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I read recently that as many as 60% of Goldens die of cancer. Having just lost a Golden to cancer I'm trying to understand why this breed is so susceptible. If anyone has any insight I'd love to know as I'd like to get another Golden but I'm afraid to go through losing a dog to cancer again.
 

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Now Caue's Dad Too!
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Cancer is becoming more common in many breeds of dogs. From what I've read on this forum there is little you can do increase your odds of getting a cancer free dog.
 

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I also think it's very hard to separate the effects on statistics of increased diagnosis and treatment. If 60% of Goldens are diagnosed with cancer vs. 30% of all dogs, those numbers don't necessarily take into account the fact that Goldens are often family dogs who might receive more substantial medical care than the average dog.

Many dogs who may have cancer are put down during a health crisis because the owners didn't have the money or the interest in pushing further with treatment.

So while it does seem that Goldens are more susceptible, it's very difficult to ascertain exactly how much.
 

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I read recently that as many as 60% of Goldens die of cancer. Having just lost a Golden to cancer I'm trying to understand why this breed is so susceptible. If anyone has any insight I'd love to know as I'd like to get another Golden but I'm afraid to go through losing a dog to cancer again.
Google Rhonda Hovan and check-out www.grca.org

I've lost 4 Goldens to cancer, one was only 2. You will find many theories but no absolute, definitive answers to your questions. From personal experience, I believe cancer in Goldens has its genesis in Princeton, NJ and I would be especially concerned about any Golden with Goldrush and/or Sunshine Hill (foundation from Goldrush) in its pedigree. I know I am opening myself up to tremendous criticism, but I am speaking from the personal experience I have had with my Goldens and also comments from my vet and two very reputable breeders.
 

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Riley Roo!!
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I don't know. I lean toward believing the 60%. I've been blessed with 6 Goldens so far in my life. I've lost 2 to hemangiosarcoma and 1 to lymphoma. I still have 2 wonderful Goldens (well, 1 is 1/2 pyr.) and that leaves 1 other that did not die from canine cancer. That's 50% in my family - and thousands of dollars. My Goldens have all been rescues so I don't know where they came from. I hate canine cancer. When Riley and I were spending several hours a week at the oncologist (for 6 months) the breed we saw there the most were Goldens.
.............sigh...............................
 

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Google Rhonda Hovan and check-out www.grca.org

I've lost 4 Goldens to cancer, one was only 2. You will find many theories but no absolute, definitive answers to your questions. From personal experience, I believe cancer in Goldens has its genesis in Princeton, NJ and I would be especially concerned about any Golden with Goldrush and/or Sunshine Hill (foundation from Goldrush) in its pedigree. I know I am opening myself up to tremendous criticism, but I am speaking from the personal experience I have had with my Goldens and also comments from my vet and two very reputable breeders.
Nobody has been able to show definitively that a particular line or influential stud dog has increased rates in his progeny.

Also, when we try to look at heritability, we have to remember that different types of cancer may have dramatically different genetic factors. For example, to say that a particular line has higher rates of "cancer" ignores the fact that osteosarcoma might have a completely different set of factors from hemangiosarcoma.

The problem is that a single line of dogs doesn't provide a statistically large enough sampling to say definitively that they have a higher genetic influence than others.

Trying to eyeball a particular breeder or a particular line risks penalizing breeders who are more open about cancer and dogs who are more influential in the breed.
 

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I don't know. I lean toward believing the 60%. I've been blessed with 6 Goldens so far in my life. I've lost 2 to hemangiosarcoma and 1 to lymphoma. I still have 2 wonderful Goldens (well, 1 is 1/2 pyr.) and that leaves 1 other that did not die from canine cancer. That's 50% in my family - and thousands of dollars. My Goldens have all been rescues so I don't know where they came from. I hate canine cancer. When Riley and I were spending several hours a week at the oncologist (for 6 months) the breed we saw there the most were Goldens.
.............sigh...............................
That's sort of my point. The characteristics and reputation of Goldens tend to put them in families with more disposable income to work on diagnosis and treatment and more likelihood to value the dog as a family member than as an animal.

When your dogs got sick, you spent thousands to find out what was wrong. That is not the case for all dogs. It's the same reason Goldens (relatively) fly off the shelves at rescues.
 

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I read recently that as many as 60% of Goldens die of cancer. Having just lost a Golden to cancer I'm trying to understand why this breed is so susceptible. If anyone has any insight I'd love to know as I'd like to get another Golden but I'm afraid to go through losing a dog to cancer again.
I do believe the 60% number is in the ballpark, however there is no context given along with it, so we really don't know if this is good or bad.

What do I mean by context?

If hypothetically 60% of goldens develop cancer by age 4, it would be horrible. Nobody would ever want a golden. But on the other hand if 60% of goldens develop cancer by age 15 that's a whole different thing as the failings of old age are the real story.

Thus we really need to know a lot more about the subject to make a judgement about what's good or bad. Is 60% good or bad when compared to the canine population as a whole? I don't believe we really have enough information to make a rational judgement at this time.
 

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Grumpy Old Man
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I've lost 4 Goldens to cancer, one was only 2. You will find many theories but no absolute, definitive answers to your questions. From personal experience, I believe cancer in Goldens has its genesis in Princeton, NJ and I would be especially concerned about any Golden with Goldrush and/or Sunshine Hill (foundation from Goldrush) in its pedigree. QUOTE]

I don't know that I would lay the problem at the feet of these two breeders. There were some pairings that were done involving offspring produced by these kennels, that in hindsight were perhaps not the best idea. But those pairings were not necessarilly by the kennels in question. Once a breeder sells a puppy, they have little or no control over what the owner does with it.
 

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Here in Canada and I believe also in the UK the cancer rate in Goldens is higher than other breeds. The 60% rate fits and it's scary. I recently lost my 7 yr old golden to a brain tumor. When he had his first symptoms and I took him to the vet, my vet told me her suspicions right away. Also that in her opinion and experience "Goldens are magnets for tumors". I have another Golden who is turning 5 this month and I watch him like a hawk now. Wondering how long he will last for. Goldens are the nicest dogs I've ever had and I absolutely adore them. But when my Golden died and the remaining one was lonely I did my homework, found a reputable breeder and brought home a Lab pup instead. They're very very similar, my golden loves his new friend and the Labs don't have a higher than average cancer rate. If someone could breed Goldens with a 25-30% cancer rate instead of 60% I would be lined up to get one. Many of them do die at a young age and it's heartbreaking. The 60% cancer rate is something you can't ignore once you know about it. As dog owners we invest a lot of time, effort, money and love into our dogs. And we don't want them to die before they've had a good long life.
 

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Riley Roo!!
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I do care about the cancer issue in Goldens - but on the other hand - I don't care. Goldens are the most incredible creatures I have ever been around. I could never not have a Golden in my life. I hate canine cancer with all my heart. My family has gone through much heartache and dollars but we will always have Goldens. There are so many wonderful Goldens who need rescued, need a home and a family that they can love and give affection to.
This is something I told my son once - when he asked why our dogs kept getting cancer. (It may sound warped). Maybe some Goldens die young because they know SO much about love and finished all of their teaching about unconditional love to us humans so God had them come up to the Bridge to play and be angels. That gives us the opportunity to rescue another Golden. (I guess it is warped). But, none the less, I am a Golden person and will always have Goldens the rest of my life.
 

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If hypothetically 60% of goldens develop cancer by age 4, it would be horrible. Nobody would ever want a golden. But on the other hand if 60% of goldens develop cancer by age 15 that's a whole different thing as the failings of old age are the real story.
That's another excellent point. If Goldens are avoiding death by other factors (particularly curable ones) more often than other dogs, then cancer is going to be what gets them more often.
 

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I don't subscribe to this veterinary publication, but this is a link indicating a study on the cause of deaths of boxers, goldens, rotts, labs, and german shepherds. The study was done for a long period of time, from 1985 to 1999, and it showed that boxers and goldens died of "neoplastic disease" (which is another way of saying cancer) than the other 3 breeds. However, a big however, AGES OF DEATH (my emphasis) was not significantly different with for a golden, a lab, and the German Shepherd. Both the Boxer and the rottie died at a younger age. This article was published 9/1/02 in Veterinary Medicine magazine. Certainly, the article came to the conclusion that goldens should be listed as a breed that is prone to cancer, like boxers. But does it impact life expectancy compared to other similarly-sized breeds? The research didn't show that.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11563442
 

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Interesting points. Over the last 30 years, of the dogs who lived out their lives with me, Scarlet was the youngest to die, at age 10. She died of non-cancerous brain tumors (meningiomas). I believe that the 3 oldest to die, all died of cancer, atlhough I did not have necropsies done-Candy at 17, Scout at 14 and Kahli just short of 15.

Other dogs that I bred have died of cancer, the youngest at 8, and I have often wondered if it was chance that my personal dogs lived longer, or something in the environment, or genetics, or some combination. One of my dogs lived in Florida and died at age 8 of a rare form of skin cancer. I tend to live in the center of the country, fairly rural and have long been on the side of minimal vaccinations and chemical exposure.

And I always live in fear of getting that dread phone call or email, telling me that one of my puppies has cancer, or has died, or finding a lump while grooming one of my dogs.

And then there was my Pug, Marie, who died of cancer at the young age (for a Pug) of 10. Go figure.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Thank you to everyone who responded. The comments and links were very helpful. I'm leaning toward getting another Golden -- they're hard to resist, aren't they! -- but being even more vigilant about the food, water, chemicals in the environment he/she might be exposed to.
 

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My golden Murphy is 14 and was diagnosed with hemangiosarcoma 5 months ago. Just like in humans, science has made cancer something to live with and not necessarily die from. I know when Murphy goes he will have lived a good long life. And while the oncologist gave him 2-4 months, Murphy is still going strong. We opted not to do chemo and surgery because we wanted to end his days with him being happy at home. Surgery would have removed a leg and part of his chest wall. Chemo would have only given him another 2-4 months. We opted to go natural-we went to a organic meat/fruit/veggie diet with lots of supplements and we eliminated a lot of chemicals (cleaners and such) that we use in the house that he might come in contact with. My vet thinks this has made a difference. He has lost 24 pounds (96 lbs in April to now 72 lbs) but still eats a lot, goes on a daily walk, plays a little here and there and still shows us that he is still here and wants to be here.

Even knowing what I know about goldens and cancer, I would get a golden tomorrow. We have a rescue puppy right now (some sort of mix) and are searching for a golden to rescue to be his playmate once Murphy crosses the bridge.
 

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Riley Roo!!
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God Bless sweet Murphy!!! You are very lucky!. Hemangiosarcoma can be ruthless and fast. Murphy looks great! I hope he has many happy and healthy days ahead of him and I am so glad you will rescue another precious Golden when the time is right.
Oh how I LOVE GOLDENS!!!!!!
My oldest Golden lived to 10 1/2 - that's it......and I've been blessed with 6 Goldens so far. I pray that I have a smelly OLD Golden someday!
 

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RIP Sweet Skyler
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I do care about the cancer issue in Goldens - but on the other hand - I don't care. Goldens are the most incredible creatures I have ever been around. .
Well Put!!

Be it a month, a year, or decades - as long as I have a Goldens love to open the gate for me when it's my turn to escort some across the Bridge then I'll consider myself blessed.

Love them & learn about love
Teach them & be taught about life
Hold them & feel their power
 
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