How Long Do Golden Retrievers Live?

August 18, 2022 // 14 minute read

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Do you have a golden retriever or are considering adding one of these exceptional dogs to your family? But how long do Golden Retrievers live? Understanding how long do Golden Retrievers live is an important consideration, and we will do a deep dive into this question in this article.

Golden Retrievers have an average life span, but many factors can lengthen or shorten this projected timeline.

Most Golden Retrievers live between 10 and 12 years. However, if well cared for, they can live for 13 years or more. There are cases of Golden Retrievers living 17, 18, or 19 years. The oldest Golden Retriever on record was a beauty named August, or Augie, from Tennessee who lived to 20 years and 11 months. Augie crossed the Rainbow Bridge in 2021.

These are the statistics for domesticated Golden Retrievers. Pet dogs tend to live longer than wild dogs because they face fewer threats and are treated for diseases. 

Read on to discover…exactly what can cause Golden Retrievers to live longer or, on the darker flip side, shorter. 

Learn about…

  • Sicknesses that commonly plague the breed
  • How size factors into Golden Retriever lifespans 
  • Strategies for keeping your pet healthy 

Are Golden Retrievers Smart?

Don’t be deceived by that silly look on your Golden’s face! Golden Retrievers are actually very smart and playful dogs. Click the button below to learn how smart this breed really is!

How Long Do Golden Retrievers Live? A Look At Illnesses 

All dog lovers dread seeing their pups sick, the signs of exuberance fading to lethargy. In the list below, find some sicknesses that commonly plague Golden Retrievers. By learning about them, you may be able to more easily identify the symptoms and, therefore, seek help for your pooch sooner–potentially avoiding catastrophe. 

Cancer

Cancer is a doozy, not just for Golden Retrievers!

Cancer is the leading cause of death for dogs. The statistics do vary across breeds, but unfortunately, studies show that Golden Retrievers acquire tumors more frequently than other popular breeds. 

These are some of the most diagnosed cancers for Golden Retrievers: 

  • Hemangiosarcoma – a blood cancer that creates tumors from the cells that typically produce blood 
  • Lymphosarcoma – is an especially dangerous cancer that can start in any organ 
  • Osteosarcoma – a form of bone cancer, most often found in long bones 
  • Mastocytoma – a round-cell tumor that is made of mast cells 

Common symptoms of cancer in this breed are: 

  • Bumps beneath the skin
  • Abnormal odors
  • Wounds that will not heal
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Coughing
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Increased drinking and urination
  • Low energy levels
how long do golden retrievers live

Hip Dysplasia and/or Elbow Dysplasia

What is dysplasia and how does it affect how long do golden retrievers live? Dysplasia is typically hereditary and is especially prevalent in larger dogs. Factors including excessive growth rate, types of exercise, improper weight, and unbalanced nutrition could intensify the genetic predisposition. 

One point to note…

If your dog is consistently struggling to perform tasks such as getting upstairs, it may be suffering from a form of dysplasia. 

Extreme cases of dysplasia are identified by joint inflammation, pain, stiffness, and even bone degeneration. 

Through imaging technology, veterinarians are able to assess the severity of dysplasia and offer solutions. If the case is severe enough and your dog is young enough to withstand further procedures, the veterinarian may prescribe surgery. 

In the event you opt for surgery…know that they are often expensive, ranging from 1700 dollars to 4500 dollars. 

Correcting hip dysplasia/elbow dysplasia is important for a Golden Retriever’s wellness because their activity is a crucial component of their health. 

Related article: Golden Retriever

How Long Do Golden Retrievers Live? Cardio and Respiratory Conditions

Along with other bigger breeds of dogs, Golden Retrievers are known to suffer from conditions that affect their heart, lungs, and circulation. 

One of the most damaging of these conditions is…Subvalvular aortic stenosis (SAS) 

Subvalvular aortic stenosis it is the narrowing of the important vessel that transports oxygenated blood from the heart to the rest of the body. 

This can have serious consequences, including death. 

Contact your vet to rule out the possibility of SAS if your Golden evidence unusual exhaustion, weakness, and trouble breathing. 

golden retriever running outdoors in tall grass

Eye Disorders

Do you ever wonder about certain eye disorders and ask yourself “How long do Golden Retrievers live when they have an eye disorder?” These dogs are said to have some of the sweetest-looking eyes among dogs, so pay careful attention to these conditions and symptoms that may sour their vision. 

Eye problems among Golden Retrievers are:

  • Pigmentary uveitis – the accumulation of multiple clinical eye problems that can result in vision loss
  • Corneal damage – caused by injury to the cornea 
  • Dry eye – when eyes do not stay wet, resulting in discomfort 
  • Pink eye (or conjunctivitis) – a bacterial infection that appears as redness of the eye  
  • Glaucoma – damage to the optic nerve, often caused by high pressure in the eye 
  • Entropion – an inward turning of the eyelid 
  • Eyelid mass – an inflammation that creates a lump on the eyelid 
  • Cherry eye – occurs after a tear gland gets inflamed, usually not super painful 
  • Lenticular sclerosis – a bluish transparent haziness that forms in the lens of the eye
  • Cataracts – when the lens of the eye becomes cloudy 

One condition to take special note of is…Golden Retriever Pigmentary Uveitis (GRPU).

GRPU is an eye condition that occurs exclusively in purebred Golden Retrievers. 

It is an inflammatory disease characterized by…

  • Excessive pigment on the iris (the colored tissue at the front of the eye which is part of the uveal tract)
  • Protein or fibrinous matter in the anterior chamber (front portion) of the eye
  • Low intra-ocular pressure 
  • Pink eye 

Besides obvious irritation of the eyes, signs that your dog is struggling with an eye condition are anxiety in new places, unwillingness to ascend or descend stairs, and pawing at the face. 

How Long Do Golden Retrievers Live With Epilepsy?

Some pet parents worry their dog may have epilepsy after one seizure. 

This is typically not the case. 

Epilepsy is seizure activity over the course of weeks, months, or years. One or two seizures do not constitute epilepsy. 

Golden Retrievers can have genetic epilepsy. This means they inherited a gene (or multiple genes) that produce an increased chance of seizures. 

Pedigree analysis can reveal whether or not there is a genetic basis for epilepsy in your pet. Most dogs who have genetic epilepsy start having seizures when they are between 1 and 4 years of age. 

If any of these signs and symptoms, especially multiple, appear in your pet, seek the attention of a veterinarian immediately. If only one symptom appears, you could still consult a veterinarian or monitor your pooch closely in case the symptom alleviates. 

Related article: Best Dog Food for Golden Retrievers, A Complete Buying Guide

How Size Factors Into The Lifespan 

When you ask yourself “How long do Golden Retrievers live?”, do you consider how size plays a factor? You may have noticed in the above section that larger dogs, such as Golden Retrievers, can be predisposed to certain problems. 

This problem relates to a more alarming issue for bigger dogs…

Bigger dogs tend to live shorter lives than smaller dog breeds, their tiny counterparts sometimes known as small toy dogs. 

For example, a healthy Chihauha can live to 15 years old or even 20 years old; whereas Great Danes are considered old if they are lucky enough to reach the ripe age of 12. 

Golden Retrievers are certainly not the largest breed of dog. Bernese Mountain Dogs, Bullmastiffs, and Saint Bernards stun with their statures. 

However…

On the spectrum of dog sizes, Golden Retrievers are still considered to be on the larger side. They do not live as long as Chihuahuas nor as short as Great Danes. 

There are varied theories relating to the correlation between the size and lifespan of larger dogs. 

According to Professor Mark Elgar from the University of Melbourne’s School of Bioscience, the answer lies in the animal’s speed. He explains that larger dogs deplete their energy resources and put wear on their physiological processes at a swifter rate than smaller dogs. In Professor Elgar’s words, “We conclude that large dogs die young mainly because they age quickly.” He continues with an anecdote to help explain the process, “Modern cars generally work well for eight or nine years, and then wear and tear sets in and they start falling apart. The speed with which they deteriorate varies between manufacturers. It’s the same with dogs.”

Bigger dogs deteriorate faster due to how they are made–with the larger size. 

In summary…

Answering “How long do Golden Retrievers live?” depends on each individual dog. However, the larger the dog, the more wear they put on their bodies and, therefore, the shorter they are expected to live. 

golden retriever with toy in mouth

Strategies for Keeping Your Golden Retriever Healthy 

There are plenty of strategies pet owners can implement to increase their Golden’s likelihood of living to the higher end of the Golden Retriever’s life expectancy.

As a reminder, Golden Retrievers tend to live up to 12 but can live to be as old as 18 with proper care. 

There is a step you may take to ensure you have a healthy dog before they are even in your care. 

If you are in the process of adding a Golden Retriever to your family, 

make sure you purchase them from a reputable breeder. Dogs purchased from puppy mills, while cheap, tend to have terrible health issues. 

The rest of the Golden Retriever’s health has to do with care. 

According to anecdotal evidence, the ticket to keeping your furry friend around for as long as possible can be boiled down into four categories: diet, hydration, exercise, and healthcare. 

Diet 

Most Golden Retriever parents can relate to the common problem that your Golden is always hungry. They look at you as if it has been eons since they last ate when truly it can be as short as 30 minutes ago. 

Do not give in. 

Do not fall prey to the eyes. 

Overfeeding your dog can lead to obesity. Golden Retrievers are among the breeds most likely to become obese. 

Risks associated with Golden Retriever obesity are diabetes, heart disease, and some of the other illnesses explained in the “Common Golden Retriever Sicknesses” section. 

Because Golden Retrievers gain weight easily, it is best to keep them on a feeding schedule. Keeping a bowl of food out all the time, or “free feeding,” is discouraged.

Instead, 

Try developing a routine that works for you and your furry friend. A routine allows for consistent digestion and energy storage. 

The general rule of thumb for feeding is one cup of food for every 35 lbs your dog weighs. So, for example, if your dog’s ideal weight is 70 Ibs, they should eat about two cups a day. Typically, the ideal weight range for a male Golden Retriever is 65 to 75 pounds, and for a female Golden Retriever is 55 to 65 pounds. 

However, if your Golden Retriever falls a little higher on the scale, do not panic. Variance is natural. Dogs are determined to be obese only once they are 20% over their ideal weight. 

Of course, a Golden Retriever’s diet must vary as their age does. 

Pet owners should ensure a healthy diet by planning meals in accordance with their pup’s life stage: puppy, adult, or senior. 

One of the first steps, after you bring your adorable puppy home, should be…to give them nutritious food–not too much or not too little. 

The amount of cups of food a puppy should eat per day depends on how many months old they are. Golden Retriever puppies can take up to two years to achieve their full size.

Too little food can slow development, and, as already discussed, too much food increases the likelihood of complications associated with obesity. 

The recommended amount of food for adult Golden Retrievers can be found above. Senior dogs should consume slightly less than adult dogs because the metabolism slows with age. 

Always, make sure you are taking your dog’s exertion, size, age, and health needs into account when you are planning their nutrition. 

Besides the quantity, the quality of the food must also be a priority. 

Buying high-quality dog food pays off. 

If you are purchasing kibble, the packing should specify that it is for large breed dogs as this ensures the food will successfully sustain your pup. 

You should also look at the ingredients to check whether there is significant protein. For puppies in particular, the kibble must be smaller in size to prevent choking. 

Good dog food leads to a healthy life and less expensive visits to the veterinarian. 

Hydration 

The Golden Retriever’s signature pink, flapping tongue is telling you something….

They are thirsty.

As with food, the amount of water a Golden Retriever needs depends on its weight. It is the same with humans. The more you weigh, the more water your body needs. For every pound a Golden Retriever weighs, they should drink about 1 oz of water every day. 

So the average Golden Retriever–which can be defined as around 70 pounds, healthy, and active–should drink 70 ounces of water each day. That equates to half a gallon. Depending on the weather and your dog’s level of activity, this amount can fluctuate.  

To keep the water fresh and clean, 

pet owners should change it out three times a day and wash the bowl daily. 

Unlike food, dogs can be trusted to regulate their own water consumption. Allowing constant access to water prevents dehydration. 

Exercise

Due to their working ancestry, Golden Retrievers have oodles of energy. 

They need at least 90 minutes of hard, consistent exercise every day. Ideally, Golden Retrievers exercise twice a day for 20-30 minutes. 

If they do not get adequate movement routinely, they may take to venting their energy in unproductive ways–leading to the unfair assumption that they are rowdy or misbehaved. Furthermore, they may become obese. 

For your Golden Retriever to fulfill the house pet role you hope for them, 

they must be properly cared for. 

Methods for ensuring your Golden gets good exercise are 

  • Taking them on daily walks
  • Getting a fenced-in yard so they can frolic on their own to their heart’s content
  • Playing fetch or other fun games with dog toys
  • If you are a runner, let your Golden accompany you on your runs 

Combining your dog’s exercise with socialization will be especially fruitful. Golden Retriever owners must consider mental health as well as physical health. 

Golden Retrievers are friendly, social dogs. They benefit from interacting with not only their family but other humans and dogs. 

Without socialization, dogs may develop a fear of new creatures and environments. Getting outside and having new experiences helps them to expand their world. 

When your Golden Retriever gets consistent exercise, they are happier and healthier. Moreover, they are more grateful and loyal to their owners. One of the Golden Retriever’s best attributes is its vigor, so view it as an opportunity to connect with your pet and for you to move as well. 

golden retriever resting in green lawn

Healthcare 

Knowing that the little things add up is an important part of being a good pet owner. To ensure the best for your Golden Retriever, you should make a habit of brushing their teeth and fur, checking them for ticks and other parasites, and seeking medical attention when they exhibit unusual behavior. Signs and symptoms of sicknesses that commonly plague this breed can be found above in the “Common Golden Retriever Sicknesses” section. Vigilance against parasites, illness, and disease is, of course, imperative for all pet owners. 

Much of what you can do to keep your Golden Retriever happy and healthy comes down to the golden rule… 

Treat your pet as you would want to be treated. 

Like you, 

They want nourishing meals, water, frequent opportunities to move in the sunshine, and help when they are sick. 

If you listen to the diverse needs of your pet, they will likely stick around longer, exactly what every loving pet owner ultimately hopes to achieve!

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