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First-of-its-kind Canine Health Study Enrolls 3,000th Golden Retriever

Morris Animal Foundation leads groundbreaking research

Media Contact:
Carol Borchert, 303.708.3418

Denver/March 24, 2015—Chloe may not realize it, but she is a very special Golden Retriever. As the 3,000th dog enrolled in the landmark Morris Animal Foundation Golden Retriever Lifetime Study, Chloe will help scientists better understand the role of environment, nutrition, exercise, behavior, genetics and other factors in the development of (or protection from) canine diseases—particularly the greatest health threat to all dogs, cancer.

“Today, we enrolled our last group of Golden Retrievers. We are extraordinarily grateful not only to the thousands of owners who enrolled their dogs in this study, but also to the many veterinarians who are on the front lines helping us gather data,” said David Haworth, DVM, PhD, President/CEO of Morris Animal Foundation, a nonprofit organization that invests in science to advance animal health worldwide. “Of course, the real heroes are all the beautiful Golden Retrievers we will be following throughout their lives.”

While common in human medical research, longitudinal studies of this magnitude that record lifestyle details and collect biological samples from subjects over an extended period of time, have not been done before in veterinary medicine. Such long-term studies can reveal health effects that evolve over many years—such as the link between cigarette smoking and lung cancer in humans—helping to unravel mysteries surrounding causes of disease and revealing clues to good health. The Golden Retriever Lifetime Study, funded and managed by Morris Animal Foundation, is the first of its kind in the veterinary world.

“A study like this can only happen through the active participation of an extended community of dog owners, dogs, veterinarians and study sponsors,” Dr. Haworth said. “I think I can say with absolute certainty that we have one of the most active groups of study subjects of any longitudinal health study ever initiated. They are, after all, Golden Retrievers!”

Though the study focuses on Golden Retrievers, Dr. Haworth said other dog breeds and even other species, including humans, will benefit from what is learned.

“When we look at the similarities among animal species, we can see that there will be health risk or benefit factors that we can extrapolate from this study to other dog breeds or even to other animals,” Dr. Haworth said. “The study will provide its own revelations about risk factors and disease correlations, and possible causations, as well as lead us to new areas of scientific inquiry both in veterinary and human medicine.”

Similar to ongoing longitudinal studies in humans; veterinarians, dog owners and dogs won’t have to wait until the Golden Retriever Lifetime Study is complete to see results that may help influence and improve veterinary and human medicine. Data is streaming into the study real-time and trends, once validated, will be published as they emerge.

“Some tests are run immediately and the results are returned to study veterinarians. Other samples are stored for future analysis,” said Rod Page, DVM, ACVIM (Oncology), Director of the Flint Animal Cancer Center at Colorado State University, and Principal Investigator for the Golden Retriever Lifetime Study. “The questionnaire data actually is analyzed on a running basis every six months. In other words, it isn’t being put aside for evaluation at a later date. Our goal is to share the findings as quickly as possible once we feel comfortable that the statistics support a solid trend. We want to have positive impacts on animal health not only in the future, but also for our patients today.”

Nearly 70 years ago, Dr. Mark L. Morris, Sr., founded Morris Animal Foundation to fund the very best in scientific research to further the health and well-being of all animals. The Golden Retriever Lifetime Study is the largest of the more than 2,300 studies funded by the Foundation to date.

“The Golden Retriever Lifetime Study builds on the founding principle of the Foundation to invest in science that improves animal health,” Dr. Haworth said. “The study exemplifies the Foundation’s ongoing quest for new discoveries and knowledge that will make a difference in the lives of animals today and tomorrow.”

Today, Morris Animal Foundation is a global leader in:

  • Innovation: Dr. Morris created the first veterinary prescription diet to specifically address diseases in dogs. 
  • Rapid response: When the feline leukemia virus was first identified 50 years ago, Morris Animal Foundation invested in research that led to the development of the feline leukemia vaccine.
  • Cutting-edge research: The Foundation has invested in sophisticated medical technology enabling the genetic research that led to development of a diagnostic test for lavender foal syndrome, a deadly genetic disease that afflicts young horses.
  • Impactful science: The Foundation’s efforts in wildlife health have resulted in important legislative changes to improve the well-being of many wildlife species including Argentinian waterfowl and California sea otters.

The Golden Retriever Lifetime Study would not be possible without the generous support of the study’s sponsors. The Founding Partner is The Morris Family Foundation. Platinum sponsors for the study are The Blue Buffalo Foundation for Cancer Research, Petco, Zoetis and VCA Antech, Inc. Additional sponsors include the Golden Retriever Foundation, the Hadley and Marion Stuart Foundation and Mars Veterinary.

Stay up to date on the latest findings from the Golden Retriever Lifetime Study by following the study blog at To read more about Chloe’s story, click here. Subscribe to AnimalNews for study updates and all the latest news from Morris Animal Foundation at

Morris Animal Foundation
Morris Animal Foundation is a nonprofit organization that invests in science to advance animal health. The Foundation is a global leader in funding scientific studies for companion animals, horses and wildlife. Since its founding in 1948, Morris Animal Foundation has invested more than $92 million toward 2,300 studies that have led to significant breakthroughs in diagnostics, treatments, preventions and cures for animals worldwide. Learn more at