How long do golden retrievers live? (Lifespan & Health)

Over the last decade, it’s been reported that Golden retrievers are living less and less long.

With a heavily reduced lifespan and everything changes for the worse, I decided to do some digging and find out why this is happening and what we can do to change it.

You can now expect a Golden retriever to live for an average of 12 to 15 years, as opposed to the pre-existing 15 to 17..

image of two older golden retrievers side by side

What’s more surprising is the fact that we now have so much access to what you would expect to be better medical care and health resources but somehow our dogs are still dying a lot younger than they used to.

Hi, my name is Rachael Summers and today I plan on sharing the results I found from researching the reason behind why golden retrievers are living almost 3 years less than they used to. 

I believe that by identifying the sources of this problem, we can potentially put together a solution and help our dogs to live longer and enjoy more time with us once again.

The facts!

According to Wikipedia, you can see that the average lifespan for golden retriever is currently 10 to 12 years. However, from the mid-1900’s to early 2000’s you would find a golden living anywhere between 15 to 17 years old. Which left me wondering “how could a dog’s life be cut by almost 30% in the last 2 decades?”

Diseases and problems

Whilst researching I came across a few common diseases and health-related problems that seemed to haunt a Golden retriever. But there was one particular disease that I seemed to find a majority of Goldens suffer from… You guessed it, cancer.

That disease was cancer, and it has seemed to become more common to find as a problem that arises in the modern age we live in.

According to the 1998 health study conducted by the Golden Retriever Club of America. Cancer is responsible for the death of around 61% of Golden retrievers and has been on a constant increase since the study was undertaken.

Read More: >> How long do GSD’s live?

More Common problems

Interestingly, this is not the only problem that goldens commonly suffer from. As they are also prone to eye and skin diseases too. As you may know, golden retrievers shed lighter hair throughout certain seasons of the year. Entwined with that they are prone to skin diseases such as allergies and inflammations. Around 20% of goldens now fall victim to hip and elbow joint dysplasia. With that being said, I decided to look a little further as to why Golden retrievers are experiencing all of these problems for no apparent reason.

What causes goldens to die young?

This post may raise some eyebrows or maybe rub some people up the wrong way. But from all the research I have made over the last 3 years I think it is safe to say that healthcare & diet is one of our biggest problems.

Every food manufacturer wants to tell us about how great their food is over the other and it has gotten to a stage where you don’t know who is true.

According to AKC, there are a large number of food brands that simply don’t offer the same product that they promise to deliver on. A lot of the foods are made up of junk and truly have no benefit to your dog’s life and your dog’s health for the best part. Why does this happen?

The money of course! and it’s not getting any better too, but if you arm yourself with the knowledge in this post, then you’ll have no problem in identifying the fake from the real.

The horrible truth about foods manufacturers

The dog food industry is a multibillion-dollar industry that always has been built on half-truth told stories. This is not to knock all the genuine pet food manufacturers out there and I respect what they do.

But we all know the vast products that are found in kibble time and time again that I always due to trying to save some cash. Because of that, it leaves our loved ones at risk. They are not getting the right nutrients and foods that they require to live a healthy life.

What really piqued my interest was the fact that I found dogs overall are living a whole 11% less than they used to in our current climate. There’s definitely some sort of shift happening and by the looks of it, it doesn’t look like its happening for the better!

dying dog

Health care problems

You may have read that there are now a lot of side effects and reproductions to jabs and medicated drugs prescribed by the vets. If you take a deep look at what is being served to our dogs, then you’ll see that there have been so many changes to the vaccinations too.

It’s now required for annual vaccinations that are consistently releasing antibodies into our dogs year in and year out. In the Uk, they have now changed the standard according to the WSAVA (World Small Animal Veterinary Association) and the BVA British Veterinary Association.

Every 3 to 4 years is what the standard was set to since back 2010. 12 Years is the length of time you can expect a golden retriever to live, so make sure to use high-quality foods that can help increase Golden’s lifespan by as much as 3 years.

How long do golden retrievers live with cancer

The occasional time length for dogs to live with cancer is around 2 months if left untreated. However with chemotherapy and the correct treatment, then you can expect your furry friend to live up to 12-months plus.

Whilst there is no length of time on how each individual pet will live. These numbers are taken from averages that have been recorded over the last 5 years. In the modern world that we live in with fancy new methods of living.

It’s no surprise that we say label this with “genetics“ as the problem to cover up the real issues that have been created and need to be addressed. Let’s take a look at how each of the genders has changed for Golden retrievers to see if these problems are occurring in both male and female dogs too.

golden retrievers in pond

Males vs female retrievers

There’s absolutely no difference in the average lifespan (12 years) of female or male golden retrievers at present. I found that the only difference between the two that are health-related is the weight.

In most cases, you’ll find that male dogs will be the heavier fo the two and tend to eat for the two too! Ultimately if your pup is overweight then it means you are overfeeding or feeding the wrong foods.

What age does a golden become an adult?

Currently, the age of an adult golden retriever is when they have reached the age of 15motnths old. This is the case overall for most large breed dogs.

According to studies white goldens and traditional goldens can differ from bone structure and length of fur. I have written a complete post in detail comparing the different colors of a golden retriever. 

There’s no difference in age or how long a golden can live based on color. Size color or gender does not play any kind of role in health-related problems. Every canine has the potential to fall sick just as equally as the other.

How to improve your Golden Retrievers lifespan

Now that we’ve gone through some of the problems that you can find in this breed. Let’s take a look at a few ways that you can create solutions to these problems and start moving in the right direction from here on.

The following section of this post will do just that, continue reading to learn a few quick actionable steps that you can start taking today to help your Golden live longer.

neutering a dog

Spay and Neuter

Spaying is a procedure that is used for female dogs in order to remove their ovaries. Neutering, however, is the process of removing the testicles in male dogs. Both are used for the process of preventing the dogs from reproducing.

Which is why both removals are associated with the reproductive organs.

Why Neuter?

The idea behind this process is to help prevent urinal infections and cancer or tumors in females. However, for males, the process is used to prevent testicular cancer that can later help add years on to a male dog’s lifespan (12 years on average).

Risks associated with Neutering?

The risk is very minimal with this, as the procedure has a 99% success rate as of today. So you can expect that a majority of dogs will be fortunate enough to go through the procure with no problems and no after-effects.

Fun fact

According to the Veterinary Medical Database from 1984-2004. A sample of 40,139 death records for dogs showed the dogs who were NOT neutered died around 7.9 years of age. Whilst studies showed that dogs that were sterilized lived to an average of 9.4 years.

Diet & foods

It’s super important to ensure that your Golden Retriever eats the best quality foods to live a healthy happy life. To give you a better understanding of what good food is, I have included a few quick tips below that should help you identify the best food products to buy in the future.

golden retriever eating bird

What makes good food for your dog?

Good foods are made up of nutrients that contain a variety of grains, fruit, and vegetables. You will find that a majority of the dog foods are made of meats with fillers which are also just as important for their nutrition too.

Best quality foods currently on the market contain a variety of all of the above nutrients all in one. Not every food will include this, so you’ll need to take a look at which ones are best suited for your pup.

Canine nutrition explained

You will find that the best dog foods are foods that meet their nutritional needs. It is very subjective as each individual dog has different requirements for nutrition.

A lot of the mainstream brands usually use the Bare minimum of nutrition inside their products. So it is best for you to understand what is best suited for your pup. Consider consulting with a professional veterinarian before buying their food.

If you find yourself on stock about what nutrition your Golden Retriever needs in their foods. There’s a useful guide that I found over at the veterinary manual that you can check out. There you’ll find all the recommend foods and treats for your Golden that still contain all the right nutrients and health benefits.

lies lies image

How to read dog food labels

Reading the label of dog food is a great skill that you can develop as a parent that will provide great help in the selection. In the following section, I will teach you all the tips and tricks I have learned about picking the best food from the American kennel club. 

Now you may find that a lot of labels are usually awkwardly written in the smallest writing possible. So you may need a magnifying glass to best utilize this skill haha! There are a few main things that you should be looking out for when reading the labels such as:

  • Product name
  • Weight of the product
  • Name and address of the manufacturer
  • Guaranteed analysis
  • List of ingredients
  • Intended animal species (i.e. bird, pup or cat)
  • Statement of nutritional adequacy
  • Feeding guidelines

All of the above should be included on every food label that you read. You may find that some are misleading and a great way to spot that is by checking out the guidelines over at the veterinary manual.

What product names actually mean on dog food?

The product name is supposed to tell you the main food that has been used for a majority of the makeup. So if the product is about chicken then chicken should usually be printed somewhere on the packaging. This is a great indication to know that the chicken label is telling you that around 70% of the food is chicken.

But this can change if you see something like chicken flavor as that will only indicate a whopping 3% is included in the meal.

Ingredients label on dog food

This will tell you what product has been used inside of the dog food but does not guarantee to tell you where it came from. Quality is another topic that may not be discussed on the label of any dog food product.

This is not something that is a huge factor to the majority the main focus is to know what product as used in the product. A great product will ensure a good balance of nutritional value in every bite.

Complete and balanced dog foods label

Some foods will have a label that will say complete and balanced. Now to be totally honest I will say that this is one of the first things I actually look for when purchasing food.

When you see this label you can be guaranteed to find a well balanced nutritional value inside of it. Complete and well-balanced products must contain a minimum of all nutrients necessary for Golden retrievers. This will also be included in the guaranteed analysis.

Guaranteed analysis label

This states that this product meets state regulations with a guarantee to include the minimum percentages of protein and crude fat. This also means that the product includes the maximum of crude fiber and moisture.

If you ever become unclear on the details that have been listed and cannot find information elsewhere. Then do feel free to contact the manufacturer directly to get some questions answered. A good manufacturer will always be willing to provide these answers however, you can almost guarantee it will be a lengthy process.

The rest of the information is very self-explanatory but if you do need any further assistance then just leave a comment or shoot me an email at [email protected]

Frequently asked questions (FAQ)

Recently I started adding this section to most of the blog posts and the response has been great. This is where I take some of the most common questions asked around a certain topic and provide direct answers to each of the questions.

Some of them will be answered straight from the top of my head whilst others that may be more difficult will be diligently researched and answered. So if this is the first time that you come across this then make sure to leave a comment below if you find it useful.

Can I leave a Golden Retriever at home alone for six hours?

This will depend on many factors such as how old they are, access to the bathroom, food, and the age of your Golden retriever. Even where you live can play a part too! I think the first problem here is defining the question properly.

If you’re talking about an adult golden retriever then with the right facilities you can leave them in a garden with food for up to 6 hours yes. If we have a puppy in the discussion then you may want to rethink that approach and ask a relative or friend to take care of your pooch whilst you are away.

What are good times to walk an adult Golden Retriever and for how long each day?

I personally take out my golden retriever around three times per day at a minimum. This ensures that she can go to the bathroom several times as well as enjoy a long walk outside. The answer to this question can never be direct as it all depends on your pup.

Some Goldens are more energetic than others and require more activity throughout the day. Whilst with others, you may find that taking them out just one time per day could be enough for daily activity.

Because of the stress that this can cause your dog whilst being left alone for long periods of time. Get yourself a monitor of some sort to help keep your Retriever occupied whilst you’re out and let you keep an eye on them too.

How long and often should I walk and play with a 9-month-old golden retriever?

A great way to decide on this answer is to just follow the chart below. I usually just go by 5 minutes per month of age. So 1 month is 5 mins and 2 months is 10 minutes and so on.

walking time chart for puppy dogs

You will continue this process up until the dog has reached around 15 months of age.


It’s very interesting to see how the golden retriever breed has a lifespan of 12 years that has seemed to plummet over the past decade. The lifespan of a golden retriever used to be 15 Years.

By far cancer has been one of the worst causes of death to golden retrievers and can only be prevented with good foods.

For your Golden retriever to live long, its best to make sure you feed them a healthy diet. High-quality foods are best recommended to significantly increase your pup’s life expectancy.

Picture of Jerry Mathis

Jerry Mathis

Jerry M. Mathis is a freelance lifestyle writer, based in California, who writes at Dig Doggy. He has been writing about pet-oriented topics since 2012 and during her career, he has been the editor and contributor for Yahoo’s Canada Pets’ popular website. His most enjoyable activity is giving advice on how to give your animal friends a happy and comfortable life.

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Jerry Mathis

Jerry M. Mathis is a freelance lifestyle writer, based in California, who writes at Dig Doggy. He has been writing about pet-oriented topics since 2012 and during her career, he has been the editor and contributor for Yahoo’s Canada Pets’ popular website. His most enjoyable activity is giving advice on how to give your animal friends a happy and comfortable life.

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