Golden retrievers are popular pooches, thanks in large part to their outgoing, playful, people-pleasing, adaptable natures and their easiness to train. These beautiful canine companions have a relatively average life span for a large breed of 10 to 13 years, but they do have some genetic predispositions to certain diseases.
A sizable chunk of the hereditary conditions golden retrievers are predisposed to affect their eyes. If your home has a four-legged friend of this breed, regular veterinary eye exams are important. Some of the genetic eye concerns include increased susceptibility to cataracts; entropion, which is when an eyelid turns inward, causing the lashes to rub against the eye; trichiasis and distichiasis, two conditions involving abnormal eyelash growth; and central progressive retinal atrophy, or CPRA for short, which causes the retina to deteriorate, impairing vision and sometimes leading to blindness.
Doggies of the golden retriever breed, like a good number of other large dogs, are genetically predisposed to certain joint problems. Hip dysplasia is a main concern. This is a joint deformity in which the top of the thigh bone doesn't sit right in the hip socket. Golden retrievers also are prone to the similar condition elbow dysplasia, which, as you might conjecture, is when the elbow joint doesn't fit together correctly. Both conditions also raise a pooch's risk of developing arthritis.
Some vets refer to golden retrievers as "cancer retrievers." Whether or not you consider that to be in good taste, it reflects the breed's startling susceptibility to certain types of cancer. Their genes leave them at increased risk of developing mast cell tumors, bone tumors called osteosarcoma, aggressive blood vessel tumors called hemangiosarcoma and cancer of lymphocyte cells called lymphosarcoma. It's not known for sure how big a role genes play in these cancers, but a hereditary factor is obvious from their disproportionately high rates in golden retrievers.
As if eye problems, joint problems and cancers weren't enough, golden retrievers are at increased risk of developing a number of other genetic diseases. These include ear infections; allergies and allergic skin conditions; hot spots, more formally known as pyotraumatic dermatitis; obsessive-compulsive disorder; the seizure disorder epilepsy; hypothyroidism; gastric torsion, which is when the stomach becomes twisted; and heart disease in the form of a condition called subaortic stenosis.