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Morris Foundation Golden Retriever Study

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A Look At Participants In Morris Animal Foundation Golden Retriever Lifetime Study

Morris Animal Foundation Golden Retriever Lifetime Study

Paper presents data of participants’ demographics and initial veterinary visits

Morris Animal Foundation

image: Blaze, shown here in Durango, Colo., is the last enrolled dog in the Golden Retriever Lifetime Study.view more

DENVER/Jan. 11, 2017 – What do 3,044 golden retrievers across the nation have in common? They are the principal players in the second published scientific paper from Morris Animal Foundation‘s groundbreaking Golden Retriever Lifetime Study, highlighting characteristics of the dogs in this landmark study, including age, medical condition, preventive care and more.

Published in the November issue of Canine Genetics and Epidemiology, “Population Characteristics of Golden Retriever Lifetime Study Enrollees” focuses on the demographics of the study’s participants and their initial visits after enrollment. The study itself is the most extensive prospective study ever undertaken in veterinary medicine, gathering information on the enrolled golden retrievers throughout their lives to identify the nutritional, environmental, lifestyle and genetic risk factors for cancer and other diseases in dogs. It’s the first Morris Animal Foundation-funded study conceived, designed and run by the Foundation and its scientific team.

About Morris Animal Foundation


Study Design And Compliance

Enrollment into GRLS was an owner-driven process that has been described previously. Briefly, owners of Golden retriever dogs less than 2âyears of age with at least a 2 generation purebred pedigree who were free from known chronic diseases living in the continental United States were recruited through the Morris Animal Foundation website, social media, and word of mouth. Owners were asked to complete a survey and take their dog to a veterinarian at the time of enrollment and each year after enrollment throughout the dog’s lifetime. Contact information collected from the owners included their email and mailing addresses as well as their phone number. No direct questions about the owner were included in the survey, rather the survey contained questions about their dog’s health and lifestyle . Additionally, veterinarians were asked to complete an annual survey after each routine visit and submit samples collected at the time of the visit, including blood, urine, hair, toenail clippings, and feces to a biorepository for long-term storage.


  • a Not included in multivariable model due to P-value.

Spontaneous Cancers In Dogsthe Primary Endpoint For The Golden Retriever Lifetime Study

Cancer is considered a leading cause of morbidity and mortality in pet dogs although the extent of the cancer burden on the health and longevity of dogs is not well characterized . A formal cancer registry, no longer in use, was developed 60 years ago in the San Francisco area by the National Cancer Institute but since then there has not been a significantly accurate way to estimate changes in cancer incidence in the USA . Current estimates of cancer frequency do exist from several large national databases such as the Veterinary Medical Database which represents a collection of medical record abstracts from most of the veterinary teaching hospitals associated with colleges of veterinary medicine in the USA. This dataset has been used for comparisons of canine cancer frequency by histological type, dog breed and other demographic characteristics but is inherently biased due to the population of dogs sampled at regional veterinary referral hospitals .

Several areas of current investigation related to cancer aetiology include the role of chronic inflammation, epigenetic modulation of gene expression and metagenomics . Thorough archival collections, such as those generated by the GRLS, will be required to develop appropriate hypotheses as to how these factors may be manifested in clinical syndromes such as cancer.

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Golden Retriever Lifetime Health Study

The Dougherty Veterinary Clinic is a proud clinic partner in the Canine Lifetime Health Project. If you have a golden retriever under two years of age, please consider enrolling your dog in this important study sponsored by the Morris Animal Foundation. See for more information or to enroll your dog.

Were looking for a few good pups3,000 to be exactto be part of the most groundbreaking study ever undertaken to improve the lives of dogs. Morris Animal Foundations Golden Retriever Lifetime Study tracks volunteer dogs health for life in order to gain insights into preventing and treating cancer and other canine diseases.

  • Be Part of HistoryThis is the largest and longest study ever conducted to advance veterinary medicine for dogs.

  • Help Determine Risk Factors for Canine DiseasesThe 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 GenerationsWhat is learned from the Golden Retrievers in the study will give all dogs a brighter, healthier future.

The Canine Lifetime Health Project

Golden Retriever Lifetime Study

Morris Animal Foundation, founded in 1948, is a public nonprofit organization that funds humane scientific studies to advance animal health. The Canine Lifetime Health Project was initiated by Morris Animal Foundation in 2012 as the first-of-its-kind database to register dog owners interested in participating in clinical research studies. The CLHP website registers dog owners and their dogs of all ages and breeds including mixed-breed dogs. The concept of the CLHP website as the gateway to a community of dog owners accessible for separate health studies is similar to that used for human clinical research by the Army of Women , where both women and men can register online to be eligible to participate in studies related to breast cancer. The Love/Avon Army of Women was started by the Dr. Susan Love Research Foundation in 2008 and has since registered over 375 000 people of which various subsets have participated in at least 19 studies.

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Your Dog Could Be A Golden Oldie

Dr. Erin Hales, postdoctoral fellow with the Study, is studying genetic changes that may contribute to cancer in golden retrievers. Older dogs are needed as controls. These are dogs that have lived well into old age and successfully avoided the cancers that take the lives of so many younger golden retrievers. To fill this need, the Golden Oldies project was born.

To participate, dogs must be purebred golden retrievers, preferably registered with the AKC. Owners will complete a brief survey to sign up and then, if selected, fill out a short questionnaire. Each dog will have a blood sample drawn by their family veterinarian for DNA extraction. This DNA will be compared to DNA from Study dogs diagnosed with cancer to look for differences that could be a clue to why some dogs get cancer and others dont.

To see if your dog is eligible, please fill out our contact form. If you have questions, you can reach us at .

The Golden Retriever Lifetime Study

The GRLS is structured on a concept created by the Framingham Heart Study ), a long-term longitudinal study following a cohort of people to identify the important risk factors for heart disease that began in 1948. In 1972, the FHS recruited the children of the original participant cohort into a second cohort study, and in 2002 began following the third generation. The FHS is still contributing to scientific knowledge today with over 2500 separate publications of study results . The GRLS is a prospective, observational, longitudinal cohort study of 3000 healthy Golden Retrievers enroled from six months to 2 years of age and followed throughout their lives in an effort to identify the incidence and important risk factors for cancer and other canine diseases. Participating owners and veterinarians provide informed consent prior to enrolment for purposes of biological sampling and medical record collections. A canine lifetime longitudinal cohort will provide a shorter time to the primary outcome of interest, cancer, compared with a human cohort study. The study anticipates reaching full enrolment of 3000 dogs by March 2015.

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Morris Animal Foundation Strides Into Second Year Of Golden Retriever Lifetime Study

Foundation Recruits Golden Retriever Owners to Lead the Way to a Healthier Future for All Dogs

DENVER/August 27, 2013August 30 marks a milestone for Morris Animal Foundation and dog lovers to celebrate. Its the first anniversary of the largest and longest study ever undertaken to improve the lives of dogs. Through the Golden Retriever Lifetime Study, Morris Animal Foundation is recruiting 3,000 Golden Retrievers to participate in this monumental effort.

Nearly 700 Golden Retrievers from around the county are already enrolled in the study, including Indy who was the 123rd participant. To read more about Indys story and why he and his owner are participating, visit the Morris Animal Foundation blog.

With the help of dedicated dog owners and veterinarians, Morris Animal Foundation is collecting important health data along with nutritional, environmental and genetic information from 3,000 Golden Retrievers, like Indy, over the course of their lifetimes. This information will help scientists and veterinarians discover ways to prevent, diagnose and treat cancer and other canine diseases.

To learn more about the study or to register your dog today, visit,

This year Morris Animal Foundation also celebrates its 65th anniversary year of changing the world for animals. What started as one veterinarians dream to transform the health of animals has become a global leader in supporting scientific research to advance veterinary medicine.

What Is Expected Of You

Morris Animal Foundation Raises Funds For Golden Retriever Lifetime Study
  • Agree to participate for the life of your dog
  • Select a veterinarian who agrees to participate with you
  • Complete online questionnaires regarding your dog’s food type and feeding habits, environmental exposures, behavior/temperament, disease events, etc.
  • Visit your dog’s veterinarian for annual exams and sample collection
  • When applicable, allow collection of tumor samples for evaluation
  • Be willing to consider a necropsy when your dog’s life ends

Note: You are responsible for all costs associated with the annual exam, sample collection and laboratory test results. Morris Animal Foundation will reimburse you for up to $75 of these costs per year after verification that the exam and sample collection has been completed. If you choose, you may also donate this compensation directly back to Morris Animal Foundation to support the Golden Retriever Lifetime Study.

You can enroll yourself and pet online on their website:

Please call and advise us if you enroll into the program. We will be happy to schedule the allotted time needed to start your pet into this program.

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Golden Retriever Lifetime Study Request For Proposals

Qualified individuals may gain access to Golden Retriever Lifetime Study data and/or samples including but not limited to whole blood, urine, hair and toenails. These projects will contribute to the understanding of nutritional, environmental, lifestyle and genetic risk factors for cancer and other diseases in dogs.

Golden Retriever Lifetime Study Enters Seventh Year

Later this year will mark the seventh year of the Golden Retriever Lifetime Study. Enrollment began in 2012, and the study reached capacity in 2015. Led by Flint Animal Cancer Center director, Dr. Rod Page in partnership with the Morris Animal Foundation, the study is gathering information on more than 3,000 golden retrievers, throughout their lives, to identify the nutritional, environmental, lifestyle, and genetic risk factors for cancer and other major diseases in dogs. It is the most extensive investigation of its kind ever undertaken in veterinary medicine.

The overarching goal of the study is to identify potential risk factors that may lead to the development of four types of cancers common in golden retrievers lymphoma and osteosarcoma, which are dramatically similar to the same cancers in humans, as well as hemangiosarcoma and mast cell tumors. But we will learn so much more.

Of the 3,044 enrollees, an incredible 95 percent remain in the study and 85 percent are compliant with all study tasks. Those statistics would be unheard of in human studies and speak to the dedication of each owner. The team estimates they will be actively collecting data and samples for approximately eight more years.

The project has accumulated enough data to authorize research projects that take advantage of current data to expand knowledge about canine health. New projects include:

Excerpted with permission from Morris Animal Foundation.

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Morris Animal Foundation Needs 1000 More Golden Retrievers To Participate In A Long

One goal of the Golden Retriever Lifetime Study is to identify genetic risk factors for cancer, according to Morris Animal Foundation.

Cioli/i5 Studio

Two years down, 10 to go.

Morris Animal Foundations Golden Retriever Lifetime Study this month entered the third year of a project designed to document the long-term health of one of the United States most popular dog breeds.

More than 1,900 golden retrievers are enrolled in the study, which uses owner questionnaires, veterinary exams, blood tests and genetic sequencing to provide researchers with an in-depth look at the breed and help them better understand cancer and other canine diseases.

Morris Animal Foundation, a nonprofit organization headquartered in Denver, hopes to ultimately enroll 3,000 dogs. Owners of golden retrievers younger than 2 years old and living in the contiguous United States may apply at

David Haworth, DVM, Ph.D., the foundations president and CEO, volunteered his golden retriever, Bridger.

The 1,900 families who enrolled their dogshate disease in their beloved companions so much that they are willing to participate fully in this study, Dr. Haworth said.

It is not easy, but it is so important, he said.

Information gleaned from the study will grow over the years as the dogs age, become sick and die.

Value Of Prospective Longitudinal Studies

Golden Retriever Lifetime Study/Morris Animal Foundation ...

The GRLS is a prospective longitudinal cohort study. A cohort study is a defined group of individuals who are followed over a defined period of time . Cohort studies form a suitable model to simultaneously evaluate both multiple exposures and multiple outcomes of disease . Prospective cohort studies offer opportunity to collect data on time varying exposures and confounders. Golden Retrievers were selected as the canine population of interest for several reasons. They are a very popular breed in the USA which increases the likelihood of sufficient enrolment in a fiscally reasonable time. Following a purebred cohort of Golden Retrievers will help reduce the genetic variability that would be inherent in a mixed-breed dog population study. The Golden Retriever breed is also suspected of being at high risk for cancer development, as described below. Golden Retrievers are owned by a diverse population of humans which helps to create dispersed environmental exposures. The GRLS attempts to reduce selection bias, the selection of individuals for a study that are not representative of the larger population, by recruiting a large number of participants from all geographical regions throughout the contiguous United States, and by recruiting a diverse participant pool through broad outreach to dog owners, breeders and veterinarians.

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The Golden Retriever Lifetime Study Is The Largest And Longest Observational Study Ever Undertaken To Improve The Health Of Dogs


Hailey came to GRRMF at six months of age from a family that wasnt prepared for an active puppy. Mom Emily learned about the Morris Animal Foundations cancer research study and was very excited when newly adopted Hailey qualified to participate. The Golden Retriever Lifetime Study, which began in 2012, is charting the lives of 3,000+ purebred Golden Retrievers and Hailey is Hero #159.

Every year Hailey gives blood, hair, nails and urine samples to the research team. Her local vet monitors her general health and well-being, documenting visits or concerns, and each year Emily completes a questionnaire about Haileys food, environment, and general lifestyle habits. Participants for the research program must be purebred goldens and under the age of two.

Learn more about the exciting work of the Morris Foundation at: and

The Golden Retriever Lifetime Study: Assessing Factors Associated With Owner Compliance After The First Year Of Enrollment

Department of Public Health, College of Health and Human Sciences, Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana, USA


Audrey Ruple, Department of Public Health, College of Health and Human Sciences, Purdue University, 812 West State St., West Lafayette, IN 47907.

Rodney Page

Flint Animal Cancer Center, College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, Colorado, USA

Department of Public Health, College of Health and Human Sciences, Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana, USA


Audrey Ruple, Department of Public Health, College of Health and Human Sciences, Purdue University, 812 West State St., West Lafayette, IN 47907.

Rodney Page

Flint Animal Cancer Center, College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, Colorado, USA

Funding information: Antech, Inc. Blue Buffalo Cancer Research Foundation Colorado State University Flint Animal Cancer Center Golden Retriever Foundation Hadley and Marion Stuart Foundation MARS Veterinary Services Morris Family Foundation PETCO Foundation Zoetis

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A Look At The Golden Retriever Lifetime Study Participants

Michael Lappin, DVM, veterinarian and owner of The Animal House in Buzzards Bay, Massachusetts, has been active with Golden Retriever clubs for nearly four decades. He jumped at the opportunity to participate in this study. His clinic has 17 Golden Retrievers enrolled in the study including his own dog, Isaac a total that is believed to be the highest by any single clinic in the study.

We have a lot of Golden Retrievers in our practice, Dr. Lappin says. Isaac is known as Hero #64 in the study. He is a very happy dog and healthy so far. Goldens are generally easygoing with a stable demeanor, but the biggest problem is the high rate of cancer in this breed. This study could be a real game changer.

How You Can Help: If you would like to learn more or donate to this study, contact the Morris Animal Foundation, a nonprofit group based in Denver, Colorado, at

Each August, Dr. Lappin invites all his clients and the Golden Retrievers to a fun picnic. People bring covered dishes and share all things Golden. The event is hosted on a spacious property with a pond belonging to Heather Donnelly. Her home includes five Goldens, including Shannon, a 5-year-old in the MAF study.

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