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Nowadays, Golden Retrievers are one of the best family dogs around the world, and can also serve as guides or emotional support dogs. Additionally, they work in search-and-rescue teams.
But, how long do Golden Retrievers live? Determining their lifespan can be influenced by several factors, such as genetics, environment, and lifestyle.
As an owner, it’s important to educate yourself about their lifespan to know the expected years you’ll have with your Golden Retriever.
It is also essential to be aware of the factors that affect a Golden Retriever’s lifespan, what signs to look out for as they age, and the common health issues that may occur.
How Long Do Golden Retrievers Live? Average Golden Retriever Lifespan
Golden Retrievers have an average lifespan of 10-12 years, which is about 3-5 years longer than the average lifespan of other breeds. However, certain factors can affect their lifespan and reduce it by an average of 5 years.
It’s important to note that not all Golden Retrievers have the same lifespan, some have been recorded to live up to 16-18 years, with the oldest Goldie living up to 20 years.
Factors such as management, lifestyle, and overall health can all impact a Golden Retriever’s life expectancy.
Factors that Affect a Golden Retriever’s Lifespan
Research shows that genetic makeup is highly associated with having a healthier and longer life.
As a medium-sized breed, Golden Retrievers do not live as long as small dog breeds, which tend to have a longer lifespan. Generations of breeding Golden Retrievers have led to the passing of gene-related health conditions.
We always want our Goldies to look bigger and heavier, so we select the best dam and sire for breeding to enhance their physical attributes, such as larger body forms and heavier weight. But this has led to an increase in the rates of health issues.
Male Golden Retrievers are heavier and larger than females. Certain health conditions predispose male Goldies due to their size and weight. Additionally, there are diseases that only one particular gender can carry and pass on.
Considering the pre-existing health conditions being bred into Golden Retrievers, they are more susceptible to other illnesses and complications.
Environmental factors are just as crucial when it comes to determining your Goldie’s lifespan. Living in a stressful area, a highly infectious neighborhood and constant exposure to toxic and hazardous materials can lead to a faster aging process, which will shorten their lifespan.
Golden Retrievers have a double-layered fur coat and tend to shed a lot during certain seasons of the year. Living in a tropical area with hot and humid weather may cause too much stress on your Goldie, resulting in excessive shedding, weight loss, or, worse, heat stroke.
As a responsible pet owner, you should be prepared and equipped for this dilemma to avoid inflicting long-term stress, which may develop into certain illnesses as they grow older.
If you live in a place that is highly exposed to hazardous and toxic substances such as pesticides, over-the-counter drugs toxic to dogs (e.g., paracetamol), and secondhand smoking, you might want to think things over before getting a Golden Retriever, not compromise their health and your sanity.
Nutrition and Exercise
The lifestyle and diet of a Golden Retriever play a crucial role in either speeding up or prolonging their life expectancy.
Feeding them the right amount of nutrition they require at their current life stage is important.
Providing them with the appropriate type of food, along with proper supplementation of vitamins and minerals, will keep them in their best condition. Overfeeding your Goldies will lead to obesity, while underfeeding will result in malnutrition.
Golden Retrievers are known for their active and energetic personality. Daily exercise, such as walking, running, or swimming, is necessary to keep them healthy and fit. Lack of exercise can lead to obesity, degeneration of muscles and bones, and hormonal imbalances.
Health and Medical Care
It is a protocol to vaccinate and deworm Golden Retriever puppies at the right life stage. Skipping this crucial measure increases their chances of acquiring detrimental diseases that may lead to early death.
Regular vet check-ups are highly recommended for every pet owner. Waiting until your Goldies show abnormalities or signs of illnesses is not sufficient. Some health problems may occur in the body long before they show symptoms, and the damage may be critical and irreversible.
To avoid this, schedule routine vet check-ups to monitor your Golden Retriever’s health condition and detect early signs of certain diseases such as skeletal problems, disorders, or cancer.
Understanding the Aging Process in Golden Retrievers
Aging in Golden Retrievers happens gradually and usually starts at the ages of 8-10 years old. However, some may age early if certain factors are not properly considered and managed.
During their geriatric stage, which is their final stage of life, Golden Retrievers are considered “senior” dogs and are way past their prime and reproductive years. Physical and behavioral changes become evident, and they become more susceptible to health problems that will worsen as they age.
As an owner, there is no need to be scared of your Goldie entering their geriatric phase. By understanding what they are going through, you can prepare yourself to go along with your dog through this phase.
Signs of Aging in Golden Retrievers
Fur coat changes
One of the most obvious signs of aging in Golden Retrievers is a change in their fur coat. The change usually starts on their faces and eventually spreads all over their body.
The golden-colored fur on their faces turns gray to solid white shades as time passes. The cells that produce this pigment eventually stop proliferating, resulting in dry and coarse fur.
Developing certain health conditions such as glaucoma, cataracts, and uveitis may result in discoloration of the eyes. They are seen as white cloudy patches that usually start as a small dot that eventually covers the entire eye, causing partial to total blindness if left untreated.
Older Goldies are prone to developing skeletal conditions. As they age, their bones tend to be more brittle and calcify faster.
Predisposition to certain orthopedic conditions such as hip and elbow dysplasia, arthritis, and luxation increases their risk of having a poor stance and difficulties in walking.
Just like humans, Goldies also experience reduced metabolic function as they age. Some may even have difficulty digesting food and passing stool because their metabolism is slowing down, which may result in weight gain. Little to no exercise may also contribute to their poor metabolism.
It is normal for aging dogs to lose their teeth one by one, but tartar buildup resulting in tooth decay is not. This gives off bad breath and can be very unpleasant when they go licking your face. Dental problems may also lead to eating difficulties and reduced appetite.
For intact female Goldies, it is common to develop mammary gland tumors as they age. These benign tumors develop gradually and usually do not affect their day-to-day activity.
However, some of these tumors grow faster than usual, causing infection and discomfort. It is best to consult your veterinarian immediately in cases of skin tumors.
Reduced Activity Status
During the first stages of aging, some Goldies become less active. Golden Retrievers readily respond to playtime and daily exercises.
However, as they age, they tend to slow down and may no longer respond abruptly to all playtimes. Their interest in outdoor activities may not be as much as it was during their prime years, and they prefer to lie down and rest most of the time.
From cool to hot temperament
While Golden Retrievers are known for being sociable and friendly dogs during their younger years, this may change as they age.
Most senior Goldies tend to prefer solitude and can become easily agitated when disturbed or annoyed during their alone time.
If you’re planning on getting a new puppy when you already have a senior Golden Retriever at home, it may not always be a favorable move as senior Goldies can be easily irritable and may not socialize well with your new Goldie pup.
The playfulness of a new puppy can also cause a stressful environment for your grumpy old Goldie.
Some aging Goldies may not eat as much as they did before, and they may become pickier as they age and only eat food they like.
As their senses weaken, they may not be able to smell properly, resulting in a reduced appetite. Poor metabolism can also affect their eating patterns, leading to skipped meals or eating less.
How to Extend Your Golden Retriever’s Lifespan
Prolonging your Golden Retriever’s lifespan requires a lot of effort, discipline, and patience. As a responsible owner, it’s essential to consider all factors that impact their longevity.
While we can’t control their genes, we can choose the female and male parents with desirable traits and attributes and screen out Goldies that show genetic-related health problems.
Selective breeding reduces the risk of genetic issues and can increase the lifespan of Goldies in future generations.
To extend your Golden Retriever’s lifespan, it is important to provide a stress-free and safe environment.
Feeding them the right amount and quality of food and including necessary supplements, especially bone & joint, and cardiac supplements, for their current life stage is crucial.
Appropriate exercise should be incorporated into their daily routine to reduce the risk of obesity, diabetes, and hormonal imbalances. However, overdoing exercise can lead to injuries and should be avoided.
Spaying and neutering are effective ways to increase your Golden Retriever’s life expectancy. Fixing them can prevent certain diseases such as prostate cancer (male), mammary gland tumors, pyometra, and other reproductive-associated conditions.
Regular vet check-ups should never be skipped as they are necessary to monitor your dog’s health and provide proper treatment for any health problems that may arise.
Consult with your vet for advice on the best food, supplements, management, and medications for your Goldie.
A balanced diet with all the necessary nutrients, vitamins, and minerals is crucial for a healthy Golden Retriever. Senior Goldies require a diet high in protein, at least 30-40%, to aid in muscle buildup and repair.
Natural sources of protein such as meat, fish, beef, and chicken are excellent options, while commercial dog food also offers high protein options. However, it’s always best to consult with your veterinarian before choosing a specific diet.
Due to their active lifestyle, Golden Retrievers require high amounts of carbohydrates to fuel their energy expenditure. For seniors who are still active and playful, 35% of carbohydrates is recommended, while less active Goldies may require less.
Fats should also be included in their diet, with omega fatty acids from fish oils being an excellent supplement for Goldies with heart conditions.
In addition to protein, carbs, and fats, a balanced diet should include both water-soluble vitamins (such as Vitamin C and B-complex) and fat-soluble vitamins (such as Vitamins A, D, E, and K), as well as essential minerals (such as Magnesium, Sodium, Potassium, Iron, and Zinc).
Older Golden Retrievers may require minimal to moderate regular exercise such as slow-paced walking, using a treadmill, and assisted swimming for about 15-30 minutes a day.
Even for Goldies with orthopedic conditions, exercise should not be excluded from their management but it should be carefully supervised and tailored to their specific needs.
Proper exercise is just as necessary as a proper diet. Exercise prevents weight gain and muscle atrophy, and strengthens the muscles and cardiovascular system.
It also helps to keep their joints healthy and mobile. Consult with your veterinarian to determine the most suitable exercise plan for your senior Golden Retriever based on their individual needs and health status.
Regular Veterinary Care
Routine veterinary care includes updated booster shots, wellness check-ups, regular grooming, and monitoring and treating of existing health conditions.
It’s important to schedule regular appointments with your veterinarian to keep your senior Golden Retriever healthy and catch any potential health issues early.
If you plan to introduce new products or supplements to your dog’s diet, it’s always best to seek your vet’s opinion first to ensure their safety and efficacy.
As the saying goes, “A mentally stimulated dog is a happy dog”. Although Golden Retrievers are naturally happy dogs, it wouldn’t hurt to provide them with mental stimulation to enhance their happiness. Changing their routine from time to time can keep them excited and interested.
Mental stimulation can be especially beneficial for aging Golden Retrievers who may be becoming less active and easily bored. Introducing them to new things wouldn’t be a problem since Goldies are smart dogs.
Introducing new games, exercises, toys, and feeding bowls can stimulate their minds and behaviors. Taking them to new places and environments can also provide mental stimulation and keep them engaged.
Golden Retrievers live 10 to 12 years on average. Taking care of senior Golden Retrievers requires patience and understanding. It’s important to have all the necessary information to prepare both yourself and your furry friend for the aging process.
It’s crucial to consider the factors that can affect their lifespan. Providing a good environment, proper nutrition, and mental and physical stimulation can help ensure a healthier and happier life for your senior Goldie.
Although their lifespan may not be long, it’s important to be a responsible pet owner and provide the necessary health precautions and management to extend their life expectancy and maintain their quality of life.
Christine is a Doctor in Veterinary Medicine. As the in-house vet and writer for Furs'n'Paws, Christine shares her extensive knowledge and expertise on all things pet-related, with a particular focus on small animals such as dogs and cats. In addition, she runs her own clinic in the Philippines and volunteers at a local organization to help stray pets. Her commitment to animal health is evident in her writing style, which makes her an invaluable resource for pet owners and animal lovers.