The Golden Retriever, or ‘Goldie’, was originally a working gun dog which retrieved game in the hunting field. The Retriever has adapted to many roles, including being a guide dog for the blind and other types of assistance dog. He is a popular family pet but requires proper socialisation as a puppy. As a largish hunting dog he needs plenty of opportunities for long walks and off lead exercise. He has a thick coat which sheds and will need grooming at least twice a week.
Inbreeding Coefficient - COI
(Should be as low as possible)
The UK Kennel Club breed average COI is 9.4% - see 'A Beginners Guide to COI'
Effective Population Size - EPS61.32
EPS is a measure of how many individuals are contributing genetically to a breed population. It is a measure of the size of the gene pool in a breed. Lower than 100 is considered critical by conservationists and below 50 brings a breed close to extinction. For more information see the Kennel Club article.
Health and Welfare Problems due to Conformation
(Body shape and physical characteristics)
There are two recognisable types of Retriever. The slimmer, more athletic type is generally bred to work and should be a fit and agile dog. The other type is a slightly shorter, heavier dog favoured for showing. Bear this in mind when choosing your breeder and looking at the parents. Too much weight is harmful to a dog and prevents him having a good quality of life. Weighty dogs are also more prone to hip dysplasia.
- Eye disease: Multi-focal retinal dysplasia (MRD) (litter screening); Hereditary cataract (HC) (annual testing); Progressive retinal atrophy (PRA) (annual testing) (gradual loss of vision); Goniodysgenesis/Primary glaucoma (G) (annual testing)
- Hip Dysplasia (malformation of the hip joints causing pain and disability): breed mean score 13.3 (parents should be lower) Is a serious problem for the breed and ideally the score should be much lower than the breed mean score.
- Elbow dysplasia (malformation of the elbow joint causing pain and disability: (swollen, painful elbows and lameness) Score of parents should ideally be 0:0 or as low as possible. A common problem for this breed.
Estimated Breeding Values (EBVs) are now available for Hip Dysplasia and Elbow Dysplasia:
DNA Tests Available
- Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA prcd)
- Progressive Retinal Atrophy (GR_PRA1)
- Progressive Retinal Atrophy (GR_PRA2)
- Muscular Dystrophy (MD)
- Degenerative Myelopathy (DM)
- Ichthyosis (ICT-A)
- Dystrophic Epidermolysis Bullosa (DEB)
Unofficial (Breed Club) Schemes
- Bitches under 18 months not to produce a litter
- Bitches not to produce more than one litter in a 12-month period
Ask the breeder to show you the certificates for the above tests/screening for both parents. If any of the above tests have not been considered necessary by the breeder (and there may be good reasons), ask her to explain why.
Other Diseases Reported
(For which there are currently no genetic or screening tests for sire or dam)
- Atopy (hypersensitivity to pollens and other protein particles, causing intense itching and skin damage)
- Craniel cruciate ligament disease (damage to the ligaments of the stifle joint in the hind limbs, causing pain and lameness)
- Cancer: (the breed has a very high incidence of cancer of various types) malignant hystiocytosis (a multi system, rapidly progressing cancer); haemangiosarcoma (aggressive malignant tumour of the soft tissue blood cells); osteosarcoma (cancer of the bone); lymphoma; melanoma (oral, eye), mast cell tumour; soft tissue sarcoma; thyroid; trichoepithelioma
- Idiopathic epilepsy
- Osteochondrosis (abnormalities of bone and cartilage in various joints, causing pain and lameness)
- Heart disease: Sub-aortic stenosis (narrowing of the heart valve); Pericardial effusion (fluid around the heart)
- Entropion/ectropion (inward or outward growing eyelashes causing pain, irritation and damage to the eye
- Hypothyroidism (thyroid insufficiency – susceptibility to infections and effects on various organs of the body – can be severe and prolonged)
- Horner’s syndrome (pupil of one eye smaller and eyelids abnormal)
- Acral lick dermatitis
- Uveodermatological syndrome (autoimmune disease) (tissues are progressively destroyed leading to blindness and death)
- Extraocular myositis (autoimmune disease)
Ask the breeder about the medical history of the parents, grandparents and great grandparents. Consider carefully whether to purchase a puppy if some of these or other diseases are in the family line.
Ask about the breeder’s policy in cases of serious genetic diseases occurring to your puppy in later life. Good breeders will request to be informed of such events in order to improve future breeding decisions. Some breeders will also agree to contribute towards medical costs or refund purchase price.
You are strongly advised to buy from a breeder who uses (or is prepared to use) the RSPCA / BVA AWF Puppy Contract and Puppy Information Pack (PIP): www.puppycontract.org.uk
You are also advised to buy from a breeder who follows the Dog Breeding Reform Group’s (DBRG) Standard for Dog Breeding: