How Long Do Golden Retrievers Live? All Questions Answered!

Updated: July 11th, 2022

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how long do golden retrievers live

How long do golden retrievers live? 78 years?  I don’t think so. 48 years? No, let’s leave that to elephants. 25 years? Well, that’s a bit closer. Unfortunately, it’s lower than that.

One of the hardest things to accept about dogs is that they don’t live as long as humans. Goldens are no exception to this sad reality.

While we may not want to face the fact that we will have to say goodbye to our dogs far too soon, it is helpful to understand what their life span averages are, issues that affect their life expectancy, and what we can do to extend our time together.

First, it’s important that you know your golden retriever’s age so that you can act accordingly in helping them live longer. Here’s how to go about it.

How To Tell The Age Of Your Golden Retriever

Maybe you have just gotten yourself a goldie and are curious to know how you can tell their age. Well, it’s easy; no need to take a trip to the vet. Just do the following:

Examine Their Teeth 

You can get many clues about your dog’s health by just looking at the teeth.  The most obvious one is that a younger retriever will generally have healthier and whiter teeth than one that is older, but let’s break this down a little further.

First of all, a goldie that is younger than seven months old won’t have all his teeth, meaning he’s not an adult yet. Retrievers reach adulthood at about a year.

At the age of three, you will begin to notice a bit of wear on their back teeth. They won’t be as clean and white as they were when he was one year old. So between the age of one and three, their teeth will be largely white and healthy.

Between three to five years is when staining and dulling become common. By the time your dog is five years old, the wear will have spread to all their teeth, with some exhibiting cavities no matter how well you take care of them.

You should know that there are dog foods that support and manage dental health.

Fur Color 

You probably know this already, since golden retrievers excite us partly because of their golden coat, but at the age of five or six you will begin to see some white or gray fur. After that, the more gray or white a goldie’s fur is, the older she is.

Body Shape

It can be difficult to tell the age of a goldie based on body shape because they grow to full adult size within the first year. Still, if you examine their body frames you will notice that adults have a slightly bigger body frame than puppies.

Other body shape clues that show a goldie is more likely older include:

  • Fat buildup
  • More muscular physique
  • Muscle atrophy

Some additional subtle cues you could use to tell a retriever’s age include:

  • Puppies tend to have higher energy levels and play more than older dogs
  • Older dogs tend to have hearing and eyesight issues whereas puppies mostly have none

Next, let’s find out why the bigger dogs lead shorter lives.

Bigger Dogs Lead Shorter Lives

Bigger Dogs Lead Shorter Lives

Big dogs, in general, don’t get to stay around as long as their smaller counterparts. Why this happens is still a mystery. After all, it flies in the face of other mammals. After all, elephants live longer than mice!

Why doesn’t this apply to dogs?

New research has determined that larger dogs actually age more rapidly than smaller ones. They live their lives larger and faster. That being said, this doesn’t ring true for all dogs. A Border Collie lifespan is approximately the same as a golden, though they are almost half the weight.

Most people equate one dog year to seven human years, but this is a misleading generalization. It all depends on the size of the dog. Scientists have concluded that for every 4.4 pounds of weight a dog has, their life expectancy is reduced by one month.

How Long Do Golden Retrievers Live?

Golden retrievers are larger dogs, which automatically shortens their time with us. The average golden retriever age lifespan is between 10 and 12 years. Therefore, a five-year-old Golden would be at the same spot in life as a 40-year-old human.

Of course, many factors play into this scenario. Goldens have been known to live as long as 19 years, but it’s rare. What might cause them not to live that long? Let’s find out.

Issues That Affect A Golden Retriever’s Lifespan

Scientists are still carrying out studies to examine why the lifespan of a golden retriever has reduced over the years. Back in the 1970s, goldies had an average lifespan of 16 to 17 years. Since then, something has happened and now we’re looking at 10-12 years instead.

It’s a significant difference, and to understand this better I’ll look at emerging factors that are proving to be an obstacle to your dog living longer.

Health conditions, genes, and environmental factors top the list of things that affect the golden retriever’s life expectancy.

Health Conditions

Cancer has emerged as one of the leading causes of death in Golden retrievers. In fact, studies show that around 60% of goldies are affected by cancer. In the next section, I’ll show you how you can help prevent your dog from getting this disease.

Other health conditions that golden retrievers are more prone to include:

  • Heart disease
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Skin disease
  • Ear infections
  • Gastrointestinal illness
  • Urinary diseases
  • Joint dysplasia
  • Epilepsy
  • Chest condition issues


Genetics point to the likelihood that your goldie is more likely to develop health conditions that dogs from their lineage had. All of the conditions above, including cancer, can be passed down to your dog from their parents and ancestors, so it’s helpful to know a dog’s lineage before purchasing it.

Environmental Factors

Environmental factors such as environmental toxins, radiation, and sun have emerged as common culprits behind cancer, not just in dogs but also in humans. Unfortunately, there’s only so much you can do to prevent this, depending on where you live.

How Can You Help Your Dog Live Longer?

We all want to know how to help our pets stay with us longer. While genetic diseases certainly play a factor, and goldens are prone to health problems, it’s difficult to fight against nature’s genetic make up.

All we can do is take action to bring their health and vitality to the highest level to fight against any DNA weaknesses.

Let’s focus on a few actions you can take to better your odds that your golden will be with you into their teen years.

1) Spay And Neuter 

Spaying and neutering your dog may give your dog an additional one to three years. Males no longer have to worry about testicular cancer and females are less likely to develop mammary cancer.

Without their hormones getting them into trouble and driving them to reproduce, they are also less likely to get into dangerous situations or break away from owners to explore their dating options.

2) Great Nutrition

Just like you wouldn’t expect someone who lived off fast food to live as long as someone who ate clean, feeding your dog a high-quality diet can go a long way toward giving them a longer life. Not all dog food is created equal.

3) Exercise

Exercise is just as important for your dog as it is for you. It helps them maintain a healthy weight, which reduces their chances of getting joint problems and weight-related diseases later in life.

4) Limit Stress

A happy dog is a healthier dog. Just like humans, goldens under stress can become more vulnerable to many chronic diseases.

Try to find ways to keep your dog happy. Address on-going stressful situations, such as bullying from another pet or anxiety. Dogs are also pack animals, so don’t leave your golden alone outside and excluded from your family.

The more relaxed your dog becomes, the longer they should live. You can read our series of articles regarding alternative treatments for dogs suffering from stress and anxiety –

5) Regular Veterinary Check-Ups

Seeing a veterinarian increases the chance that diseases will be caught earlier and addressed sooner. Vets will also keep your dog up to date on vaccinations to ensure they are protected against contagious diseases.

6) Sunscreen On Sunny Days

While the golden may be the sunshine of your life, they still need protection from the actual sun. Light-colored dogs are more prone to sunburn.

Just like humans, dogs can get skin cancer. It’s important to apply a dog-safe sunscreen to the tips of the nose, around the eyes, ears, and tummy. Ask your veterinarian for a good sunscreen recommendation.

7) Feed Healthy Supplements

How Can You Help Your Dog Live Longer?

Talk to your vet about good supplements to add to your golden’s diet. For example, many dogs benefit from joint supplements such as glucosamine and chondroitin or Omega-3 fatty acids to reduce overall inflammation.

8) Keep Them Lean 

Some owners literally kill their dogs with kindness. By indulging in their every canine cuisine delight, they pack on the extra pounds and lower their dog’s chances of a long life. With dogs, a little less equals a lot more living!

A study on Labradors showed that dogs fed 25% less than the control group lived an average of 1.8 years longer. That’s a big deal when you only live an average of 10 to 12 years!

So, if you truly love your dog, show some tough love and don’t share your dinner scraps every evening.

9) Shine Those Pearly Whites

Dental cleanings are also important for keeping your dog around longer. Bacteria allowed to build up in your dog’s mouth from plague can migrate to the bloodstream and damage vital organs.

Make sure to get your pup’s mouth cleaned regularly and brush their teeth at home. Take a look at our most recommended dog toothbrushes.

10) Avoid Toxic Exposure

It shouldn’t surprise you that limiting toxic exposure helps your pup live longer. However, it may not be on your radar that many things your dog may be interacting with aren’t pet safe.

Don’t let your dog chew on objects that have been chemically treated. Don’t let them lick surfaces with cleaning chemicals. Be mindful of what you are putting on their skin or allowing them to eat.

Your dog needs you to protect them from consuming toxins that they don’t know will hurt them.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can A Golden Retriever Live For 20 Years?

Even though the average golden retriever lifespan is 10-12 years, many have lived longer than that. It’s hard to explain that, because this is an issue that is still under study.

At What Age Is A Golden Retriever A Senior?

Goldens are only looked at as senior dogs once they turn eight years old. This is the time when their metabolism begins to slow down and their weight increases. Energy levels begin to decline as well and their overall health, both physical and mental, also start to deteriorate.

What Is The Oldest Golden Retriever?

August, best known by many as Augie, was the oldest known golden retriever. On April 24th, 2020, she celebrated her 20th birthday, setting a new record.  She lived to be 20 years and 11 months old, and no other goldie has been known to live 20 years before Augie. You can learn more about Augie here.

How Long Does A Golden Retriever Live? Last Word 

Every golden owner knows that their dogs make up the lack of quantity of years with the quality they bring to their lives. However, we all want to put off saying our goodbyes for as long as possible. The good news is there are plenty of things owners can do to increase the lifespan of a golden retriever. Take this chance to make your golden’s golden years last just a little bit longer.

Written By

Wendy is a self-employed beauty therapist, mother of two, life-long pet parent and lover of dogs who somehow manages to squeeze in the time to satisfy another of her loves - writing. Wendy is the founder, main contributor to and editor of TotallyGoldens.

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  • Mary
    Posted June 5, 2017 at 6:27 pm 0Likes

    Hello have any studies been done on the effect of the use of Pet safe type fences? Our 10 year old golden died from a large mass on her spleen. It was undetectable. No symptoms. Why would a dog get cancer. She wore a radio signal collar to keep her in the yard and I wonder if that is what caused it? I’m not looking to blame I just want to be a smart pet caretaker. It would be even worse if it effected humans. Thanks for any input.

    • Wendy
      Posted June 17, 2017 at 6:52 pm 0Likes

      Hello Mary
      Studies have shown that Goldens have a high incidence of cancer age ten and over. It has been recorded that because we take better care of our dogs they are living to an age where they can develop inherent diseases.
      I cannot say if the fence has anything to do with it but it’s been stated that cancer is now the leading cause of death in dogs 1 and older. Regular visits to the vet should help prevent the spread and save the pup.
      Hope this helped

  • Michael
    Posted June 6, 2019 at 9:54 pm 0Likes

    My Golden lived to be a week past his 16th birthday. He was having breathing issues and had an enlarged heart. He was also 98 pounds because he loved to eat and I would give into him. It saddens me that he is no longer here and I would do anything to have him. This site was very informational and will serve as a good resource to other golden owners.

  • Debbie White
    Posted July 21, 2019 at 6:32 pm 0Likes

    Hello. I had a gorgeous golden retriever who died at about 10 years old also. They are so much like people and I think they feel stress like we do. My husband and our golden were inseparable and when he passed away from cancer, our golden went into depression. Within a year she was much better but she died from the same cancer that killed him. I saw that with my mother and her dog… both dying of lung cancer. Quite a coincidence. I think that the best that we can do is to keep them on a natural diet and as content as we can. Sometimes things just happen and we cannot answer it. I know… it is the worst thing in the world to lose our dogs.

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