DENVER/August 29, 2022 – The Morris Animal Foundation Golden Retriever Lifetime Study has reached its 10-year milestone – a decade of gathering data and biological samples to inform canine health studies for many years to come.
The Golden Retriever Lifetime Study is one of the most comprehensive studies of its kind ever undertaken in veterinary medicine. The longitudinal study, following the lives of more than 3,000 golden retrievers, is the largest study funded by the Foundation in its mission to improve the health and well-being of animals around the world.
“We’re proud of the Golden Retriever Lifetime Study and how it is advancing canine health,” said Tiffany Grunert, President/CEO. “It’s taken an incredible amount of commitment from our Study families, partner veterinarians and, of course, our hero dogs. Without their dedication, this study simply would not be possible.”
Owners and veterinarians fill out comprehensive questionnaires annually, and veterinarians also collect biological samples at each dog’s annual visit. In addition, all dogs have been genotyped, contributing valuable data to better understand genetic associations with disease and health. The commitment from the Study’s participants provides researchers with valuable data and samples, leading to expanded research opportunities in cancer and other areas, including:
- Identifying molecular signatures to detect lymphoma earlier
- Exploring variations in the microbiome of dogs with and without a cancer diagnosis
- Genetic factors that influence weight gain and obesity
- The association between DNA damage and canine lymphoma as relates to environmental chemical exposures
- Understanding human-to-dog transmission of COVID-19 in the cohort
Seven scientific papers have been published since the Study began, focusing on topics such as the structure of the Study and a closer look at the baseline demographics of the cohort. A 2019 paper from Embark Inc. used data from the Study to show the effect of inbreeding on fertility. Another paper investigated the relationship between timing of spay/neuter and the development of obesity and non-traumatic orthopedic injury. The most recent paper, published in PLOS ONE, summarizes the current demographics of the cohort as well as reports on health parameters such as cancer diagnoses and deaths.
Currently, cancer is the leading cause of deaths in Study dogs, accounting for 75% of all deaths. Of the primary cancer endpoints, the largest contributor to those deaths is hemangiosarcoma. Based on outcomes to date, Morris Animal Foundation will be funding future work to develop diagnostics and therapeutics, and to identify genetic contributors to hemangiosarcoma. Researchers will be able to use the samples collected from dogs diagnosed with hemangiosarcoma to potentially develop early screening and/or diagnostic tests as well as understand possible genetic links.
The Golden Retriever Lifetime Study team promotes collaborative research using Study data and samples with scientists from around the world to advance the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of cancer and other major health conditions in dogs.
“The Golden Retriever Lifetime Study is such a rich source of scientific data,” said Grunert. “We’re encouraged by what we have accomplished thus far but know it’s the tip of the iceberg in terms of what we can learn.”
About Morris Animal Foundation
Founded in 1948, Morris Animal Foundation is one of the largest nonprofit animal health research organizations in the world, funding more than $149 million in critical studies across a broad range of species. Learn more at morrisanimalfoundation.org.
Media Contact: Kelly Diehl