3,000 Golden Retrievers and their owners are participating in a lifetime study for the Morris Animal Foundation, with the goal of finding out why (and eventually how to prevent) so many of them get cancer. The dogs will be checked on regularly, their owners tracking everywhere they go, everything they eat, taking samples, and dutifully sending in the data.
This is the kind of thing we love to see! And what an inspiring undertaking! This research coupled with breeders sharing their own data can and will lead to great advances in both canine and human health.
Also worth noting, given the current rhetorical climate as it relates to purebred dogs and canine health:
Despite golden retrievers’ high vulnerability to cancer, Anita Oberbauer, a geneticist at UC Davis, has found that purebreds as a whole are not less healthy than mixed breeds.
Oberbauer’s team analyzed over 27,000 dogs through electronic records and compared the frequency of genetic diseases in mutts versus purebred pups. She found that mixed breeds suffered just as much as pure breeds from 13 disorders, including hip dysplasia and cancer. In a follow-up study, the researchers found that increased vulnerability to other diseases did not apply to all purebred dogs but only to certain subgroups.
For example, the fact that golden retrievers are especially vulnerable to cancer does not mean all purebreds are. Because studies tend to focus on purebred dogs rather than mixed breeds, diseases in mutts get less play.
Fascinating and inspiring stuff!