Sunday, March 03, 2013

Why Have Our Dear American Golden Retrievers Become Cancer Time Bombs?

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 American golden retrievers are also are ticking time bombs. An extraordinary six of every 10 Goldens succumb to cancer well before living to the once typical 12- to 16-year life expectancy. The mortality rate for other dog breeds, as well as for humans, is three in 10. 
While any dog that has lived beyond its normal reproductive years is at increased risk for cancer and Goldens are not alone compared to other breeds in this regard, anecdotal evidence suggests that an inordinate number of Goldens are dying before they reach middle age 
This post has become somewhat of a Wailing Wall for people who have lost their Goldens. Some 73 of them have shared stories of their losses as of this date. The average age of these dogs is 8.4 years.

* * * * *

The outlines of the Golden epidemic have been clear for over 10 years, but organizations like the Golden Retriever Club of America (GRCA), while on the one hand funding studies on and supporting research into the cancers, have done little or nothing to rein in greedy member breeders who play God in knowingly selling interbred, cancer-prone puppies to unsuspecting buyers who end up heartbroken.
Their rationale, in so many words, is that it's not their job. The GRCA's homepage contains no mention of the epidemic and the association has not updated its National Health Survey of the breed since 1999. 
The GRCA has gone so far as to recommend that owners give their Goldens a regular regimen of a drug that has been shown to inhibit cancers, which is not unlike a car manufacturer recommending that drivers wear crash helmets when using vehicles that it knows cause an inordinate number of fatal accidents. 
Meanwhile, it would seem to stand to reason that if breeders only bred Goldens whose parents were long-lived, progress could be made against the epidemic. 
Alas, many breeders seem to be in the business only for the money and have little interest in improving the breed. No surprise there. Purebred Golden pups can fetch upwards of $2,500 and the alternative to selling dogs with shortened life expectancies is to stop selling them. Period. 
And while the canine genome has been successfully sequenced, the fine print of the genetics of Goldens and their cancers is still not understood well enough to hold out hope for Goldens less vulnerable to cancer in the foreseeable future.
* * * * *
I know of the Golden Retriever cancer epidemic all too well. I have lived with and been acquainted with a dozen or so goldens over the years. I have midwifed their births, taken them to the vets, 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 companion of a good friend, and a sweetheart by the name of Luna.But despite careful attention to their diets, plenty of exercise, regular visits to a terrific vet and the love and devotion of their owners, Ruffie departed this world well before her time, a victim of lymphoma (cancer of the lymphatic system) at age five, while Luna died at age three, also of lymphoma. Cody, meanwhile, lived to the relatively ripe old age of 11 before succumbing to hemangiosarcoma (cancer of the blood). 
While hemangiosarcoma and lymphoma are the leading killers of Goldens, the breed also is at increased risk for osteosarcoma (cancer of the bones) and immune system diseases -- primarily allergies and hypothyroidism -- that can comprise their ability to destroy abnormal cells before they can cause cancer. 
In fact, it may be that the first litter of founder dog Goldens -- a cross between a registered Tweed Water Spaniel and unregistered yellow flat-coated retriever bred in 1865 by a Scottish land baron who was seeking a superior sporting dog -- carried genes that have led to widespread immune system dysfunction in the breed.
All purebred dogs are technically interbred, but as Rhonda Hovan, an Ohio breeder and health and genetics writer puts it, Goldens may have a very similar inherited "germ line" that put them at greater risk. 
"One gets cancer, another becomes hypothyroid, another gets lots of hot spots, and another has food allergies -- but the underlying genes that put them at risk for cancer and which are passed on to the next generation, may be very similar," Hovan explains. 
This situation is further complicated because cancers usually don't appear until after a Golden is no longer bred but has passed on its genes to multiple puppies.
* * * * *
There is little that Golden owners can do to detect cancers in their dogs and they often are too advanced to treat when discovered, although there have been strides in treating the cancers with Palladia, the first FDA-approved cancer drug for dogs, as well as some of the same chemotherapy drugs used in humans.

Such treatments can be quite expensive, $26,000 in the instance of one owner who managed to prolong her Golden's life by only a few months, while some pet health insurance policies have cancer riders that do not cover hereditary conditions.

There are some early warning signs. These include lumps or masses on or under the skin, vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, difficulty in breathing and changes in eating habits, but many Goldens seem fine one minute and are deathly ill or dead the next.

Hovan had a Golden who had hiked 8,000 miles by her side and died of hemangiosarcoma.
"As experienced as I am," Hovan said, "I didn't know until 12 hours before she passed away."
As with humans, lifestyle can make a difference. Studies show that dogs that are lean and fit have a lower risk of cancer, as well as other health problems, but there is no evidence that exotic diets make a difference. 
Not much of a defense in the face of an unrelenting epidemic without end.

"Pedigree Dogs Exposed," a BBC One documentary first aired on August 19, 2008; "When Cancer Comes With a Pedigree" by Melinda Beck, The Wall Street Journal (May 4, 2010); Winning Cancer Fight: No Longer Automatic Death Verdict Thanks To Advances" by Amy Sacks, New York Daily News (November 14, 2009); "Understanding Cancer In Golden Retrievers" by Rhonda Hovan; Email interview by the author with Hovan.


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Anonymous said...

I am from Sao Paulo,Brazil and loose my beloved golden at the age of 10 years and 6 months old last thrusday,january,29.
His name was Kevin and he had a liver cancer diagosed in the day of his death, when he had to do an emergency surgery.
As I just could not believe a thing like that I began to try to understand what was going on,and found this site with this sad informations.
Goldens are incredible dogs,mine was very,very,inteligent,and even at 10,always happy and so especial with everybody.
I was thinking to buy another one because Kevin gave us the best time with a dog we ever had,but now I changed my mind and still crying for him,I am thinking this will not be a good idea.
Thanks and forgive my English,
Marisa Coan-São Caetano do Sul_SP-Brasil.

Anonymous said...

I lost my beautiful Golden, named Jessie, this morning to what they assume was a cancerous tumor that was very aggressive. She seemed her normal self yesterday but today the ruptured tumor took her life. I miss her greatly because she was such a great friend and had a wonderful disposition. The best temperament of any dog I've ever had. I don't think I can go through this again so I may never get another dog, especially a Golden, because it is too painful.

Anonymous said...

I am sorry to hear about your goldens. My family just lost our beautiful golden family member last Sunday. She was fine the day before and the next day she became very ill and the tumor that we had no idea she had bled out. To say the least, we are devastated especially since we never expected her to die at almost 6. After finding this site, I understand what happened to Fluffy a bit better but I am not sure I could have another golden. My sympathies to you and I hope having all the wonderful memories of your beloved golden can help you through your pain. It is the only thing that is keeping me going right now.

Noah said...

Hi, I had a golden named Yogie. She was the best dog I had ever had. She would take care of the new baby animals I would bring home like a mother. We had found out about her cancer the day she died. The day before she showed no signs. She had a tumor in her heart that bled out. We had to put her down so she would stop throwing up. The vet performed an autopsied on her. She also had cancer in her liver and spleen, but showed no signs. That made me feel a lot better. Yogie was eight 1/2.

Anonymous said...

We lost our dear Haylie to cancer just before last Christmas 2008. She was 8 and a half. We felt so cheated as our last Golden Kiri had lived to 13. We mourned her until the Spring when we couldn't take our dogless home any longer. We thought about other kinds of dogs but we couldn't do it, our heart belongs to Golden Retrievers. Our new baby Jill is almost 5 months old and we love her with all our hearts.

Unknown said...

Kris said..
My beautiful Rex had his first seizure on Sunday morning and by Thursday morning I made the sad decision to euthanize him due to a brain tumor. He was so regal and I couldn't bear to let him suffer or to not have a good quality of life. Rest in peace, Rexie. I'll see you at the bridge sometime in the distant future. You're with me always.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for writing this article about Golden Retrievers and Cancer. I lost my boy Joey yesterday at the age of 7 yrs to a brain tumor. 4.5 months ago just before he turned 7 he began to have grand mal seizures. He was also diagnosed with Cushings Disease, a partially paralyzed larnyx, and an enlarged heart within a couple of weeks. Adding to that he had hip displaysia. He was the best dog I've ever had and it's so unfair these goldens have so many health problems. I still have another one who is 4 and thankfully doing fine but missing his buddy very much. I can't face getting another Golden. I am bringing home a Lab puppy in 9 days to keep my other boy company. Hoping I never have to see another dog go through what Joey did again.

Anonymous said...

we just lost our precious baby at the age of 8 1/2. he got sick and died the next day from a mass that was internally bleeding. we are so hearbroken sad and devasted. looking at this website made me feel a little better. he will be with us always. goldies are the most special breed and they have a magical quality about them.

Anonymous said...

Do not believe kennel owners who claim to have disease free dogs. We learned that the hard way.

And thank you for the informative and touching article. I cried after reading the comments.

Craig/Trey's Dad said...

I lost my best friend and beautiful 6 and a half year old Golden 2 weeks ago and life just hasn't been the same.

He was extremely healthy and always ate the higher end dog foods (Nutro Lamb and Rice), was just the most pleasant and low maintenance of any dog I've ever known.

After noticing him throwing up some bile and losing a bit of weight, i took him into the vets and they found enlarged lymph nodes, though still thought it could be just an infection. The next day we got the call that he had cancer in his blood stream, bone marrow and other places.

We tried to get him on some steroids to improve his quality of life but he struggled by early Monday morning and I just couldn't bare to see him that way and had to put him down. It was the most painful decision I've ever had to make but ultimately the right one.

No one could believe it as just the day before I had taken him to my parents for dinner and he was just as perky as ever.

As one of my favourite sports writers wrote regarding his golden who died at 7 "the most upsetting thing is how much I was looking forward to those 'golden' years, when you knew what the dog was going to do before he would".

They are such an amazing breed and this cancer curse is really a shame but I wouldn't trade the 6 plus years I had with him for anything.

Marly said...

We also lost our beautiful Golden, Luna, to leukemia less than a month ago. She was only four and a half. She had developed a skin infection on her mouth that was initially treated with steroids. That healed; however, when it started again on the other side of the mouth, we knew something was wrong. Her lymph-nodes were slightly enlarged, doctor aspirated them and did some blood work. She was fine until a week before her death; then she quickly deteriorated, ate less and less. More trips to the vet, finally Luna stopped eating and died of a stroke the day before we got the diagnosis. The veterinarian said that there is no cure for bone marrow cancer although I hear that they have started experimenting with bone marrow transplants in North Carolina. We are devastated; Luna taught us everything about love, loyalty, unconditioned affection. Watching her die at such a young age was one of thew worst experience we had to endure. However, we would have rather had the four and a half years with her than a longer lifespan with any other dog. She was wonderful and we miss her terribly.

Anonymous said...

This past week, we had to put down our 23 month old male Golden Retriever. We really feel cheated in losing this wonderful pet. Our neighbor lost their 5 year old GR to brain cancer about two years ago. So the author makes valid points about staying away from this breed. Some posts I have read indicate that 6 out of 10 GR puppies in a litter will succumb to cancer. Still, GR's make such great companions, but you do have to prepare yourself that your "buddy" has a higher probability for a short life.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for having this site up!!! I have lost a male mix to a brain tumor at 14 yrs old( the last 1.5 yrs on steroids to shrink the swelling) and just lost my almost( 6 weeks shy) 6 year old female purebred Golden to cancer that consumed her in 2 weeks in her intestines.The Cancer in the female was very aggressive, the vets gave her a 1% chance of survival if surgery or Chemo had been done. She passed in her sleep. As much as I love the breed and find them to be almost human I am unsure if I can go through this again

reelvan said...

My 7 year old golden retriever was diagnosed yesterday with cancer. What we thought was an infected wound on his ear turned out to be a tumor. This was my first dog and the vet has told us that he has anywhere from two months to two years to live...

I love my dog with all of my heart and it's way too much to see him go through all of this. He has been a fabulous member of our family and a great dog for the past years.

The good outweighs the bad in the end. My golden (Fuzzy) really has been a great, loyal, well behaved dog and it breaks my heart to know he won't be here in a couple of months.

I can't say whether or not getting a golden retriever is the best idea because I have never been so upset and surprised about anything in my entire life; it happened that quickly.

Anonymous said...

My baby, Cadie, golden retriever was just diagnosed with a tumor behind her eye. We have brought her home to make her comfortable and spoil her until the time has come she is no longer living the quality of life she deserves. I lost a male golden retriever 2 years ago, he was 5 1/2 from Lymphoma. It is so sad to be going thru this again, and I may get another dog I am just not sure I can go thru this again. I love my goldens but this just rips your heart out. They don't deserve this disease, they are so loving and loyal and just the sweetest dogs you could ever own. Tonight, Cadie gets a steak for dinner and then a frosty and when the time comes I will hold her and talk to her and tell her I will meet her at Rainbow Bridge.

Shaun Mullen said...

I am so terribly sorry to read of your latest tragedy. How old is Cadie?

Meanwhile, I have a spirited offline dialogue going on with the Golden Retriever Club of America's chief veterinarian regarding what I see as its most inadequate response to the cancers epidemic beyond studying it.

I will be writing a post about that in the near future.

meadowmedleys said...

Our baby girl is nine and a half, just found out she has cancer in her wrist bone, so sad, thansk for all the posts. It helps to know that we are not alone, but dog gone I have never cried so much in my life. Our sweet baby Adirondack is getting pampered and loved on as much as possible until she is uncomfortable and we let her go over the rainbow bridge.

Anonymous said...

I lost my Georgia to cancer when she was just 4. She was my best friend and would give hugs like a great big teddy bear. It was one of the hardest things I have ever done. I got her right after my sister died and she helped me heal and then passed. She was an angel and I miss her still. It is so sad that this innocent beautiful breed of dog suffers like this. They are all so brave and beautiful and teach us to live while we are here. Golden retrievers are angels.

Dotty said...

Our recently turned 7 yr old golden, Missy, was diagnosed in July with lymphoma. One node was removed and the others weren't enlarged until a week ago. She started chemo on Monday, Oct 4 and the large doses of prednisone have her feeling very bad. We can't bear to see her suffer but we cant let her go without a fight. Our male golden, Sundance, is 11 1/2 and still has the spirit of a puppy. Such sweet, loving animals, this is so unfair.

Lee said...

I lost my beautiful baby Darby on Tue. She was 8 yo. She had lymphoma. She was diagnosed just 3 months ago and was going through Chemo. She appeared to be doing well on chemo and was still very energetic. A week ago she stopped eating and fell ill. We put her to sleep on Tue. after she could no longer stand on her own. She put up a good fight and will be remembered forever in our hearts. It was the toughest thing I ever had to do. She was my best friend, and can never be replaced. We love you Darby and you will be in our hearts forever!!! Your daddy

Unknown said...

I lost my beautiful golden retriever named Frank, 3 days ago. He was nearly 9. He was diagnosed with an inoperable mast cell tumour on his hip, 3 mths ago, but was active and lively till a few days ago when he collapsed. He was in a great deal of pain, so we asked the vet to come to our house to relieve his suffering. The pain that my husband and I have felt since losing him, is like losing a child and we are overwhelmed with grief.

Anonymous said...

I just put my beautiful 10 1/2 year old Golden out of her misery 2 days ago. Her name was Maura.
She developed a very aggressive sarcoma behind her eye. 3 months ago she had surgery to remove the tumor and unfortunately they could not save her eye. They could not get the entire tumor and finally after many bloody noses, the cont. growth of the tumor and a loss of energy we said, "enough". She was my constant companion and meant more to me than "just a dog". This information is devastating as we have a 7 yr. old golden as well and she is 1/2 sister to Maura.

Anonymous said...

I am a long time owner of 3 male goldens. I can honestly say each was my best friend and companion. None of them lived into their ripe old age but I wouldnt give up the time I had with each of them. My first died after surgery of a ruptured laryncs at 9.5, my second at 11 plus from paralyzed rear legs, my most recent a month ago from a ruptured tumor at 9 that caused him to bleed to death. He was in the best of health, running, eating, loving us one day and then he started vomiting and went into shock. He was treated in a emergency care hospital in Philadelphia and had the best of care. His blood wouldn't clot and the doctors could only assume it was from cancer. They had no other explanation. He was our best friend, our beautiful golden boy, who brought out the best in whoever he met.

Considering all of our losses at early ages we are now looking for another golden male. I am leaning toward the White or Cream European Goldens because the chance of cancer in them is 50% less than with American Goldens. This time also I am going holistic in their feeding and vitamin care. I am told this can increase their life expectancy by several years.

Wish me luck this time so my Best Friend can live with me into our senior years.

Shaun Mullen said...

Being mindful of diet and nutritional supplements is important, but I am skeptical that it can put years and years onto a dog's life.

And I do indeed wish you luck, and I assume that you have access to the University of Pennsylvania's terrific canine care facilities should you need to avail yourself of them.

Unknown said...

I live in the UK and our white/cream golden retriever died of cancer a few weeks ago (see my original post above)- he was a couple of weeks off his 9th birthday. He suffered from skin problems all his life, and then an unknown illness caused him to go temporarily blind, a year before he died. He was diagnosed with cancer in the fall of last year and fell ill in mid december and was subsequently put to sleep as he could not walk and was vomiting.
It has broken our hearts to lose him, and we are finding it very hard to come to terms with his death. We have since adopted another dog (this time we decided to get a crossbreed from the animal shelter) and he is a wonderful dog, and we love him dearly. We will never, however, forget our beloved Frank, and he will stay in our hearts forever.

Shaun Mullen said...

My heart goes out to you, Julia.

Unknown said...

Thank you, Shaun..... We had given Frank the best food and medical care all of his life, but sadly we could not save him at the end...
Thankfully our new dog, that we got from the animal sanctuary, has really helped us deal with the loss, and has brought happiness back into our lives again...

Rebecca =) said...

We have a wonderful Golden Retriever named Heidi who is 9 years old and was recently diagnosed with cancer. She joined our family in the Netherlands and is slightly smaller than the American Goldens. She has white and cream colored fur, and an amazing calm and loving temperament. Truly, I have to say, she is the perfect dog. (Even friends and family members who do not like dogs love Heidi!)

Someone posted a comment saying they might go with a European Cream of White Golden since they are less prone to cancer. I don't have statistics. I just have Heidi- for as long as she can remain with us- but I feel that the incidence of Golden cancer in Europe may be underreported.

Having said that, even among Goldens, Heidi is an amazing dog. She has had the calmest, happiest, most patient and loving personality from the day we met her as a puppy. She has mothered two kittens and continues to be a loving part of our family. I pray she will be able to enjoy the time she has left with us.

Shaun Mullen said...

Hello, Rebecca.

Thank you for sharing your story. I have to say that based on anecdotal evidence, European Goldens do not have a longer life expectancy than America Goldens, and I know for a fact that the epidemic of cancers and related diseases has hit Australian Goldens very hard.

Best of luck with Heidi. You obvious have a very special lady.

Unknown said...

Dear Rebecca
All the best to you and your wonderful Heidi.
Take Care
Julia x

Anonymous said...

I just had to put down my beautiful golden named Irish. She was just 9 1/2 years old. She was the most active and high energy dog and so full of life. Yesterday she was running and playing and this morning she could barely move or walk due to a ruptured tumor. It is amazing to me that I had this wonderful gift for almost 10 years and now she is gone in just less than 8 hours. My 7 year old, Bailey is lost tonight and I am convinced knew that Irish was in trouble today. She never left her side while she was at home until I made it to the Vet. It really is amazing what a wonderful gift of love, companionship and fun an animal brings to you, your family and your friends. I love you Irish - you left us way too soon and I am so happy that you were in our lives. Rest in peace and have fun chasing the balls in heaven. Love Mommy

Anonymous said...

I am so sorry to hear of your very sad loss, and my heart goes out to you. We also lost our 9 yr old Golden under similar circumstances.
As well as this site, you may also find the site below useful, in helping you deal with your loss.
Take care

Anonymous said...

Thanks you for posting this article. We just lost our beloved golden Fred to a cancer tumor that was found in his stomach. We had no idea it was there and we are in such a state of shock.

linda said...

We lost our Bossie two days ago. WE got a new puppie and thought he had stopped eating for that reason but when I took him to the vet they checked his stomach and took his temperature and all was okay she said - it was probably the stress from the puppy. Well we took the puppy back because our boswell was our first priority but then the next day he was so lethargic and he had been throwing up yellow bile that we brought him back. The vet now noticed his stomach was distended so proceeded to do an xray and found some shading near the liver and spleen. Took a bloodtest and his white count was over the top and the red count was very low. It turned out he had liver cancer and the accelerated type and it was all over in the liver. She said his blood vessels were popping and that he was bleeding out but that everything was okay at the time we picked him up to take him home for his last gettogether with our family. Well that didn't happened he started to bleed out and we had to take him inside and put him down. We miss him soooo much. He was our little boy. He was only 8 1/2. Goldens are the best! Linda

Anonymous said...

I just had my Golden put down on March 3rd his name was Jake and he had Lymphoma age 5 years old.
Does anyone know if there is a way to avoid a dog having this for the next dog?
I would like to have more health certificate next time I think.
He apparently was from Champion blood line on his DAD's side but i had no proof or papers to show it.
He was the American Golden Retriever all red and handsome.
He was my best friend, who I adored.
I miss him so much!
You can email me at

Shaun Mullen said...

I am very sorry to read of Jake's passing, especially at so young an age.

There is no way to avoid having this happen again.

I have written elsewhere that:

"The outlines of the golden epidemic have been clear for over 10 years, but organizations like the Golden Retriever Club of America (GRCA), while on the one hand funding studies on and supporting research into the cancers, have done little or nothing to rein in greedy member breeders who play God in knowingly selling interbred, cancer-prone puppies to unsuspecting buyers who end up heartbroken.

"Their rationale, in so many words, is that it's not their job."

Mary Owner of Jake said...

there must be some breeders that exist that have good healthy dogs from good blood lines
can't all be bad surely
with a 5 generations of good health in all the dogs
look for that plus AKC
surely they exist somewhere
can't all be bad but yes it is an epidemic alright

Mary owner of Jake
you may also email me at

Mary Owner of Jake said...

I need a breeder that has been doing it for 20 so years with 5 generations of healthy dogs
good blood lines

Mary Owner of Jake said...

I have been reading up more about the raw food diet also

Mary Owner of Jake said...

What kind of dog do you have now Shaun?


Shaun Mullen said...

Hello again, Mary:

We recently adopted brother-sister chocolate Labradors. Their story is here:

I apologize in advance for the length.

Mary said...

what do you think of this?
after reading it


Shaun Mullen said...

Well, Mary, the guarantee is a praiseworthy effort on its face, but despite legal boilerplate that would seem to hold the breeder responsible for life-shortening health issues and indemnify the owner with a credit should there be such issues, anyone buying a puppy would need to be aware that:

* They would have little discretion as to diet since the diet must be veterinarian recommended. Can you say big bucks?

* They would have to keep meticulous records regarding every aspect of the care of the dog. Can you say pain in the butt?

* Failure to follow every letter of the guarantee, no matter how well intentioned the owner is, would void the guarantee. Can you say uh oh?

* Finally, and I have major problems with this, if the dog did turn out to be yet another Golden afflicted with cancer or other common disease, you are being asked to turn right around and purchase another dog from the same people, albeit at a discount. Can you say further heartbreak?

Anonymous said...

I have a sweet Golden Ret. He is only seven. The last two weeks I noticed he had a bloody nose. He can barely walk and stairs are even worse. My Max has lost 27 pounds. We took him to the Vet and they gave him antibiotis. A week passes and Max is still weak, not wanting to eat but drinking his water and then you see blood in the dog bowl. I am so so sad. So we took him back to the vet where he was x-rayed and it showed no tumors. I am waiting for his blood test results now. Any advice or comments would be helpful to me.

Shaun Mullen said...

The blood tests should indicate what is going on. The only advice that I can offer is to seek out a second opinion if you are not completely comfortable with you vet. I wish all of you well.

Mary Owner of Jake said...

so Shaun are you saying that the labs are healthier?
and that is why you chose a lab this time? instead of a golden?

and you said get a mixed breed instead of a golden?
mixed golden or a completely different mixed breed?


Mary Owner of Jake said...

where should i look and for what breed?
a lab not a golden?
or a golden mix or what?
yes i would like to know what it would look like when its an adult though
and also what is the best breed for health wise?
for a mixture?


Shaun Mullen said...

There are a couple of things going on here, Mary:

First, I recommend getting a mutt -- preferably a mutt from a shelter -- to avoid the kind of health issues too many people are encountering with Goldens.

Secondly, we were offered two wonderful chocolate Laboradors who didn't have particularly bright futures. It so happens that the incidence of cancers in Labs is smaller, but that was not a determining factor.

Anonymous said...

We lost our beloved Madison yesterday to this most dreadful of diseases. Just to echo what others have said about their dogs, Madison was unconditionally loving, blindly loyal and an anchor for my family and will be missed dearly. By reading here, I know she is with a bunch of friends and that helps comfort.

Anonymous said...

We have a 11 year old named Abby, who has just been diagnosed with cancer. She had a mast cell tumor 6 years ago and survived after 2 surgeries removing all the cells and borders. I prayed she would be in the 50% that it doesn't come back in, and she was. She lived a healthy 6 additional years but now it is on her spleen and liver. They removed her spleen and have given us 2-5 months if we choose to do chemo. As long as she is not in pain, we will try to keep her here. It sounds like all goldens have the same personality. They are the best dogs ever. I am heartbroken, but thankful I got 11 years with her.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for your article and for all the heartfelt comments from other owners. We lost our beloved boy Nash yesterday to Cancer. He was only 1 year 3 months old. I'm heartbroken right now and I haven't cried this much in my life. My wife and kids are devastated. Our regular vet and the neurologist thought Nash had a neck injury and we were prepared to have surgery to fix what we thought was most likely a ruptured disc. After a CT exam however, we were told he had a tumor on his spine. He was so active before this started and then he was in so much pain. Unlike other dogs we have owned this was so sudden. We feel cheated to have lost him so young. He was the best dog we've had and was a bright part of our family.

Anonymous said...

We too lost our beloved Ginger two days ago from a ruptured tumor. She was fine the day before. She is the second golden we have lost she was 8, the other was 7. We still have a boy who is 9. As painful as it is, the goldens are so loveable I wouldn't trade, and cherish the years with them. They are so willing to love and please. Hope we can hang on to our boy and hope he can live without his beloved mate- he is quite lost without her and so are we.

Mister Bunny said...

"First, I recommend getting a mutt -- preferably a mutt from a shelter -- to avoid the kind of health issues too many people are encountering with Goldens."

you have to understand that mutts are made up of breeds of dogs. And if you get a mutt that is, for example, a mix of say Lab and Shepherd, then you will have the same possible hip problems of the Lab or the Shepherd. there is no magic powder that eliminates that when you have a mutt. There is no, "hybrid vigor" when it comes to this sort of thing.

Shaun Mullen said...

Mister Bunny:

You are correct, of course, but the odds of adopting a dog less prone to cancer and other diseases may be better.

Ignoring my own advice, we adopted a brother-sister pair of purebred Chocolate Labradors last winter. They are marvelous in every way, and to see them frolic after being cage bound for so long is a joy.

Jack is perhaps the most gorgeous and largest Lab I have ever see. I describe his sister Nicky as a nose being followed by a dog.

A photo here if you're interested:

BrendaB said...

I have owned goldens for over 30 years. Some of them died from cancers, others didn't. My vet said that cancer is the most prevalent cause of death in dogs that he's seen in his practice, regardless of breed.

There are breeders who carefully study and research pedigrees to make informed choices about their breeding stock, and there are breeders who don't know and don't care about doing the research and are in it for the $$$. That said, every breeding is a genetic crap shoot and no one can guarantee that a dog will not die of cancer. The best any breeder can do is to understand pedigrees and choose breeding stock with the best track record for producing healthy dogs. This obviously takes time and effort on the part of the breeder but those who are truly dedicated to the breed consider it their responsibility, not a burden.

All of my goldens have been 10 years or older when they died, and while it was hard losing each one, I always knew we would have another golden.

I've dealt with wonderful, caring breeders who we felt privileged to own one of their puppies, who maintained an interest in the puppies they produced throughout their lifetimes. Last year one of those breeders entrusted us with a beautiful male puppy, who now weighs 70 lbs and is laying at my feet as I type this. Whatever it may be that takes him from us some day, he will have had a life filled with loving companionship and all the experiences a golden deserves. As difficult as it is to lose them, for us it's much more difficult to imagine life without a golden.

Shaun Mullen said...


Beautifully said.

Anonymous said...

You wrote:
"The outlines of the Golden epidemic have been clear for over 10 years, but organizations like the Golden Retriever Club of America (GRCA), while on the one hand funding studies on and supporting research into the cancers, have done little or nothing to rein in greedy member breeders who play God in knowingly selling interbred, cancer-prone puppies to unsuspecting buyers who end up heartbroken.

Their rationale, in so many words, is that it's not their job.

The GRCA has gone so far as to recommend that owners give their Goldens a regular regimen of a drug that has been shown to inhibit cancers, which is not unlike a car manufacturer recommending that drivers wear crash helmets when using vehicles that it knows cause an inordinate number of fatal accidents."

WHERE did you GET such nonsense? Being a veterinarian as well as a Golden owner, I can assure you that we are seeing just as many mutts come in with cancer and yes, die early of a variety of cancers as well. The golden club needs to be applauded for the hundreds of thousands of dollars they have provided for research and study which will benefit ALL canine companions, not just the one breed. As for giving some sort of preventative - I'd like to know what that is because I and many others would be RICH. So sad to see so many fallicies in your article. Yes, we lose dogs early to cancer - we lose them old to cancer as well. We lose newborn humans to cancer too. It's no different - a great deal is environmental. Is it heartbreaking to lose a dog young? ABSOLUTELY - but the clients I have that breed painstakingly agonize over their choices and decisions before breeding their dogs. They spend hundreds, sometimes thousands of dollars with us in taking great care of their animals. I would suggest that many of your readers need to do better research when looking for a responsible breeder.

Shaun Mullen said...


That "nonsense," as you call it, is based on one or more of the reliable sources cited at the bottom of the article.

There are indeed responsible breeders, but as for the overall picture, you are in denial. That is especially unfortunate if you are a vet.

Anonymous said...

We lost our Golden and best buddy and family member on the 4th of July to Cancer. His name was Jace and he was only 6 years old. He used to be a big bear and after he began losing weight and becoming lethargic, we were a little concerned. He began throwing up and not eating, but he would still be the happiest. After being at the vet and getting blood work and an ultrasound, the cancer was overwhelming his whole spleen and liver. Jace pushed through the pain everyday until he took his last breath with our whole family around him to say goodbye.
There is something to be said about the way a dog will touch your heart and we will never forget the joy that Jace brought to our family. He was too young to go and in the matter of one morning, we went from thinking he just had a stomach bug to having to say goodbye. We miss him and we love him, always. rip Jace <3

Shaun Mullen said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Shaun Mullen said...

I am so sorry to hear of your loss.

Not coincidentally, I was at a party on July 4th and met a woman who was a long-time Golden owner and sometime breeder. Her last Golden lived to be 16, but she has stopped breeding and raising the breed because of the cancer epidemic.

It is all too sad.

Anonymous said...

University of California Davis is studying cancer in Goldens. My vet made a donation to UCDavis on Reilly's behalf after we lost him to cancer last May. He was 10 years old and had just started showing gray on his face. I thought I still had at least 3 more years with him but like the other comments, he was his old self one day and then quickly succumbed to this horrible situation that Goldens are subjected to the next day. Until breeders introduce blood lines into their breeding programs that are cancer free, this will not go away.

Anonymous said...

Once again my wife and I are heartbroken we had to put are beautiful 10 year old golden sandy to sleep, It is so hard to say goodbye to these wonderful animals. She had some form of cancer in here liver and spleen. She went fast and just a month ago on here yearly checkup the vet said she was looking great no problems. This is the second golden we had to have euthanized in less than a year from cancer. I will have more goldens no matter what because to me they are the best dog's in the world, I just wish we could have them longer!

Anonymous said...

I got my first Golden Casey when I was just 3 years old. When he was 10 1/2 years old, he became sick with a fast spreading cancer that originated in the liver and spread throughout his body, within a week he went from being active and happy, to severely lethargic and I had to make the hard choice of putting him to sleep (he was bleeding internally from cancerous lesions).

A year later I got another Golden whom I named Leo. While I would describe Casey as being an "old soul", calm and kind, Leo was the opposite with an extremely gregarious, almost child-like exhuberance. He would often become overcome with love and try and climb into your lap and lick your face and chin. Tragically he too was struck down at the age of 10 1/2 years. This time with cancer that originated in the lungs and spread to his brain. Again it happened rather fast, and due to the brain tumors he began to have seizures and despite Phenobarbital giving him another month of quality life, the cancer was to widespread and I was forced to put him to sleep 4 months ago because one morning, his body had had enough and gave up, he was unable to even stand.

Despite having made sure to buy from reputable breeders, I have had to go though this twice now, and both times my beloved companion having only lived to 10 1/2 years old. And every Golden owner I have ever talked to has lost a Golden to cancer. I really wish that more could be done to increase the health of this breed, 10 years is just not enough time. I loved them both so much, and I'm not sure I can go through that again.

Shaun Mullen said...

I find myself becoming increasingly militant about breeders.

That is to say that any breeder who doesn't warn a buyer that his or her Golden is more likely than not to succumb to a cancer after 8 to 10 years is irresponsible and should not be allowed to breed or sell.

Anonymous said...

Our sweet almost 4 year old golden Fisher, his birthday is next week, was diagnosis with a grade 3 undetermined sarcoma located on his rib cage about 10 weeks ago. A second opinion prognosis was if we went ahead with further testing, surgery, and chemo, it would only extend his life 6 to 8 months. Fisher is the second golden we purchased from a very well-known breeder. Rocky was our first golden. He had a history of Mast Cell cancer and died of a hemangiosarcoma in his liver at age 12. I agree that the breeders pay no attention to the fact that their dogs are dying at an alarming rate.

Anonymous said...

I'm going to put my 3-yr old golden to sleep. She had advanced liver cancer and has massive internal breeding. She has been fine until about two weeks ago when she vomitted and didn't eat much. The day before her diagnosis, she was still doing her evening walk with me. I have been taking good care of her ever since she was a puppy. She is lean and got good exercise. I never expect her die so young. Golden breeds tend to have cancer problems. My friend's golden died at yr 2. I'll really miss her.

tmol said...

I had a golden when I was a kid and he was great. A bit on the dumb side, but sweet and obedient all the same. We never had the heartbreaking cancer story that many others have posted since he was dognapped along with a collie puppy we had. My last dog was a chow/retriever mix and was great in every way. Ralph convinced me that this mix is the best for me and the way I am. Wouldn't hesitate a second to get another once my life settles enough to treat a dog the way it deserves.

Anonymous said...

wish we had known this before, but we brought a sweet golden into our lives, only to lose her at 8 years with little or no warning to osteosarcoma. She would have done anything for us and was the best dog I have ever known. We love the breed, but cannot stand to have our hearts broken again, so we are looking at other breeds or mutts.

Anonymous said...

My golden, Mavrick, was my search and rescue partner for 9 years. I got him when he was 6 weeks old from a very responsible breeder. He responded with me on many missions over those 9 years and was loved by everyone who came to know him. He was my best friend and companion. Two days after his retirement, we had been at home romping in the back yard like we always did. He was so playful and full of life. The next afternoon, I found him laying by the front door not wanting to move. He began howling in pain, so I took him to our unit's vet and he did some blood work. The results came back as cancer. By that evening he had passed.

I was, and still am heartbroken with losing him. He is my forever dog and I don't know if I will ever get over not having him by my side.

Anonymous said...

Its been 10 mths since we lost our dear Frank, a cream coloured golden retriever, from an aggressive form of cancer. He was just 9. I posted on here a few days after we had to have him put to sleep, as he could no longer walk or eat.

We now have another dog - a large black crossbreed that we got from the local animal sanctuary. He is a wonderful dog, and we love him very much, but I will never forget my sweet Frank. I still miss him so much, as he was so much than a dog to me (I got him in 2002 after a particularly difficult time in my life, and he gave me hope again, after all hope seemed lost)

I adore goldens, but I would not get another golden as the high incidence of cancer in this breed, is of great concern to me (I have read the heartbreaking posts that other golden owner's have written on this site alone) and I cannot risk something similar happening again. I know that all dogs can get cancer but the number of golden's that contract and die of cancer related illness, at a young age, is alarming.

Kim Moore said...

My 6 yr old Sheltie was diagnosed with Lymphoma on 9/6/11. I picked this breed because it said they were healthy mainly. After losing 2 German Shepherds and a Siberian Husky to cancer I thought this was a good choice. I talked to the Vet about this cancer and she said it now affects all breeds even puppies. I always fed my dogs Nutro Max but now I wonder if the Dog Food has anything to do with all these cancers. It is killing me knowing that I will have to put her to sleep very soon for the same reason. I am so very sad to have to go through this again. I know this site is about Golden Retrievers but it seems to affect all breeds now.

Barbara Witt said...

Thank you for your blog post about goldens and cancer. I couldn't post there because the word verification wasn't working for me.

A young, always grinning golden/blonde lab mix was abandoned by his family because he was always running away - they moved to San Francisco and simply left him here in Washington. One day, this dog was trotting along with one of our neighbors who was out walking his own dogs, when he suddenly broke into a run down the road to our house and sailed over our fence. The neighbor thought the dog must belong to us, as he seemed so excited to get "home." You could count every rib because he was so skinny. I fed him cheese omelets, we named him Bernie and he moved in with our family and two chocolate labs, quickly taking over the house and our hearts.

What a guy! He had the most personality of any dog we've ever owned. He was simultaneously the smartest and the most klutzy of creatures. One day he brought a newborn fawn home from the woods. He was so proud of his gift to us as he proudly pranced out of the woods with the tiny body in his mouth and long, spindly legs sticking straight out ahead. He held the fawn so gently that she was unmarked except for a little dog slobber. We picked up 50 lbs. of goat milk replacer and took it, along with the fawn, to our vet who raised the fawn and still has her.

We called him Bernie-as-the-crow-flies because when he was in a hurry he just jumped straight over the sofa, or whatever else might stand in the path of the shortest route to wherever he was headed. It's been a 6 year morning family ritual to look for all the dog dishes, because Bernie loved to carry them around, and hide them different places in the house. Sometimes he'd stack all three in a pile in the middle of the floor with a nyla bone on top! You should have seen my husband's face when Bernie, who was standing with his paws on the sill looking out of the living room window, suddenly tossed his head completely backwards to gaze upside down at my husband, who was sitting across the room behind him. We dubbed it the "exorcist" move, and incredibly limber Bernie performed it often. He was so relaxed when cuddling that my husband called him "liquid dog" as he would just melt into your lap, sometimes sliding slowly right off onto the floor. We have a million Bernie stories!

Like so many persons who posted on your blog, we lost Bernie to cancer in a matter of hours. I took him to the vet this afternoon and came home without him forever. He was so weak that he could not stand and his abdomen was distended from the internal hemorrhaging described by others on your site. I held him and talked to him until he was gone and everyone in our family is completely broken hearted and grieving terribly. How could one goofy dog enliven our lives so much?

We've had wonderful dogs over the years (chocolate labs), who were loyal, beautiful, and cuddly - but none of them held a candle to Bernie, even though we had him the least amount of time and he was taken from us so suddenly. Thanks for your blog, it was somehow comforting to read the stories of so many others who have suffered the sudden and shocking loss of their beloved goldens at such young ages. I was interested to learn about the research program at UC Davis studying cancer in goldens and will be looking into it further; as well as your communication with the Golden Retriever Club of America (GRCA) regarding the issues with breeders. Hold their feet to the fire!



Anonymous said...

We lost our Golden yesterday. Her name was Abby Rose Goetz and she was 9 years and 3 months. She was perfectly fine 2 days ago and yesterday woke up lethargic and could barely walk. We took her to the hospital to discover her spleen had ruptured and she was bleeding out. During surgery they discovered 100's of tumors in her liver and spleen. I have been crying since yesterday. She was my best friend. I am in shock she had cancer. She never showed any signs until the day she died. I am heart broken and stumbled across this website looking for some type of healing. I don't know what I am going to do without her. She even had her own facebook account. Tanya

Anonymous said...

This article is a breath of fresh air!! Too many goldens going before their time, too many breeders keeping it a secret. This disease must be explored more. The American lines have almost twice the rate of cancer that the imported/English lines do. They both came from the same place - this is our first clue to figuring out the puzzle. Emigration of goldens is largely one way from England/Europe to America and NOT vice versa. What then can we discover when studies have shown the rate in English golden retrievers is 38% with an average age at death still over 12 years.
This seems to be the thread we could latch onto, but the politics of breeding quash the discussion. No one wants to talk about the differences and until we do, we lose this valuable clue.

Hollis said...

Lost my poor Captain today, Christmas morning, one day shy of his 8th birthday. Cappy developed a cough about 2 weeks ago, was taken to the vet and diagnosed with kennel cough, but determined to be in otherwise excellent condition, despite having a spotty appetite and mild fever along with the coughing. After 10 days on antibiotics and a cough medication, he seemed to be getting some strength back when he took a turn for the worse... Yesterday morning he stopped eating almost completely, and could barely walk, spending most of the day in one spot. This morning his breathing had become harder with a wheeze to it, and his belly was bloated and painful. We took him to the emergency veterinarian (a 25 minute drive to the only open one as it was Christmas morning), and after an ultrasound on his abdomen and chest xrays, we learned that he was full of cancer - heart, lungs, and spleen, the latter of which had ruptured and was bleeding into his abdomen/stomach. We had no choice but to put him down. He fell asleep with his family around petting him, holding his head, and telling him how much he was loved. We have spent today in absolute disbelief. To lose a member of the family in this manner is absolutely heartbreaking, and I can only wish, hope, and pray that more attention will be given to this epidemic in the future. RIP Captain. <3 26Dec03 - 25Dec11

freeinJesus said...

We lost our first Golden boy at age 8 to hemangiosarcoma in the lining of the cells of the heart sac. Our second Golden died with hemangiosarcoma on his spleen at age 9. Those two were uncle/nephew. Our third Golden is now age 8. He's a big boy like our first two and comes from show lines. We're naturally hoping he will live longer than our first two Golden boys.

Anonymous said...

I lost my baby Neo (Golden) 5 days ago and he was 12 years and 2 months. I lost my dog within hours!!!
After learning about this killing cancer and read all your comments, I strangely found somewhat comforting.

I came home from work and found Neo was laying on the floor. He hardly can get up and refused to eat and didn't want to get up. Earlier on the day, he was playing and running for 2 hours, and I thought he was over exercised. But I found he just laid on the same spot the entire night, so I took him to the vet nexttday. They took the x-rays and the results came back as cancer in his lung, liver and heart. The vet said there is no chance for him, and I need to make a decision to put him out of misery. I had no choice, but to put him sleep.

I went home with the leash without my dog that afternoon. My heart is bleeding and I've been crying for the last 5 days I can hardly open my eyes. I don't think I can ever have another dog. My heart is belong to Neo for ever.

Shaun Mullen said...

I am soirry to read of Neo's passing but am glad that you found some comfort in the experiences of others who have lost their beloved Goldies.

Anonymous said...

We lost our Golden (Brenna) on Christmas Day. She was 8 years old. Like so many others I read about here, she was healthy, playful, and full of life Christmas Eve morning, and at 2:18am Christmas Day she passed away from a tumor that had burst on her liver at the emergency room. We had no idea. She was so full of life 12 hrs earlier. So loving and so much a part of our lives. I had the privilege to have her at work with me everyday. She was my baby girl. Smart, loving and perceptive. She knew when you needed a hug and when you needed some stress relief and she was the best at giving both. And for that a big part of my life was spent doing things I knew she loved like swimming and going to the beach. I like so many here feel cheated. I wanted to know why I lost my baby so early. Food, genetics, what is happening to our baby’s? In looking for answers I went back and looked at Brenna’s pedigree. It only went back three generations but I notice her father was born from two siblings. Also there were crossovers from the Father’s and Mother’s bloodlines. Pure breed is a result of inbreeding, but this kind of inbreeding I think is contributing to all these cancer related deaths. As a consumer I think maybe we can help the breed by looking at the bloodlines of the dogs we purchase and decline to do so if we see this kind of inbreeding going back 5 generations. I have had mutts before, and loved them. But as anyone who has had a golden knows, they are and incredible breed and I can’t see myself with any other type of dog. For now I am going to give my heart time to heal. But when the time does come for another, it will be a Golden with a bloodline that does not show inbreeding and that will get more home prepared meals to try to prevent this from happening so early again. I am sure there is more to it. But that is where I am going to start.
Hollis, I am so sorry for your loss of your Golden (Captain) on Christmas Day. I am sure your Christmas was like ours. And to everyone else, no matter what day it happens it is like losing a member of your family. My sympathies. Brenna 8/27/03 - 12/25/11

Anonymous said...

I lost my best friend 1 week ago tomorrow. She was only 7 and the best companion anyone could ask for . After I lost my first golden to cancer at age 12 I was told by a vet that if you had them spayed before their first heat that would reduse the chances of cancer by 50%
I quess that is not true .. I did all the right things thinking she would be with me for many years into old age . I miss her terribly
I do not think I will get another dog as the heartbreak is just to much . Having to put 2 dogs down to this horrible cancer killer is to much to bear . I hope something can be done to stop this cancer in goldens , they are the kindest most loyal animal I have ever had . I love you Madison and you are missed badly

Anonymous said...

Jon H
My first Golden a female purchased in the early 70ies lived to 10. My second female died of lymphoma at 12. My third female died at 6, My son's female died at 6 from lymphoma. Another son's 4 year old female has been diagnosed with liposarcoma. The last three dogs came from the same breeder.
I believe that Goldens are dying earlier because breeders are double blind breeding and breeding related dogs and as a result genetic abnormalities are increasing. I do not believe that breeders are paying much attention to good breeding when it comes to genetics. I believe they are breeding primarily for looks and hunting qualities. Breeding for show and field qualities does not take into consideration passing on genetic defects. I have searched many Golden Breeder sites and not one mentions taking genetics into consideration in breeding. Its time breeders wake up before these wonderful dogs no longer exist. We are getting close to this becomming a reality.

Anonymous said...

We lost our 6 year old golden retriever Pooper Bear this week. He was the sweetest, loving and silly dog. The day before he died he was running around the yard and our daughter was sitting on him and cuddling with him, he was her best friend. We took him to the vet the next morning because his belly looked swollen and he threw up. They discovered a tumor in his belly and he died that day. We feel robbed because he was only 6 and we didn't get to say goodbye to him. We didn't even know he was sick. He was the best dog and we feel lost without him.

Lala Buttercup said...

I am so glad I found this site. I have beautiful 9 year old golden named Justice. There aren't enough words to describe what a great dog he is. I even made sure he stayed with me after the divorce. I will be taking him to the vet on Friday where I fear they will tell me it's in his best interest to let him go. We found a tumor the size of a baseball (it does change in size) a couple months ago. Selfishly decided to ride it out, but he's become moody, grouchy and just tired. I am heartbroken. This is the second pet I will lose from cancer in 5 months.

Goldens are the best. I wouldn't trade Justice for any other dog even knowing what the outcome would be.

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

I lost my beloved Waldo to hemangiosarcoma in January. As his 10th birthday approached last December, I'd been saying to friends for months beforehand that Goldens have limited life spans and I knew his 10th birthday would likely mark the "beginning of the end". Little did I know, however, that I'd find myself exactly on his 10th birthday in our vet's office for an emergency Sunday appointment learning that his newly bloated stomach was caused by a bleeding splenic tumor. Following one emegency surgery to remove his spleen (hoping, falsely, that the cancer had not yet spread) and then a 2nd emergency surgery when he crashed coming out of the first one, I got Waldo back to the relative comfort of home. I didn't leave his side for the next 5 weeks (thankfully, including 3 good weeks and one last Christmas) before I had to put him to sleep when he began bleeding internally again.

Waldo had literally the best veterinary care money could buy - our vet both wrote the main textbook on veterinary internal medicine and had owned Goldens himself, but his cancer nonetheless came out of nowhere and took him rapidly - and our vet was emphatic that chemotherapy would have only added discomfort to his remaining days.

Waldo died 9 weeks ago today. He was part best friend, part child, part life companion and I miss my dog deeply - more than its socially acceptable to admit. As much as I know he'll never be replaced, I want another Golden in my life - but reading these stories makes me think maybe I should find a cute lab-mix puppy at the pound and spare myself the likely agony of losing another Golden to canine cancer.

Anonymous said...

My sweet, loving Golden Retriever, Amber Lynn, who always does goofy things to make us laugh or brings us a toy to play with, has been diagnosed with brain cancer (Right Frontal Intraaxial Mass). I am going to get a second opinion tomorrow regarding radiation, as chemotherapy and surgery are not possibilities. I would appreciate any and all personal experiences you may have had with this type of cancer and/or radiation treatments. If you have any info, please share it with me as soon as possible. I appreciate your help so very much. I love my girl more than words can say.
Thank you,
Ann Marie

Shaun Mullen said...

Hello Ann Marie:

I am so sorry to read about Amber Lynn.

I am not a veterinarian, but based on my own experiences and those of other Goldie owners who have shared their experience here, the bottom line is to let your beloved live out her remaining days with dignity.

As you note, invasive (and terribly expensive) procedures will only prolong the inevitable.

When getting that second opinion, I would ask the vet if Amber Lynn will experience discomfort if not downright pain during those remaining days. If that is the case, you might want to consider having her euthanized by IV injection.

We absolutely will not let our pets draw their last breath on a stainless steel examination table with all of the awful smells and sounds. If you take the euthanasia option, please ask the vet to come to Amber Lynn's home where you and her other family members can be present.

Good luck, and if you don't mind, please share with us what the outcome will be.

dvpriem said...

I have a golden that has had operations on both of his elbows for dysplasia, and he has it in both hips and one toe too. He is not even three years old and he is turning into an old dog, he wants to play but his legs just cant take it. I'm hoping that this inbreeding problem can be solved by crossing "purebred" goldens with Irish Setters. It seems years ago goldens were a lot more red. My next dog will be one of the "red retrievers" that I hope will have stronger genes. They are beautiful dogs, hard to find (google them), don't shed much but have the same temperament and smarts as regular goldens.

Alyssa said...

My Wonderful Golden named Hamlet 9 yrs old lay next to me as I type. he was Diagnosied with lymphsarcoma 2 weeks ago. He is loosing wieght. But still happy being loved on. I know I will have to take him soon to be put down. This is just killing me 3rd dog in 1 year to pass away from cancer. My Beagle was 8 he also had lymphosarcoma. My Mutt Cocoa was 18!! She passed away from bladder cancer. I love my golden but,my purebreed beagle and him had half the life as cocoa:( It is so sad. I am just cherishing everyday I have left with my Hamlet.

Kelly said...

I just put the love of my life down today! Finn was fine up until Wednesday when we noticed him being short of breath by Saturday night he was really laboring to breathe. We took him into the vet who promptly took X-rays and sent us immediately to an emergency vet clinic. They found Large amounts of fluid around his lungs and heart. Unfortunately his blood would not clot so they had to give him 2 blood transfusions which worked so they could drain some of the fluid from around his heart. Finn had a rough night touch and go last night at the vet. The vet called me this am and said she had bad news Finn had metastatic lung cancer with a probable cardiac tumor as well. How does this happen so quickly? We are completely devastated as everyone above can agree. These dogs are selfless,would walk on water if you asked them too. I cannot believe the sadness that I feel. I want to thank each and every one of you for your posts. It truly helped to ease the pain a little from losing Finn whom was only 4. I was totally unaware of the cancer these dogs could have my fault for not researching enough. That aside he was the most loyal and special dog I could have ever asked for.

Chris Eisenberg said...

I had to put down my beloved four year old Cubby yesterday. He was a great family dog and much loved.

On Sunday night i noticed a limp and on MOnday we went to the Vet who thought it was tendinitis. But he just worse and had a seizure tuesday. We went back to the vet, who then said it was a spider bite. But he kept getting worse. We went back to the vet again who sent us to a specialist. The specialist did an ultrasound and discovered Cubby had endocarditis, which is a bacterial infection of the heart. It's also a death sentence. I had to put him down rather than watch him waste away from this awful disease.

I love Goldens. They are a great family dog. But this broke my heart and broke my family's heart. I hope I do him (and the rest of my pets) at Rainbow bridge someday.

Shaun Mullen said...

Dear Chris:

Had Cubby been checked for heartworm or perhaps had a tooth abscess that went to the heart? And from the sound of it, your vet was clueless.

All of that hardly matters now, but I appreciate your sharing your tragedy.

Anonymous said...

My girl is 7 1/2. She had a lipoma removed last month on her lower rib. The doctor sampled the tissue. I insisted on a biopsy, removal and culture. It came back benign. Four weeks later a new "lipoma" surfaced almost on top of the removed lipoma. We got an xray and ultrasound. She had no symptoms except drinking a little more water. We just did not like the bump. She was active and behaving totally normal. The ultrasound came back and showed spleen mass and tumors throughout all four lobes in the liver. We got the diagnosis returned to us on a piece of paper stating that our dog had a poor prognosis and not eligible for surgery. We never met the doctor. We paid nearly $1000 that day to never hear from the doctor himself. Our girl will be gone in the next few days. Cancer sucks in goldens, but it is worse when vets are so uncaring! It makes the process worse. I don't have any confidence in our animal medical care. I feel mine was simply a business decision without caring for my girl's well-being!

Shaun Mullen said...
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Cynthia said...

I found this blog when I googled "I miss my Golden Retriever" this evening. I, too, found reading these stories oddly comforting.

We will have lost out beautiful Golden Retriever, Simba, 3 weeks ago this coming Sunday, and we miss him so much. He had just turned 7 years old. Our first dog was a puppy from a little of a Navajo sheep dog, that I had gotten when I was living out west. She lived to be 13 1/2. She was very special, and we loved her, too. We waited one year after she died before we got Simba.

The Sunday Simba died was a Sunday like any other. Simba slept in upsairs, until he heard the sound of my husband's car in the driveway, returning from going to the store to get the Sunday paper. Then, Simba rushed down the stairs to greet him. Soon after, I handed Simba a dog treat before letting him out the back door into our yard. I can still see his beautiful expectant face looking up at me as he sat there waiting for his bisquit. It's the last time I looked at his face while he was alive. He then went out into the yard and finished his treat, and did his morning business, Soon his friend, a large dog who lives behind us came out. The 2 dogs rushed the back fence as they typically did, jumping joyfully and barking across the fence at each other. Simba suddenly stopped, and fell backwards. His body quivered a few times on the ground and then went still. We rushed out to him, and hoping against hope rushed him to the local emergency vet clinic, but he was already gone.

The veterinarian at the emergency clinic did an ultrasound. Simba had a lot of fluid in his pericardium. It appeared that he died from a sudden bleed into the sac that surrounds the heart. The vet said that it was likely a hemangiosarcoma.

Simba had not shown any signs of illlness. He was cudddling with us on the couch the night before. We thought we had many more years with him.

My husband, teenage son, and I have discussed that we would never have traded the 7 wonderful years we had with Simba for anything. We miss him dearly, though. Everywhere we look now, we seem to be seeing a Golden Retriever, and it reminds us of our good friend.

Kristen Lawrence said...

Is there ANYTHING we can do to prolong their lives, despite exercise/fitness, high quality grain free dog food? Im terrified of loosing my baby, hes the best dog Ive ever had, and Ive never loved a dog this much. After talking to 2 owners last night that lost their Goldens at 5,and 8, I NEED to improve my boys chances! What can I do?

Shaun Mullen said...

Hello Kristen:

Alas, there is no magic bullet and with rare exceptions such as my blog, the issue is not even being addressed.

Based on my experience than those of others, the keys to trying to prolong any dog's life are diet and exercise.

Nothing fancy food-wise, just nutritious kibble and no table scraps We also give our brother-sister chocolate Labs an egg each with their Sunday evening feeding for their coats.

We exercise our dogs every day, even in the most inclement weather when we still take them for walks. We play ball with them and when the weather is mild take them to a mountain creek near our home where they can swim.

I hope this helps at least a little bit. Good luck.

Anonymous said...

We're putting our 8 year 2 month old Male Golden, Sage to rest on Monday at 9 am. He has mouth cancer. I'm so torn up over it I'm looking for any bit of information I can find. We also lost our female, Sadie at 12 1/2 years in 2005 due to cancer. This decision seems more gut wrenching than the first time because Sage is so young. I think it will be a long time before I'll be strong enough to let another Golden into my life.

Cynthia said...

I am sorry to hear about your 2 Golden dogs. I, too, was very saddened by the deaths of our family dogs. I began grieving for the 13 1/2 year old before she died, as she was quite ill for about 2 months, and I knew the end was coming. The death of the 7 year old Golden was, as you say gut wrenching. I miss his wonderful Golden personality. My Golden was a gift (In more ways than one!), as was my Navajo sheep dog (Australian Shepard mix).

Still, I think my next dog will be a shelter/rescue dog mixed breed.

I read the articles, as well as watched the BBC broadcast mentioned in the Sources. It was enlightening.. That's too bad that there are no health standards for the purebreds, just color, coat, and measurements it seems.

Anonymous said...

Yesterday, I lost my Golden, Rusty. Thanks for all your amazing and heart felt stories. I realize I am not alone.
I miss him so much. This is a quick and scary disease. In a million years, I never thought my puppy-like 9 1/2 year old Golden full of life would be here today and gone tomorrow. He was like one of my children. He was so smart and he understood everything I said and was mischievous like a child. He made me laugh. Gosh. Do I miss him. Today is May 3rd, 2012.

Anonymous said...

My precious 7 1/2 year old Lily ate her last biscuit eight weeks ago right before trotting outside. She was lying very still sprawled out on my living room carpet and took her last breath the moment I walked into the house after a brief lunch date. I had no idea she was so ill. I never would have left. I thought it odd when I didn't see her cute face in the window upon my return.

She had developed a limp ten days before and I had taken her to the vet; they simply thought she had twisted her foot. I called again the morning she passed when she didn't eat her breakfast. The vet had me check some things--she passed with flying colors--and agreed that I could wait a couple of days until I brought her in again, if need be. She had the most adorable face and the most loving, playful disposition. She loved to go for walks more than anything.She adored her sister, Leila. She was kind enough to share her bed with my toy poodle and lick my aging cat's face because he no longer groomed himself and begged for her assistance. It was the most devastating thing. I just found out today that she died of liver and spleen cancer.

Anonymous said...

We just lost our first golden one month after her 6th birthday to hemangiosarcoma. She showed no symptoms until late one Saturday night she threw up her dinner. My son took her for a short walk and when they came back he said "mom, something's wrong." She was having trouble breathing (sort of huffing)she looked disoriented and her gums were quite pale. We rushed her to MedVet and were told she had fluid around her heart. They removed the fluid and stabilized her and kept her overnight in ICU to watch her for more irregular heatbeats. She had several during the night. On Sunday, the cardiologist reported that she had a tumor on her heart. The prognosis was poor and we took her home Sunday night. We were in total disbelief. She had never been sick a day in her life. And now we were going to lose her in a few months, or so we thought. Monday morning was good - she ate a light breakfast and I took her on a lovely short walk that she enjoyed. She played with her new toy and took a nap. And then she started throwing up again. She seemed weak so in the afternoon we returned to the hospital. The fluid was returning around her heart and was now in her belly. Our beloved young girl was heading into heart failure. Just like that. We wanted to try another heart tap when she was stable but she continued to go downhill and she vomited more. Weak and worn out we were taken to a private room and spent some alone time with the most wonderful dog we could have had. Our 14 yr old son was home alone and he talked to his baby by phone and after she fell asleep in our hands - the vet gave her the little push to sleep forever. The vet herself owns 2 goldens the same age and the tears were flowing as we all said goodbye. We thought we had done everything right - an excellent, reputable, and responsible breeder. Never missed a vet appointment, all the shots, heartworm medication as directed. Had her spayed, got her microchipped. Watched her diet, exercise and all the love and attention we could. My son and I are home most days, all day. He goes to high school online and I work part time from home. She went everywhere with us - farmer's markets, cabins in the woods, car rides, dog parks. She was a trained therapy dog and we made a few visits to nursing homes and assisted living facilities. And our small family is heartbroken. She was loved by everyone who ever met her and we were so blessed to have had her. And in her memory - we plan to make a contribution to dog cancer research. Goldens (and MANY other dogs - mixed or purebred alike) are dying too often and too young to this disease. Are they maybe the "canary in the mine" for all of us - and our children and grandchildren? Sleep well my sweet babygirl. Katie - we will love your forever.

Shaun Mullen said...

I am so sorry to read of your loss. I too believe that the Golden epidemic is indeed a canary in a coal mine.

Jenise said...

My golden - Kaysee - was put down this morning. She was just over 9 years. The day you bring them home you never expect them to gain such a secure hold on your heart. Nor do you expect the level of love they return to you for a couple meals a day, a walk, and a generous pat on the head as you affirm, "good dog" when you walk by.

The time you're given will never be enough. I've lost close friends and family members over the years, and a death always leaves you devastated and confused, but a death of a loved dog just leaves you lonely.

Thanks Kaysee for spending almost a decade with me. I miss you.

Connie said...

My parents just lost their golden of a 11 years named scoobie this week to cancer, not sure what kind. He had a lump on his mouth that the vet removed and told my parents to take him home and let him eat whatever he want and spend time with him, that was a year ago.Monday, my parents called me and told me scoobie had another lump and it was on his throat and
was down and couldnt get up, so I went over and the whole side of his precious face was swollen, I figured it was an infection, but dad insisted it was cancer, I didn't wanna believe him. My mother was with me on that. we had hope he would be fine. the vet showed up and it wasn't good.he said the tumor had wrapped around his jugular vein, that's what caused the swelling.
We had to put scoobie down,that was the worst thing I had to be a part of. He was the sweetest dog. Since Monday my Mother has been a basket case, all she does is cry for scoobie. We are wanting another but after sitting here with the tears falling on my face reading all of your stories I wonder if that is a good idea? My heart goes out to all of you !!! And I do believe all these wonderful dogs will be in heaven with us.

Anonymous said...

We just lost our precious American Red Golden, Jazzy, at age 9. She was fine until i noticed that she had a hard time swollowing her food. I took her to the vet and they found a mass near her esphogus and lungs. She lasted 3 months after that diagnosis. I missed her terribly since she was the best dog I have ever gotten. She was so sweet, loving, and one of a kind. I will see her again at the rainbow bridge with a shoe in her mouth waiting. Rest in peace.

Anonymous said...

I lost 2 female goldens in 2011, my younger one in January at 10 years 2 months to lymphoma and the older one in September to hemangiosarcoma at 11 years 2 months.

I found a very good breeder in my area with a couple of puppies available from a litter that were almost ready to go home and got a golden puppy shortly after losing my second adult golden. While I appreciate the sentiments of this blog, I think some of the blanket generalizations about breeders here are unfair and unwarranted.

The breeder of my now 11 month old golden puppy has been a serious hobby breeder for over 30 years. The breeder of my puppy's father has also been a breeder for over 30 years. They both show their dogs, have had a lot of champions, live with multiple adult goldens in their houses and love them. While they get good prices for their puppies ($1300-$1500), back of the envelope math tells me that they're not getting rich as breeders. I'd be surprised if they break even over time when you factor in the cost of food, heartworm & flea-tick, training, vets, stud fees, professional handlers for show dogs in some cases, etc.

My breeder is very concerned about cancer and other health problems in goldens. She provided me with an online link to my puppy's pedigree that goes back 5 generations on both sides and I found only one dog on either side that did not live to 10 years old or more. I asked her when I should have my male puppy neutered (he was bought with limited registration) and she surprised me by saying "My preference would be never, but if you're going to do it I would encourage you to wait until he is at least 18-24 months old." She included 2 studies in the informational packet that went out with her puppies on the increased health risks to goldens from spaying and neutering, particularly when done at a very young age. She included a letter to be provided to the dog's vet talking about this research (which my vet, a good and caring one, knew nothing about) and suggesting that the puppy not be spayed or neutered early, if at all.

Here are links to the 2 papers/studies she included with her packet. I find them to be extremely persuasive and am not going to have my golden puppy neutered.,%202011/203472591/TMPKeyboard203477047.pdf

Here's a link to a third article:

As one of the studies notes, the type of cancer that took my oldest girl Heather (spayed at 10 months) is 5 times more likely in a spayed golden than an intact female.
While there are plenty of irresponsible golden breeders out there, like many of the ones who sell puppies for $500 or sell the so-called English/white goldens for $3000-$5000, I think one can easily find serious and responsible golden hobby breeders who deeply care about the long-term health of their dogs and of the breed.

If there's a finger to point in any direction, I would point mine at the one sided spay/neuter propaganda we're all bombarded with.

Shaun Mullen said...

I am heartened that you found a breeder who is up front about the cancer epidemic. I hasten to add that your experience is the first and only that I have heard of and therein lies the heart of the problem as very few breeders are acknowledging let alone confronting the crisis in the breed.

Thank you also for including links to the studies and may your new Golden live long and prosper.

Anonymous said...

Shaun, I don't get it. I post links to studies documenting that spaying or neutering goldens at young ages greatly increases their odds of not only getting various types of cancer but of other health problems like hip dysplasia, torn knee ligaments and increased weight, and you go right back to breeders as the "heart of the problem" based on anecdotal evidence ("that I have heard of") because they're not talking about cancer in goldens enough.

I think the heart of the problem is the push we get from virtually everywhere to spay and neuter our goldens at younger and younger ages, before their growth plates are closed and causing significant alterations to their hormones and future development. In my city, if you don't have your dog spayed or neutered by 6 months of age you must pay $100 for a lifetime "unaltered pet license" or pay a fine.

Did you read the studies at the links I provided (they're not very long) and if so what do you think of them? Are you looking to help readers extend the lives of their golden retrievers or to pound on breeders nonstop?

Why is there no publicity about the negative health consequences associated with early spay/neuter? I had owned golden retrievers for over 10 years, read plenty of books and articles and never heard a thing about this issue until my current breeder pointed me to the studies. Apparently nobody who has posted to this blog has read or heard anything about it either, as mine was the first post to mention the issue. And my vet, who I'd guess has been practicing for at least 20 years, had never heard about it either. Having only read this in the papers I provided, he still tried to nudge me toward neutering my dog at 6 months or so by talking about testicular cancer (which very rarely occurs in goldens). I'm not going to do it.

Shaun Mullen said...

Again, thank you for the links to the studies. They are persuasive up to a point but I do believe that the cancer epidemic is far more complex than the spay/neuter issue. Furthermore, mammary and testicular cancers in Goldens are extremely rare.

There is no publicity about the negative health consequences for two reasons:

First, ignorance about the finer points of raising and caring for Goldens in general.

Second, spaying/neutering are cash cows for veterinarians and even if they were better informed, as your vet is now informed, they would continue to recommend early spaying and neutering just as many recommend outrageously expensive dietary supplements that healthy dogs -- which is to say dogs that are fed nutritional food and exercised daily -- simply do not need.

The bottom line is that you have learned from your experiences, have educated yourself (and your vet) and happened upon the rare breeder who does not shy away with health problems with the breed.

One further point:

As you may have noticed, one of the commenters noted that Goldens may be the proverbial canary in the coal mine. The canine genome sequence has been available at no cost online for nearly a decade but too few researchers seem interested in trying to nail down why Goldens have such a high incidence of cancers. As I note in my blog post, the Golden Retriver Club of America there is no mention of the epidemic on its homepage and it has not updated its National Health Survey of the breed since 1999.

Speaking of links, I will leave you with the following link to an article on a fascinating study:

I would recommend that you drop a few bucks to download a copy of the study. It is deeply sobering.

Anonymous said...

I just lost my 'first daughter', Coda, two nights ago at 8 years, nine months of age. She seemed fine, with exception of slowing down a bit right before I gave birth to my first 'human' daughter on June 27th. I told the nurses and doctors that I had to get home to my 'furry daughter' as soon as possible. I came home and noticed her stomach seemed bloated and took her to the vet the next morning. They operated on her with the assumption that she would come home in a couple days feeling better after having the spleeic tumor removed. When they opened her up the cancer had already reached her stomach, liver and spleen and the tumor had started to bleed. They called me and told me she wouldn't make it through surgery and if i wanted to say goodbye I had to get there as soon as possible. My husband and I grabbed out 4 day old newborn and rushed to the vet. We are both devestated and don't know what to do with ourselves. I wanted our newborn to know the love, patience and loyalty of Coda, but now she never will. She was the best dog I have ever had and will probably ever have. She will be in our hearts forever.

Shaun Mullen said...

Life can be so cruel. One begins and another ends. Please consider getting your newborn another "furry daughter," perhaps a young rescue dog.

Anonymous said...

My beautiful 4 year old Golden, Lily had her first seizure in March. She was diagnosed with a 13 1/2 cm tumor in May. She had radiation and is on anti-seizure and steriods. Gone is my rowdy hiking companion that made me laugh and play. She is still very lovable but so tired and we know it is only a matter of time. She is the best dog I have had but her life will be way to short. The breeder claims none of her puppies have had cancer. We have cried a million tears.

Shaun Mullen said...

You have my condolences. Not that it matters much, but I can say with authority that your breeder lied to you given Lily's extremely young age.

Anonymous said...

In regard to Amber Lynn radiation has been successful in buying time and relieving some of the symptoms. We have loved our extra time with Lily but her brain tumor is so large the prognoses is not good. We spend every day worrying if she is in pain and if it will be a good or bad day. I think it might have been better for all of us to not draw the end out so long. Of course you love them so much you want to hold on to them.

Shaun Mullen said...

If it is not cost prohibitive, please consider asking your vet if he or she will come to your house when the time comes for Amber Lynn to go to the next place.

And if I may ask, did you purchase her from the same breeder as Lily?

Anonymous said...

Guess I didn't make myself clear. I was answering Ann Marie in regard to Amber Lynn. I was trying to give her my thoughts after putting Lily through radiation. Lily's tumor is also front brain but don't know the type because the vet was unable to biopsey due to position.

Phil Van Voorhis said...

We are now 3 for 3 with Goldens and cancer - each at around 10 years of age. Our first - Heather - was lymphoma. Our second - Barney - it was a widespread abdominal case. And just last week, with Ripley, it was lung cancer.

Ripley's first symptom appeared about 6 weeks ago - an occasional mild, dry cough. It would disappear for several days and then return for a day, and disappear again. Then, the evening before we had him x-rayed, it was clear that he was in trouble. For the first time, he made a wet rattling sound when he exhaled, and was hacking up bloody mucous.

The following morning, x-rays revealed a severe case of lung cancer with numerous, widely-distributed tumors. We had him euthanized with sodium pentobarbital that evening, and although unconscious in seconds, he required a second shot to shut down his respiratory system. Our Vet attributed this to Ripley's compromised lung function. In these cases, it is a long, slow trip to the deep-brain functions that need to be arrested.

We all know how motivated Goldens are to please their owners. Many of them eventually become absolutely everything their owners want them to be. Ripley was one of these. My wife and I are now encountering the dozens of daily reminders that he is no longer with us. We know this will fade, but we will never forget his big heart and his special personality.

To anyone about to spend $2,500 to purchase a "well-bred" Golden, I urge you to ask the breeder to provide you with statistics regarding the cancer-potential of the litter. What were the ages and causes of death of the parents and grandparents of the sire and dam? How have the other offspring of the grandparents, and any earlier litters of this breeding pair faired? What is the breeder doing to improve his statistics, and are these efforts paying off?

These are reasonable questions in view of the severity of this epidemic. And if you are turned away for asking these questions, my guess is the breeder either cannot provide this information, or knows that releasing it would lead one to question his or her integrity. In either case, they've done you a favor.

For the good of the breed, the buyers of Golden Retrievers need to seek breeders who are committed to lowering the probability of cancer in their litters.

Shaun Mullen said...

Mr. Van Voorhis:

Your family's experience with your Goldens is sadly typical. You are correct in stating, in so many words, that the onus is on breeders.

As more people become informed of the epidemic through their personal tragedies at least a few breeders hopefully will be moved to be upfront -- which is to say confront the epidemic.

Anonymous said...

Came back from holiday on Friday teatime knowing beautiful 9year old retriever Barney had been a little under the weather.He was clearly very poorly,took hom straight to the vets.Absolutely devastated to be told he had numerous tumours in his spleen and had a massive bleed.Less than two hours later je was put to sleep with us all with him.Absolutely devastated,we wouldn't have gone away had we known

Anonymous said...

My Golden Retriever Bruno died last night. We decided to let him go after discovering that he had advanced lymphoma. When we took him to the emergency vet he was very sick and dehydrated, and the vet gave him a 50% chance of living through the night. Unlike some of you, we knew he was sick. He had 2 seizures about 10 days ago and we started him on phenobarbital. That drug normally causes extreme lethargy, confusion and lack of strength and coordination as dogs adjust to it. So even though he was really weak I still thought he would get better in a few weeks. We couldn't bear to put him through chemotherapy and since he was so sick and suffering we decided to put him down. A HARD decision but I feel peaceful about it and feel that it was the right decision. I stayed with him and hugged his head as the vet gave him the injections. I tried not to be upset but just told him what a good dog he was and how much I loved him. Afterward I probably cried for 30 minutes in the room with him. It was hard to leave him there.

I've found that watching videos and looking at pictures of him helps me remember him when he was happy and healthy and keeps me from dwelling on his sickness. It meant so much to me to be there at the end with him. He was an amazing dog and the first dog I raised from a puppy so he was especially close to my heart. I believe he is up in heaven waiting for me with my other dog I had as a child.

I had no idea that Goldens die from cancer at such a high rate. After getting Bruno and loving him so much I decided I would only have Goldens for the rest of my life. Now I don't know. I still have one Golden named Lady and I am afraid to go through the same thing with her.

There is one good thing about these sudden cancer deaths. The dogs do not suffer for very long. They don't have to slowly fade away as they stop eating and drinking. That is one mercy in the whole experience.

Another consequence is that I may adopt a mixed breed dog now instead of only wanting a Golden, and help a dog with no home. I think Bruno would like that. : )

Anonymous said...

We lost our first golden to a liver tumor which ruptured. She was 12, close to a normal lifespan. This week we lost our beloved Bailey to osteosarcoma. She was only 8 years old. Like so many others, our girls were beautiful, smart, loving and gentle. although we want to get another dog, I am not sure I can get another golden. My heart goes out to everyone out there who is grieving.

James said...

Hi – Will you please post a link to your Blog at The Golden Retriever Community? Our members will love it.
Members include: Owners, Breeders and Lovers
It's easy to do, just cut and paste the link and it automatically links back to your website… it’s a win win. You can also add Photos, Videos and Classifieds if you like. It’s free and easy.
Email me if you need any help or would like me to do it for you.
The Golden Retriever Community:
James Kaufman, Editor

Anonymous said...

On 8/21/12 I lost my dear Isis Golden to Cancer. She was sick for 3 1/2 weeks. Diagnosis began with abnormal liver levels, then went to pnuemonia after she quit eating and breathing really funky. Was on heavy duty antiobiotics for 2 weeks. Started to get better, started to eat, then took a downturn. Fever up to 105. 2nd xrays were worse, vet had me take her to Spokane WA to have an ultrasound. We walked in the waiting room and Isis collapsed on the floor and was gone less than 5 minutes later. The vet reviewed her xrays while she was on the table trying to be revived. He said that Isis was so much sicker than we thought. The mass in her lungs was cancer and her lungs were filled with cancer. I lost my babygirl that day and she took a piece of my heart with her when she passed. I will so miss her. I hope that everyone will learn something from this. I didn't know she had cancer until the day she passed. From articles I have read I am assuming it not the lymphona but the other kind, can't spell it.

Tricia said...

I just want to say that I'm grateful for everyone's comments.. Makes me feel less alone.

I live in Singapore and just yesterday I had to put my beloved Goldie to sleep.. Mambo would have been 15 years old in February. We bought him from a pet shop in Perth, WA, and sent him to Singapore when I finished university. He ate the best foods - solid gold fish meal in the mornings and cooked brown rice with salmon, broccoli and carrots at night.

I still can't believe how quickly he went.. On Wednesday, he was still playing with another Goldie and I had to tear him away before he got too rough. The next day he wasn't eating well... But I thought nothing of it as he wasn't eating well a year ago and the vet gave him some meds, and he was fine the next day. But on Friday when he didn't want to eat for the second day in a row, I made an appointment for the vet for Saturday morning. I slept near him on Friday as he was breathing heavily, and tried to coax him into eating or drinking every 2 hours but he simply turned his head away. On Saturday morning I knew it was serious when I couldn't get him to stand. His usual vet took some x-rays and blood tests but it wasn't conclusive so they sent me to the animal hospital. After an ultrasound, a girl who looked about 20 (this by the way, deserves another story) told me that 70% of his liver was covered in tumors and that I should put him down. I just couldn't believe it... There were no signs... When I went to see him, he was still trying to get up when he saw me. Overnight, however, I was told his condition had deterioted and he wasn't responding and I knew then, that I couldn't let him suffer anymore.

He was afraid of thunder, but never once whined from the pain that the tumor must be causing him. He was always happy around people, and was gentle with kids. He gave me so much love the last 14+ years that even though it breaks my heart to learn that Goldies are susceptible to cancer, I hope nevertheless to be loved by another in my lifetime.

Neil Speer said...

Our beloved Rusty was only 8 1/2 years old. He went for his usual morning run yesterday morning, then ate his breakfast. We were out all day and came home to discover he had vomited several times and was acting as if he felt poorly. He did not greet us with his usual puppy-like exuberance and would not eat dinner. He did move all evening and did not come into our bedroom to sleep in his bed until around midnight. His breathing wasn't labored, but didn't sound normal. It was a bit rapid and louder than normal. Our 12 1/2 y.o. Golden, Shea, just went thru a similar episode and recovered completely, so we assumed Sunny had whatever Shea had just had. I was going to take him to the vet in the morning if he was still not eating. He moved about the bedroom several times during the night and stood at the doorway twice as if he wanted to be taken outside to relieve himself. When I go up to do so, he just laid back down. Never a whimper of pain. We awoke this morning to find him lifeless in the hall. The vet did an xray and autopsy, but couldn't find anything. There was no blood indicating a tumor that has bleed out and no visible tumors. His stomach was not distended. We are in shock and disbelief and that's what lead me to the web and to discover this thread. The vet insists he does not believe it was cancer and he said blood work would not be diagnostic for cancer (???). I can only assume from reading all of your thoughtful posts that poor Rusty must have indeed succumbed to some form of undiagnosed cancer. This is so devastating and it's so hard not knowing how he could have died so quickly.

Neil Speer said...

This is post makes a few corrections to what I just posted. I am so distraught, I am not quite thinking straight. When I made mention of "Sunny", (instead of Rusty) I slipped up. Sunny was our 9 y.o. Golden that died from Osteosarcoma years ago. Also, I wrote that Rusty "...did move all evening..." when I meant to write "...he DID NOT move all evening...".

Sarah said...

We lost marley 2 days ago from internal bleeding from a tumor they found by his liver he was 9 yrs old it was such a shock he was fine the day before even that morning I even have video of him rolling in the grass and playing with our other dog. It happened so fast it broke our hearts marley was and still is a big part of our lives it feels like I'm missing a part of my heart i felt some confort in reading your stories to know iam not alone..but at the same time angry and very saddend to hear they are such good dogs iam sorry and feel your pain these wonderful creatures don't deserve this :(

Anonymous said...

I also lost my beautiful boy, Graham to cancer 3 weeks ago. I left on vacation for 3 weeks. He was fine when I left, stealing food from the counter and bossing my other golden, his cousin around. When I returned home, I opened the front door expecting to be mobbed and pulled to the ground. Instead his breathing was labored and he could hardly stand. I rushed him to the vet who took X-rays and informed me that my boy had cancer but he did not tell me how serious it was. He wanted to run a test to make sure he did not have a fungal infection. Okay but he just told me he had cancer. He gave me pills to open his airways. I would later learn from a different vet that those pills were useless as the tumor was in his lungs. I took him back to the vet Tuesday, Wednesday Thursday was thanksgiving and he was breathing worse. I slept by him on the couch. Friday morning I coked him up and we were outside by the car heading back to the vet and he collapsed. Blood started spewing from his mouth. I ran to get my neighbor as I could not lift him. My neighbor told me he was gone. I rushed him to the vet on the vet responded with, I was right it was cancer. My heart aches so much I can not think straight. My other golden misses Graham so much my heart is broken again watching her. There must be something that can be done to once again have goldens that live a long, long time.

gastrosurgery. said...

just linked this article on my facebook account. it’s a very interesting article for all...

Bloated Stomach

Colleen Fowler said...

Yesterday, we got the shock of our lives! Our beautiful 4 year and 10 month old Goldie baby, Brandy had to be put to sleep as she had a tumor in her spleen and was in the process of bleeding out...I have never heard my husband sob before. I feel as if our girl was robbed of her life! She was the most beautiful, spirited and happy dog I ever met in my life. I can't believe she doesn't get to turn 5 in April! For all of you who have posted on this site I thank you as it is some comfort to share ones grief.

Anonymous said...

I am shocked when I read these posts. My beautiful golden, Copper, died on Tuesday, Feb. 5th 2013. He had just turned 8 and like so many others here, he showed no signs that he was sick until it was too late. He was running and chasing squirrels one week, and the next was gone. He just suddenly stopped eating, threw up twice in a week, so I took him to the vet, they xrayed him and found a tumor on his spleen that was bleeding into his chest. I opted for surgery to remove the tumor and he went into cardiac arrest before they could even get him to surgery. My best friend is gone and I don't know what to do. I have never been so close to any animal or person in my life. He WAS my life. My company, my playmate, my reason for everything I did and there is such a hole in my world now I don't know how I will ever get through it. He was the best dog in the world. We had conversations, I would talk to him and for him....he was my love, my life, and my world is dark and lonely now. I never knew what real lonliness felt like until now, and there are not words to express the level of grief and sorrow I feel. My heart goes out to all of you because if your goldens were anything like mine, I know the agony you are feeling.

LadyofLedger - ~Amy said...

on 2/27/2013 our sweetness and light "Roxy" passed away. Stolen from us at 7 1/2 y/o. Literally one moment with us and the next gone. Unexpectedly, and tragically right in front of my daughter and fiance. She had just lifted her head and looked at her "daddy" as he passed from one room to the next and when he turned around and came back, she'd collapsed and was unresponsive. We were shocked, devastated and confused, then, I found all of you. My fiance, Jason rushed her to the vet hoping against hope that she was alive, but she was not. It was there that the Vet share his story about his 6 y/o Golden that died of a splenic tumor. He suspects she died of a ruptured cancerous tumor. I have found some solace for some strange reason, in reading your stories and shared memories of your goldens. I gave me some insight, some company and I know understanding of what we are going through. We were ignorant to this epidemic and to this tendency in Goldens to present such a high risk and incidence of cancers. It is so sad, they are such a lovely, loving breed. Roxy was the most loving, undemanding happy spirit that I have ever met. I am so blessed to have shared 3 1/2 years of her life when my fiance brought her to live with us when he moved in. What a joy. there is a deafening silence permeating our home, one that is oppressive and suffocating. I am looking forward to bringing the sunshine, warmth and happy, loving glow of another Golden into our lives, even knowing it may be an abbreviated amount of time. Someone needs to take the puppy and spent time with it as it grows up and love it with no bounds for the short time that it will be here, it might as well be us, because we know we will thoroughly love and cherish every moment we are graced with when we get our new puppy. I think in order to heal, we need another Golden. Thank you all for sharing with k

Shaun Mullen said...


I hope you and your family will go into the search for a new Goldie with eyes wide open.

Please discuss with breeders the knowledge you now have regarding the epidemic. If they seem knowledgeable and can give some assurance that there is an effort to breed their puppies for longevity, then a purchase may be in order. If they do not seem knowledgeable, then move on to another breeder. And another. And as many as necessary

This may take time, but the more people like yourselves who put breeders on notice that the epidemic must be dealt with, the better.

Unknown said...

Dear Shaun,

Thank you for your response. In my brief perusal of the internet and breeders I found only one that very clearly represented their commitment to responsibly and thoughtfully breeding Goldens. On their home page they promise that their Sires and Dams are all Chic certified, cardiac and hip certified and they even take on the Cancer subject head-on, they are committed to producing a stock that is bred as healthfully as possible. DNA'd to eliminate the risk of cross-breeding, and even stepping out of the East Coast region for Sires as I was told that cancer has an even higher occurrence here on the East Coast. I am sharing her link as I was most impressed by their forthrightness and responsibility to carrying on healthier lines. Thank you so much for carrying this message and thank you to all the posters that have shared and in the spirit of commonality, have lifted some of the pain and sorrow.

~Amy, LadyofLedger

sabre said...

There is nothing worse than losing our Golden family members. We too lost our just turned female golden to a very rare cancer--mesothelioma.
I don't want to cause any more tears here. My reason for posting is that soon we will get another female fron the same breeder.
I firmly believe after all that I have researched that spaying/neutering at too young an age prevents are dear friends from the benefits that hormones have on their life span. I talked to a breeder of goldens who writes for the golden retriever club. Neutering a male has absolutely no health benefits. Females are a different story, there is a higher incidence of mammary cancer in unspayed females--but--mammary cancer isn't as life threatening. A spayed female has a 2-5 times greater chance of the common cancers like hemanagiosarcoma. There are studies out there-- google early spay/neuter and read up.
Our male Golden was not neutered and just turned 10--I'm crossing my fingers that he remains healthy. Our sweet baby girl was spayed at 3 months and dead at 4 yrs. We will spay our next baby but not until age 2. You need to be your dogs advocate and the only way you can is by educating yourself. Of course none of us want unwanted puppies so you need to be responsible owners. Consider tubal ligation or removing the uterus only. I also plan to be part of the Lifetime Golden Study that is taking place now. Goldens will be followed for their lifetime to see if they can find links to hereditay diseases etc. Colorado State along with the Morris Foundation is doing this.
Any wonder why Breeders may not have as high an incidence of young dogs dying of cancer?? They don't neuter their males and they spay the females later in life maybe age 5-7 after they have had 2-3 litters.

Shaun Mullen said...


There is evidence that delaying spaying does decrease the likelihood of certain cancers, and I would endorse an owner doing so as long as it is understood that this, according to what I have read, does not reduce the incidence of other cancers.

Shaun Mullen said...

Meanwhile, here is a link to a post I did last year on a fascinating study of canine mortality:

Melanie said...

I just lost my 7 year old Golden, Duke, to spleen and liver cancer. He was only diagnosed a week ago! He seemed to rally with the meds and some Chinese herbs that I tried. Then last night he started bleeding internally. By this morning, I had to take him to the vet where they agreed he was so sick that euthanasia was the best course. I am heartsick. I had Duke since he was 7 weeks old. Before him I had a Golden that died at age 4 (!) from cancer. It breaks my heart to see this beautiful breed being decimated by this disease. I will forever love and miss my "baby".

Anonymous said...

After 13 years, tonight will be out beloved Golden's last night.
Two weeks started drinking a lot, then eating was limited, then a few days ago, legs went limp, now paralysis with heavy breathing. It was comforting reading the stories and like almost all, the most wonderful caring member of the family. Your words provide comfort and dont be silent.

Anonymous said...

Lost our Macy today, 4/5/2013, during surgery. She stopped eating and drinking yesterday, but had diarrhea for 3 days. At her yearly check in February, vet said she was in great shape, especially for a 12 y/o golden. Today, after lab tests, vet said she had a bleed and needed emergency surgery. Once he opened her up, he stopped the surgery and put her down. The suspected "small" bleed turned out to be a gallon of blood in her abdomen due to a ruptured spleen caused by numerous cancer tumors throughout her liver and spleen. She was beautiful and perfect, loving car rides, tennis balls, and jumping off of the diving board! She's the second golden we've lost to liver cancer. The thought of her and her "sister" playing together again today in a far better place than here is what has helped me get through this heart-breaking day.

Sharon said...

I wrote in about my 4 year old Golden Lily who had a huge brain tumor last May. She had directed beam radiation at Colorado State University. They thought this was palliative care and she wouldn't last long. She had a tough summer and then started doing better and better. We kept waiting for things to go bad but we took her back in for another MRI in March. The tumor has shrunk an amazing 95% with no sign of growth or damaged tissue. We are so happy to have out sassy, beautiful girl back. She is back playing with her people, her dog friend and her toys. We know the tumor can come back but we have really bought some time. I can't say enough good things about their oncology and radiation departments. They are also doing the first large scale study following a 1000 Goldens under 3 to try to figure why they get cancer. Sharon

Shaun Mullen said...


How wonderful!

Might you email me privately at to provide the name of a contact person at Colorado State so I might look into the ongoing study? Thank you.

Anonymous said...

After reading this blog we feel fortunate to have had our golden boy for 12 years. We lost him today. He was fine last night and has not been ill. My husband found him already gone this a.m. by the back door where he never sleeps. I guess we were all lucky he was healthy until the end. I will never forget the look on my son's face when we surprised him with a puppy when he was 13. He said, "Really for me?" (really for all of us) I will miss having presents brought to me when I come home. I would receive kitchen towels, dirty socks, toys, and whatever he could find quickly when he heard me come home. We are having him cremated and plan to sprinkle his ashes around his favorite swimming lake.
He loved to swim so much that we would have to put him on a long rope as he would always jump back in before we could catch him and put a leash on him. We were afraid he would drown from exhaustion. My mutt who is 13 doesn't seem to know what to do today and neither do I. Reading the blogs were sad but comforting to know that we are united in our grieving for our four legged family members. I wish all of you joy and lots of "presents" from your future furry companions.

Anonymous said...

My second golden, the first was a rescue that died of cancer, started acting old and and decrepit after eleven months. After a year of vets and their crap, I fed him ground turkey. The problems disappeared. The third golden eats raw, and is never to be nuetered. Best thing is no dog food.

Anonymous said...

My golden is 9 years old and he is my very first one. A couple months ago, he started to blow out his fur and he looked very skinny because he was vomiting a lot but his diet never changed. He got a blood test but supposedly he was fine according to our vet. His fur eventually grew back and his weight looked fine. He then had some tumors that were removed and he was perfectly fine. I live in Wisconsin where we have the four seasons. At this time it was winter and he started limping. My dog likes to chase cars out of my driveway so we just thought that he slipped on ice. The vet put him on some medication and he wasn't limping as much, but one day it started to get very bad. I was begging my parents to bring him to the vet, but the doctor said that he has to finish his medications before he got x-rays. He just looked like he was in so much pain. Today my parents took him to the vet and found out he has osteosarcoma cancer (cancer of the bones). He only has a couple weeks left to live and I've been wondering...If my parents would have taken him to the vet sooner if this could have all been fixed..

Shaun Mullen said...

One of the more insidious aspects of cancer in Goldens is that it creeps up on their owners. One day their pooches seem fine, the next day they are at death's door. Given the nature of osteosarcoma, it is not likely that intervening a few weeks ago would have made much difference.

Anonymous said...

Even though I have a German Shepherd rather than a Golden, I'm finding that reading this post as well as some of the comments that follow is serving as somewhat of a cathartic exercise for me. It is helping me to understand there was little I could do for my German Shepherd who I had to put down earlier today due to a tumor in her abdomen.
She was adopted at 4 years old and my wife and I only had her for about 4 months. She was adopted from a family that just didn't have the financial resources to take care of her. She was a very skinny (but happy) dog when we took her. We immediately changed her to a proper diet and daily exercise. Ironically as her health improved, so too did the ability for her tumor to grow that was inside her.
Almost all of the symptoms described above were being exhibited by our Marley. She was having seizures, lethargy, diarrhea, vomiting. After countless trips to the vet and blood tests that would turn up nothing, we felt completely helpless and resigned ourselves to the idea that she had an inoperable brain tumor which would be too expensive to diagnose, let alone treat.
On her last day she was suddenly exhibiting sharp pain from her abdomen and we immediately took her back to the vet. After an x-ray they noticed a large mass in her abdomen. Everything suddenly fell into place and it became obvious that we had to put her down to keep her from suffering any longer.
It was a horrible experience only having had her for 4 months before this happened. It was hard not to blame ourselves for a while simply because of the rapid deterioration from the healthy happy dog on the day we adopted her, to the writhing in pain dog that we had at the end of those 4 months.
I'm not sure if I'll get a dog again. She was an incredibly gentle dog with those kind German Shepherd eyes. It was very hard to see her go.
Anyway, thank you for your time and for sharing your experiences. I apologize for any grammatical errors.

Anonymous said...

On 1 May 2013, Duke also left this world after a diagnosis with a brain tumor. In center of his brain. In a very short amount of time, pobably started 1 month before diagnosis, he went down hill. Clumsy, bumping into things, accidents in the house which was so not him. First diagnosis was maybe hip problems. So xrays were done and hip dysplasia in both hips though mild. Started normal pain meds. But something was just off. The vet had suggested a neurologist check him out previously, but of course, I wanted to deny this. Made the phone call to the neurologist, appointment and MRI led to the awful news. Duke was only 3. He was born on Christmas day in 2009. My heart is broken. He touched so many lives and hearts on the east coast, west coast and even in Europe. Never could there ever be another kind soul like Duke. I miss him so much!! There was no way I could put him through the horrible things chemo and such can do. You see, we have lost 2 family members to brain tumors so I know what would happen. And there is a 3rd member fighting the same thing now. All 3 were in different states so I can't say there is a cancer cluster.

Anonymous said...

I was reading this to sort of prepare myself for the inevitable. My sweet baby is from a golden rescue group and she and her litter mates were taken from a bad breeding situation. We have no doubts that she is inbred and her risk of developing all of the issues you hear about is pretty darn high. She is 3 now - seemingly very healthy and just the light of my life. We have another dog (a very hearty mixed breed) and the two of them are as close as two dogs could be. I often wonder what will happen if she passes before our other dog or how our family will deal with losing her. For now we just do semi-annual check ups and keep a close eye on her for any lumps or unusual behavior. She turns 4 this year and even if she lived to be 16, that wouldn't be long enough!

One think I really disliked in this article is the statement that breeders should only breed long-lived dogs. How would one go about doing that? Seeing as the reproductive years would be long gone by the time the dog reaches "old age". This is a ridiculous argument and it would be nearly impossible to do unless you were running some closed breedery that kept tabs on all puppies for generations... but then you would neuter them before they found new homes and those that came from long lived parents couldn't be bred anyways. The better solution would be to begin introducing more genetic diversity into our lines and try to eliminate these health concerns. Owners also need to realize that the "soul" of the dog is not the breed and open their hearts to mixed breed dogs.

I have had personal experience with a lot of dogs and as a general rule a mixed breed dog will outlive a purebred every time. Dachshunds are a great example, how many dachshunds over the age of 6 don't have cataracts? Of course there are exceptions but no one can argue against the power of genetic diversity in all living things.

Good article, thanks for the food for thought!

Shaun Mullen said...

One think I really disliked in this article is the statement that breeders should only breed long-lived dogs. How would one go about doing that?

You are taking my observation somewhat out of context. A small handful of breeders are indeed trying to breed for longevity with the goal of trying to breed out more pernicious physiological traits.

I would not hesitate to recommend a mixed breed over a Golden or other purebred and have done so in the past. Two reasons beyond the sensibility of genetic diversity: The potential for heartbreak because of pathologies that have shortened the lifespans of many breeds, and not just Goldens, because of indiscriminate breeding in the name of profits, and because an inordinate number of shelter dogs are castoff mixed breeds deserving of love and good care.

Anonymous said...

Hi Golden Lovers. My wife and I are grieving our golden "Kobe". We had him put down yesterday and it was the toughest thing I had to do to date, in my life. 2 months ago he stopped eating breakfast and then threw up outside, then came to eat a couple hours later. A vet suggested x-rays, then ultra-sound, blood work, urinalysis, so we did it all. The trouble is the equipment seemed older than my grandparents thus not showing anything standing out except a thickened stomach. We had him eating small meals so he didn't vomit as much. Soon he stopped eating altogether and vomited non stop for almost 25 minutes straight and we rushed him to the vet hospital. New x-rays showed the term "bloat" with a torsed stomach. He needed emergency surgery or death. We chose to save him knowing the $4-7k cost.

Soon after the surgery went well, we were relieved to see him alive again. The next day the vet hospital phones and says they forgot to remove a sponge gauze the size of a laptop in him and they had to do another emergency surgery to remove it. Kobe just turned 9 the day before and never made it past 10 more days after a second major stomach surgery. The biopsy came back malignant tumour in his stomach and we couldn't syringe feed him no longer as he wouldn't eat. He was full of life a few short weeks back, and then gone suddenly.

This site has made me feel more comfortable with what happened, and that we are not alone. Sorry for the long post, but I guess I needed to get it out. Sorry for everyone's Golden Issues, and I know I couldn't go through this again. Bye Kobe, my best bud...we miss you immensely.

Anonymous said...

We have a purebred border collie that was just diagnosed with liver/spleen cancer, aggressive, metastatic. He's 9 years. He was playing the days before, and just suddenly couldn't chase the ball anymore, and his stomach was distended. His tumor was causing internal bleeding. He was given only hours to live, and the vet recommended putting him to sleep. But we wanted to bring him home to die in the place he loved most, not surrounded by strangers. But we're on our third day with him. He's fully alert and still wants to play, and his stomach has miraculously stopped bleeding for the moment, and his body is reabsorbing the blood. We just count each day as a special blessing, and we have plenty of pictures. We will miss him dearly, but we will be thankful that we had these last few precious days to say the long goodbye. Thank God we did not listen to the vet about putting him down right then and there. Thank God! He's on Tramadol just in case there is any pain, but for now, he's not feeling a thing.

Anonymous said...

We just lost our 3 year old golden Charlie Cooper last week. He was a 120 pound goofy, sweet, happy golden. He had just turned 3 on May 3, 2013 and died a month later June 2, 2013. He was perfectly healthy as his life, but in his last week, he became very lethargic, continued to throw up throughout the week, and had a very bloated stomach. We brought him in Saturday morning and by Monday at 12 am they had called us in to put him to sleep. How does a perfectly healthy dog succumb to cancer so quickly? He had a mass in his spleen, enlarged heart, and mast cells throughout his body. All signs pointed to cancer. He died before we could get an ultrasound of the mass in his spleen. He was our perfect baby. He brought us so much happiness and laughter. We will never find another golden like him ever again. I can't imagine I will ever stop mourning his loss. Wish we knew what to look for, any signs or symptoms, but he was only our second golden. Our first we had to give away at a young age. I just feel him passing at 3 years old is so unfair.. We miss you Charlie

Newman said...

One week ago 6/3/13 I lost my 7 year old golden to cancer. He was my life! He was fine one day and gone the next. It's time to find a cure for canine cancer. RIP my sweet baby boy Newman! My heart is heavy and I miss you so very much.

Anonymous said...

I have lost two very amazing Goldens to cancer. It still haunts me.
Crockett died in 1995, he was seven years old. I was at the age where I really needed that friendship that he gave me. I always felt safe and like I had someone to talk to at that awkward time in life that is the beginning of middle school. He was my best friend and protector.
Mae, my little baby girl made it to 10 before being diagnosed. We found out a few weeks after my grandmother had died. Hearing the news was devastating. I was about to move from the family home to go to grad school in a new city. My parents agreed to treatment. I felt so bad for her as it was summer and she wasn't allowed to swim and just sat at the door at home on the weekends and stared at the pool.
When I moved she had been cleared on cancer. I don't know if I would have gone if she hadn't been. I lost her in March 26 2009 at the end of my program. I had always wanted to take her with me but couldn't. She was not a city dog and would have hated it. The phone call of her dying from an aspirated esophagus was devastating. My Dad was the only one at home and had to take her to the vet to be put down by himself. She had had breathing problems and other issues after the treatment, but at least I got to see her two weeks before she died. I played with her every day. I miss them both sooooo much. I can never do a golden again. I just can't go through losing such an amazing dog again.

Anonymous said...

I lost my Layla only 2 weeks after her 3rd birthday back in 2011. It broke my heart. She seemed normal until about a week before she passed. Then she became lethargic and stopped eating. She had stage Ivb lymphoma. I still feel so much guilt... I didn't notice anything... I wonder if smoking weed and spice indoors caused it and I blame myself. It makes me sick, she was like my child, I loved her so much, and I failed her.

cancer treatment alternative said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

I've owned 3 Goldens growing up and I must say it's a lot like a roulette game whether or not you've picked a healthy one. My first one isabelle was put down at the age of 8 after being diagnosed with cancer of the spleen. My second one, kaiya, was a pure bred that we adopted when she was 7. Happiest most loyal dog all the way to 17 and a half. We had to put her down (for old age) before Christmas a year and a half ago. My third, Emmy, we adopted without any knowledge of her bloodline when she was 2. She just turned 10 in may and has had a rough past few weeks. She was diagnosed with a Vistibular infection (inner ear) she ended up losing quite a bit of weight from being sick from all the dizziness. Just the other day now she's stopped eating and drinking and has absolutely no energy to walk around the house or go outside. She's got green discharge coming out her eyes, and her front feet and ears are swollen and the skin seems to be irritated. She has a vet appointment today and from what I'm reading here, it's not looking too good for my old girl.

Anonymous said...

Hola: te escribo este comentario para decirte que tienes un blog genial, lleno de buenos e interesantes datos.

Quiero, si me lo permites, compartir contigo y tus lectores más información sobre la raza de perro Golden Retriever y un video de fotos del Golden Retriever.

Espero que te guste mi blog de mascotas y dejame un comentario si te apetece

Saludos desde España

Anonymous said...

9/1/13 -- My husband had wanted a dog for a few years, so when he lost his corporate job and landed a new position that allowed him to work from home, we knew it was finally time that he could have his dog. We tried rescue groups and SPCA adoptions, but since our 2.5 acres wasn't fenced, we were refused. So 5.5 years ago, we purchased our sweet, beautiful, loving, inteligent, fun and happy Shiloh from a breeder. Unfortunately, my husband died suddenly when she was only 2.5 years old -- and so she and I became super close companions -- both of us missing the main guy in our lives so very much. For me, she was kind of a connection to him.

She became more lethargic all summer (2013) and I thought it was just the heat. Then about 3 weeks ago, she began vomiting bile -- and ironically I had just tried to get more super healthy dry food into her diet -- so I thought it was that. Then she became REALLY lethargic and appetite was up and down. She'd go on short walks but was dragging and drooling by the end of a 1/4 mile walk. AND her breathing was often labored and/or irregular. Finally had enough money to go get some tests done and we learned she was very anemic. Got some more money together and took her 4 days later to have ultrasound only to learn that she had multiple tumors: Liver, lymph nodes, lungs. 1/2 gal of water in her chest cavity (I had wondered why she was gaining weight. Her lungs had collapsed and that explained the breathing issues. After hearing all the options and high cost of care, I consulted with my children (one of whom had lost her great Dane to cancer only a month before) and we decided it was time to let her go be with my husband, who I know she had missed so very much. You know the drill -- it was so heartbreaking and so surprising! Only 5.5 years old!! So beautiful!!

I had called the breeder the day before the ultrasound and told her the symptoms -- wondering if she could help me figure out what was going on. She said -- I have no idea, the symptoms are all over the place. When I called her back the next day(which she asked me to do), she didn't answer and has not called me back -- it's been 4 days. I need to call again and leave a message so she at least knows that one of her pups died so very young. Shiloh's passing, assisted by the very caring vet, was amazingly easy and peaceful. It's not easy losing them, no matter how old they are. They become part of the family instantly, these furry family members. I cannot go through more loss -- it is too painful and too expensive. I've gone through the "what did I do wrong stage" -- so reading this website has helped me deal with that a lot. All her care and vet visits were up to date and I fed her the better foods, because she was that special to me. I still can't believe she is gone. She passed 8/28/13 -- 4 days ago -- so my heart is still very, very tender. But I wanted to log my experience here with so many others. Look how many broken hearts there are from goldens passing from cancer. Hugs to each of you.

Unknown said...

My Golden Jan will be 12 Nov.25th 2013. About a year ago she had a mass on her right side I took her to the vet and they removed the mass,about a week later I called the vet to see what the lump was, the receptionist put the Doctor on the phone and he told me it was a malignant tumor but they think they might have gotten all the margins out.He said that it would probably come back in a couple of weeks.Like I said that was at least a year ago. Now Jan has had another problem and its vomiting and I am not talking a little amount of vomit its plate size amounts. Today, for the first time in her life I fed her and she did not touch her food. Iam hoping that maybe she just has a cold like we all do and will get better .....

Anonymous said...

A few weeks ago I to had to say good bye to my best friend Guinness before his 4 th Birthday 9/07/13 to Lymphoma . Our house is so empty and we have so many animals around us as we have a small family farm . Guinness thought he had to protect all new comers .. Every day I and my wife have troubles dealing with not having our 2nd son by our feet . Life does go on .We must have a Golden in our lifes . We cry we tremble & suffer from the loss of a family member . Now I must fly to Holland and try once more for such love only this animal can give .

Golden's Rule

Linda said...

I read every post and had no idea that so many Goldens ended up like my beautiful Ben. He was born May 6/05. I had to make the decision to euthanize him September 7th (one week today). He was only 8.3 and so happy and active 2 weeks earlier. I am in shock and disbelief. I thought I had done my homework with the breeder I chose. I paid for pick up delivery daycare and had an evening walker if I was home later than 7:30pm. I minimally vaccinated, fed organic and used holistic cleaning products. Looking back to October 2012 when he had his first stomach upset that needed vet care. I attributed it to the stress he was sucking in from my toxic relationship with my mother. The vet never suggested it might be the beginning of cancer and maybe it wasn't but I think an expert should have hinted at worsecase scenarios considering that privately vets call our wonderful breed, Golden Tumours. He had the second rabies shot of his life during that visit which now I regret. The vet treated symptoms (acid reflux) and not the disease.

On August 29th my world as I knew it ended. We went to the park for our usual morning walk and he refused to enter. I took him straight away to my vet for tests. After work I went to pick him up and was told all the blood test were off the charts, he was jaundiced and the x-ray revealed shadows. I was advised to take him to the Emergency Clinic right away which I did. He had emergency surgery to remove a ruptured gallbladder that revealed multiple tumours on several organs but they didn't come out to tell me until after Ben was awake. Ben spent 5 days in the Emergency Clinic and then he was sent home to die after charging me $12,000. It took 8 days to get the pathology report came back indicating metastatic neoplasia probably originating in the pancreas. It was suggested I see the oncologist but the earliest appt was Sept 13.

I returned to my vet 2x with my concern about the quality of Ben's post surgery life and was dissuaded from euthanasia even when there was a urine odour coming from his mouth. Finally I had to take him to the Emergency Clinic last Saturday night and request euthanasia. I loved that dog more than my own life and to watch him the last few days of his life broke my heart.

My previous Golden had an inoperable brain tumour. Phoenix was 10.3 and I recall the neurologist telling me that 10 was the average age expectancy for a Golden.

Linda Walls said...


I was forced to euthanize my beautiful, so loved 8.4 year old English Golden Retriever companion a week ago. I was ignorant and it never occurred to me that my dog would die such a horrible death so suddenly. Three weeks before he was running after his ball in the park and the lake full of energy and joy. He was a perfect weight, with a good appetite but had some digestion issues my vet never considered could be a precursor to Cancer. I visited my vet describing this latest upset and since he was happy, barking and running around the exam room avoiding being poked, the vet laughingly told me that it was more than likely a tummy upset from drinking lake water. Five days later he was admitted to an emergency clinic for emergency surgery to remove his gallbladder and part of his spleen and cancer was found in several organs. I was told it was hopeless by the veterinary intern yet they closed him up and woke him up to suffer the last few days in misery. Histology report revealed adenoma sarcoma and spindle cell carcinoma.

I am in shock and disbelief that my boy was full of cancer. Could I have had more time had my vet gave me more information. I will never know and this will stay with me forever!! After reading all the heart-wrenching entries by owners who had lost their Goldens at such an early age and in many cases clueless vets who were either too busy, lazy or uninformed to take the time to investigate further when small signs appeared in breeds that were known by all vets to be prone to cancers especially middle-aged dogs. My vet was a kind man that didn't over charge but he had been in practice for 20 years so must have had some experience with this epidemic. I trusted him to give me all the possibilities that might be causing this problem so that I could make an informed decision at the earliest possible time.

I googled around looking for a registry by owners who had lost their Goldens to cancer and who knew the dog(s) breeder but there doesn't seem to be anything out there, at least that I could find. Are we so apathetic to let this continue when we have the power to put these breeders on notice? The literature seems to indicate that the breeders are not capable of taking this issue seriously and I was wondering how to start such a registry to wake up the breeders by affecting their incomes (the all mighty buck) and hopefully force them to educate themselves and begin to take genetic health issues and poor breeding practices seriously over physical attributes that the various kennel clubs expect. I will NEVER watch a dog show again. I think that we need to expose them to the public and we as consumers can make a change if we stand up and say "we are mad as hell and we are not going take it anymore."

As a society, westerners seem to put up with all kinds of crap in every area of our lives i.e. factory farming, garment industry, etc. We have the power but I don't know how to engage the public. Any ideas?

Shaun Mullen said...

Hello, Linda:

I have taken the liberty of cutting and pasting your email into the comments section.

It is tragic that you had to be smacked in the face with the apathy that seems to characterize Golden breeders in general. Some vets and a very few breeders are engaged, but they remain a tiny minority.

prassempre said...

I'm afraid cancer rates among pets are not increasing only among golden retrievers. The growing rates of fast-developing fatal cancers among cats is nothing short of alarming. I am convinced there is a clear connection with GMOs in pet foods.

Lins said...

Thank you Shaun. I have emailed Rhonda Hovan and who seems interested in my thoughts regarding putting the screws into the breeders. We plan discussing possible ideas next week by telephone. Thank you for your site and wish me luck that something useful comes out of our conversation.

Anonymous said...

Our funny, wonderful golden was also victimized by hemangiosarcoma. As experienced dog owners we researched, read, phoned and googled until we believed we had found a "healthy" litter. Both parents were seemingly healthy and active, no inbreeding, responsible breeders, blah, blah, blah. On a Wednesday in Ben's seventh year he was lethargic and vomited. By Friday afternoon he was gone after the hemangiosarcoma wrapped around his liver and spleen ruptured and he died in the back seat of my car on the way to the vet. I'll never own another golden, Ben was a light in this world.

Anonymous said...

Today I lost my best friend Finn. I would not trade the short 6 years that we had with him for anything in the world. We are devastated over our loss. I could not sleep thinking about him so I started googling to try to make some sense of the fact that this sweet boys life was cut way too short. Finding this makes me feel like I am hearing stories from people that can relate. The love that a golden retriever brings to a home can only be understood by people that have had one. Unfortunately, he died from fibrosarcoma that grew so extensively that nothing more could be done. My heart is absolutely broken today. He was such a kind, loving and loyal friend. He was a big baby and all he ever cared about was being around people. We formed a special bond with this dog that is undescribable. He was such a joy and will forever be missed. RIP my precious Finn. I hoped you have lots of friends and toys to play with in heaven.

Anonymous said...

I lost my golden, Kobe yesterday at around this time from a malignant tumor that ruptured in his spleen. Kobe was my childhood dog. He lived to be almost 10 and a half years old. It happened so fast, and so suddenly. I found him in the morning curled up against the front door with a little bit of throw up. He willingly went outside and twenty minutes later he didn't return and he barely could walk towards the house I picked him up and ran to the vet who sent me to another place that stayed open 24-7. I waited and waited to find he had bled out before they could even cut him open. The doctors pulled out his heart and massaged it for 40 minutes after several bouts of CPR. My family and I are beyond devastated. That dog brought so much joy and happiness to our lives. Kobe seemed perfectly healthy, the happiest dog, who could outrun any younger dog. He never showed his age, he was still a vivacious puppy to us, despite some fatty tumors, and food allergies. Kobe was a gift, and a blessing and a part of my soul and my heart is so broken and empty without him, now. Reading these comments helps give me closure. So many owners of goldens have gone through incredibly similar and terrible tragedies. Losing a family member, a best friend and companion is heartbreaking. Words can't begin to describe the grief, and sudden loss but I knew that the chances of him surviving an emergency surgery were small. And even after, he would have become sicker, and that wasn't fair for him. It was like he chose to leave on his terms, and I am so eternally grateful he didn't have to suffer. Coming home to an empty house is surreal, and this long, grieving process has just begun for my family and I. He was the gentlest, kindest soul and will forever and ever be missed.

Anonymous said...

I know the absolute heartbreak that you are feeling over your special dog Kobe. I am the one that posted about losing our precious Finn yesterday. I have not stopped crying since. The house just seems so empty and lonely without him and everywhere I look I keep expecting my loyal friend to be there. I am so thankful for the time that we enjoyed him but the loss is so painful. My heart is broken and the thought of never seeing him again is just so depressing. I miss him so much already.

Anonymous said...

Your house doesn't feel like your home without him, and every aspect of your life and daily routine changes. We must remember the love and joy they gave us, and cherish them for that. A dog is the only creature on Earth that loves you more than they love themselves. Every time I turn around I find myself looking for him. I find myself picking up his toys and just smelling them. It's hard to grieve while life forces us to continue on when all we want to do is give up. I miss my baby boy so much, and the fact that he's gone hits me like a ton of bricks and knocks me to my knees. We come to depend on them as much as they depend on us. Our love is so endless for these beautiful animals, but we must remember that they would only leave us when they knew we were ready, and that we could handle it. They wouldn't want to see us unhappy, and they let go because thats the most selfless thing they can do for us. Them letting go and not continuing to fight for us is their gift. It would destroy us to see them suffer and waste away. He may have left physically, but remember Finn's spirit, and find the inner strength to carry on. Do it for Finn, think of how he would want you to be happy, and that he's looking down upon you, smiling and wagging his tail.

Anonymous said...

We lost Jazz yesterday after a 5 month battle with mast cell tumors. It was discovered just about one week after we lost his brother Turbo who gave us 4 1/2 months from the time he first collapsed last New Year's Eve and was diagnosed with hemangiosarcoma.
Our boys came to us as rescues when they were less than 5 months old. We've had dogs in our lives forever including other rescues who were Samoyeds. They both passed from cancer too.
Turbo and Jazz were our first Goldens and came courtesy of the GRREAT organization. A coworker was a foster parent for this group and helped our family make the connection that brought these two beautiful animals into our lives. We were only looking for a young adult at the time but when GRREAT called and told me that they had these "two young four and half month old brothers" they would like to keep together there was absolutely no hesitation in saying "yes". About a week later my 8 year old daughter Darian and I made the trip from New England to Maryland. It was her first trip away without Mom who stayed home with our one year old daughter.
We stayed in a hotel close to where the Veterinarian Hospital was that we would be at the next day to meet our new family members. I could tell the excitement was building with Darian and she would have a hard time sleeping that evening.
Upon arriving at the vet the next morning my eyes set sight on two of the most beautiful big pups I had ever seen. I could see now why were advised to bring the largest crate we could fit into the van. At just under 5 months these boys were very large already and both would eventually weigh well over 100 pounds. They were very tall and very long. And from that point in time I knew I would be forever in love with this breed.
It hurts so much today to have lost our boys so close to one another. We tried everything to save each of them including surgeries, radiation, different chemo drugs and countless appointments with specialists. Each boy gave back to us the few more months that they could and we will be ever grateful for that priceless time. But both also told us when they could give back no more. Each laid down outside and refused to come back in the house. Turbo with the help of one of our wonderful neighbors was able to be brought to our vet and went to sleep under a tree in their yard. Jazz went outside yesterday afternoon and refused to come back in the house. He laid down and the look on his face was unmistakable. His eyes spoke "It's time to let me go" and our vet was kind enough to come to the house to help him to his final rest.

I'm not giving up on Goldens because of this. Instead for the sake of their memories and the suffering I hear and read about from other owners of this great, kind, beautiful breed, I want to help find the answers. Maybe one day others will be able to post a lot more stories about the long lives of their Goldens and no more of their lives being taken far too soon to these unforgiving diseases.

John said...

Thank you for this blog. As I type this, I am so sad. Just yesterday, we buried our beloved Macy. She was only 9.5 years young and was so full of love for our family. I noticed some time ago that she began to have seizures and they worsened over the course of a year or two. Our vet advised us it was a brain tumor and treated the seizures with phenobarbytol, but we knew the seizures would overwhelm the drugs at some point. 6 weeks later, she began what ended up as a 1 hours seizure; it was horrific. I was forced to put her down my self because it was in the middle of the night and no vet clinics were open. The worse thing I've ever had to do in my life. I love you Macy! We all miss you and hope to see you again some day. Rest easy my girl!!

Anonymous said...

I lost my beloved 9 year old Golden New Year's Day...just 12 hours after receiving the dreaded phone call from my vet that she had terminal cancer...Trisha was a Canine Companion release dog..they had pretty much assured us she would live to be 14...this is our 4th Golden we have lost to cancer at an early age...I have cried for days and continue to cry, wondering how I can go on without her..This beautiful breed needs to be saved from this misery...

Jepicard said...

I'm beginning to think we have been a lot more fortunate than many whose posts I just read, but nonetheless this cancer epidemic has hit home with us several times now. Our first 2 goldens (brothers) lived to almost 14 though 1 of them stopped eating during the last 2 years of his life. Never diagnosed with anything but we suspected cancer. We made him, Punky, whatever possible to get him to eat and were able to enjoy 2 additional years with him. After he died and before his brother, NIcky, suddenly got sick and died 5 months later we adopted our next Golden, a lovable bear of a dog, Ivan. They are all sweet and yet unique in their own ways. Sadly we had to put Ivan down last May after he developed an aggressive form of cancer in his nose. We tried radiation and while at first it seemed to help, the cancer came raging back and destroyed his beautiful face. What a love he was and still there is a hole in our hearts from the loss. I got ahead of myself however. AFter Ivan came along and our dear NIcky died following the death of his brother Punky, we adopted our sweet Oliver in early 2003. Thereafter, we adopted his brother Zuko. Zuko died suddenly just before his 9th birthday. Happy playful in the am with no sign of illness. We found Zuko in the yard later that evening, as if he had lay down & never got up. Peaceful and sudden. We suspected hemangiocarcoma. We tested Oliver, his brother, thereafter but he showed no sign of cancer. Meanwhile less than a month later I was up during the night and noticed Ivan seemed somewhat lethargic, head heavy. Normally he would follow me downstairs during the night and follow me back up when I returned to sleep. We rushed him to emergency, his spleen was enlarged and they were able to remove it and he recovered well. Surprisingly his spleen was about to burst but he did not have a cancerous tumor. That was in November 2011. He did not show signs of illness again until the following December when the nasal cancer was diagnosed. Ivan turned 11 in Dec 2012. He died in May 2013. Seemed too young to us. I learned that 3 of his litter mates died the previous July, August and Sept prior to their 11th birthday. Now our sweet Oliver who just celebrated his 11th birthday this past Saturday, 1/11/14, who had his kidney removed in Sept 2013, cancer, is being treated for lymphoma which we discovered in early Dec 2013. He is a trooper and we are grateful for everyday with him. He's been receiving chemo treatments and we are grateful for everyday with him and lucky to be able to afford to get him medical care. IN the meantime we adopted another golden just before Ivan passed away. He's a joy and a ball of energy and while I love him too, my heart still breaks for the loss of Ivan & Zuko. IT's heartbreaking to lose these dogs. They're loving and bring endless joy to our family. I keep wondering if we should avoid certain dog foods and if there is anything we can do to keep our dogs healthier.

My heart goes out to all of you for your losses. They are by far the sweetest, kindest, most loving dogs ever and it's hard to imagine not having them in our lives.

Anonymous said...

We just put down our sweet girl, Gracie, 3 weeks ago. Gracie did not even make it to her 6th birthday. She had a mast cell tumor that spread to her lymph nodes when she was just a year and a half old. After 6 months of chemo and countless pills (including Palladia), we thought she was cured. Just before her 5th birthday, Gracie was diagnosed with lymphoma. We did everything we could do for her, including 2 rounds of rescue protocol chemotherapy. During her original chemo regimen, Gracie had another mast cell tumor. We had to stop chemo for awhile so that she could have surgery. It was so unfair for Gracie to get three cancers. Everyone who met Gracie commented on her sweetness and amazing spirit. She was a fighter to the end and took her 66 visits to the vet in stride (everyone at the clinic LOVED Gracie). Our only consolation is that we did everything we could do for her and did not let her suffer when it was clear "the time" had come. I am pretty sure Gracie's breeder is continuing to breed from this same bloodline. I am tempted to post that person's name, but won't. Gracie will live in our hearts forever.

Anonymous said...

We lost our beloved 14 and four month year old Golden, Rudy, on Jan. 22nd. We were so blessed to have our precious angel that long, but eventually the spleen and liver tumors got him. He was stoic to the end (as they all are). Rudy's mother lived to 13, and so did his sister. We always said that Rudy must be from strong stock outliving the females which I understand have a longer life expectancy. In the past, I lost our Golden Rusty at 13, to hemangiosarcoma, and our Golden Teddy at 8-1/2 years to liver cancer. I love this breed and although I considered getting another breed of dog, even realizing the heartbreak, we still went with a Golden. We currently do have another Golden, Eddie, who is five, but got a puppy last week, Randy, who is 10 weeks. He, ironically, is Rudy's relative and from the same breeder. I hope the good genes were passed on to him. Goldens have a special place in your heart. Anyone who has even owned a Golden knows the devastation of having to end such a beautiful, innocent life. It makes me angry that such a sweet, caring dog has to endure so much pain, but they do it with grace of which I have never seen as that is their last act of kindness. Bless all of our dear Goldens, and may they be waiting for us at the Rainbow Bridge Bridge.

Unknown said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

Today is February 26 2014, Today is also the day we had to put down our beloved GR Brandon. He would have turned 8 yrs old on May 20th. There are no words to describe my family's pain right now. Like all of your GR'S he was the best friend we have ever had! I do not know how my tomorrow's will ever be the same without him! Brandon was fine on Monday, played ball, went for a walk and played with our 3 and five year old granddaughters. Tuesday morning he went to the front door to greet a visitor fell down and never walked again. Our vet did blood work and took X-rays only to find cancer of the spleen. We like all of you were devastated by the news, we waited until 8:30 this morning to have him put down so my son could see him one last time. Our vet assured us Brandon was in no pain so it would be OK to wait.
Brandon until we are together again know you are missed and truly LOVED!!!

Kristi said...

This site has my heart breaking reading these posts. It is so true that a Golden is far beyond a 'regular' dog. They are so much like people with such deep feelings and emotions that bring us love for years.
Our sweet, sweet Ben, is a 10 year old golden that chases bubbles and swims all day and our world explodes with love for him. He could even wake my husband up if he fell asleep on the couch with the words 'Get Dad up Ben".
The past 3 days Ben seems to have shut down. His breathing is labored and raspy, he will only drink and not eat, and is slow and weak and even got stuck in the Wisconsin snow yesterday when I let him out in the yard to urinate.
His eyes have a 'look' that I have never seen before like he is not 'here'. Foggy and distant.
I cry as I write this knowing what we may have to do in the next few days - as we would not want him to suffer. And being older, also know it's not realistic to put thousands into him at this age.
He has lived a beautiful good life, yet my heart is broken already.

Unknown said...

We lost of beloved golden Chaz, age 6, on March 3, 2014. Chaz was my son's dog, but we had taken over his care. We loved Chaz because he loved us - unconditionally. Each day when we came home from work he would get his big plush toy, "Big Bear", and maybe a ball too and hold it in his mouth as he "squeaked" with happiness and wagged his tail so hard his whole body wiggled with joy. He was my protector, always at my side, at my feet or in my bed. My husband loved this dog; whenever I heard him say, "you are so beautiful, I love you so much", I knew he was talking to Chaz.

A week before his death he started drinking more water than usual and vomited watery mucus in the mornings (only). He lost his appetite but would eat with encouragment. He continued his daily activities, but appeared to have an upset stomach laying in the snow to cool off. I limited his diet to bland foods and thought he would recover his energy in a few days. Monday morning my husband got up for work and our Chazzy was dead on the living room floor. The day before he had followed me outside to take care of the chickens, chased a ball with his cousin dog Luna and ate a light supper. We are in shock over the loss. We had no idea why a seemingly healthy dog could die so quickly. He wasn't even sick enough to bring to the vet prior to his death. Although we will never know what took our Chaz, the comments on this website have helped me make sense of his death. Thank you to everyone who has posted their story. It makes our family feel better to not only know that we are not alone in our greif, but that most likely the circumstances that lead to his death were completely out of our control. So sad that this wonderful breed is plagued by cancer - they deserve much better.

Anonymous said...

I just lost my golden boy yesterday and stumbled on this blog while looking for answers about hemangiosarcoma. He was 12 and had no serious health issues during the course of his life. Since he had gotten up there in age,I worried more about his health and comfort but he didn't behave differently until two nights ago. He wouldn't eat and couldn't stand. He began groaning. We rushed him to vet and after xray, were sent to cardiologist who discovered tumor on heart and blood around it upon doing ultrasound. By this point our precious pup could barely breath and couldn't stand.We said our goodbyes and he was mercifully and peacefully euthanized. We did the right thing for him and I am so grateful for all our happy years,but I am upset that I didn't know sooner. Goldens are incredible and my Bailey was the best you could ask for. I am blind with grief over his loss.

Connie said...

My beautiful Kirra is 8 yrs, 9 mos. She was diagnosed with Lymphoma 7 months ago. We treated her with chemo and she has been in remission. Last week she showed signs of leg weakness and didn't seem right. An x-ray showed she has a large mass in her chest. She is still eating but her stamina is diminishing. I know what is coming, we've had 3 previous goldens, two died from cancer. I don't know if it's worse to see this coming soon or have them taken suddenly. I know the pain is immense. I feel bad for my daughter and son-in-law who got a golden last year. Bless our goldens and hope that research finds a way to end this.

Unknown said...

I lost my faithful, gentle companion Sara yesterday morning. She was 13 1/2. Just about a month ago she had a mast cell tumor removed from her side. It appeared suddenly out of nowhere. The pathololgy report was grim - it was a high grade, grade 3 poorly differentiated tumor. I took her to see a vet oncologist 2 weeks ago today. He ran a batter of tests including blood work, an ultrasound & aspirated many lumps. He said that her organs looked fine - he couldn't even see her lymph nodes and her bloodwork was stellar. He saw no sign of active disease or metastasis at that time. He put her on steroids & H2 blockers but did warn me to watch for more tumors. She had been fine all along. She suddenly fell terribly ill overnight last Saturday - by Sunday night it was obvious that she was in distress & barely responsive. We rushed her to the vet and were told that she was bleeding internally & was in shock. They can only assume that it was a tumor on her spleen that ruptured. She went from perfectly fine to gone in just over 24 hours. I just spoke with the oncologist this morning & he was stunned to hear what happened since her scans were completely clean less than 2 weeks before she passed away. I am beyond devastated and heartbroken. It came out of nowhere & I am wracked with guilt wondering if I missed some kind of sign. We had no choice but to put her down because she was in pain & was clearly suffering. I continue to wonder if there was anything else I could have done. I feel a loss that can never be replaced and the sadness is overwhelming. It is completely devastating.

Anonymous said...

My family put down our 7 y/o golden Zoey today. It was the worst day ever. We too feel cheated she was a great dog and a great friend to our two young kids. She was completely fine last week walking up the street with us to the ice cream shop to get her vanilla ice cream with a bone in it then quickly began to decline the next day.She wasnt able to stand or walk without assistance so we bought a help me harness, shed circle and bump into everything just all of a sudden. We went to her primary vet, then a 24hr emergency vet one night then drove a hour and a half away to the Cornell Animal Hospital in NY where after xrays, blood work and a MRI she was diagnosed with a glioms tumor in the base of her brain. We were told that it was inoperatable due to the location and surrounding soft tissue of the brain. We brought her home but it was an extremely difficult night. Listening to her whiper and cry broke our hearts along with her appearing frustrated because she could not get up on her own. She was on many pain meds that appeared to be doing little to no good. Goldens are a beautiful breed Zoey loved to be outside with the kids and swim in the pool oh and sneak up on the bed when dad left for work. I hope they can figure out something to help save this breed and to prolong their life. We will miss her dearly. RIP ZO Zo

Unknown said...

Five years ago I posted on this site about how heartbroken we were at the loss of our 9 year old Golden named Haylie to cancer. I wrote how we were tempted not to get another Golden Retriever but fell in love with a Golden puppy we named Jill. Jilly is the sweetest most beautiful girl. She also was just diagnosed with metastastic lymphoma at 5 years old! I can't believe we are going to lose her so soon. I feel like this time we did research and found a reputable breeder to get our puppy. We fed her high end dog food and no table food ever. We made sure she had exercise but I guess none of that really matters. :( I can't get another Golden. I can't do it to my family.

Gail said...

My first golden Taffy died of cancer that spread to her lungs. She was only 8 1/2 years.
I now have two goldens. Cody 11 years just diagnosed with mass cell tumor it is cancerous. Cody has had a good life dispute has horrible ear infections and allergies. Just one year ago Cody started having seizures. He Is on seizures for six months. Just started again, one ever month now. The mass cell is inoperable due to its location on Cody and his sezsures. My other golden Samm is 14 years old, has minor allergies.
Both have been on grain free diets. Their food has been changed 4 times in their life. This last diet consists of half cup or less of dry grain free food mixed with fresh home cooked meats and vegetables. Served twice daily. Alone with their meds and vitamins.My Samm,14 year old golden just had surgery on a growth. Not sur what kind. Well the home cooked diet took their bad breath away and has given them more energy. I know Samm came from a responsible breeder, he has less health issues, he is 14. Cody came from a puppy mill. He has had a lot issues and is only 11 years old. Right know.he has a lot of energy. Looks and acts well. But I know once his cancer takes over, he will go fast. I worry that he will have a grandmaul seizure....or the cancer will take him. Two days before my Codys mass cell tumor was diagnosed I put down a terrier mix breed. She had melanoma on the roof of her month. I cooked for her the last four months of her life. She was unable to eat dog food. She was her usual self until I came home late one night. I knew it was time for the rainbow bridge. It is not just the goldens that pass away from cancer most breeds do. I know that goldens r more prone at an earlier age.
What is very hard is saying good bye. I already lost one dog this year and soon Cody of 11 years, I sure hope not Samm. 3 dogs in a year will sure tough.
I believe that there is more than just poor breeding practices that is shortening our pets lives. All those vaccinations can't help. In Europe and the UK dogs live longer. They eat the same foods and get the same vaccines....just not as often. A notice on Any vaccine states to administrator to a healthy Pet. So if our animals have auto immune dease , allergies? Should we b administering these vaccines to and unhealthy Pet?
Our vets don't tell us this.Humans that work with animals are required to get a rabie vaccine. That vaccine lasts the lifetime for a human. The human gets tested to see if they are still being protected from the vaccine. Why can't our dogs be tested? Rabies vaccines maybe the only vaccine that is required for our pets in some counties. One can check with their government. The 1 year and 3 year vaccines have the same dose of vaccine. But you pay more. These are things the vets don't tell us. Because its good for their business.

The chemicals some use on the plants and grasses. Dogs eat the grass, lay and roll on it. Sniff everywhere when we take them for walks. I believe there is no one thing to blame. It is up to us to help make the change for a healthier environment for ourselves as well ad our pets.

Paul said...

Fortunately Goldens in the UK seem to have far less problems with cancer. We have so far lost 2dogs with a cancer element, but most of ours live to at least 13 and our current 2 oldies are 15.5 and 14. I am a firm believer that a processed diet and over-vaccination have a huge part to play in a dogs health and since we changed to a raw diet and stopped annual vacination 16 years ago, our dogs have been far more healthy.

Andrea said...

Reading this has been so eye opening! I didn't grow up with dogs but my husband had a Golden who lasted 15 years, so I figured that was the typical lifespan. I fell in love with my first dog, a Golden male named Bear. He was so playful and regal and athletic, with a larger than life personality. He always seemed so healthy. We noticed a couple of off things (tiredness, stumbling) shortly before he passed. He was only 8 and had two gran mal seizures out of the blue. An MRI revealed a huge inoperable brain tumor, most likely cancerous. He has terrible swelling of the brain too. We had to make the choice to put him down since he'd have to live all doped up in order to avoid more seizures and brain damage. It was so hard but the most caring choice. Now I know we're not alone in this sudden death from cancer in Goldens. Bear being gone has left such a palpable hole in our family. We have a 7 year old female English Golden, and now I'm paranoid that we will experience another sudden traumatic event that will quickly end her life. But in the end, the years of joy that these dogs bring are worth the pain in the end. I'm sure we'll welcome new dogs into our lives and homes and have to say goodbye at some point to all of them.

Anonymous said...

It's been a month since we lost our big golden Max. He was fit and a 100 pounder but with a heart of gold.Big square head and brown eyes that could melt anyone's heart. He had a low grade mast cell tumor removed from his hind leg in January of this year and healed nicely. His body began showing small tumors under his skin snd I knew the cancer had spread. In his last few days he went from active and playful to suddenly limping and and very fatigued. He lost his appetite completely and his stools became orange tinged and small. I took him to the vet and he did all the tests. Max was losing blood in his abdomen. We think he may have had a tumor bleed out on his spleen or liver. I brought him home around lunchtime and spent a tearful afternoon telling him how much I loved him and how he had been such a good dog. My vet came to my house and we put him down laying on his favorite blanket. We both cried as Max passed peacefully. The seperation pain I felt still last to this day. I see him in all the places we used to hike and swim. I miss him so much. Probably won't get another dog for a long time. Max was one of a kind. Find the cure please.

Sashatiki2 said...

Lost our beloved Sasha yesterday. Had to make the choice to end her suffering. Spleen cancer that she never complained about had spread to her lungs, tumor burst and she was bleeding internally. Already we miss her so much. Dreading each day. Cannot imagine our lives without her.

Unknown said...

Just had to put our sweet Golden Sadie down. Approximately 2 weeks ago we had to put our yorkie Asti to sleep. We buried Asti in the back while Sadie was inside. We gave Sadie a bone shortly later, Sadie took the bone out and buried it at the spot we buried Asti. Sadie did not have a habit of burring bones. We had no idea Sadie had a large mass on her spleen. She was an amazing dog.

Anonymous said...

God bless you both. Spoil the heck out of her. I am so sorry that you or anyone else on this forum is going through this.

Anonymous said...

Bless you for rescuing a dog. So sorry for your loss

Anonymous said...

My Goldens Jack and Jill died a little over a month ago. They were siblings and died within a few days of each other. Jill died from something rupturing inside. She had just been diagnosed with Cushings and started vomiting uncontrollably. I rushed her to the Vet and we saw a rupture inside of her. She died. Jack had cancer and a mass in his intestines. We did an X-ray after Jill died mad it was so bad food was calcifying in him plus his lungs looked bad and his eye suddenly became bad. He died. They were only 8 1/2 which use to be when a dog is in it's prime. They were my babies and wonderful wonderful but I couldn't go through this again and wouldn't be able to get another Golden because they are so ill these days.

Alex said...

my baby, Simba,16yrs a golden retriever died just last Saturday,in the car,after leaving the vet he was 16yrs going on 17... I have an incredible story and something may be able to change these short lived angels...I will b posting again

Anonymous said...

We lost our Harley on Monday. He would have been 10 on October 13th. He had been a little tired from time to time and favored his hips at times. We had him checked by the vet numerous times. The on ly reason the vet could give is that he was getting older and his hips looked great. He seemed healthy. Sunday afternoon we came home to find that one of our dogs had gotten sick but we weren't sure which one. About an hour later Harley started to vomit yellow bile all day long and slept most of the day. He had stopped eating and drinking and by the next morning there was no change. We took him to the vet on Monday. The vet noticed that he wasn't himself. He was in perfect until she used the stethoscope to check his abdomen. Next they did an xray and called us in later after the others doctors opinion. Harley had a good size size tumor in his stomach which caused his organs to be displaced and at times his breathing would change. He would only suffer if we would have taken him home. We made the decision to put him to rest. We will love him forever!

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