Cali, along with her brothers Sailor and Pirate, is part of an elite group of golden retrievers: They are members of the Golden Retriever Lifetime Study, a project of the Morris Animal Foundation.
The study is in its ninth year and has shared some of what researchers have learned.
Of 3,044 goldens, aged six months to two years, who enrolled in the study between August 2012 and March 2015, 78% are still in the study and fully compliant. Goldens are much better behaved than humans in long-term studies!
In addition, 99 dogs have dropped out of the study (they didn’t say why) and, sadly, 240 have died. Of those, 60% have died of cancer, mostly hemangiosarcoma and lymphoma.
Studying cancer was the first and is the primary objective of the study, which looks at the dogs’ genetics, exposure and “lifestyle,” — everything from their diet to the amount and types of exercise they engage in.
Researchers, with “21,100 dog years of data” (I don’t know what that means but it sounds like a lot) are also looking at:
- Possible links between spay/neuter age and obesity
- Developing an early blood test for lymphoma in dogs
- Diet and microbiome health
- Impact of inbreeding on litter size and adult dog size
… and so much more.
Morris Animal Foundation is enrolling “golden oldies,” golden retrievers aged 12 or older who have never had cancer for a companion study. They will compare genetics of these healthy dogs with the genetics of study dogs who had cancer, in hopes of identifying potential genetic risk factors. If you are a human lucky enough to be owned by an elderly, cancer-free golden, please consider participating.