6 of the Most Common Health Issues in Golden Retrievers 

Golden retrievers are one of the most popular dogs to have as a pet. This is probably due to the fact that they are friendly, loyal, gentle, and fun-loving balls of fluff! However, like any purebred dog, golden retrievers can be susceptible to some breed-related health conditions. The body shape of retrievers can correspond to health issues as they have short legs and have a tendency to become overweight. This can lead to joint problems. Like humans, as dogs age, they may develop different ailments, and golden retrievers are no exception. We need to be prepared to look after our pets if they become sick and seek medical care for them when required. If you have the honor of being the parent of a Goldie, be aware of conditions that may endanger their health. Here are 6 of them.

Read: Do Golden Retrievers Like Water?

Hip Dysplasia

Hip dysplasia is a joint condition caused by the ball and socket bones of the pelvis being too loose. The bones will move in an abnormal manner and cause inflammation and degeneration of the tissues in the area. You might be interested in: why is my golden retriever is skinny?

If you know the warning signs that there may be an issue with your retriever’s hips, you will be able to get medical care as soon as possible to prevent the condition from becoming worse. Signs of hip joint issues to watch out for include loss of balance, stiffness, enlarged shoulder muscles, lameness, difficulty jumping and running, bunny hopping gait, and decreased range of motion.

To prevent joint conditions or reduce the symptoms, you can keep your dog at a healthy weight through diet and exercise, give them supplements or medications with anti-inflammatory properties such as glucosamine, corticosteroids, and chondroitin.

Skin Issues. 

Golden retrievers are susceptible to atopic dermatitis, which is an allergic skin disease. Atopic dermatitis occurs when the dog has an allergic reaction to a substance they inhale or ingest, such as pollen or dust and the body has an exaggerated immune response. Another cause is if the dog has a compromised skin barrier that allows foreign invaders such as bacteria, yeast, dust, grass, and pollen to penetrate the skin and cause excessive itching easily. Your dog will lick and scratch the itchy areas of the skin, leading to hair loss and inflamed bleeding skin. To stop your dog from licking the affected areas, you could put a dog onesie or medical cone collar on them.

Along with West Highland Terriers, Poodles, Cocker Spaniels, and Bulldogs, Golden retrievers are genetically predisposed to developing atopic dermatitis and may be able to be treated with hyposensitization therapy. This therapy involves giving the dog injections of the allergens and can reduce itchiness in 60-80% of dogs in around six months.

Eye Conditions

An eye condition called Golden Retriever Pigmentary Uveitis (GRPU) is a genetic disease in golden retrievers. GRPU generally affects dogs aged eight and over, but in some cases, it has been found in dogs as young as two years old. It is an illness that causes the conjunctiva to redden, the iris to change color and become cloudy, and affects the size and shape of the pupil.

Cataracts are common in older retrievers and may cause blindness if they become very opaque and cover a large percentage of the eye. In most cases, cataracts can be removed through surgery. Another eye disease that can lead to blindness is glaucoma. Glaucoma can be extremely painful and irritating, and it has symptoms such as eye redness, squinting, watery eyes and may cause the cornea to turn blue.


Our beloved Goldies are notoriously greedy and would eat every minute of the day if they were allowed. Owners of golden retrievers must be extra vigilant and ensure their dog eats a healthy diet and gets plenty of physical and mental exercise. It is hard to resist those ‘puppy eyes,’ but don’t give your pet too many treats. Being overweight can have a detrimental effect on your dog’s health and may lead to them developing heart issues, arthritis, joint disorders, and metabolic or digestive diseases.

Von Willebrand Disease

Von Willebrand Disease affects dogs as well as humans. This is a genetic condition that is most common in Doberman Pinschers, but golden retrievers are prone to it too. The disease occurs when the dog’s blood doesn’t have enough of a specific protein that helps make platelets sticky and form clots. If a bleed occurs, the dog will lose too much blood as it will not clot.

Some dogs with this disease will never show any symptoms and only get diagnosed when they go to the vet to be spayed or neutered or to get a routine appointment, and they bleed uncontrollably. Other sufferers may hemorrhage spontaneously from the nose, bladder, or vagina.

Von Willebrand can be treated with blood transfusions in extreme cases and certain drugs to raise the levels of the protein that helps blood clotting in most cases.


Around 60% of golden retrievers die from cancer, and the majority of the sufferers are male. The most common cancers are hemangiosarcoma and lymphoma. 

Hemangiosarcoma is a particularly aggressive cancer that affects cells in the lining of the blood vessels. About one in five Goldens are affected by this cancer, and it can be found anywhere in the body where there are blood vessels. Goldies should be palpated regularly to check for any lumps and bumps. A lump with a diameter greater than 1cm should be checked by a vet.

Lymphoma affects about one in eight retrievers and is associated with lymphocytes in the blood. It usually starts in organs that are part of the immune system, like the liver, spleen, bone marrow, and lymph nodes. Symptoms to look out for include weight loss, lethargy, excessive thirst, increased urination, difficulty breathing, and swollen lymph nodes located in the neck, back of the knees, and back of the jaw.

Cancers can be treated with chemotherapy, radiotherapy, and surgery—the earlier they are found, the better the prognosis. Just be aware of any changes in your dog’s behavior and appearance.

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