with love to Golden retriever



Belarus, Minsk
+37529 501 81 70
Owner: Marina Zakharova

     «Голден является доказательством того, что красота и ум совместимы».
       Kurt Unkelbach, The American Dog Book, 1976





Hip Dysplasia

The term hip dysplasia means poor development of the hip joint, and describes an inherited developmental disease in young dogs of many different breeds. Unsound hip joints are a common problem in many breeds, and hip dysplasia can be a serious problem in any dog that is to be trained for a demanding activity.

Hip dysplasia may be diagnosed by x-ray between six months and one year of age, but this is not entirely reliable, and dogs intended for breeding should be x-rayed when fully mature. Two years of age is considered to be the minimum age for accurate determination of sound hips.

The Orthopedic Foundation for Animals is a organization with trained veterinarians that examine thousands of xrays and grade the hips they see. Dogs that are past a minimum age and have good hips are certified Fair, Good, or Excellent; hips that show signs of arthrosis and hip dysplasia do not get certified. Needless to say, both parents of the puppy you are considering should have OFA certification. The more OFA numbers in the pedigree (including littermates of the parents, grandparents, and previous offspring of either parent), the better off your puppy is. However, as the inheritance of hip dysplasia involves multiple genes, breeding only OFA certified dogs only lessens the chances of HD in the puppies, not eliminates.

Dogs not intended for breeding but who will be active in obedience, agility, hunting, etc. should be screened between 6-12 months of age. This way if there is a problem that shows up this early, you have several options for corrective surgery that are best done at this age. And if your pup shows no signs of hip dysplasia at this point, you can more comfortably continue with your planned activities without worrying that you are making a problem worse down the line.

If your puppy has a persistent, unexplainable limp, he should be xrayed to determine if hip dysplasia or something else is the cause. On the other hand, Goldens and other retriever breeds often seem to have high pain thresholds and do not show signs of pain. An x-ray does not always show you how your dog feels, as many dysplastic Goldens are completely asymptomatic, especially when younger. Others that do display symptoms can often be helped with either medicinal or surgical intervention to alleviate the pain.

Eye Disease

Some Goldens carry genes for Central Progressive Retinal Atrophy (CPRA) which is a progressive deterioration of the light-receptive area (retina) of the eye, and may result in complete blindness at a young age.

Hereditary cataracts are also common eye problems in the Golden Retriever. Examination by a Board-certified veterinary ophthalmologist is necessary to determine if the cataract is of concern from a genetic standpoint. If there are any questions, the dog should not be bred.

Golden Retrievers used for breeding stock should be examined annually until at least eight years of age or longer, as hereditary eye problems can develop at varying ages.

Dogs that have undergone examination by a Board-certified veterinary ophthalmologist and found to be free of hereditary eye disease can be registered with the Canine Eye Registration Foundation (CERF). Note that not all forms of cataracts disqualify a dog from getting a CERF number; you should ask to see a copy of the paperwork the vet filled out (the original is sent to CERF).

The breeder should be able to show you the paperwork on both parents for eye examinations. It's important to verify that the dogs are being examined annually and not just once. If the breeder has older dogs, ask if they are still being examined as well.


Seizure disorders may arise from a variety of environmental factors including viral infections, other diseases and trauma. While an isolated seizure does not necessarily constitute a problem, dogs subject to recurring seizures should not be bred. Veterinarians can prescribe medication to control recurring seizures, however medication is not always completely effective. Epilepsy generally does not affect a dog's health or longevity, but all such dogs should be immediately neutered and not used for breeding stock: if it's hereditary, you don't want to pass it along to the pups'; if not, pregnancy increases the risk of a seizure, endangering both her and the pups' lives.

Subvalvular Aortic Stenosis (SAS)

SAS, a hereditary heart disease, is known to occur in the Golden Retriever breed. There is no registry for screenings for SAS, however, breeders have begun to have their dogs screened by Board-Certified Veterinary Cardiologists, and OFA is setting up a Heart Registry program as of mid-1996. The usual screening is auscultation (listening to the heart with a stethescope). If there is any suspicion in the cardiologist's mind, an echocardiogram is run to rule out any problems. The typical proof that a breeder has had their breeding stock screened for SAS is a letter signed by a Board-Certified Veterinary Cardiologist indicating that the animal is, in their opinion, free from SAS.


Hypothyroidism is characterized by atrophy or malfunction of the thyroid gland. Clinical symptoms include obesity, lethargy, and/or coat problems. Affected animals may also have various reproductive problems including irregular or absent heat cycle and lack of fertility in both male and female.
Diagnosis of hypothyroidism is by laboratory tests measuring levels of T3 and T4 (produced by the thyroid gland) in the blood. Treatment consists of daily administration of oral thyroid supplement. When treated successfully the prognosis is excellent and the dog's lifespan is normal. Lifelong thyroid supplementation may be required. Many clinically normal, healthy Goldens may test slightly under the accepted range of "normal" T3 and T4 levels and it is quite possible that the normal values for this breed may be slightly lower than the values used for the general canine population. There are some dogs that will have epileptic attacks when hypothyroid and stop seizuring when put on thyroid. While there is a link, the hypothyroid condition does not cause epilepsy, and the dog should still be monitored for epilepsy.


Skin allergies are very common in Golden Retrievers and the offending allergens are numerous - a flea bite, airborne pollen, dust, mold, food. Symptoms can range from constant biting, licking and scratching to constant, chronic ear infections. In many cases diet can play a large role in the allergic dog. If you suspect you have an allergic animal, consult with a canine allergist to determine the actual extent of the problem.

Allergies coupled with low thyroid levels are commonly seen and it is often worth testing for the other if you see the one in your dog.