Snow Leopard

Snow Leopard
Snow Leopard cub (7 mos old) - Cape May County Zoo

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Breed of the Week: Golden Retrievers

Last week, I discussed another very popular family dog, the Labrador Retriever. Golden Retrievers share many of the same qualities and medical problems, with some key differences.

1.Like Labs, they are very energetic dogs, though I think Labs have them beat in this department even if it's a slight lead. Unlike Labs, they do NOT tend to eat nearly as many inappropriate things.

2. They also have a propensity for becoming obese (seems like it would be easier for me to tell you breeds that DO NOT!).

3. They also have issues with hip and elbow dysplasia, as well as congenital eye problems (all of which should be screened for prior to breeding).

4. They too have skin and ear issues. In Goldens we frequently see what are commonly referred to as "hot spots" - an area on the skin (generally by the ears, on the neck, or on the sides of the back leg up by the hip) of moist dermatitis. They can quickly get pretty nasty and smelly. These conditions are often precipitated by allergies. 

5. Unlike Labs, Goldens have a much higher incidence of cancer - particularly of the spleen. I've also seen a fairly high number of aggressive oral cancers in this breed, as well as lymphoma. 

6. They can inherit a congenital heart condition called subaortic stenosis that can be serious. Breeders have dogs screened for this with echocardiography.

7. Hypothyroidism (a low functioning thyroid gland) has been reported to occur in up to 25% of these dogs at SOME point in their lives. Breeders also screen dogs for this condition as well by running a very comprehensive thyroid profile. 

8. As with any large breed dog, they often develop arthritis later in life.

Most of these sweet dogs live anywhere from 10-12 years, but in my experience cancer is what knocks most of them down younger. Hopefully the continuing research into genetic and environmental factors will help us vastly reduce the incidence (and who knows, maybe even eliminate it!).

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