Medical problems of the breed include hip and elbow dysplasia, eye diseases, heart disease and skin allergies.
Hip dysplasia and elbow dysplasia (poor development of the hip or elbow joint) affect many dog breeds including the Golden Retriever. If your Golden Retriever is displaying symptoms of hip or elbow dysplasia including limping, soreness, difficulty rising or avoiding stairs and jumping into the back of the car, make an appointment with your vet to have his joints examined and X-rayed.
Some Golden Retrievers carry the genes for Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA) which causes blindness. Cataracts can also be found in Golden Retrievers. When buying a puppy, the breeder should provide certificates showing that both parents’ eyes are clear of these diseases. These certificates are renewed annually.
Skin allergies can occur in Golden Retrievers and can be caused by pollen, dust, fleas, lack of grooming and diet. Symptoms range from biting, licking and scratching. Golden Retrievers are susceptible to ‘hot spots’ which appear as open, oozing sores and are often caused by allergies to fleas or diet.
Regular grooming is essential to maintain your Golden Retriever’s luxurious shiny coat. Grooming not only maintains the coat’s lustre, it also reduces the quantity of hair that is shed and prevents painful mats from developing. Regular grooming should take about half an hour and it is important to brush your Golden Retriever daily while he is shedding hair. If he picks up burrs or gets sticks or other foreign bodies entangled in his coat while playing outside it is also necessary to take a few minutes to comb them out sooner rather than later.
Your Golden Retriever is a gundog breed and as a result needs daily exercise when fully grown. Running in the park, on the beach, retrieving tennis balls, frisbees or toys and playing with other dogs are all good methods of exercise. In keeping with their original purpose of retrieving waterfowl, Golden Retrievers also love to swim – even when they are young.
As we all know, basic training is an integral part of owning a dog. Your Golden Retriever will be a better companion, more obedient and sociable if he is properly trained at a young age. It is important that your new puppy has happy and friendly experiences while growing up as a nasty experience can stay with him for life.
Golden Retrievers respond very well to reward-based methods of training. Classes ranging from puppy to advanced obedience level are available at obedience clubs throughout local and regional areas. Young puppies can attend puppy preschool at veterinary surgeries to learn about canine behaviour.
If there is one drawback to the beautiful Golden Retriever, it is the amount of hair they shed. If you don’t regularly groom your Golden Retriever, his abundant coat will be left throughout your house.