American Kennel Club
Golden Retriever Club of America
Orthopedic Foundation for Animals
4Gold Service and Rescue
Paw Prints Genetics
Embark DNA Testing
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Links to Helpful Information and Articles
Excerpt from Large-Scale Cancer Study of Golden Retrievers Holds Hope For All Dogs: Goldens as Case Studies:
"The high incidence of cancer in Golden Retrievers appears to be a relatively recent phenomenon. Although the breed was neither over- nor under-represented in a 1988 health study conducted by the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine (Prymak et al. 1988), a health report published 10 years later by the Golden Retriever Club of America (GRCA) identified cancer as the cause of death in 61.4 percent of their dogs (Glickman et al. 1999).
Interestingly, cancer risk in Europeanbred Goldens appears to be significantly lower. A 2010 study put the mortality figure at 38.8 percent (Dobson 2012, Adams et al. 2010). Although much higher than average, the incidence is substantially lower than that found in North American Goldens.
Goldens in Europe and the U.S. may look similar, but there are enough DNA differences to separate the dogs into two distinct populations corresponding to their geographic regions. Gene pools on both continents are large, so breeding between the two populations is rare.
When studied in the lab, genomic differences suggest that risk for some types of cancer is related to recent genetic mutations in North American Golden Retrievers. And this could be good news: genetic differences between European and North American Golden Retrievers may be key to understanding the etiology of canine cancer overall.
Population, Popularity and Popular Sires
The Golden Retriever is a relatively modern breed, developed in Scotland in the mid 19th century and registered in the UK in 1903, about the same time the dogs were imported to the U.S. In 1925, Goldens were registered with the American Kennel Club, and by the 1950s, the affable sporting breed had gained popularity in this country. Today, they are the third most popular breed in the U.S., with the AKC reporting about 42,000 registrations, a small fraction of the total number of Goldens living in this country. In the UK, Goldens rank eighth on the popularity chart, with 8,000 registrations.
Registration agencies impose strict standards on pedigreed dogs, requiring that the ancestors of each dog be registered as well. This, combined with widespread use of popular sires, means that each breed is a closed population, with no gene flow. The “popular-sire” effect occurs when an animal with desirable attributes is bred repeatedly. Descendants share specific genetic mutations, both good and bad, and those mutations spread rapidly throughout the gene pool, where they may become permanently established, or fixed. (“Fixation” is a change in a gene pool in which at least two variants of a particular gene are reduced to only one.)"
What is an English Creme Golden Retriever?
Some of you may have heard the term "English Creme" to describe certain light-colored Golden Retrievers with a stockier look to them. Are these real Golden Retrievers? Can they be AKC registered and can they participate in AKC events? Why are some breeders opposed to these Golden Retrievers?
- Yes, they are real Golden Retrievers. HOWEVER, the AKC does not recognize the term "English Creme". All Golden Retrievers are just Golden Retrievers, and they can be registered and can participate in AKC events, but the only color terms recognized by AKC are light, medium, and dark golden.
- The term English Creme has been used to describe the very light colored Golden Retrievers that have dominated the European breeding stock and many breeders in the U.S. have been importing stock from Europe to help bring diversity to the American gene pool. They are not rare, but there is sound logic to bringing this diversity. Cancer rates in American Golden Retrievers started to spike in the 1990s. A large study conducted by the American Golden Retriever Club of America in 1998 found that the cause of death in 71.8% of Golden Retrievers was cancer. The British Kennel Club did a study as well, and found that cancer as the cause of death for Golden Retrievers in Europe only occurred in 38.8% of cases. More information about these studies can be found in the articles noted in the links list, but the reasoning behind bringing European bloodlines to America is founded in logic.
- I don't necessarily think that breeders of American Golden Retrievers are opposed to the European variety (well maybe some are). They do not like them being referred to as "rare" or as having any more special significance than American Goldens though, and they want to make it clear that the focus for breeding dogs should be on meeting the structural conformation standards of the American Kennel Club rather than on coloring. I believe we can accomplish both. We can and should meet the conformation standards AND encourage sufficient diversity in the gene pool so that we do not promote spikes in any health problems related to having a gene pool that is too closed.