One of the happiest moments in your life will be the moment you welcome your golden retriever puppy home, and one of the hardest will be the day you say goodbye to them.
The only bad thing about this is that the golden retriever life expectancy is extremely short compared to us. It’s almost as if they’re too good for this world so they can’t stay long here before they have to go to dog heaven.
But there are things you can do. If you follow the tips in this article, you can help your furry friend live a few more years and enjoy a longer lifespan.
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Golden Retriever Life Expectancy, Span, and Lifecycle
The first thing you need to know is how long do golden retrievers live? Golden Retrievers have a life span of 10 to 12 years, and the oldest living golden retriever is 20 years old. They reach their full height when they’re 9 to 12 months of age, and are considered adults when they’re 18 months old.
Back in the old days, Golden Retrievers used to live for 16-17 years, but this has dropped to the 10-12 year-lifespan we now know.
Cancer is the largest killer for golden retrievers, and in fact, Golden Retrievers die of lymphoma, cancer of the blood vessels, and bone cancer more than any other dog breeds.
The Morris Animal Foundation launched a $25 million study into the lifespan of golden retrievers. The study has more than 3,000 golden retrievers from all over the world involved in the study.
The study will focus on reviewing the environmental factors and health conditions faced by Golden Retrievers and the results of the study are expected to benefit all other dog breeds and even humans (since humans and dogs have similar DNA – we share 95% of the same DNA with dogs).
They also plan on using the findings as launching points for other health studies in dogs in the future.
Even though the study was started years ago, it still hasn’t yielded conclusive results till now to help with the cancer research, and scientists expect it to last for several more years before any conclusive results are published.
Here are some of the results of the Golden Retriever Lifespan Study:
- 33% of Golden Retrievers aged between 1 and 5 suffer from some form of ear infection or a skin disease
- 17% of Golden Retrievers suffer from a gastrointestinal illness
- 11% of Golden Retrievers suffer from a urinary disease
We are keeping a close eye on the study, and so are the thousands of dog owners involved in the study. Hopefully, the study can offer us some great insights into how can we increase the average lifespan of our dogs.
Golden Retriever Life Cycle
Golden Retrievers go through the same 4 life cycle stages as all other dogs. Which are:
Puppy Stage (6-18 weeks)
The puppy stage starts with birth and lasts until your dog is six-to-18 months old.
- Birth – 3 Weeks
- Dogs are born deaf, blind, and unable to regulate their body temperature on their own.
- At 2-3 Weeks
- They start to see, hear, and get strong enough to stand and move around a little.
- They start to learn about their surroundings. Best time to introduce them to humans and other pets.
- First 8 weeks
- In the first 8 weeks, the puppy should spend with their mother and sibling and should not be separated from his canine family before this age.
- Training and socialization should start at this age.
Adolescent Stage (18 weeks to 24-36 months)
This stage will start somewhere between the age of 6 to 18 months and will continue until they’re 24 to 36 months for golden retrievers (it’s 18-24 months for smaller dog breeders).
Basically, your golden is a teenager during this stage. their hormones will kick in, and they will need to be spayed or neutered. They will be moody, horny, and hyperactive – just like human teenagers.
Training and socialization must go on during this period to help them grow into stable and well-trained pups.
Adulthood ( starts at 18 months – 3 years)
The adult stage can start somewhere between the age of 18 months to 3 years. Their earlier training starts to pay off here and they become easier to manage.
This is also when golden retrievers starts to calm down and chill a bit, staying excited and loving but less hyper-active than they used to be when they were younger.
This stage is where they will spend most of their life and where you will enjoy most of yours. All the great memories will be made here.
The Senior Stage (starts at 7 to 10 years)
Dogs will start to become old between the ages of 7 to 10. Their activity levels will drop significantly and they will be weaker, slower, and more prone t health problems.
Their face and muzzle will become whiter or grayer and their fur will change color in other areas as well.
These are your dogs golden years and you should cherish each and every moment you have with them during these years and before the hardest day of your life and the last day of theirs come.
Why Large Dogs live shorter lives?
Simply put; Larger dogs, like Golden Retrievers, grow faster and age more quickly. This leads to earlier incidence of tumors and abnormal tissue developments and other dogs.
A study by the American Society of Naturalists writers:
Large dogs age at an accelerated pace, as though their adult life is runing at a faster pace than small dogs’. Hence, a first answer to the question of why large dogs die young is that they age quickly.
They also add later in the study:
Across breeds, body size is strongly positively linked to the absolute speed at which the mortality hazard increases.
This relationship was still evident when looking at the aging rate relative to the current level of the mortality hazard (proportional scale); that is, large dogs age at an accelerated pace, suggesting that their adult life unwinds in fast motion.
Additionally, size was connected to the baseline hazard, which was higher in large dogs compared to small ones.
We found no clear relationship between the age at the onset of senescence and size.
20 Tips To Help Your Golden Retriever Live Longer
The following 20 tips can help your golden retriever live longer, happier life by improving every aspect of it.
1.Learn What to do in Emergencies
Taking the time to learn how to handle emergency canine situations can be a lifesaver.
You may know what to do in case your dog eats chocolate, but do you know what to do in case they chip their nails? Do you know what to do in case they eat a lot of grapes?
There is a ton of great content on YouTube and other sites, but I really like to have something I can refer to immediately in case I forget or something. I always keep this very useful and handful pet emergency pocket guide (Amazon link) on me at all times.
2. Keep a dog first aid kit on you
You never know when something bad is going to happen, so you should always be prepared. It is not that much difficult to keep a first aid kit in the house and another one in the car, but it can be a literal life saver one day.
A dog first aid kit includes Neosporin, latex gloves, cotton balls, rubbing alcohol, and peroxide. You should also have the numbers of local veterinary and emergency clinics you can call in dire situations. Have those numbers saved on your phone.
When I travel and plan to stay somewhere for a couple of days, I always do my research beforehand for the nearest hospitals and vets – this way I’m prepared for any human- or pet-related emergency.
You can get this dog first aid kit from Amazon, and just remember to keep them close to you at all times.
3. Keep Them Fit
Obesity is a serious problem in the canine world, and it can cause all sorts of health issues in dogs. Dogs are considered obese when they are at 120% or more of their ideal weight (they have an extra 20% body weight than the ideal number).
The easiest way to keep your golden fit is to limit their food intake, but that’s not the only way. Their food intake should be appropriate to their level of exercise.
Meaning, dogs that are more physically active (and therefore burn more calories) can eat more food, and the opposite is true, of course.
4. No Sugar At All
Sugar is as evil for dogs (and cats) as it is for humans. It can get them fat, damage their teeth, and cause other health problems. Sugar can also lead to diabetes (yes, dogs can get diabetes).
5. Daily Exercise
Dogs need daily exercise, and they need it daily. Their physical, mental, and psychological health is affected hugely by the amount of exercise they get. Dogs are active animals, and they need to go for a walk or run every day.
Take them for walks around the block, take them for runs when possible. If you feel like you can’t keep up with them, I have trained my dog to run by my side while cycling, this way he can get the exercise he needs and I don’t exert as much effort.
But please don’t it with your car, don’t force your dog to run by your car, it’s dangerous and cruel. You can do it with a Scooter or an electric bike if you really don’t have the energy.
6. Supervise them
Dogs are exactly like kids in one area; the moment you let your eyes off them is the moment disaster strikes. Don’t let your dog roam free without a leash and without you keeping an eye on them, otherwise you’ll be opening up doors for tragedies.
From cars to coyotes to dog thieves, the world is a dangerous place. Keep your dog on a leash at all times and don’t let them roam free even when they are tagged and micro-chipped. During play dates or when you take them to the dog park, keep a watchful eye on them and whenever you notice an issue – like a predator or a coyote, go grab your dog and remove them from the situation.
Find out more about how to protect your dog from coyotes here.
7. Mental Stimulation
Mental Stimulation is essential for your dog’s mental health. Things like puzzles, toys, and other mentally-stimulating activities can keep the dog’s mental health in top shape.
Dogs that don’t get enough mental stimulation are likely to get depressed and develop destructive behaviors like excessive chewing.
You can check our recommended dog toys and puzzles here that will keep your pup entertained and buys.
8. Learn How to Train Them
Dogs need to be trained at a young age to develop into well-adjusted adults. They need this training to be regular.
You need to learn how to train your dog yourself and not simply rely on dog trainers or obedience classes because you will use this skill throughout their lives to train them on new commands and eliminate unwanted behaviors.
Sometimes training them will seem too hard, but it will definitely pay off in the long run, and you will gain a skill that will be useful for you for years to come.
9. Socialize Them Early
You should start socializing your dog when they are between 3 and 12 weeks of age.
Socializing your puppy is one of the most enjoyable things you will do with them, as you get to accompany them in their journey to explore the world, the places, the smells, the colors, humans, animals, and other dogs. Try to enjoy it.
10. Learn About Their Nutrition
You know how they say we are what we eat? The same goes for our dogs. One of the most important things you can do to help your golden live longer is to know exactly what you’re feeding them.
Learning how to feed your dog the right foods and becoming a nutrition expert will help you choose the right foods and create a balanced diet for them that has all the nutritional elements they need.
You can check out our recommended dog food for goldens at every age here.
11. Don’t feed them table scraps
Sharing is caring, but not everything needs to be shared. I know the power of puppy eyes, but you should resist it and not feed your dog table scraps.
According to Sr. Smyth, our foods are not suitable for our dogs. The experienced vet put it this way;
n addition to adding extra (and unnecessary!) calories to your dog’s diet, pet parents risk inducing pancreatitis by feeding their dog fatty table scraps
Our foods contain more fats and sugars compared to the foods of our pets, and certain human foods can contain garlic and chocolate, which are toxic to our beloved dogs.
Don’t forget you also need to educate your family on the danger of giving table scraps to dogs and ask them to never give any to the dog no matter how much they beg.
12. Keep a regular grooming routine
Your dog’s coat needs a regular grooming routine to stay healthy. Your dog’s coat is their first line of protection against the elements as it insulates their skin and body from the heat, cold, dust, harmful ultraviolet light, and dust and flying particles.
Keep a regular grooming routine, and use the right tools. Get our recommended brushes here and our recommended shampoos here.
13. Pay attention to their dental hygiene
Gum disease is a common problem in dogs, as mentioned earlier in the article. This condition develops after food and bacteria collect along the dog’s gum line and form plaque in their mouth.
As the oral bacteria builds up in your dog’s mouth, they can cause all sorts of health problems such as heart valve problems.
You can get a finger brush like this one or a chew toy (amazon link) that can assist in reducing the plaque as well as water additives that can help remove the plaque and maintain your dog’s oral health.
I personally like taking my dog for a professional cleaning session once at the end of every year, and you can do it as well.
This helps me discover any sort of issues before they become a serious problem and make sure we start the new year with squeaky clean teeth (pun intended).
14. Avoid Exposure to toxins and second-hand smoke
Exposure to toxins and second-hand smoke is very dangerous on dogs. Dogs that are exposed to second-hand smoke are more prone to eye infections, allergies, and respiratory issues that include lung cancer.
A study at Colorado State University demonstrated how dogs that live in smoking environments had an increased incidence of nasal cancer.
As for toxins, it goes without saying how dangerous they are. However, you still need to know how to limit their exposure to them.
Here are 3 easy and effective ways to limit your dog’s exposure to toxins:
- Limit your use of artificial products like fragrances, air fresheners, cleaning sprays, perfumes, detergents, car fresheners, and so on.
- Don’t use Pesticides or pesticide sprays and replace them with flypapers and sticky traps.
- Limit your use of plastics – This may include your carpets and furniture.
15. Use Sunscreen on Sunny Summer Days
Just like humans, dogs can get sunburned from sun exposure, especially on parts with little to no hair covering them. Your dog needs sunscreen, and it’s quite important.
According to Dr.Richard Goldstein, DVM and Chief Medical Officer of the Animal Medical Center;
It’s actually very important to put sunscreen on dogs, especially those with light skin and white fur or hair
He also added:
A dog’s skin can be damaged by the sun just like our own, so they require the same protection against the development of sunburn and skin cancer.
I really like the Epi-Pet Sun Protector Spray for my dog, check it on Amazon here.
16. Regular Checkups
Regular Checkups – even if it’s just an annual checkup – can help find problems before they start or become really serious.
Catching an illness or a health issue early on significantly increases your dog’s chance in finding a cure and recovering quickly.
They also give you the best chance to prevent any possible illnesses when your vet gets the chance to check for any irregular behaviors or signs that you may not notice on your own.
17. Limit Stress as much as possible
Stress is as terrible for dogs as it is for humans. There are many things that cause stress in dogs, but the main three that are the strongest causes are;
- Fear (Causes can be loud noises, new environments, large or strange objects, big groups of people, moving cities, moving houses, etc)
- Separation (even temporary separation from their owners)
- Confusion and memory loss associated with growing old.
Dogs can also get stressed when we’re stressed. In a way, they can mirror our emotions and when we’re stressed or anxious, they will become stressed and anxious as well.
And stress is really bad for dogs – just as it is for humans.
- Stress can weaken their immune system
- Stress will release the cortisol hormone to respond to stressful situations, but when this happens often ( as in chronic stress), their immune system will be weakened.
- Chronic stress can cause immune suppression and make the dogs unable to fight off infections or diseases
- Stress will also slow the healing process for dogs who are already sick because Cortisol has an anti-healing effect. The hormone can affect the dog’s ability to fight the diseases in their body even if they were already making progress.
- Stress can make them develop behavioral problems
- Stress can trigger the dogs’ “Fight or Flight” response, so the dog will either try to escape (run away) or become aggressive to get out of the situation.
- Dogs will often freeze for a few seconds as they decide whether to try to escape or become aggressive, and they’ll remember which option helped them escape the stressful situation before and opt for it immediately in the future, making your dog more aggressive.
- In Stressful situations, the adrenaline can increase the heart rate and blood pressure while also decreasing the blood flow to the stomach and intestines. This can lead to diarrhea
- Stress can lead to inappropriate urination
- Stress in pets can often cause inappropriate urination – especially when the dog is scared. This happens because the immediate release of the stress hormones relaxes the bladder sphincters, leading to involuntary urination
Unfortunately, stress is a vicious cycle. Stress can cause the dog to do things like destructive chewing or make them sick which will only stress them more, which will lead to more of that behavior.
They can’t get out of this cycle without your help. This is why it’s best to make your environment and the dog’s life as stress-free as you possibly can.
18. Vaccinate Them
Dogs need their vaccines, and missing the vaccination time window can put your dog in serious risk of catching a dangerous illness. Your dog’s core vaccines are rabies, distemper, parvovirus, and hepatitis.
Your vet is the one best equipped to tell you how frequently do your dogs need to be vaccinated, but a three-year-interval is most commonly recommended for pet owners.
However, your dog will often not get all the vaccines every year, but they can get them into tiers instead of combinations.
Pay Attention; The vaccination is important but so is the annual vet check we’ve discussed earlier, and you need to be consistent in both. Just because they get vaccinated doesn’t mean they don’t need the annual visit, and the same goes for the other way around.
19. Spay Your Females and Neuter Your Males
Spaying and neutering can increase a dog’s lifespan by 18% for male dogs and 23% for female dogs.
Spaying will also help prevent uterine infections, breast tumors, testicular cancer, and some prostate problems – some of which are malignant or cancerous in about 50% of dogs
There are also 3 other benefits to spaying/neutering your dog that can indirectly increase your dog’s lifespan;
- Your spayed female pet won’t go into heat
- This means no yowling or urinating all over the house, and no attracting aggressive males.
- Your male dog will be much less likely to run away
- Male dogs will always roam or run away from home in search of females. They will do basically anything to mate, but once they’re spayed, you remove this possibility.
- No roaming/ running away means no risks of getting hit by traffic, snatched by a dog thief, or getting hurt any other way.
- Your Neutered Male will be less aggressive and better behaved
- Unneutered dogs are very likely to mark their territory by spraying urine all over their territory – which in this case is your house. They will also try to mount other dogs and show dominance on other pets.
- By neutering them, you will remove many of these behaviors and make your dog a much better-behaved pup.
20. Keep an eye on their Blood Sugar
Dogs can get diabetes, too, and it’s as serious for them as it is for humans. Diabetes can decrease your dog’s life span expectancy and lower their quality of life.
Diabetes in dogs is treatable but not curable, and if you have a diabetic dog, you can still help them live a normal life that’s just as long if you keep a close eye on their blood sugar and really pay attention for their nutrition to keep their diets balanced.
Do Happy Dogs live longer?
Yes, happier dogs tend to live longer lives. Spending more time with your dog will always lift their mood. Consider going on trips, going to the beach, and going on adventures together – even if just to explore the outskirts of your city.
Do Dogs live longer on a raw diet?
Dogs live longer on natural foods. The research has shown that dogs that live on processed foods diet have an average lifespan of 10.4 years, but dogs that live on a homemade diet have an average lifespan of 13.1 years.
It stands to reason that dogs will live longer and be healthier when living on completely natural food, but keep in mind that the raw diet comes with its own set of problems as well.
Help Your Dog Live Longer by Avoiding These Things – PetMD
Golden Retriever Lifetime Study – Morris Animal Foundation
The Size–Life Span Trade-Off Decomposed: Why Large Dogs Die Young – Published by the University of Chicago Press for the American Society of Naturalists
Foods Your Dog Should Never Eat – Pets.Webmd
The effects of Second Hand-smoke on pets