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The Golden Retriever Lifetime Study: establishing an observational cohort study with translational relevance for human health

Michael K. Guy, Rodney L. Page, Wayne A. Jensen, Patricia N. Olson, J. David Haworth, Erin E. Searfoss, and Diane E. Brown. Philos Trans R Soc Lond B Biol Sci. Jul 19; 370(1673): 20140230 (2015)

The Golden Retriever Lifetime Study (GRLS) is the first prospective longitudinal study attempted in veterinary medicine to identify the major dietary, genetic and environmental risk factors for cancer and other important diseases in dogs. The GRLS is an observational study that will follow a cohort of 3000 purebred Golden Retrievers throughout their lives via annual online questionnaires from the dog owner and annual physical examinations and collection of biological samples by the primary care veterinarian. The field of comparative medicine investigating naturally occurring disorders in pets is specifically relevant to the many diseases that have a genetic basis for disease in both animals and humans, including cancer, blindness, metabolic and behavioural disorders and some neurodegenerative disorders. The opportunity for the GRLS to provide high-quality data for translational comparative medical initiatives in several disease categories is great. In particular, the opportunity to develop a lifetime dataset of lifestyle and activity, environmental exposure and diet history combined with simultaneous annual biological sample sets and detailed health outcomes will provide disease incidence data for this cohort of geographically dispersed dogs and associations with a wide variety of potential risk factors. The GRLS will provide a lifetime historical context, repeated biological sample sets and outcomes necessary to interrogate complex associations between genes and environmental influences and cancer.