August 13, 2020 – It’s hard to believe, but the Golden Retriever Lifetime Study is 8 years old! The most extensive investigation of its kind ever undertaken in veterinary medicine, the Study is gathering information on more than 3,000 golden retrievers, throughout their lives, to identify the nutritional, environmental, lifestyle and genetic risk factors for cancer and other major diseases in dogs.
The Study’s endpoint is defined as 500 diagnoses of four types of cancers common in golden retrievers – lymphoma, osteosarcoma, hemangiosarcoma and mast cell tumors – which will lead to a greater understanding of risk factors for those cancers, but we’re learning so much more.
The Study began as a way to fill a major information gap. Veterinary medicine lacked the long-term, expansive prospective studies that might reveal disease correlations – why were dogs getting certain diseases and what risk factors for those diseases might be.
It’s been an amazing journey so far, one filled with triumph and heartache. And one made possible by an incredible group of owners, dogs and veterinarians.
As of August 2020, 236 Heroes have passed away with about half of those being cancer deaths. Just over 2,700 dogs (and their people) are still enrolled, an impressive number of dedicated owners and dogs, considering the intensity and duration of the Study.
But this dedication would mean nothing if we weren’t able to share the gold mine of our findings. Because we hope to accelerate our research efforts, we created the Golden Oldies project this year. We’re in the process of identifying healthy, cancer-free golden retrievers over 12 years of age to serve as a comparison group for dogs from our cohort that have been diagnosed with cancer. We’ll be comparing the genetic make-up of dogs without cancer to our dogs with cancer to locate differences in their genomes that could be clues as to why cancers develop in some dogs and not others.
A Mountain of Data
Back when the study started in 2012, we knew that we’d need help analyzing the mountain of data and samples we’re collecting. In 2017, we started our first collaboration with an outside researcher. Since then, we’ve shared data and samples with nine additional research teams spread around the world. By sharing these precious resources, we can harness the expertise of these scientists to help answer more questions impacting canine health.
To expand even more on these efforts, in August 2019 we launched our Data Commons platform to share Study data with interested scientists everywhere. Our hope is that this will further stimulate new research questions and generate additional answers to important health questions in dogs.
We’d like to give a big thank you to all our participants – owners, dogs and veterinarians – in the Golden Retriever Lifetime Study. Each and every one of you is incredibly important to the success of the Study. You and your Heroes are helping make the world a brighter place for golden retrievers and all dogs everywhere.