Thanks to the Morris Animal Foundation and Colorado State University, dogs across the world could get healthier and live longer. The two organizations have joined forces for one of the largest, most ambitious studies into animal health ever done. It’s called the Golden Retriever Lifetime Study.
The project, which will cost an estimated $32 million, tracks 3000 purebred golden retrievers over the course of their lives. All participating goldens entered the study before they turned two. Their owners are tasked with keeping track of even the smallest details, such as what and how much they eat, their sleeping habits, and dental hygiene. Owners also detail the environment in which the dogs live, giving details on the use of pesticides and other products that could affect their health.
In addition to the pets’ owners, their veterinarians are required to participate and report details. This includes doing thorough medical tests and examinations. They’re also expected to collect biological specimens, such as hair and nail clippings.
Researchers believe that having such a large number of participants will allow them to spot health trends that might otherwise be overlooked by studies with a smaller scope. They’re particularly interested in any common links between dogs with cancer, which golden retrievers are slightly more predisposed to than other dog breeds.
There is some concern that limiting the study to one breed will also limit the usefulness of the findings. However, other researchers believe that the sheer size of the study and the careful, thorough data collection will offset that. In addition, golden retrievers are one of the top three most-owned breeds in the United States, making it easier to find dogs and owners who will participate.
In the long run, such an ambitious, far-reaching study could help more than just golden retrievers and their owners. There may be findings that will help other breeds, and possibly even humans.