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Frequently Asked Questions

What is Data Commons?

Data Commons is an open, free database available to the research and educational communities. Qualified individuals can gain access to data generated by the Morris Animal Foundation Golden Retriever Lifetime Study, one of the largest and most comprehensive longitudinal studies ever conducted in veterinary health research.

What kind of data is available?

Data Commons provides global access to historical data from the Golden Retriever Lifetime Study cohort, covering 11 key subject areas: activity, behavior, dental, disease diagnoses, diet, environment, grooming, geographical locations, medications, physical exams and reproduction. 

How can I obtain a login?

Data Commons is only available to academic researchers with approved credentials, which includes anyone with an affiliation with a university, nonprofit or government agency. After agreeing to the data use agreement you’ll be guided through a series of steps to start the approval process.

If you do not yet have an account, please visit the Log In / Register page.

What are the terms of the data use agreement?

The agreement details publication requirements and how the data can and cannot be used. We encourage everyone to read the document closely and contact the Foundation with any questions.  In general, the Data Commons can be used freely for non-commercial research (please contact us directly if you want to use the Data Commons for a commercial project).  We do not restrict publication rights, but we do request that the Foundation be acknowledged in publications and we ask that we be sent a manuscript prior to publication for review.

What form is the data in?

The data can be downloaded as a .csv file. You’ll have an opportunity to customize which data you wish to download.

Is there still data being added to Data Commons?

YES! As of January 2021, all currently enrolled dogs have completed study year 4 and these data are available on Data Commons. We will release additional data once all dogs complete study year 5. In addition, we are currently in the process of incorporating information about clinical pathology results as well as additional information about diet and environmental factors.

What is the difference between various and other in the diet data?

This is a product of the cleaning and summarization of the data into Data Commons. For each dietary additive, the owner could indicate one or more specific added products from a checklist or add another product of their own. For example, when asked if the dog’s diet included any added dairy the possible answers included: cheese, cottage cheese, cream cheese, ice cream/frozen yogurt, milk, soy milk, yogurt and other. If the owner selected multiple of these answers, the Data Commons algorithm summarizes the answer as various.

I see that data is available in two formats: 1) For study year, and 2) Through study year. What is the difference between these two?

The “for study year” option is a Boolean yes/no for if the dog had that condition for the study year requested. It also contains the specific responses from veterinarians and owners who selected “other” and provided additional information.  

The “through study year” option is a summary of the data for all the dogs up to the current study year available. Additional text provided under “other – specify” will not be available. The “through study year” option is a Boolean yes/no for if the dog EVER had that condition throughout the study.  

What were the Study enrollment criteria? What was the enrollment process?

Enrollment took place from 2012 to 2015 with a total of 3,044 dogs enrolled. In order to enroll, dogs must have been between 6 months and 2 years of age, provide a two-generation pedigree, live in the contiguous United States, and be deemed free of life-threatening diseases by a veterinarian. Each enrolled dog had a baseline study visit, laboratory testing and had questionnaires completed by the owner and veterinarian. 

What samples are collected each year?

EDTA blood, serum, urine, feces, hair and toenails are collected for the biorepository. All the biorepository samples are stored at -80OC until use. Serum, urine and blood are aliquoted prior to freezing. For clinical pathology testing, whole blood in EDTA tubes, serum, urine and feces are collected. These are used to run a complete blood count, serum biochemistry, T4, heartworm antigen, urinalysis and fecal parasite detection. 

What happens when a malignancy is diagnosed?

A malignancy can be detected by the study team in one of three ways: 1) use of a biopsy kit connected to our diagnostic lab account, 2) direct communication from an owner or veterinarian, 3) social media posts using identifying information about the dog. Once notified, the operations team requests a malignancy related questionnaire to be completed by the veterinarian.