The Golden Retriever breed, in common with many other large breed dogs, is subject to some hereditary conditions which are inherited from parent to offspring. These problems include hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia, several eye diseases and a heart condition, subaortic stenosis.
The mode of inheritance and the specific genes involved in these diseases are yet to be fully identified. Most of these conditions have complex causes and are the result of many different contributing factors. The aberrant combination of genes which predispose the dog to the disease must be inherited and then the dog is subjected to environmental stresses which exacerbate the condition. Most of these conditions are polygenic - caused by the cumulative effects of a number of genes. Some DNA tests are now available for mutations associated with single-gene traits.
The contributing environmental factors in hip and elbow dysplasia are the dog’s weight, the amount and type of exercise, and the puppy’s growth rate. These all collaborate in the expression of the disease. Other diseases such as epilepsy are suspected to have a genetic basis, but the mode of inheritance has not been identified.
The club recommends that no dog with a serious genetic defect should be bred from. The minimum requirements to be listed on the GRCV’s puppy list and stud dog list are for both parents to have a hip and elbow grading certificate, a heart certificate and a current Australian Canine Eye Scheme (ACES) eye certificate (eye certificates are renewed annually).
An initiative introduced by the National Golden Retriever Council is for all Golden Retrievers born after 1 January 2002 to have their Hip Grading Certificates lodged with DOGS Victoria prior to the registration of their progeny.