplements to your dog’s diet for better hair, joint, and cognitive health.8
Curating the perfect diet to best suit your golden retriever might take some trial and error at first. We recommend BARK food for golden retrievers to take the guesswork out of choosing food that’s as nutritious as it is lovable for your dog. Shop our expertly formulated golden retriever food and get 25% off with code 25FOOD, plus free shipping!
#4 Maintain a Grooming Routine
Your golden retriever’s grooming routine is just as important as routine vet visits or proper dietary intake. With their thick coat and predisposition to skin, ear, and eye infections, golden retrievers benefit tremendously from a regular grooming regimen.
Talk about a thick coat! Golden retrievers’ coats are water-repellant and double-thick, with a soft insulating inner layer and the classically wheat-golden outer layer of fur.
Throughout the year, brushing once a week with a pin-bristled brush is sufficient for removing excess shed hair from the undercoat. If your golden is shedding more heavily, brushing once a day can resolve the problem of old hair floating about your home.
Bathing your golden retriever is healthiest when done about every two months. Because of their thick coat, always make sure you’re applying water, shampoo, and conditioner very thoroughly so as to properly penetrate and clean.
Shaving or trimming golden retrievers’ coats isn’t necessary, as it serves a purpose in protecting their skin and keeping them safe and warm from the elements. Just let that gorgeous blonde hair fly free in the wind—and save a few bucks on grooming appointments!
Paws and Nails
While outdoor play helps out significantly with keeping paws and nails calloused and filed, respectively, there’s still additional grooming to be done near the paws to ensure the safety and well-being of your pet.
To help your golden retriever trot easily and comfortably, clip their nails at least once a month, as well as the hair that grows between their foot pads.
Keep Your Golden Retriever Healthy for Years with BARK Post
With the right care, golden retrievers will happily (and healthily) spend their years loving you to pieces. We recognize that, as your golden retriever’s biggest fan, you want to do everything in your power to support them in their life journey no matter its length. That’s why it’s our mission at BARK Post to give you the tools to do so.
BARK Post provides dog lovers of all kinds with handy guides equipped with the important information you need to best care for your furry pal. Whatever questions you have, we’ve got you covered.
We even bring the care right to you—sign up for our monthly BarkBox to receive top-quality doggie toys, chews, supplies, and more, all right to your doorstep.
- Pet Health Network. The Golden Retriever. https://www.pethealthnetwork.com/dog-health/dog-breeds/golden-retriever
- Totally Goldens. How Long Do Golden Retrievers Live? All Questions Answered! https://www.totallygoldens.com/how-long-do-golden-retrievers-live/
- Bulldogology. Golden Retriever Lifespan: Everything You Need To Know. https://www.bulldogology.net/golden-retriever-lifespan/
- Breeding Business. Study: Golden Retriever’s Lifespan Dropped in 35 Years). https://breedingbusiness.com/study-golden-retriever-lifespan-shortening/
- Pet MD. Golden Retriever. https://www.petmd.com/dog/breeds/c_dg_golden_retriever
- Golden Meadows Retrievers. Golden Retriever Puppy Exercise Information. https://www.goldenmeadowsretrievers.com/golden-retriever-puppy-exercise-information/
- The Golden Retriever Network. Feeding a Golden Retriever for Optimum Health. https://thegoldenretrievernetwork.com/feeding-a-golden-retriever/
- American Kennel Club. Fish Oil for Dogs. https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/nutrition/fish-oil-for-dogs/