golden retriever lifespan

Golden Retriever Lifespan [Oldest Golden Retriever]

For anyone who has or wants a lovable Golden Retriever in their life, knowing the lifespan of a Golden Retriever is valuable information.

I will try to answer that question and provide insight on how to extend their lives as much as reasonably possible. Golden Retrievers make wonderful companions and are one of the most beloved dogs according to many owners.

An average Golden Retriever can live 10 – 12 years. Although, Golden Retrievers with a questionable pedigree, who are given poor nutrition, and/or are neglected by those who are supposed to care for them will likely have a shorter lifespan. However, Golden Retrievers who enjoy excellent pedigree and are given superior nutrition as we as loving care will tend to have a longer lifespan.

Golden Retriever Characteristics
Golden Retriever Characteristics

While common ailments and unfortunate accidents may shorten a dog’s life, there are ways to give your Goldie the best chance at a long, healthy life.

↪ Scroll to the Bottom to Find Out About the “Oldest Golden Retriever”

Understanding Golden Retriever development and characteristics, giving your dog the best nutrition and care, along with providing prevention and treatment of common ailments may all contribute to extending the lifespan of your Golden Retriever.

Characteristics and Stages of Development

Golden Retrievers were bred in Scotland as hunting companions to retrieve waterfowl.

Since Scotland has an abundance of ponds, lakes, and ocean inlets, a retriever proficient on both land and in water was wanted. Golden Retrievers are the lovely result!

They are medium to large in build with a thick, warm undercoat and a medium-length topcoat that repels water. Goldies were bred to be hard-working, outdoor dogs.

As such, they require plenty of exercise, which translates to PLAY! for many Golden Retrievers.

Golden Retriever Traits
Golden Retriever Traits

Water play and fetching for hours on end come naturally to many Goldies. They also tend to shed their hair profusely, so be prepared to brush yours often.

  • Puppy: Golden Retrievers are puppies from the newborn stage until approximately 3 months old. The best practice is to keep them with their mothers during these months while being socialized at appropriate developmental milestones.
  • Adolescent: From approximately 3-6 months old, Goldies are in their juvenile state. They are likely able to leave their mother and be acquired by their new family.

    Training is important at this stage as lifetime habits will most likely be set. Often people decide whether or not to spay or neuter their Goldie during this time.
  • Adolescent into Adulthood: Around 6 months old, Golden Retrievers begin to grow into adulthood. Most achieve adulthood by 16 months old.

    It is a time of fast growth and potential bone injuries. As well, they will be learning and testing their place within their pack, whether all human or a mix of humans and fellow dogs.

    Goldies are generally full-grown by the time they reach two years of age.

5 Things Every Golden Retriever Owner Knows (video)

Golden Retrievers are one of the most popular family dogs in America and with good reason. They are friendly, loyal, eager to please, and amenable to training.

Because they are generally trusting dogs who are kind to both their families as well as strangers, Goldie Retrievers rarely make good guard dogs.

As Goldens advance in years, their bodies grow older while their dispositions tend to remain puppy-like in playfulness and friendliness.

German Shepherd Lifespan Questions? Go Here.

Best Nutrition and Care of Golden Retrievers

Since most Golden Retrievers love to eat anything and everything, it’s best practice for their owners to develop good nutrition habits.

As fun as food fetching and catching games are, it can be easy to slip into habits of feeding human food that is not healthy for your Goldie. 

The best place to start learning about the best nutrition for your Retriever is with your veterinarian. They know your dog and your dog’s individual needs best.

Both quality and quantity count for the health of your Golden Retriever. Read labels carefully and be sure you understand what the ingredient names mean.

Do Golden Retrievers Make a Good Pet
Do Golden Retrievers Make a Good Pet?

According to the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFC) – the members of which regulate the sale and distribution of animal food and medicines, animal food ingredients labels must use “correct, standardized common ingredient names.”

Definitions of the words on animal food labels can be found on AAFC’s “What is in Pet Food?” page. The same word on different labels follows the same definition, so true comparisons between brands and foods can be made.

Ailments Common to Golden Retrievers

Prevention and Care is key to extending your Golden Retriever’s lifespan.

While it would be wonderful to be able to prevent all ailments, it’s not a realistic expectation. Hence, knowing how to both prevent and treat ailments common to Golden Retrievers is a good idea.

Whenever possible, learn the pedigree of any dog you are considering adopting. If the mother or father show signs of genetic problems, their puppies generally will as well.

Acquiring a Golden Retriever of known robust lineage may prevent needing to deal with ailments common to the breed.

It’s wise to take your Goldie for regular veterinary checkups. Prevention and early detection of concerns are usually far less costly in time, money, and emotions than if a problem is caught later.

If a concern develops before the next scheduled veterinary checkup, call their office for advice.

Poor Nutrition:

Poor nutrition can contribute to health issues such as obesity, joint issues, skin issues, allergies, heart issues, and cancer. Treating these ailments begins with the prevention found in a quality diet that will give your Golden Retriever the nutrition to live a healthy, robust life.

Why a golden retriever is the best dog
Why a golden retriever is the best dog

Bloat, also called GDV – gastric dilatation volvulus, tends to occur in larger dogs and is thought to be caused by eating too much all at once and then engaging in too much physical activity soon after. Gas buildup can twist the stomach and/or restrict breathing.

To prevent bloat, two to three smaller meals throughout the day, rather than one large meal, can be helpful. Try to not introduce elevated feeding as it may be a contributing factor to causing bloat. Also, keep your Retriever from activity for about an hour after meals to promote digestion and reduce gas buildup.

Signs of bloat include drooling; retching and attempting to vomit with little output; anxiety, restlessness, and pacing; lethargy or agitation; depression; and shock. This may be a life-threatening situation. If bloat is suspected, take your pet to a veterinarian right away.


Cancer is one of the leading causes of death in Golden Retrievers. According to the Morris Animal Center Golden Retriever Lifetime Study, 60% of Goldies are affected by cancer, the highest rate of cancer in any dog breed.

It tends to be genetic. Scientists are working hard to discover why the prevalence of cancer in Golden Retrievers is so high. Treatment depends on the type of cancer and should be conducted by your veterinarian.


Cataracts are common in Golden Retrievers. The onset of cataracts may be noticeable by a cloudy look in your dog’s eyes. Sometimes clumsiness or difficulty navigating their surroundings are the first signs of cataract development.

While some dogs can learn to navigate their surroundings without eyesight, surgery may be able to restore your older Golden Retriever’s eyesight.

Like humans, Golden Retrievers can develop chest issues in either their heart or lungs. Such problems may not show any symptoms, which is why regular veterinary check-ups are important to monitor the health of your Retriever.

The sooner a problem is discovered, may mean more treatment options are available.

Why are golden retrievers so friendly
Why are golden retrievers so friendly?
Hip dysplasia:

Hip dysplasia and elbow dysplasia are malformations in hip and elbow joints respectively. Dysplasia can be caused or exacerbated by genetics, malnutrition, or injury.

Knowing the pedigree of your dog will inform you of whether or not your dog is prone to hip or elbow dysplasia. Excellent nutrition, exercise, and care may stave off the onset of dysplasia.

Maintaining a healthy weight helps prevent overburdening your dog’s joints, which may delay the onset of dysplasia if your dog is genetically predisposed to it.

If hip or elbow dysplasia does affect your dog, it may come on gradually and may increase in severity over time. Nutritional supplements that promote joint health can be beneficial. Surgical options also exist.

It’s best to work closely with your veterinarian to treat and hopefully minimize the effects of dysplasia. Unfortunately, dysplasia has the potential to severely impact a dog’s mobility.


Hypothyroidism occurs when the thyroid gland is functioning below normal levels. The thyroid regulates hormone production, which affects metabolism.

Hypothyroidism can make a Goldie weak and lethargic with the appearance of lowered mental capacity among other symptoms. Any of these signs are a reason to consult with your veterinarian about your concerns.

Luxating Patella:

Luxating Patella is another joint-related problem that Goldies may also experience. Luxating Patella is a dislocated kneecap, which usually affects a dog’s walking gait.

The kneecap may shift in and out of proper position meaning that the dog’s gait may not be permanently affected. Seek your veterinarian’s advice if you see inconsistencies in your Goldie’s walking.


Osteosarcoma is a very common disease in dogs that produces bone tumors. It tends to affect larger breeds like Golden Retrievers. Osteosarcoma usually occurs in the leg bones of older or elderly dogs.

When it affects a leg bone, which it does in 75-85 percent of all cases, osteosarcoma often affects a dog’s gait.

Osteosarcoma tends to quickly move to the lungs of the affected dog. Unfortunately, an osteosarcoma diagnosis may lead to a recommendation to amputate the affected leg.

Your veterinarian should be called when you are concerned about the health of your Goldie.

Common golden retriever allergy symptoms
Common Golden Retriever allergy symptoms
Skin Problems:

The thick double coat of Golden Retrievers can harbor bacteria which can lead to skin problems. About half of all Goldies tend to be affected by skin problems sometime in their life, which can include skin allergies.

Minor skin problems left unchecked can lead to major skin problems. Bathing your Goldie regularly with dog-specific shampoo and leave-in conditioner may prevent many skin problems.


Reducing allergens in your home such as mold and dust mites may also ward off allergies from affecting your Goldie’s skin. If a skin problem occurs and persists in spite of your best preventative treatment, seek the care of your veterinarian.

Von Willebrand Disease:

Another ailment common in Golden Retrievers is von Willebrand’s Disease. This is a genetic blood disorder caused by a defective or missing clotting protein called von Willebrand’s factor.

Dogs with this disease may hemorrhage profusely.

If a dog with this disease needs surgery, transfusions of compounds containing von Willebrand’s factor, such as cryoprecipitate or complete plasma, can be administered prior to the surgery in an effort to prevent severe hemorrhaging.


While the average lifespan of  Golden Retrievers is approximately 10 – 12 years, good genetics, excellent nutrition, and proactive veterinary care, gives your Golden Retriever the best chance at a long, healthy life.

Related Golden Retriever Questions

Oldest Golden Retriever?

The world’s oldest living Golden Retriever, named August, is 20 years old and is a former rescue dog now living in Las Vegas according to a story from Insider. So now you know how old is the oldest living golden retriever!

How Do I Find a Reputable Breeder?

One way to ascertain the pedigree of a Golden Retriever before you purchase a puppy is to find your puppy through a reputable breeder who employs best breeding practices.

Breeders who employ poor breeding practices perpetuate potential problems of poor genetics in Golden Retrievers.

Do your homework to find a reputable breeder who sells healthy puppies to happy owners. According to the Humane Society of the United States, a reputable breeder:

  • Has a spacious clean facility
  • Actively encourages visits to their facility and suggests you visit more than once
  • Keeps the number of dogs on their site low level
  • Wants to know you and be sure you’ll provide a good home for your new puppy

Choosing a reputable breeder might be the first step of enjoying a wonderful Golden Retriever in your life.

How Smart are Golden Retrievers?

According to Stanley Coren, PhD., DSc., FRSC, Golden Retrievers are the fourth smartest dog breed with Border Collies, Poodles, and German Shepherds claiming the top three spots in his list.

Coren developed his list based on tasks of obedience and work developed and tested by the American Kennel Club (AKC) and the Canadian Kennel Club (CKC) on 199 breeds. Not all breeds were included in these studies.

What do most golden retrievers die from?

Unfortunately, most Golden Retrievers seem to die from cancer. Over 60% of Golden Retrievers die from cancer according to a study by the Golden Retriever Club of America.

Does a Female Golden Retriever have a longer lifespan?

Most studies have show that the lifespan of a female Golden Retriever is about the same as a male.


Golden Retriever Weight And Growth Guide in 2020

7 Crazy Facts About Golden Retriever Lifespans (And 7 Tips To Increase It)

Best Food For Golden Retriever Puppies (And What Not To Feed Them)

Consumers > What is in Pet Food?

Golden Retriever Lifetime Study

Bloat: First Aid

Osteosarcoma in Dogs

Golden Retriever Health Issues: Common Problems

Von Willebrand’s Disease in Dogs

The List of Smartest Dog Breeds by Stanley Coren – Complete list!

How to find a responsible dog breeder

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