What’s Killing Our Golden Retrievers?
by Shaun Mullen
It’s not hard to see why golden retrievers are among the most popular breeds in the U.S. year in and year out. They’re cuddly cute as puppies and beautiful as adults. They’re great around kids, energetic, intelligent, intensely loyal and easy to train. In fact, they often train their owners.
But many American golden retrievers are also time bombs because an extraordinarily large number of them — perhaps one in four — succumb to cancer before living to their once typical 12- to 16-year life expectancy. I know this all too well. I have lived with and been acquainted with a dozen or so goldens over the years, most of them pictured in the photo montage above. I have midwifed their births, taken them to the veterinarian, helped breed them and cradled them in my arms as they drew their last breaths.
It’s hard to name favorites, but Ruffie (Medford Ben’s Ruffles was the snooty name on her pedigree papers) would have to be at the top of my list. Ruffie was special from the time she opened her tiny eyes. While she played with her litter mates, there was an unpuppy-like serenity about her which grew deeper as she matured. She in turn seemed to impart a Zen-like quality on her own offspring, who included Cody, the longtime companion of a good friend, and a sweetheart by the name of Luna. (That’s Ruffie and Luna in the arms of Yours Truly at the center of the photo montage.)
But despite careful attention to their diets, plenty of exercise, regular visits to the vets and the love and devotion of their owners, both Ruffie and Cody departed this world well before their time — Ruffie a victim of lymphosarcoma (cancer of the lymphatic system) and Cody a victim of hemangiosarcoma (cancer of the blood).
Luna died at age three of lymphosarcoma.