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Preventing Health Problems in Golden's 





Please remember when choosing a breeder the color of a dog should not be the focus. The overall health and longevity should be foremost. 

All Golden Retriever parents should be examined for hip disease and other diseases in both English Cream Goldens and American Goldens.  Choosing the institute is up to the breeder.  The PennHip which is currently th most accurate hips test in the world , The second runner up is BVA (British Veterinary Association),  OVC (Ontario Veterinarian College) , FCI or OFA.  We have worked with a few of these. Many institutes due exams when the dog is one year of age. This is to help differentiate between genetic and environmental problems. In America the OFA is the standard and you will find that many American breeders only follow this institute when in fact there are many all over the world. The (GRCA) in the USA feel that if the basic four clearances are done those breeders are recommend breeders. 2 YEAR Hip OFA, 2 Year Elbow OFA, EYES Yearly, Heart. There is much more to it than these four. 

I was listening to a Special Group who study development of Hips and Elbows development of dogs. They were speaking of dog food. I I have had this question for many years because I learned this from Pennhip scores many years ago. Question always asked to me. Why do I use a adult dog food to grow my puppies?????? Lower Protein and Lower fat grow puppies slower. Manufacturers who are now making food for large breeds have realized they can't use the same food for all puppies. Growing the puppy too fast on a puppy food not designed for large breed can ruin the hips and elbows of your large breed dog causing dysplasia. That is why some companies have changed and made a food for large breed puppies.  

Nuvet : Supplements for dogs and puppies

Glucosamine provides the joints with the building blocks needed for good health by acting as a catalyst to help synthesize new cartilage caused by ear and tear. Discomfort can happen when normal wear and tear break down cartilage. 


Chondroitin attracks and holds fluid within cartilage tissue helping to lubricate joints and increasing mobility. Chondoitin neutralizes the destructive enzymes that are known to damage and destroy cartilage. It aids Glucosamine which is the building block of healthy joints.

Vitamin C helps the ligaments and tendons to stretch. What happens when your child grows to fast they get growing pains due to the ligaments get to tight pulling on the bones. If we use the hip for example it is like putting a rope on your hip and pulling it out of socket. Hence it hurts. Increased Vitamin C causes the ligaments and tendons to stretch so the rope doesn't pull so hard out of socket. Same theory we use for kids we use on dogs. 

Msm cleans up free radicals. In laymen's term it hep cleans up injuries to the joint. Helping to prevent arthritic properties to form. 


These supplement’s help prevent future arthritis and aid in development of joints in puppies. Why wait until the damage is done and you can't reverse head it off before begins. 

There are many opinions with breeding. I want to help explain to buyers the differences. We feel there is so much more than the basic four asked for by the GRCA in the USA. 

PennHip VS OFA

For those unfamiliar with the Pennhip Hip process we offer some background on their methodology. 

  • A PennHip evaluation not only reports as dysplastic those dogs with bone and cartilage abnormalities like OFA but takes it a step further and also points to the risk of the dog developing such radiographic signs later. 

  • While PennHip does measure laxity, it also looks at the integrity of the joint for dysplasia.

  • Veterinarians who wish to submit films to PennHip are required to be trained in the techniques and to be certified. This assures that standard protocols will be used in obtaining the films and helps insure accurate data.

  • Pennhip can Evaluate as young as 16 weeks of age.   Every dog as they get older will develop some wear and tear of the joints. It has great potential to lower the frequency of canine hip dysplasia (CHD) when used as a selection criterion.

  • The distraction index assigned to each hip joint is based on precise measurements and mathematical calculations.

  • The distraction index assigned to each hip is a number which tells us how loose the ligament is holding femur into the acetabulum. This is to predict future problems. You can have a .60 in an Excellent, Good or Fair hip reading from the OFA. This number is future prediction. It is not saying the dog has dysplastic hips. If the dog actually has dysplastic hips it is also noted in the report. This is very important because if the ligament is to loose it will not matter what the hip is rated at ( Excellent , Good, Fair by OFA) the movement will cause Osteo Arthritis.

  • Pennhip includes hip-extended position, compression and distraction radiographic views.  (Which is three views in comparison to one view used by OFA.)

Pennhip's downside is that the cost is higher, vet's must be certified to preform with special training and are not as assessable all over. 

The Distraction Index (DI), as determined by the PennHIP method, is the most reliable indicator of future hip osteoarthritis.  A study of large breed dogs showed that the distraction index stayed the same over time (within acceptable statistical limits) and was much more reliable over time than other methods such as the Norberg angle and the OFA scoring method. This is because no other company takes the ligament and movement into account. PennHip has taken it one step farther. 

Hip Dysplasia is a degenerative joint disease which leads to Osteo Arthritis. There are many causes of degenerative joint disease, such as trauma, abnormal wear and tear on the joint and cartilage, excessive weight and improperly formed joint's. Pennhip vs OFA

In layman's turn to help you understand  PennHIP looks at the Cup/Saucer however evaluates how much movement "in" (Compression) and "out" (Distraction) of the socket there is.  In other words - Does the ball (femoral head) STAY in the socket (acetabulum). This in turn causing less wear and tear reducing degenerative joint disease which leads to Osteo Arthritis. If the anchor (ligament) is to loose and the hip socket by OFA is deep (Let's say Excellent) it doesn't really matter, the ball (femoral head) will have abnormal wear and tear on the joint and cartilage, leading to Osteo Arthritis in the future.  The opposite, if the anchor (ligament) is very short and very tight and the ball (femoral head) is sitting inside more of a saucer instead of a cup. The dog will have less abnormal wear and tear on the joint and cartilage. This is because although a shallower cup the ligament keeps it seated and secure. Promise Land does consider the OFA score, obviously you need to see the depth of the cup/saucer and does take this into account, however shallow or deep we want to make sure the ligament will hold the head of the femur in place, reducing wear and tear on the joint's. In turn reducing the chances of  future Osteo Arthritis. With the ability to reduce the wear and tear on the joint's you can reduce hip problems in the Golden Retriever which could not be achieved previously.  


For those unfamiliar with the OFA Hip process we offer some background on their methodology.


The majority of the challenges with using OFA we’ve researched (and we seldom find challenges against PennHip).

  • The film taker did not lined up the dog’s hips correctly.

  • The films quality taken depends on the skill of the one taking them.

  • OFA is unregulated for training of person taking film.

  • Tests comparing positioning shows that one image hip-extended position used by OFA tends to drive the femoral head into the socket, masking the amount of laxity and artificially improving the look of the hip joint. 

  • One radiologist may disagree with another and may even contradict themselves.

  • X-rays are examined by three radiologists who report their findings to OFA-Copied from the OFA sight- One radiologist reported Excellent, one Good, one Fair—the final grade would be Good. So which radiologist was correct?????I have to ask myself. 

  • About 75% of the time the Radiologist agree on films read. Which means that 25% of the time they don't agree on a dog. 

The good points of  OFA-Easily assessable (any vet with x-ray equipment), cost low and  better than no test at all.

They gives us a basic idea of cup depth and if the dog currently has dysplastic hips. 

OFA Radiologists assess to see developed hip joint such as how deep the cup (acetabulum) is that the ball (femoral head) sits in. With OFA, they want to see a deep cup (acetabulum) with the ball (femoral head) down deep inside it. Obviously this is important - if you are trying to take something with you down the bumpy road of life, it is better to take it in a "cup" than a "saucer". This gives the radiologist the score of  Excellent, Good and Fair.

Here comes another problem with the reading you get from OFA, they give us the basic cup depth but no assessment as to what is happening with the anchor (Ligament) that holds the ball in the cup or the saucer.   We know that if the anchor (Ligament) is to loose it create's extreme movement causing greater wear and tear.  It is great if you get an idea of the cup depth and I do give them credit but that doesn't provide a way for a breeder to see if  the ball will stay in the Cup/Saucer. As many as 80% of dogs evaluated as “normal” by the OFA were found to have hip laxity by PennHIP testing that predisposed them to developing hip osteoarthritis in the future. This gives a breeder pause to think about. 

A study done of OFA's findings determined there is "substantial bias in OFA database, which causes lower estimates of prevalence of CHD." Additional research has determined that " OFA scoring of HE radiographs underestimated susceptibility to osteoarthritis in dogs, which may impede progress in reducing or eliminating hip dysplasia through breeding." The specifics of both studies can be read in the Abstracts listed as reported in the Journal American Veterinary Medical Association. Prevalence of CHD may be much higher than previously reported in the United States.

The JAVMA reported in their February 2005 issue:

Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association
February 1, 2005, Vol. 226, No. 3, Pages 387-392
doi: 10.2460/javma.2005.226.387



Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association
September 1, 2010, Vol. 237, No. 5, Pages 532-541
doi: 10.2460/javma.237.5.532

At this point PennHIP is known to be the most accurate test of future hip osteoarthritis. There is more information on the PennHip website.  After researching articles and looking at our clearances of dogs we have bred over the years from our 1st, 2nd and 3rd generation lines. We believe that PennHip vs. OFA for our program leaves PennHip winning hands down. Our goal has always been to continue to maintain and improve the health of the Golden Retriever with an emphasis on improving the hip scores of the adults in our breeding program in order to produce the healthiest puppies possible.


The PennHIP method has been adopted by several countries and is gaining wide spread interest internationally as it grows in the USA.  Promise Land began learning about and using the Pennhip around 2011 before it was excepted by OFA and listed on a open data bank for the public. Although we have been ridiculed by breeders only wanting to stick with the basic OFA principles. Many breeders are coming around to a broader knowledge base and are now able to make great strides in there breeding programs.  We thank our vets in guiding us along with their advise. . 

Originally OFA wouldn't post Pennhip or Foreign Registers Clearances results due to it was done by competing companies. This lead people to make accusations against many breeders that weren't true. You will see this with our own older dogs around the 2011- 2013 time frame where we were using Pennhip only. Since the results couldn't be placed on open websites they must not be real. Since buyers had no way of knowing this many breeders went out of business.  In actuality many breeders were trying to switch to Pennhip due to it was more accurate. There was a division of breeders doing clearances at this time frame. Promise Land still relies on the Pennhip results for our dogs hips. 


OFA has recently changed and is now excepting the result's from the other countries BVA, OVC, FCI and PennHIP.  We for one are grateful to OFA that now more results can be on a open data bank and have gone back to them. There is no reason with new dogs entering programs that the results can't be placed on a open data bank for buyers.The GRCA is now excepting the Pennhip as a core clearance if transferred to a open data bank and the newer dogs can receive Chic numbers.  We are a member of the Golden Retriever Club of America and thankful this change occurred. 

We understand breeders that this cost money to register Pennhip or Foreign Clearances with OFA. However the cost is small when considering breeding genetic abnormalities in your puppies and rechecking your breeding dogs health. There is no longer a excuse to not register your results no matter where they came from.


This should help buyers choose a breeder. Buyers please realize older dogs from breeding programs may not be registered due to this is a more recent change by OFA , those dogs in programs should filter out in the next three years. Leaving all breeders registering results with all breeding dogs with OFA.


This is to buyers and new breeders. The K9data information that breeders like to use is entered by the breeder themselves. This information may not be accurate or is fake. For example when I received Solid As A Rock Freedom At Swanavly if you look at his parents both are Clear for PRA1. I know this not to be true due to he is a carrier and his puppies have carried the gene. So he must be bred only to a clear PRA1 female for healthy puppies. Please don't rely on the K9data method for accurate data. This can be changed by anyone. I hope this will help educate  BUYERS when purchasing a dog with false information.

Elbows and OFA


Elbow dysplasia is a condition where the elbow joint does not develop correctly. As the dog matures, the joint undergoes a  growth disturbances. There are many causes trauma, abnormal wear and tear on the joint, excess cartilage growth, excessive weight and genetics can all cause DJD.  With this condition the joint can deteriorate, leading to a loss of function. This can cause varying degrees of pain, discomfort, stiffness and lameness.  The most common clinical sign is intermittent or persistent front-leg lameness that gets worse with exercise. Complex inherited disorders, such as elbow dysplasia, are influenced by both genetic and environmental factors. 


The trouble with Elbow Dysplasia is that the OFA has labeled any x-ray with some sclerosis as dysplastic. However, some breeds show a slight degree of sclerosis in the elbow joint by two years of age without any of the elbow conditions. Also X-ray readings strip away the environmental influences and just look at the result.  So a breeder has to take all into consideration for that dogs lines and history. 


Breeders do sometimes resubmit the same dog using a different set of radiographs, and this can occasionally result in a different evaluation by OFA. The evaluation can be influenced by a number of factors, such as density, contrast, and positioning (similar to the effects that focus, lighting, and camera angle might have on a photograph). Correct positioning and good radiographic technique will result in the most accurate evaluation. We have also learned to exam both elbows. If the grade is in both elbows it is more likely genetic and not environmental.

If a dog comes out with Elbow Dysplasia and has NO SYMPTOMS OR CAUSES due to the inaccuracy for elbow screening and relatively insensitivity of OFA a breeder should recheck the dog with a CT as a Gold standard. The OFA does not currently accept CT results. 

USA & UK tells us there are many factors to consider when evaluating the progress of countries that permit breeding Grade I elbows. There may indeed be reasons to consider using Grade I elbows in breeding programs for the purpose of maintaining a broader gene pool, especially in countries where the overall rate of ED is approximately 25% or higher (as appears to be the case in some European countries).  Studies done and opinions vary with elbows depending on the country.  Grade 1 in Elbows is used in some countries. However Grade 2 and Grade 3 are excluded in most all countries for breeding.

 ⃝C 2014 American College of Veterinary Radiology.



You can see a genetic Hip and  grade 3 Elbow Dysplasia  at 1 year of age at the bottom.  

We also ask not to Spay or Neuter your dog until it is over 16 months. This is from the Study on Early Spaying & Neutering.  

Sex hormones are needed to achieve peak bone density. Neu-tering before puberty produces taller dogs by delaying the closing of the growth plates and allowing the dog to continue to grow past puberty. Body proportions and the relative length and weight of various bones are altered, which can lead to increased incidence of hip dysplasia and torn cruciate ligaments.

Why genetic testing????  Why have we incorporated this into our breeding process in recent years.......

Understanding and paying attention to the PRA1, PRA2, PRA-prcd different genetic markers is critically important in the prevention of eye diseases. The parents may be cleared by a ophthalmologist.  The parent's may never have a problem with an eye exam. That doesn't mean that your puppy can not go blind. Surprised?   The reason.......There are genetic traits if not matched up correctly between the SIRE and DAM will cause a genetic abnormality in their offspring.  The offspring could begin going blind around 2-5 years old. Promise Land Goldens' genetic testing process ensures that none of our litters can have an active affected case of PRA1, PRA2, PRA-prcd in them.  These are all different types of eye disease which will cause your dog to go blind. These are all separate genetic eye disorders and will not affect each other.  

Progressive Retinal Atrophy - prcd Progressive rod-cone degeneration (PRCD Exon 1)

Eyes (Ophthalmologic)

·      Gene: PRCD Exon 1 

·      Inheritance type: Recessive all breeding dogs should be checked for the protection of their offspring.

Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA) is an inherited disease of the retina (the “film in the camera”) in dogs, in which the rod cells in the retina are programmed to die. PRA occurs in both eyes simultaneously and is non painful. The rod cells in the retina are affected first, leading to night blindness. They are followed by the cone cells, leading to day blindness. There is no cure and no medical treatment for PRA.  The affected dog goes blind eventually.  Some dogs will first begin experiencing problems at around 6 months in age, though the average age of onset is around 5 years of age. 


Golden Retriever Progressive Retinal Atrophy 1 (SLC4A3)

Eyes (Ophthalmologic)

·      Gene: SLC4A3 Exon 16 

·      Inheritance type: Recessive all breeding dogs should be checked for the protection of their offspring.

Progressive retinal Atrophy, PRA1 (papillon type) is an adult-onset, inherited eye disease affecting papillons. Progressive retinal atrophy, PRA1 (papillon type) occurs as a result of degeneration of the Rod type Photoreceptor Cells of the Retina, which are important for vision in low light. PRA1 occurs in both eyes simultaneously and is non painful. Affected dogs initially have vision loss in dim light (night blindness) and loss of peripheral vision, There is no cure and no medical treatment for PRA2.  The affected dog goes blind eventually. Affected dogs typically present between 4 to 6 years of age with poor vision in dim light.


Golden Retriever Progressive Retinal Atrophy 2 (TTC8) 

Eyes (Ophthalmologic)

·      Gene: TTC8 Exon 8 

·      Inheritance type: Recessive all breeding dogs should be checked for the protection of their offspring.

Progressive Retinal Atrophy, PRA 2 occurs in both eyes simultaneously and is non painful. Affected dogs initially have vision loss in dim light (night blindness) and loss of peripheral vision, There is no cure and no medical treatment for PRA2.  The affected dog goes blind eventually.  Clinical symptoms of GR-PRA2 appear around 4 years of age.  GR-PRA2 is a severe disease caused by one base deletion in TTC8 gene. .

These are all separate genetic eye disorders and will not effect each other.  This is why you test for all of them. 


There is some confusing information out there on dogs eye exams yearly for OFA and breeding dogs. Many people are under the impression that a yearly eye exam on parents that states there eyes are normal will prevent cataracts in there offspring.   After reading about cataracts I did more research. Cataracts are a clouding of the lens of the eye. This condition will initially cause your dog to have reduced sighting may even go blind.  

The Golden Retriever Club of American tells us. Hereditary cataracts are fairly common in Golden Retrievers. These cataracts, sometimes called juvenile cataracts, usually appear between 1-3 years of age, but fortunately do not usually cause any functional impairment. Non-hereditary cataracts also occur, and examination by a board-certified veterinary ophthalmologist is necessary to determine if the cataract is suspected to be hereditary..

On a ophthalmologist eye exam you may get an idea whether they suspect a cataract is genetic or not, however there is no genetic test to prove this per researchers. There is the belief that the inherited type is more common for both eyes to be affected and on the triangle of the back of the eye.  After speaking to several genetic labs they haven't determined the links to produce a genetic test.  Researchers haven't determined if cataracts are a recessive or dominant trait.  There are so many causes of cataracts that is why you will see many breeders still using a dog with a cataract for breeding. This is done in the USA and all over the world.


  • They can be a inherited condition although as of yet researchers haven't found if cataracts are a recessive or dominant trait.  There is no genetic test to eliminate.

  • Diabetes is a common and preventable cause.

  • The aging process of any dog can cause.

  • Drug toxicity and other underlying eye conditions.

  • Sodium Selenite is normal for cell function but in high doses can causes due to toxicity.

  • Trauma to the eye.

  • Electric shock.

  • Inflammation of the eye's uvea (uveitis).

  • Abnormally low levels of calcium in blood (hypocalcemia) at some point in the dogs life or poor diet.

There is unfortunately a lot of causes for cataracts.  I have high hopes researchers will develop a genetic test to be added to our program.

Degenerative Myelopathy is a progressive disease of the spinal cord in older dogs.

Brain and Spinal Cord (Neurologic)

·      Gene: SOD1 

·      Inheritance type: Recessive all breeding dogs should be checked for the protection of their offspring.


The white matter tracts of the spinal cord contain fibers that transmit movement commands from the brain to the limbs and sensory information from the limbs to the brain. Golden retrievers are known to develop degenerative myelopathy associated with this mutation. DM, on its own, is not a painful disease.  This is a progressive degenerative disorder of the spinal cord that can cause muscle wasting and gait abnormalities.  The first signs of neural degeneration appear in the nerves that innervate the hind limbs. However, compensatory movements for a weak hind end can cause the dog to develop pain in other areas of his body such as his neck, shoulders, and front limbs. SYMPTOMS DM typically comes on slowly, almost imperceptibly. Promise Land does bred to prevent this.


Symptoms generally occur as follows:

  •   Initial

    • Loss of coordination (ataxia) in the hind limbs

    • Wobbling when walking and/or rear feet knuckling over or dragging

    • Mild hind end weakness such as difficulty in: walking up steps, squatting to defecate, getting into the


    •  Can first occur in one hind limb and then the other

  • Intermediate

    • Limbs become weak; dog begins to buckle and has difficulty standing

    • Weakness progresses until dog is unable to walk in the hind limbs

  •  Advanced

    • Loss of urinary and fecal continence

    • Weakness in front limbs

    • In general the dog will become near-paralysis of all four legs and widespread muscle wasting. 

Ichthyosis preventing flaky skin.

Ichthyosis (PNPLA1)

Skin & Connective Tissues (Integument)

·      Gene: PNPLA1 (Exon 8) 

·      Inheritance type:  This is a recessive trait.

It is a hidden trait in the chromosomes that can't be seen. It will pop back up from time to time. Which means it can never be 100 percent cleared out of breeding lines. Only dominant traits can be removed for ever from breeding lines. 


Ichthyosis is a condition characterized by scaly skin and dandruff. Evidence of the disease may be detected when the dog is still a puppy, but symptoms may take a year or more to develop. It does not cause itching, scabbing, or hot spots and it is not the same thing as allergies. The condition isn’t curable, but is usually well controlled with brushing, mild shampoos and conditioners, and a diet high in fatty acids.  In Golden Retrievers, it is usually very mild, though in other breeds it can be much more severe. Ichthyosis is doggy dandruff. When a dog has symptoms, those symptoms are usually a light flaking of skin. Some dogs never have any signs or symptoms that are affected. 

Ichthyosis is not anything like allergies that many Golden Retrievers suffer from. Ichthyosis very rarely bothers a dog. It doesn't cause itching or scabbing like allergies. Ichthyosis in Golden Retrievers whether in its mildest form or its most severe is simply dandruff or flaky skin.

Here's all anyone needs to know to diagnose it:

  • Ichthyosis flakes are always black on adults, white on puppies.

  • Ichthyosis does not itch or cause any other conditions. Dogs affected with Ichthyosis have zero discomfort associated with it and are completely unaware of it. 

  • Golden Retriever Ichthyosis is NOTHING like the human version, and nothing like the other breed versions. It is the mildest form found in all species. Ichthyosis does not contribute any other disorders.

If your dog or puppy itches, it is only 1 of 3 things:
1) Actual dry skin.
2) Allergy, such as food, grass, shampoo, or some other allergen.
3) Fleas, just because you don't see a flea, doesn't mean they're not there. By the time you actually SEE fleas your dog is considered "infested".

Please be aware that some breeders are trying to emphasis this trait to sell dogs. Saying there puppies are ICH clear. This is relatively harmless for the Golden Retriever breed. Promise Land doesn't look down on breeders who still bred with this.  Their may indeed be reasons to consider using some dogs in breeding programs for the purpose of maintaining a broader gene pool. The ICH test is not 100 percent in clearing dogs and in recent times they believe their might be more than one type.

Neuronal ceroid lipofuscinosis (NCL) is the general name for a family of at least eight genetically separate neurodegenerative disorders that result from excessive accumulation of lipopigments (lipofuscin) in the body's tissues.

NCL affected dogs lack one of several enzymes necessary for the normal breakdown of certain types of fat or protein in the cells (called lipopigments.)  As this "debris" accumulates in neuronal cells (and to a lesser extent in other cells), the animal's mental and motor functions deteriorate.  Dogs with NCL start out as apparently normal and fully functional dogs.  Depending on which subtype of NCL they have, they will begin developing symptoms anywhere from 6 months to 4-6 years of age (for the adult onset varieties). These exhibit as mental/intellectual decline and motor disturbance progressing to seizures, motor problems such as lack of muscle coordination, abnormal gait, difficulty balancing, visual disturbances progressing to blindness and behavioral changes including aggressiveness, dementia, aimless wandering behavior with episodes of confusion, depression and ultimately death.  The age of onset, rate of progression, age at death and the order in which symptoms appear depends on the particular disease.  

Promise Land is participating in a research study and have added NCL screening to our current Male dogs. No Male at Promise Land Goldens is a carrier of this trait. No Puppy produced by Promise Land Goldens can have NCL.


Heart Problems

We thankfully have never had any cases of DCM in our breeding dogs or puppies.  All breeding dogs are tested by our cardiologist to help prevent any heart problems to there offspring. 

​DCM in Golden Retrievers has been studied since 1995. Please note that the initial FDA announcement intimated that cases of DCM in Golden Retrievers were novel. Dcm is not novel to breeders.

Theories for Dcm and contributing factors. Mind you theories not proven as of yet. Also remember there are different contributing factors. This means factors not the actual cause of the DCM. These are different.

With estimated 77 million dogs there were 524 cases found. Yes there was a rise in Dcm in 2018 and 2019. More people tested than ever before due to the FDA reporting and people becoming aware of  DCM. There were 95 Goldens Found.

Review of the canine reports shows that most reports were for dry dog food formulations both grain and grain free, but raw food, semi-moist food, and wet foods were also represented.

Approximately 42% of dogs with DCM had a history of allergies or sensitivities to an environmental allergen and/or food that was manifested as dermatitis, otitis, or gastrointestinal disease.”These dogs were already predisposed to health problems. There may be a link that those Goldens studied may not have been able to absorb properly. 

We get a lot of questions :

The FDA is investigating the concern for cardiomyopathy (DCM) in dogs.


1.  They believe that in certain lines those dogs can’t process the lentils, peas and certain fillers causing a toxic condition contributing to Dcm. This is the grain free food type. It has to do with bad genetics, which can't process. Unfortunately there is no genetic test to screen dogs as of yet. They are working to identify the traits.

2.  Taurine-Deficieny means that the dog food fed has not enough meat in it.( Taurine word for meat) This can be any dog food unfortunately grain or grain free. It means if the manufacturer didn’t put the correct amount of meat in the food this will contribute to the DCM. Kind of like vegetable brands of dog food or just to many short cuts by a company to make cheap dog food. Notice on most bags they just give you a protein level. Well protein comes from vegetables, grains, potatoes and meats. How many companies tell you how much of that protein is actually from meat. Tricks so people have no idea how much meat they are feeding there dogs. 


3. Some dogs have endocrine problems. There have been cases with grain foods, grain free foods and raw food diets. Dogs with Dcm have improved from going from one grain free food to another grain free food. They have improved going from a grain free food to a grain food. some were moved to a grain food and didn't improve.  Since this has been seen the question is in these cases was it a endocrine problem. 46% of the dogs had this found with DCM.


4. L-carnitine some dog lines are not producing and this contributing to Dcm . The L-carnitine is an important nutrient that acts as a transport for fatty acids, essential for the cellular production of energy. Deficiency of this nutrient can contribute a variety of health problems for animals; most significantly, the association with heart disease (cardiomyopathy) in dogs. 

It has been said. At this point in time, we have ideas about the contributors to DCM in dogs, and you likely do too. Currently 2020 studies are showing DCM is likely multifactorial, resulting from a combination of dietary, metabolic, and genetic factors.  However, speculation on such a serious disease may cause radical shifts in feeding practices that are not based on scientific evidence and may do more harm than good. As the FDA said “DCM in dogs is a complex scientific issue that may involve multiple factors.

At this time we leave it up to the buyers to decide there choice of food. We don't sponsor any dog food companies.

Currently with DCM break through they are beginning to find the genetic trait linked to DCM with Genetic testing. It is a done on general testing on dogs and not breed specific but the trait causing the GENETIC DCM is beginning to be picked up on all beds of dogs. 

Thyroid Problems

All breeding dogs are tested to prevent there offspring from being on medication for life.  These hormones control the rate at which cells burn fuels from food to make energy. Thyroid hormones are important because they help dogs' bones grow and develop, and they also play a role in the development of the brain and nervous system.


We also ask not to Spay or Neuter your dog until it is over 16 months- 2 years if possible.


This is from the Study on Early Spaying & Neutering.


Golden Retriever males neutered before 1 year of age have an 80% greater risk of hypothyroidism. The risk is 60% for Golden Retriever bitches spayed before 1 year of age.

COI  is a computer program we run.

The COI take 10 to 12 generations of dogs. The computer runs a program to see how closely related the offspring will be. This is done to prevent inline breeding of dogs too close together, which causes genetic defects in the offspring. 

Not every female and male are compatible to be bred together, without causing problems in the offspring. That is why we take the time to run all our tests before breeding. 

The health differences between the English Golden and the American Golden are staggering.

It is the greatest reason why a serious dog seeker will consider purchasing an English Golden over an American Golden. The money saved in purchasing an American Golden pales in comparison to the vet bills accumulated over the dog's lifespan. Cancer was the cause of death for 61.8% of American Goldens according to a 1998 health study conducted by the Golden Retriever Club of America, making it the breed's biggest killer. https://healthypets . The most common types of cancers in Goldens are hemangio sarcoma, followed by lympho sarcoma, mast cell tumor, and osteosarcoma. The incidence of cancer among English bloodlines is significantly lower than in the American lines. In fact the British Kennel Club (KC) did a very extensive study in 2004 found that cancer only caused the death of  38.8% of English Goldens.


The median age of an English Golden is 12 years and 3 months according to the study, but the median age of an American Golden is only 10 years and 8 months.



Health issues are more common in American Golden Retrievers than in English-type Golden Retrievers- Possible Reasons


-The American Golden Retrievers have in the past had a limited gene pool. They came from a limited number of Goldens imported from Europe less than a century ago. This genetic limitation contributes a greater risk factor for health defects. The AKC guidelines for show dogs in the USA have limited the gene pool and created more inline breeding which has caused genetic defects. The European guidelines for showing have enabled a broader gene pool to choose from all over the world. The two guidelines are at the bottom of the page.


-Breeding as a result of careless breeding Goldens are prone to genetic disorders and other diseases.  


-One of the major reason for health issues in the American Goldens is  Spaying and Neutering.


A focus on the serious issues of pet overpopulation and unwanted puppies has led to the common practice of neutering dogs prior to sexual maturity, often near the age of six months. While this clearly helps reduce unplanned breeding's and thereby may serve the public interest, research is increasingly showing that it may not be in the best health interests of an individual dog with a responsible owner.


A new study from University of California, Davis, suggests that neutering–and the age at which a dog is neutered–may affect the animal’s risk for developing certain cancers and joint diseases. The study examined the health records of 759 golden retrievers and found an unexpected doubling of hip dysplasia among male dogs who were neutered before one year of age. The prevalence of neutering practices vary from country to country. In the United States neutering is commonplace and supported by veterinary and animal welfare groups.


Studies have pointed to some of the adverse effects of neutering and spaying in dogs on several health parameters in Golden Retrievers- Increased risk for Hip Dysplasia & Torn Cruciate Ligaments, Decreased Life Span, Hypothyroidism, Hemangiosarcoma,  Osteosarcoma, Urinary Incontinence,  and Obesity .  On the flip side is concern that intact bitches are at risk for mammary cancer. I am not sure if true?   .It is important to remember that the sex hormones do play a synergistic role in your dog’s growth and development and their removal will create imbalance in the body.


Dogs that have been spayed or neutered at or before puberty can often be identified by their longer limbs, lighter bone structure, narrower chests and narrower skulls than intact dogs of the same breed. This differential growth frequently results in significant alterations in body proportions and particularly the lengths (and therefore weights) of certain bones relative to others. They will be a couple inches taller and not resemble its litter mates.  It will NOT look like the dogs you are seeing here. When the sex hormones are removed, the growth hormones are missing important regulatory input and the bones continue to grow longer than they ought to.

There is research that supports this. Whitehair et al (JAVMA Oct 1993), found that spayed and neutered dogs were twice as likely to suffer cranial cruciate ligament rupture. Slauterbeck et al also found an increased risk (Clin Orthop Relat Res Dec 2004).

For these reasons anyone who acquires a Golden Retriever from Promise Land Golden's we ask that you leave your dog intact until it is mature.  We realize in most communities that means paying a license fee that is significantly higher. But you need to weigh that against treating a lifetime of avoidable health problems. Please feel free to share this information with your veterinarian. We support spaying and neutering dogs that are not part of a breeding program at the appropriate time between 16 months and 2 years. We however realize this is your choice and there exceptions that must be made.

In Europe, however, neutering is generally avoided by owners and trainers and not promoted by animal health authorities. In Sweden spaying and neutering is against the law, under the animal cruelty ordinances. It is a very uncommon practice in Western Europe and yet there is no animal overpopulation problem in those countries. The reason is responsibility.

Veterinarians and Breeders are now in the United States realizing the effects of early Neutering and Spaying.






The top dog was purchased and received at 1 year of age for breeding purposes. He was never used in the Promise Land breeding program. These films were taken when the dog was 1 year of age. Which clearly shows genetic vs a developed condition. To help others recognize health issues in dog's. This dog had Moderate Hip Dysplsia, Moderate OA, Subluxation and Shallow Acetabula's. The Elbows showed Grade 3 Elbow Dyplsia and DJD at 1 year of age.

The bottom dog has Excellent Hips and Elbows and is in the top 5% of breeding Golden Retrievers. He is one of our Male breeding dogs (Dakota). 

The top films are to help show others a genetic condition with Golden's. When you evaluate a film to help us decide on dog you look at both hips or elbows. A injury would develop on one side of the body not in both elbows or hips. Unfortunately if the dog is to old we can't identify abnormal wear and tear from over running vs genetic. This is one of the reasons Promise Land does prelims. We don't just x-ray at 2 years old for OFA. You need the entire picture of development of the breeding dog.  We were taught this by a orthopedic surgeon for dogs.

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