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Association of cancer-related mortality, age and gonadectomy in golden retriever dogs at a veterinary academic center (1989-2016).


Golden retriever dogs have been reported to have an increased prevalence of cancer compared to other breeds. There is also controversy over the effect spay or neuter status might have on longevity and the risk for developing cancer. The electronic medical records system at an academic center was searched for all dogs who had a necropsy exam from 1989-2016. 9,677 canine necropsy examinations were completed of which 655 were golden retrievers. Age was known for 652 with a median age of death 9.15 years. 424 of the 652 (65.0%) were determined to have died because of cancer. The median age for dying of a cause other than cancer was 6.93 years while those dying of cancer had a median age of 9.83 years (p<0.0001). There was no significant difference in the proportion of intact males and castrated males dying of cancer (p = 0.43) but a greater proportion of spayed females died of cancer compared to intact females (p = 0.001). Intact female dogs had shorter life spans than spayed female dogs (p<0.0001), but there were no differences between intact and castrated males. Intriguingly, being spayed or neutered did not affect the risk of a cancer related death but increasing age did. The most common histologic diagnosis found in golden retrievers dying of cancer was hemangiosarcoma (22.64%) followed by lymphoid neoplasia (18.40%). Overall golden retriever dogs have a substantial risk of cancer related mortality in a referral population and age appears to have a larger effect on cancer related mortality than reproductive status.

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