Golden Retrievers Health

Every breed has health issues of some kind and Golden Retrievers are no exception. Because of the differences in the gene pools, the statistics on some of the major problems in Golden Retrievers are different in Europe than in the U.S. Below is a discussion of several health issues that affect Golden Retrievers including links to several pages that have more details on specific conditions. These pages detail not only what these conditions are, but also the differences in the statistics between the two continents as well as giving Summer Brook’s policies for testing and determining which dogs are acceptable to become part of our breeding program. While I am not a veterinarian or a health expert, I have done extensive research on the genetic diseases and conditions that affect Golden Retrievers and would like to share much of the results of my research with those looking to add a Golden Retriever puppy to their family. I back up the information in this set of articles by providing links to other articles written by those who are experts on these subjects (organizations that supervise the testing, those that have researched the problems, those that have provided statistics, and those who set the standards).

Hip Dysplasia

in Golden Retrievers has information on the different scoring schemes used in the United States and in Europe and how they compare to each other. This page also has relevant statistics on hip dysplasia, information on environmental contributors, and tips on how to give your dog his/her best chance of not having it.

 New Vaccination Protocol

 Is America Over-vaccinating its Pets for interesting studies and information on what most schools of veterinary medicine in the United States are now recommending. Yearly vaccines are no longer recommended.

 I would like to make you aware that all 27 veterinary schools in North America are in the process of changing their protocols for vaccinating dogs and cats.
Some of this information will present an ethical & economic challenge to vets, and there will be skeptics. Some organizations have come up with a political compromise suggesting vaccinations every 3 years to appease those who fear loss of income vs. those concerned about potential side effects. 
Politics, traditions, or the doctor's economic well-being should not be a factor in medical decision.

Dogs and cats immune systems mature fully at 6 months. If a modified live virus vaccine is given after 6 months of age, it produces immunity, which is good for the life of the pet (ie: canine distemper, parvo, feline distemper). If another MLV vaccine is given a year later, the antibodies from the first vaccine neutralize the antigens of the second vaccine and there is little or no effect. The titer is not "boosted" nor are more memory cells induced.
Not only are annual boosters for parvo and distemper unnecessary, they subject the pet to potential risks of allergic reactions and immune-mediated haemolytic anaemia. There is no scientific documentation to back up label claims for annual administration of MLV vaccines.
Puppies receive antibodies through their mothers milk. This natural protection can last 8-14 weeks. Puppies & kittens should NOT be Vaccinated at LESS than 8 weeks. Maternal immunity will neutralize the vaccine and little protection (0-38%) will be produced.
Vaccination at 6 weeks will, however, DELAY the timing of the first highly effective vaccine.
Vaccinations given 2 weeks apart SUPPRESS rather than stimulate the immune system.
A series of vaccinations is given starting at 8 weeks and given 3-4 weeks apart up to 16 weeks of age.
Another vaccination given sometime after 6 months of age (usually at 1 year 4 mo) will provide lifetime immunity.

 The Golden Retriever Club of America’s link on cancer statistics states that according to a study done by them, over 60% of Golden Retrievers died from cancer. Another study done by the Kennel Club in England on cancer states that less than 39% of Golden Retrievers tested in their study died from cancer. These studies were not meant to be compared to one another and there could very well be some environmental issues that contribute to these statistics. These studies were based on a sample of the population, not the entire population. The study done by the Kennel Club was just a small sample. However, there is such a big difference that we believe these statistics cannot be ignored. Click on the underlined links above to read more information on these studies.

 Early spaying and neutering

is also having a negative impact on the health of our pets.  We do not recommend that a dog is neutered until as close to 15 month as possible and we recommend waiting on spaying until after a female's first season but before her second. A study done in 2013 by U.C. Davis School of Veterinary Medicine has shown that spaying or neutering before a year of age doubles a dog's chance of developing Hip Dysplasia and also doubles the chances of certain cancers. Go to UC Davis Spay/Neuter Study to see the details.

 Dog Food

page for our recommendations on dog food. This page contains not only a list of recommended foods but also ingredients to avoid and why. Many of the foods that Americans are feeding their dogs are loaded with a wide variety of ingredients that are harmful and contribute to poor health.

 Natural Flea Control

 for information on this topic. Controlling fleas with chemicals is unhealthy for dogs. We do not recommend any pill or spot on treatment as a preventive for fleas. We quit using chemical flea treatments on our dogs.  There are several natural remedies for fleas that have worked for us even with dogs living in large areas of pasture and going frequently into woods. If you reserve chemicals for only those times that you feel you have no other choice, you will give your dog a much better chance of living a long healthy life.


 We also advocate minimal use of heartworm medicines including Hartguard (sometimes spelled Heart Guard). Though vets will often tell you to use it every 30 days, it clearly says on the box that every 45 days is sufficient. Unless you live in Florida or the Rio Grande Valley area of Texas, it is not necessary to use year round. There are states in the northwestern part of the country where heartworms are practically nonexistent. It must be over 57 degrees F. for 45 days in a row in order for the heartworm nematode to complete its cycle in the mosquito before it can be transferred from a mosquito to a dog. If the temperature goes below that at anytime during the day or night, the cycle is broken and the 45 days must start over again. For most of the country, heartworms are only a danger to dogs for less than half the year. By keeping the amount of toxic chemicals that you are giving to a minimum, you are increasing your pet’s chance of having a long, healthy life.

For more info please visit

There is a huge amount of good information on the internet as well as in books on keeping your pet healthy. We recommend these links: for overall health. There are many others that we recommend on our pages on hips, elbows, vaccines, eyes, and foods. We are constantly educating ourselves on the subject of dog health and are finding that the more we learn, the more we find there is to learn. There is a wealth of information out there for those who are willing to take the time to read it.