A Big Thank You
We'd like to express our gratitude to Berna Welch of Pebwin Goldens for letting us copy the information (replacing our kennel name) on this page from her web site. A lot of effort goes into putting an informative article, like the one below, together and we feel it is important to share with our readers too.
Health Screening Our Goldens
Frequently, families seeking information about our Goldens have lost a Golden to a tragic early cancer. Rightly so, they inquire if we have experienced this problem in our bloodlines. Unfortunately the answer is yes. Because we believe in the importance of honesty and how it will ultimately better the Gemini breeding program, we would like to provide visitors to our website with information regarding this problem in the breed.
What We Know
Through scrupulous medical testing, careful selection of animals for planned crosses, and elimination of dogs with inherited diseases from the breeding pool, we as professional breeders have been able to reduce the incidence of many genetically-transmitted diseases that have traditionally been associated with Goldens, including heart and eye diseases and joint dysplasia. However, it has become clear that early cancer in Goldens (as well as in many other breeds) has become a more common and devastating problem in recent years.
Although many of our dogs still live well into their teens, we have no clear answers as to why our bloodlines are no longer immune to the occasional early cancer, be it lymphoma, hemangiosarcoma, or osteosarcoma.
There is no known genetic marker for cancer risk at present that can be used as a screening tool in a selective breeding program, nor is there any hard evidence that changes in diet or vaccination approaches can reliably decrease the incidence of cancers in Goldens. The years we have spent in the breed and the depth of our experience shows us that, unfortunately, there does not appear to be a "clear bloodline" in any of the mainstream breeding programs. We communicate with Golden breeders across the country and Canada and can report that everyone has been affected by this problem at one point or another.
To read more about the specifics of cancer in the Golden Retriever bloodlines, please read this lengthy but informative article:Understanding Cancer in Golden Retrievers
What's Being Done
Collectively, through the efforts of the Golden Retriever Foundation (an offshoot of the Golden Retriever Club of America) breeders and owners have invested hundreds of thousands of dollars on cancer research and still there are no definitive answers.
Many of us have donated blood DNA samples to the Broad Institute in Boston where they are very actively doing research on the potential genetic risk factors for cancer. This research has not yet given us an answer; however, early cancer is something with which we responsible breeders are very concerned and we will continue to make every effort to support cancer research.
As we have previously explained, no known bloodlines (including our own) have been immune to the occasional early death from cancer. We never repeat a breeding that has produced an early cancer. What makes the problem even more perplexing is the fact that, often the parents and siblings of a dog that has succumbed to early cancer will live long and healthy lives. It appears there is no rhyme or reason to which dogs will be affected.
We make an effort to prioritize health and longevity, but we also desire to breed Goldens that are true to the breed Standard -- most importantly, the Breed's incredible temperament. We don't believe we have cornered the market on great Golden temperament and trainability, but because we have developed and maintained a bloodline for many years, temperament and trainability are things for which we now have a high degree of predictability. It is one thing we feel we can virtually guarantee: our experience has shown that a Gemini Golden will be highly trainable, athletic, loving, sweet, and trustworthy. We wish we could guarantee everything else...longevity, health, etc., but it is simply not possible to do so until better scientific tools become available.
We do believe in routinely enriching the genetic diversity of our bloodline by doing carefully selected crosses with outstanding Goldens with strong bloodlines and excellent breed characteristics.
How You Can Help
We want and need feedback from our buyers. If there is a problem, we need to know and we will do our best to assist the family in any way we can. Currently we recommend spay/neuter once the dog reaches maturity vs. early spay/neuter. Please take a moment to read the study that will help you to understand why we would do so. We provide a copy of the study to our buyers and ask that they not only read it, but that they share it with their veterinarians and make an informed choice.
We also encourage you to provide blood DNA samples from your Golden to the Broad Institute's cancer research projects. Go to their website for instructions regarding sample submission. The more people we can get involved in these research projects, the better.
Cancer affects all of our pets and just as buyers expect and deserve their breeders to be vigilant, breeders need buyers to assist as well.
Please get involved:
- Donate Your Dog's DNA samples
- Donate money to the Golden Retriever Foundation Zeke Cancer Fund
- Support the Morris Animal Foundation
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