It’s almost a year ago that our own Golden Retriever died. He was 8 years old at the time, and suffered from epilepsy. His death however was due to a acute paralysis of the oesophagus. I was aware of health problems with Golden Retrievers before, but these facts made me much more alert. One of the factors that damage the health of Golden Retrievers is the enormous inbreeding of the race. In the case of epilepsy, there is certainly a genetic component.
The K9data website has the tool to calculate the inbreeding-factor (COI) over 10 or even 12 generations. I found Goldens with more than 30%, even 40% COI! And a figure of above 10% is very common. Especially, big breeders don’t seem to be aware of the risks of inbreeding. They call it ‘linebreeding’, but the principle is exactly the same as inbreeding. They argue that they want to keep the special properties of the so called ‘matadors’ of the race. But the result is an immense danger of passing on all kinds of health problems.
It’s interesting to note which Goldens are most dominant in the ‘gene pool’. It appears to be different for show dogs and work dogs. Here comes my estimation, based on a couple of test samples. As far as I can see, the four most influential Goldens for the contemporary showline are:
- Eng. Ch. Camrose Cabus Christopher
- Eng. Ch. Camrose Talleyrand of Anbria
- Eng/Ir. Ch. Cabus Cadet JW
- Sansue Castalian KCJW SGWC
It must be said that the first two Camrose Goldens are at behind almost every showline Golden today. The gene pool is quite different for the working Goldens (as the pictures nicely demonstrate: light vs. dark; heavily feathered vs. lightly feathered; etc.). However, in this line there are Goldens that dominate the gene pool as well:
- Eng. FT.Ch. Rossmhor of Clancallum
- AFC Holway Barty OS
- Eng. FT.Ch. Standerwick Rumbustuous of Catcombe
- Eng. FT.Ch. Mazurka of Wynford
As far as I can see, the problem of inbreeding is as big in the working lines, as it is in the show lines. At any rate, I know of epilepsy, for example, in both lines. It’s extremely difficult to bypass these genetic problems, because almost all Goldens go back on the same ancestors. The genetic material of other dogs virtually got lost, because almost no one bred with these dogs.
There are, of course, exceptions: kennels working with very low COI-rates. To be sure, that is no guarantee for avoiding health problems. But it’s my conviction that it certainly will contribute! These kennels are rather small, but in my view the most promising! In the quest for another Golden it is at any rate one of my criteria.