How Long Do Golden Retrievers Live?

We all want our Golden Retrievers to live a long, healthy life. But how long should we expect our Goldens to live on average? Here we discuss the average life expectancy, and what you can do to help your dog increase their odds of a long life.

Golden Retrievers are one of the most loved dogs in the United States. The breed is a medium-large type dog which is lovable, goofy, sociable and affectionate. When you have a Golden Retriever, you would want to try to keep them alive and healthy as long as you can.

How Long Do They Live?

On average, Golden Retrievers live 10-12 years. Within the last fifty years, the life expectancy has dropped by five or six years. Back in the 1970s, Golden Retrievers lived for 16-17 years.

Golden Retrievers are great dogs, and people do want them to live longer. With all the things that could go wrong, being educated on how to prolong the life of your Golden Retriever is extremely helpful.

Remember, 10-12 years is just the average, your dog could live much longer!

Golden Retrievers Life Expectancy

Golden Retrievers were bred during the 1920s as a “retriever” dog when hunting. In the 1920s, this type of dog was adopted very quickly in the United States, and people fell in love. Golden Retrievers are loyal animals that like to be around their owners.

Golden Retrievers, when they were first bred, had a higher life expectancy. After generations of breeding and genetic issues being passed down, Golden Retriever’s life expectancy started to fall. There was a huge drop off between the 1970s until now. The Golden Retriever’s life expectancy fell to 10-12 years instead of 16-17 years.

Issues That Affect Life Expectancy

Several different things go into the life expectancy for a Golden Retriever. Most of these issues are genetic or health issues. There is also an exposure issue with toxic materials that could cause cancer.

The genetic health issues that have been passed down are usually heart disease, cancer, hypothyroidism, skin disease, ear infections, gastrointestinal illness, urinary diseases, joint dysplasia, epilepsy, and chest condition issues.

The most common issue that Golden Retrievers have when it comes to health issues is cancer. Golden Retrievers are more prone to cancer, and their owners should be aware of that.

Cancer In Golden Retrievers

Golden Retrievers are far more susceptible to cancer. This decreases their life expectancy. Cancer can be in several different forms for Golden Retrievers and manifests at different times in their lives.

To learn more about cancer in Golden Retrievers check out our recent article. We go more indepth on the subject there.

Cancer Odds

According to Havon (2006), approximately 60 percent of Golden Retrievers will die from cancer. It is the leading cause of death in Golden Retrievers now. Previously, heart disease was the leading cause of death. Golden Retrievers get many different types of cancer, but there are two that are the most common.

The following types of cancer make up over half of the cases that are found in Golden Retrievers:

  1. Hemangiosarcoma: Cancer in dogs that presents from the cells in the blood vessels.
  2. Lymphoma: Type of cancer in dogs that presents from where the lymphoid tissues are located, such as bone marrow: thymus, lymph nodes, or spleen.

Why Are Golden Retrievers Prone To Cancer?

So, why are Golden Retrievers prone to all these different types of cancer? There are several reasons for this question. Studies are being done on the actual question as this article is being written. However, we do have to wait for years before the data can truly tell us all the answers.


One way that Golden Retrievers get cancer is genetic. Golden Retrievers have genetic issues that stem from breeding and their genes being passed down from generation to generation.

Due to those already pre-existing conditions being bred into the Golden Retriever, they are prone to cancer at a much high rate. Their other complications (heart disease, hypothyroidism, etc.) makes them more vulnerable as well.


Another way that Golden Retrievers are more prone to cancer is because of the environment in which we live. Some things can not only give Golden Retrievers cancer, but can also cause us cancer as well. Some of these environmental causes are the sun, environmental toxins, or radiation.

Some believe that animals risk of cancer goes up tremendously once their reproductive years are complete. Some call this natural selection.

Prolonging the Life Expectancy

There are ways that Golden Retriever owners can help the life expectancy of their dog. Some suggestions are obvious, while others may never have crossed your mind.


Golden Retrievers are active dogs. Exercise plays an important role in their lives. A Golden puppy needs about 5min of exercise per month that they have been alive. An adult Golden needs anywhere from 1 to 2 hours of exercise per day depending on the dog. More active working dogs would need closer to 2 hours.

Exercise will help their body remain healthy, and help them to avoid obesity, an all too common problem in many dogs.

Limit Exposure

The first thing you can do is limit the amount of exposure to environmental toxins as you can. There are so many different things that can cause cancer in this world, but the ones that Golden Retriever owners should focus on are below.

Second Hand Smoke

Secondhand smoking around Golden Retrievers is harmful to their bodies. Golden Retrievers already have problems with their chest cavities and sometimes with their lungs. Secondhand smoke could increase their risk of lung or other forms of cancer.


Pesticides are known exposure problems for cancer not only in humans, but Golden Retrievers as well. Pesticides are the chemicals that are put on (usually sprayed) plants to limit the bug exposure to that particular plant. Pesticides have been long ridiculed as dangerous to breathe in and also to be ingested.


Herbicides are another exposure problem for cancer in Golden Retrievers. Herbicides are the chemicals that are put on plants to kill them. These have been used for years in people’s gardens as well as in fields where produce is being grown. Herbicides are again harmful to not only humans, but also Golden Retrievers.

Stress Reduction

Reducing the stress in your Golden Retriever will allow their bodies to be more relaxed and operate properly. Think about when you are stressed and the havoc that stress does to your body. It is the same in Golden Retrievers.

When a Golden Retriever is stressed, the hormones and body chemistry can be thrown off. This can allow the dog to be vulnerable to illness. Also, stress could cause more heart issues in Golden Retrievers.

Some tips for stress reduction is training your Golden Retriever how to de-stress, as well as teaching them that being alone is okay. Most of the Golden Retriever’s stress does stem from separation anxiety. Helping relieve that stress can keep your Golden Retriever healthier and live longer. 

Health Precautions

The recommendation for Golden Retrievers is to have annual check-ups at their Veterinarian office. During these visits, they will check for cancer, illness, and infections. This could help with early detection. Spay and neutering your animal is also recommended by certain veterinarians.

Another recommendation is to give your Golden Retriever supplements and vitamins that will help their bodies stay healthy. These suggestions should come directly from a trained professional on Golden Retrievers, such as your veterinarian.

Brushing your dog’s teeth and hair can help with keeping your Golden Retriever healthy. Making sure that the Golden Retriever’s teeth are not having plague issues could prevent any gum diseases or teeth infections. Brushing their hair is recommended to keep their skin conditions at bay.


Lastly, sunscreen is recommended to be put on your Golden Retriever. Many Golden Retrievers are light in color, which allows the sun to penetrate the dog’s coat. That would allow the sun to be in direct contact with the dog’s skin, and could cause a burn. This could cause issues to the dog’s skin and possibly cause cancer.  


Not all news about Golden Retriever health is bad. There are also many studies being done to help reduce the risks of cancer and other life ending issues that our dogs may face.

While the life expectancy of a Golden Retriever has fallen over the years, our knowledge has grown. This allows us to take more precautions and adjust our raising of our dogs. Be sure to do your part in helping to increase your Golden’s life.

To help with the costs of keeping up with veterinarian bills, be sure to check out our list of Recommended Pet Insurance Providers to get a FREE quote!

Corey Rawlins

Corey Rawlins has loved Golden Retrievers since he was a boy. His current Golden Retriever, Brady, was his inspiration to create Golden Retriever Society. He and his wife have three children who are always keeping Brady entertained. They love spending time together, traveling, and meeting other dog families.

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