Morris Foundation’s Golden Retriever Lifetime Study

The Morris Foundation has started a new study that will track volunteer dogs’ health for life in order to gain insights into preventing and treating cancer and other canine diseases.  The Golden Retriever Lifetime Study is the first of its kind, and is modeled after the Framingham Heart Study, which has run continuously since 1948.  The goal of the study is to determine how frequently cancer and other diseases occur and to see if nutrition and the environment are contributing factors.

Here are the selling points of the study according to the Morris Foundation:

  • Be Part of History This is the largest and longest study ever conducted to advance veterinary medicine for dogs.
  • Help Determine Risk Factors for Canine Diseases The genetic, environmental and nutritional data from participating dogs will help us learn how to prevent cancer and other canine diseases.
  • Improve the Health of Future Generations What is learned from the Golden Retrievers in the study will give all dogs a brighter, healthier future.

You may or may not know that golden retrievers have the highest disposition for cancer, according to the Purdue University National Breed Health Survey study.

The Morris Foundation is looking for a total of 3,000 dogs to join the study and as of the writing of this post, have already enrolled 1,610 dogs in the study.  If you have a golden who is under two years of age and you reside in the contiguous United States, consider joining the study.  Information can be found on their site.

In order to participate in the study, the owner has to agree to have regular visits with their veterinarian.  The initial exam includes a complete physical, and the documentation of any abnormalities, including heart murmurs, dental disease and arthritis.  Dogs are thoroughly examined for skin masses and any found are extensively categorized, according to location, and may be removed and sent to pathology to document the findings.  Each year, owners are required to complete online questionnaires about lifestyle, diet, environment, exercise, medications, etc. throughout the life of their dog.  There is some monetary compensation given to offset the costs of these exams, but I understand that the costs are not covered 100%.


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