Morris Animal Foundation Golden Retriever Lifetime Study Commemorates 10 Years

Celebrating a decade of obtaining data and biological samples to inform canine health studies for years to come

The Morris Animal Foundation (MAF) Golden Retriever Lifespan Study has reached its 10-year goal. This study is among the most comprehensive ever done in veterinary medicine, tracking the lives of more than 3,000 golden retrievers. Moreover, this is the largest study funded by the MAF.1

“We are proud of the Golden Retriever Lifespan Study and how it is advancing canine health,” Tiffany Grunert, president and CEO, said in an organizational statement. “It took an incredible commitment from our study families, partner veterinarians and, of course, our hero dogs. Without their dedication, this study simply wouldn’t be possible.”1

Each year, pet owners and veterinarians complete questionnaires while veterinarians obtain biological samples during annual dog visits. Additionally, all dogs were genotyped, providing important data to better understand genetic links to disease and health. The dedication of study participants provides researchers with valuable data and samples, which translates into vast research opportunities in cancer and other fields, including1:

  • Detecting molecular signatures to detect lymphoma earlier
  • Exploring variations in the microbiome of dogs with and without a diagnosis of cancer
  • Genetic factors that affect weight gain and obesity
  • The link between DNA damage and canine lymphoma as it relates to environmental chemical exposures
  • Understanding human-to-human transmission of COVID-19 in the cohort

Since the start of the study, 7 scientific articles have been published, highlighting topics such as study design and further examination of the basic cohort demographics. A 2019 article from Embark Inc. used data from the study to show the impact of inbreeding on fertility. An additional article examined the relationship between the timing of sterilization and the development of obesity and non-traumatic orthopedic injuries. The most recent article focuses on environmental exposures and lymphoma risk in dogs using study data.

Cancer is the leading cause of death among dogs in the study, accounting for 75% of all deaths, according to the statement.1 The biggest contributor to these deaths is hemangiosarcoma, a primary cancer endpoint. Based on the current findings, MAF will fund future work to create diagnostics and therapies, and to detect genetic contributors to hemangiosarcoma. Researchers will be able to use samples taken from dogs diagnosed with hemangiosarcoma to eventually develop early screening and/or diagnostic tests and understand potential genetic links.

The Golden Retriever Lifetime Study Team supports collaborative research using study data and samples with scientists around the world to accelerate the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of cancer and other canine health issues.

“The Golden Retriever lifespan study is such a rich source of scientific data,” Grunert added. “We are encouraged by what we have achieved so far, but know that this is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of what we can learn.”1


Morris Animal Foundation Golden Retriever Lifetime Study celebrates 10 years. Press release. Morris Animal Foundation. August 29, 2022. Accessed August 30, 2022.

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