The Golden Retriever Lifetime Study
By Michael K. Guy, DVM, MS, PhD, Vice President and Clinical Veterinarian
In my last position, I was the Director of the Golden Retriever Lifetime Study (GRLS) at Morris Animal Foundation, where we recruited 3,000 purebred Golden Retrievers under two years of age along with their owners and their veterinarians into a lifelong, nationwide, observational study to evaluate the important risk factors for canine cancer. Golden Retrievers were chosen for this largest-ever observational study in dogs because unfortunately, Goldens have a higher propensity for cancer than do many other dog breeds.
In the GRLS, owners annually complete a detailed online questionnaire about their dog’s living environment, activity level, reproductive history, exposure to water, the age of the house, the type of water pipes and source of water in the home, details on the diet, travel history, etc., etc., etc. There are so many questions for the owner to respond to that it typically takes them 90 minutes to complete the annual questionnaire. Owners also take their dog in to their veterinarian for an annual examination and collection of DNA, blood and urine samples for analysis, and the veterinarian completes an online questionnaire of their own about the dog. Owners and veterinarians have agreed to complete this annual process for the lifetime of their dog.
It took 3 ½ years to recruit all 3,000 dogs into the study, and today the study is in Year 6 of an anticipated 14-16 years in length. This study is designed to give us important insight into the importance of environment, genetics and diet in causing or preventing canine cancer. Additionally, what is learned in this study may give us increased understanding of the causes and epidemiology of cancer in people.
If you are interested in learning more about the study, please visit the Golden Retriever Lifetime Study (GRLS) website. You can also support the study by making a donation through their site.