Golden Retrievers are one of the most well-loved dog breeds in the world. They are so loved, in fact, that they have ranked in the top three out of 200 of the most popular dogs by the American Kennel Club for years.1 It’s not a shock, though. If you’ve ever met a Golden Retriever, you know how friendly, loyal, and devoted they are to their owners. And what these dogs give out in love is immediately returned back to them.
No matter how much you love your Golden Retriever, you know that he isn’t going to live forever. Even though you probably still have years with your favorite Goldie, it’s important to know your Golden Retriever’s lifespan, which is about 10 to 12 years, and what factors can affect it. That way, you can give them the best and longest life possible.
What’s the Average Lifespan of a Golden Retriever?
The lifespan of a Golden Retriever is about 10 to 12 years. In some cases, Golden Retrievers can live 15 years or longer, though this is rare.
Even though 10 to 12 years may not seem that long to you, it doesn’t mean your dog hasn’t lived a long life. This is because all dogs age faster than humans, no matter what breed. We’ve all heard that one dog year equals seven human years regarding aging, but this isn’t entirely true.
As it turns out, the dog aging process is a lot more complicated than that. Dogs age more quickly than we originally thought. For all dog breeds, no matter the size, the first year of a dog’s life is equivalent to about 15 human years, according to the dog age chart.
According to that same chart, a dog that is 5 years old is the equivalent of 36 human years. But after age 5, a dog’s age in human years varies depending on the breed. Since Golden Retrievers fall into the category of large breed dogs, a Golden Retriever 12 years old would actually be around 77 years old in human years.
Why Do Some Golden Retrievers Live Longer Than Others?
Did you know that the food a dog eats is one of the two most influential factors in their lifespan? That means that when it comes to making sure that your Golden Retriever lives the longest life possible, one of the first factors you should consider is what you are feeding them.
The study found that dogs that ate commercial dog food lived an average of 10.4 years, while dogs that ate only homemade food lived an average of 13.1 years. Dogs that ate a mix of both commercial and homemade food lived for about 11.4 years.
But you don’t have to make all of your Golden Retriever’s meals at home for them to live longer than the average lifespan. You certainly can, but you can also feed your Golden Retriever high-quality commercial dog food to increase their life expectancy.
Golden Retrievers are likely to live longer if they eat a diet high in meat-based proteins. But a lot of dog food, especially those that are cheaper, is very high in plant-based ingredients. Dogs can benefit from plants in their diet, but they are healthier when they eat high-quality dog food that contains meat-based protein as the main ingredient.
Overfeeding your Golden Retriever can lead to obesity, which can also shorten his life. But you don’t want to feed him too little either, or he may not grow as strong and healthy. Ideally, adult Golden Retrievers should eat between 2 ½ to 3 cups of high-quality food per day, but that amount will vary based on the age, weight, and activity level of your dog.
2. Environment and Conditions
Although research hasn’t been completely conclusive on the effect a dog’s living conditions and environment have on its lifespan, some links have been found. For example, dogs that live in a household where people smoke are more likely to age prematurely, which can result in an overall shorter lifespan.
In addition, that same research found that dogs that live with chronic stress are more likely to have a shorter lifespan as well. Some causes of chronic stress in dogs can be the overall environment in which they live, as well as how much time is spent playing with the dog. Dogs that received less attention from their owners, especially as they got older, tended to live shorter lives.
There are a couple of key factors regarding a dog’s housing situation that relate to their lifespan. For example, did you purchase your Golden Retriever as a puppy from a breeder, or did you acquire them from an animal shelter?
Based on the above research, living in an animal shelter can cause chronic stress for a dog, in addition to obesity, since the exercise they get is often less. Plus, the longer a Golden Retriever stays in an animal shelter, the more likely they are to be euthanized, which can shorten their overall lifespan.
But even if your Golden Retriever lives in a loving home, it doesn’t mean they will live out their full lifespan. For example, Golden Retrievers who live in apartments or other housing in which they don’t have room to run around and play are more likely to develop depression and obesity.
Even if you live in a house with a yard, that yard needs to have a fence to keep your Golden Retriever safe. Otherwise, they could run off or get hit by a car, both of which could shorten their life.
The lifespan of a Golden Retriever is equivalent to the lifespan of other large-sized dogs. Although some smaller dog breeds can live up to 20 years, the lifespan of large dogs is shorter simply because they age faster.
Remember that according to the dog age chart mentioned earlier, a Golden Retriever that is 12 years old is around 77 years old in human years since Golden Retrievers are considered to be large dogs. Obesity plays another role here, though. Obese dogs are larger in weight and overall size, which can lower their lifespan.
Like humans, a dog’s body starts to work more slowly at a certain age until it eventually stops working altogether. Since the average lifespan of humans ranges in the mid-70s, you can see that a dog that is 77 years old has actually lived quite a long life.
Both male and female Golden Retrievers have the same life expectancy of 10 to 12 years, so it’s hard to determine which gender lives longer. However, it’s been proven that spaying and neutering dogs can help them live longer, the other most influential factor in a dog’s lifespan.
It is estimated that spayed or neutered dogs live almost two years longer than dogs that aren’t. The reason why this is the case is that dogs that are spayed and neutered have fewer behavioral issues and medical problems, including lower chances of developing an infection, cancer, or traumatic death related to birthing.
Most Golden Retrievers are purebred dogs, and purebred dogs are more susceptible to certain genetic conditions, including hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia, and Von Willebrand’s Disease. Golden Retrievers who don’t have these conditions are more likely to live longer lives.
But, there are other conditions that Golden Retrievers can get through breeding if the dog’s parents also had those diseases. A Golden Retriever whose parents were healthy is more likely to be healthier and live longer.
7. Breeding History
When it comes to purebred dogs such as Golden Retrievers, they tend to live shorter lifespans than mixed-breed dogs, especially as the size of the dog increases. Mixed-breed dogs tend to live 1.2 years longer on average. A lot of this has to do with breeding and genetic conditions that Golden Retrievers can get. That’s why it is important to get medical records for both the dog and the dog’s parents before purchasing from a breeder.
However, two Golden Retrievers can have different breeding histories, which can affect their lifespan differently. Golden Retrievers from a reputable breeder are likely to live longer than those from puppy mills. This is because puppy mills are more likely to have poor living conditions than dogs being overbred. Buying a Golden Retriever from a reputable breeder is the best way to ensure they live a longer life.
Golden Retrievers are susceptible to diseases including hip and elbow dysplasia, various types of cancer, and seizures, among others. They should be seen regularly by a veterinarian and checked for these conditions, as well as for worms and fleas. They should also be up to date on vaccines to prevent rabies and parvo.
Golden Retrievers who receive regular healthcare are more likely to live longer. This is because it allows any illnesses to be diagnosed as well as a preventative action to be taken (including medication or surgery) before the illness becomes too serious to treat. Untreated conditions can often result in premature death or euthanasia.
The 4 Life Stages of a Golden Retriever
Golden Retrievers are considered puppies from birth until about 2 years old. In human years, a 2-year-old Golden Retriever will be the equivalent of 24 years old. During puppyhood, they develop their senses, the ability to walk, and socialization skills.
2. Young Adult Dog
Young adult Golden Retrievers are between 3 to 4 years old, or 28 to 32 in human years. During this stage, your dog may have the attitude and personality of a teenager, in which you may struggle with controlling his behavior and training.
3. Mature Adult Dog
Between the ages of 4 to 8, a Golden Retriever is considered a mature adult. This is equal to 32 and 55 in human years. During this period, your dog will be his healthiest, both physically and mentally.
4. Senior Dog
After age 8, Golden Retrievers are considered to be senior dogs. This is the equivalent of 55 or older in human years. At this age, your dog’s metabolism will slow down, and they may gain weight. They’ll have less energy, and their physical and mental health will likely start to decline as well.
How to Tell Your Golden Retriever’s Age
The most accurate way to tell your Golden Retriever’s age is to let a veterinarian age him. But there are a couple of things you can do at home that can give you an idea of how old he is.
Although 10 to 12 years is the average lifespan of a Golden Retriever, there are always going to be some that live longer or shorter than that. Many factors can affect a Golden Retriever’s lifespan, some of which you, as the owner, can control to ensure that your dog lives as long as possible. But, even if you do everything correctly, just know that there are always going to be things that happen that are out of your control. But as long as your Golden Retriever lives 10 to 12 years, he’s lived a pretty good and long life.
Featured Image Credit: Melanie Mai, Pixabay