For any pet parent of a Golden Retriever can attest, they’re some of the friendliest pooches on the planet – in fact, they’re ranked number 3 in breed popularity by the American Kennel Club! But besides their good-natured disposition and devotion to their humans, Golden Retrievers are an intelligent breed that not only makes wonderful family pets but have been utilized as service dogs for decades.
In this article, we’ll explore the diverse background of these hard-working, affectionate and loyal canines, as well as the best food for Golden Retrievers. In addition to interesting historical Golden Retriever facts and tidbits, we’ll also cover what to feed your favorite four-legged friend.
Golden Retrievers: Scotland’s Legacy, America’s Sweetheart
With their rich history and aristocratic genes, it’s no wonder the Golden Retriever has remained one of America’s most beloved breeds for over a century. According to the AKC, Goldens were developed in the mid to late 1800s in the Scottish Highlands by Dudley Marjoribanks, the first Lord Tweedmouth, during the reign of Queen Victoria. For over 50 years, Tweedmouth carefully selected a variety of breeds native to the area – including the Irish Setter, Bloodhound, and now-extinct Tweed Water Spaniel – to develop a hunting dog that was suited for the rugged landscape and rainy climate of the region.
To the delight of the British Isles, the Golden Retriever came about at the turn of the century and was first shown at a British dog show in 1908. Eventually, the Golden made its way over to North America where the large breed was widely received by the US and Canada, particularly by sport hunters. Although they were well-loved right out of the gate in the States, the Golden Retriever’s popularity reached a fevered pitch in the 1970s when President Gerald Ford and his family welcomed their very own Golden named Liberty into The White House.
Breed Traits & Health Issues: What To Know About Your Golden Retriever
Known for their sweet temperament, amicable nature and overall intelligence, the Golden Retriever’s popularity grew not only because they’re great family dogs, but because their notable traits are valuable within a variety of working roles. In addition to making excellent hunting dogs, they have also been utilized in fieldwork on farms, and in more recent times, as search-and-rescue dogs, as well as guide dogs for the blind. The breed is also recognized for their obedience, as they enjoy pleasing their owners and are fairly easy to train – whether entered into a competitive event or being taught a new trick at home, Golden Retrievers display a true lust for life that delight owners of all ages. In fact, they typically maintain their energetic, playful nature and puppy-like behavior even into their senior years.
However, as any dog lover knows, all breeds have certain health issues that should be kept in mind – and providing breed-specific nutrition to our pets is essential to ensure their health, longevity, quality of life, and ultimately, their happiness. With so many types of pet chow available, it can often be daunting to figure out the best food for a GoIden Retriever dog – never mind what to feed our furry pals for optimal health! Dog owners must realize that what they feed their pup can have a major impact on their overall health and wellbeing. Feeding this breed a low-quality food can actually be very detrimental to your dog’s body. That’s why it’s so critical that you make sure your dog’s diet is chock-full of vitamins, minerals, and nutrients that support their digestion, immunity and even their skin and coat. In this section, we’ll review six of the most common health ailments seen in Golden Retrievers – and how the appropriate dog food can help to avoid or reduce the symptoms of these canine conditions.
1) Cancer: Unfortunately, the Golden Retriever breed has a very high cancer rate. They are especially prone to lymphoma, which attacks their immune systems, and may also suffer from a tumor of blood vessel cells known as hemangiosarcoma. However, there are some ways that proper nutrition can help to stave off cancer:
- Avoid obesity: Goldens can easily become overweight since they naturally have a large appetite – and research has shown that obesity is linked to a higher rate for canine cancer. Therefore, it’s important to ensure your fur baby gets adequate exercise and is fed high-quality dog food. Owners should also be mindful not to overfeed their dogs. Be sure to consult with your vet regarding how many times a day your pooch needs to be fed – puppies usually require more frequent feedings (typically 3 times a day for the first three months), whereas adult dogs only require meals twice a day.
- Provide proper nutrition: Pet parents may also want to discuss their dog’s dietary needs with their vet’s office – there has also been research that indicates dog foods with high-quality protein can help to ward off cancer. Many experts also encourage pet foods that feature high levels of omega-3 fatty acids as well as fresh fruit and vegetables, as these ingredients have been shown to fight off cancer.
2) Sub-aortic stenosis (SAS): A genetic heart disease that may occur in Golden Retrievers, sub-aortic stenosis (SAS) develops when the area beneath the aortic valve narrows, causing the heart to work harder. While there is no cure for this canine disease, it can be treated with vet-prescribed medications, depending on its severity. However, dog owners can help protect their pooches by keeping their weight down from an early age, since a dog’s chance of developing SAS is much greater if they are overweight. For dogs who have been diagnosed with SAS, it’s important to feed your pet a low-sodium diet, since the salt causes fluid retention and can put dogs suffering from heart disease at an even greater health risk.
3) Hypothyroidism: According to the AKC, Golden Retrievers are one of several breeds at greater risk of developing hypothyroidism, a disease of the thyroid gland. Just as it affects humans, thyroid disease in canines affects the metabolism – essentially, the thyroid may be seen as the ‘thermostat’ of the body, regulating vital body functions such as breathing, heart rate, central nervous systems, weight, reproductive cycles, cholesterol levels and more. Located in the dog’s neck, it produces a hormone known as thyroxine (T4), along with several other thyroid hormones. Hypothyroidism occurs when a dog isn’t secreting enough of these hormones, which causes a slowdown in metabolism. While it is a very common problem seen in dogs, it is treatable; however, it must be professionally diagnosed by a vet to determine appropriate treatment, including proper nutrition. Most experts will recommend that keeping dogs afflicted with hypothyroidism at a healthy weight may ensure a better quality of life and overall comfort. Your vet will make specific recommendations for your dog’s diet to keep them as healthy as possible.
4) Canine Hip Dysplasia (CHD): Another condition that’s sadly seen quite often in Golden Retrievers, canine hip dysplasia (CHD) occurs when the head of the thigh bone doesn’t fit properly into the hip socket. Eventually, it may lead to chronic arthritic pain and in worse-case scenarios, lameness. As we’ve previously addressed in several other canine conditions, maintaining your dog’s weight at a healthy level through appropriate diet and exercise can help keep the strain off your pooch’s joints. Your veterinarian may suggest a range of options, depending on the severity of his condition. During your visit, you may want to ask the vet for dietary recommendations to incorporate into any lifestyle modifications, which might include physical therapy or even surgery. Pet owners may also wish to consider natural dog treats to ensure their pooches are receiving the healthiest options, even while they’re snacking.
5) Allergies: There have been some studies that indicate that Golden Retrievers are more allergy-prone than other breeds. Whether it’s a skin condition or a food allergy, no pet parent wants to see their pup suffer – so it’s important to look for the signs of canine allergies, which may include:
- Itchy, red or runny eyes
- Itchy back/base of the tail
- Itchy ears/frequent ear infections
- Chronic scratching
- Hair loss/scabbing of the skin
- Licking/grooming constantly
- Paw chewing/swollen appearance of paws
- Snoring (due to inflamed throat)
Canines develop many allergy-related skin conditions from either an allergic reaction to fleas, environmental allergens, or food. Therefore, it’s essential to bring dogs to the vet if you suspect they’re suffering from any type of allergy or allergic reaction. Once it’s determined, your vet will recommend the appropriate course of treatment. In the event your pup suffers from food allergies, dog owners may want to consider a grain-free diet since grains are common allergens that may worsen their condition. Lucy Pet’s Duck and Potato Limited Ingredient Diet Formula for dogs is an excellent choice for canines with food sensitivities.
6) Eye disorders: As a breed, Goldens are also prone to several eye diseases, including:
- Pigmentary Uveitis: Usually occurring in middle age, this is a serious canine disease that is almost exclusive to Golden Retrievers. It causes an inflammation of the dog’s eye and may lead to glaucoma or even blindness.
- Cataracts: Just as humans develop cataracts, dogs do, too – and Golden Retrievers are no exception. This condition entails an opacity in the lens of a canine’s eye, which leads to blurred vision. If it’s small, it usually won’t affect the dog’s vision too much. However, canine cataracts must be monitored, because the more severe they become, the greater the chance of blindness.
- Progressive renal atrophy: A disease of the retina, this eye condition causes gradual vision loss – at first it begins with night blindness, and eventually, the dog will go completely blind.
While every condition – and every dog – is unique, if you believe your dog suffers from any of these eye diseases, be sure to contact your vet for a complete examination, diagnosis and if required, course of treatment. Speak to your vet about feeding your pooch foods rich in nutrients to support your dog’s vision – for example, blueberries have been found to help maintain canine eyesight health and have a high nutritional value.
Food For Thought: Healthy Diet For Life
Before choosing a wet food or dry dog food at the store, talk to your vet to see which brand is best for your large breed dog. You want to make sure your dog’s body is getting enough vitamins, minerals, and essential nutrients. In high-quality dog food, natural ingredients are used instead of harmful fillers and animal byproducts, which can support your dog’s health throughout their lifetime. Whether you’re dealing with a puppy or senior dogs, it’s always important to adapt their diet to their current life stage.
Although we can’t always anticipate our dog’s illnesses or conditions, an ounce of prevention in the form of nutrients can’t hurt, either – choose dog foods that include natural, whole-food ingredients like cold-water fish (such as salmon and sardines), vitamin-rich vegetables (like kale, broccoli, and carrots), quality protein (like eggs), and healthy carbs (such as quinoa and sweet potatoes) to help sustain your dog’s immune system and overall well-being. Supporting your dog’s gut health with the appropriate nutrients has also shown favorable results – opt for dog foods containing prebiotics to ensure your dog’s optimal health and longevity.
Featuring an exceptional array of healthful, all-natural pet food options, Lucy Pet Formulas For Life™ Dog food offers the perfect source of nutrition for your furry pal. Whether he’s a puppy or a senior, we have created a range of dog food products precisely formulated to meet your pooch’s individual dietary needs – and have taken the guesswork out of finding the best food for a Golden Retriever. Combined with plenty of belly rubs, runs in the park, cuddles on the couch and quality time with family, our premium line of natural dog kibble and treats makes it easy to maintain your four-legged companion’s vitality and happiness for years to come. Ready to get your dog’s health back on track? Find the best dog food right on our website today.
- “Golden Retriever.” American Kennel Club (AKC.org), (no publish date), https://www.akc.org/dog-breeds/golden-retriever/. Accessed December 9, 2019.
- Reisen, Jan. “10 Things You May Not Know About America’s Sweetheart, the Golden Retriever.” American Kennel Club (AKC.org), December 2, 2016, https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/lifestyle/golden-retriever-facts/. Accessed December 9, 2019.
- Manzotti, Roberto. “Golden Retrievers As Service Dogs.” Official Golden Retriever.com, (no publish date), https://www.officialgoldenretriever.com/blog/management-training/can-golden-retrievers-be-service-dogs. Accessed December 9, 2019.
- Wright, Jim. “Identifying and Dealing With Allergies.” Totally Goldens.com, November 12, 2019, https://www.totallygoldens.com/identifying-and-dealing-with-allergies/. Accessed December 9, 2019.
- 10 Fun Facts About Golden Retrievers: https://www.lucypetproducts.com/blog/10-fun-facts-about-golden-retrievers