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Dog health, cancer study enrolls 3,000 golden retriever pups

Chloe, owned by Meredith Walters, is known as

Chloe, owned by Meredith Walters, is known as hero dog number 3,000. Chloe is enrolled in Morris Animal Foundation's Golden Retriever Lifetime Study. Photo Credit: Morris Animal Foundation

Can a group of golden retrievers find a cure for cancer?

Morris Animal Foundation, an organization that funds humane health studies, has recruited 3,000 golden retriever puppies to participate in the first-ever Golden Retriever Lifetime Study.

The nonprofit organization plans to monitor the development of each pup as it ages to help understand the role that the environment has on a dog’s health. The study will track nutrition, exercise and genetics, among other factors, in an attempt to understand more about what causes, and how to prevent, various diseases.

Most importantly, Morris Animal Foundation aims to unveil new discoveries in relation to canine cancer.

“While common in human medical research, longitudinal studies of this magnitude that record lifestyle details and collect biological samples from subjects over an extended period of time have not been done before in veterinary medicine,” the organization said in a news release.

Although the study focuses on the health developments of golden retrievers, the organization believes that all dog breeds can benefit from the results. David Haworth, president and CEO of Morris Animal Foundation, said in the release that the information obtained during the lifetime study may even be applicable to human health studies.

“When we look at the similarities among animal species, we can see that there will be health risk or benefit factors that we can extrapolate from this study to other dog breeds or even to other animals,” Haworth said. “The study will provide its own revelations about risk factors and disease correlations, and possible causations, as well as lead us to new areas of scientific inquiry both in veterinary and human medicine.”

While the ongoing study will last the entire life span of each of the 3,000 golden retrievers, the public won’t have to wait until the study is complete to see results. All of the findings will be “published as they emerge," the organization said.

At first, Morris Animal Foundation was worried that it would not be able to reach its goal of 3,000 pups. But it successfully, and more easily than expected, enrolled all of the pups needed to conduct the study, the organization said.

“I can say with absolute certainty that we have one of the most active groups of study subjects of any longitudinal health study ever initiated. They are, after all, golden retrievers,” Haworth said.

Among those energetic goldens is Chloe, hero dog number 3,000.

Chloe, owned by Meredith Walters, lives in Riverside, Illinois. Like many of the other participants, Chloe was enrolled after her owner lost a dog to cancer. Walters' golden, Amber, died of liver cancer and Cushing's disease when she was 13 years old.

"My hope is that this study will uncover data that will lead to information on why golden retrievers in particular are susceptible to cancer," Walters told Morris Animal Foundation. “After looking into things a bit more, I knew that by enrolling Chloe I could honor Amber’s memory in a tangible way — to help discover the potential causes behind the incredibly large number of golden retrievers diagnosed with cancer each year.”

Visit caninelifetimehealth.org to keep up to date with Chloe and the other golden retrievers and see study results.

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