Golden Retrievers are by far one of the most beloved and cherished breeds in the United States, lauded in film, literature, and internet memes. They’re loved for their impeccably gentle nature, loyalty, and ease of care. You won’t find many people who have owned a Golden Retriever saying anything negative about this sweet breed. If you’re considering adding one of these blonde beauties to your family, consider some of the associated costs of purchasing and owning one.
How Much Do Golden Retrievers Cost?
Golden Retrievers aren’t exactly a rare or hard to find breed, but finding one who’s been bred by responsible breeders can be difficult. Despite their awesome demeanor and popularity, Golden Retrievers are susceptible to a variety of hereditary health conditions. A responsible breeder is educated and spends the money to ensure their breeding dogs are in good health and less likely to pass on a variety of conditions or diseases.
If you buy a Golden from a breeder, you can expect to pay at least $500. If they’re papered or have particularly quality parents, you might pay over $1200. This seems like a lot to pay for a dog, but these dogs have come from parents that were carefully screened for some of the following issues which are far more expensive to treat than this one-time purchase price.
Cancer, Its Not Uncommon in Golden Retrievers
Unfortunately, this breed has very high incidences of cancer, especially osteosarcoma and lymphosarcoma. A study in 1998 showed that, on average, 61.8 percent of Golden Retrievers die from cancer. It’s largely a hereditary trait, and an ethical breeder won’t breed dogs that have a history of cancer in their lineage. The cost for cancer treatment ranges from $8000 to $15000, and there’s certainly no guarantee your dog will survive the illness.
Hip and Elbow Dysplasia, Adds to the Cost of Golden Retrievers
Hip and elbow dysplasia are largely caused by genetics, and Golden Retrievers are frequently diagnosed with one of these disorders. While it’s not 100 percent preventable, breeders should make a sound effort spaying/neutering animals that are predisposed to the disease. Regulating bodies like the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) evaluate x-rays for dogs and give them a “pass” or “fail” on passing on these problems.
The breeder you purchase your puppy from should have both parents certified as sound by the OFA. This doesn’t mean your dog won’t get hip or elbow dysplasia at some point, but it significantly reduces the likelihood of it developing. Hip dysplasia is treated with pain medication and anti-inflammatories, but when it starts becoming debilitating, your dog needs surgery to alleviate their discomfort. This surgery is not cheap! It needs to be performed by a certified orthopedic surgeon, and you could be looking at a $3000 to $5000 total cost.
Epilepsy is another trait passed by genetics. Sometimes epilepsy is easily treatable and the dog doesn’t need any medication or treatment. Other dogs get severe epilepsy, though, requiring frequent medication changes, enduring massive seizures until the medication regimen is perfected. Some dogs don’t respond to treatment, and they have to be euthanized because the frequency and severity of their seizures affects their quality of life.
The cost of seizure medications could cost you anywhere from $20 to over $100 a month, depending on the type of medications and how much they’re taking.
Hypothyroid conditions aren’t uncommon in dogs, but Golden Retrievers are commonly plagued by them. A dog with a low-functioning thyroid has a thin coat, dry skin, and excessive weight gain. It’s easily treatable with daily medication (<$50 a month) and regular bloodwork to monitor the thyroid’s levels ($80 to $200 a few times a year).
If your Golden has a heart condition, it’s most likely a sub-aortic stenosis or cardiomyopathy. Up to 15 percent of Golden Retrievers are diagnosed with some sort of heart problem during their lifetime. How a heart condition is treated depends on a long list of variables (severity of the condition, the dog’s age, the type of condition, etc), but starting costs begin around $500 and go all the way up to several thousand dollars.
Your Golden’s big doe eyes could end up with their long lashes growing into the eyelid. This is called entropion, and while it isn’t deadly, it does cause a significant amount of discomfort, and Goldens are one of the most commonly afflicted breeds. It’s only correctable with surgery, and signs include squinting, constant discharge, frequent eye infections, and eye rubbing. The cost of an entropion repair can be a few hundred dollars to over $1000 depending on the severity of it.
Normal Veterinary Costs for Golden Retrievers
Genetic disorders aside, your Golden needs regular veterinary care to stay healthy and live a full life.
Puppy vaccines are given in three to four sets of DHPP (distemper, hepatitis, parvo, and parainfluenza) and a rabies vaccine. These vaccines begin when your puppy is six to seven weeks of age, and you’re responsible for continuing the series after you take them home.
The vaccines themselves are typically between $20-40, and your vet may or may not charge an examination fee with each vaccine visit. Other vaccines might be necessary if your pet is boarded (kennel cough and canine influenza).
Past the puppy age, your dog needs an annual DHPP and a rabies every three years.
Spaying and Neutering
Fixing your dog is the single-most important thing you can do to lengthen your dog’s life. Female dogs allowed to have their first heat cycle are exponentially more likely to develop mammary cancer. Unneutered male dogs are more susceptible to prostate problems, including cancer. When you have a breed already at a higher risk of developing cancer, you should strive to do everything in your power to lower that risk. Fixing dogs also prevents them from taking hormone-inspired trips around the neighborhood where they could possibly get hit by a car.
A neuter on a six-month-old retriever puppy averages between $150 and $200. Spays are more expensive because it’s an abdominal surgery, so you could pay between $200 and $300. Spays always cost more if the dog is in heat, so consider that if you’re hesitating to spay before your puppy is six months old.
Pet Insurance: Good Idea or Waste?
If you pick a puppy from a reputable breeder who breeds responsibly, then it’s likely you’ll end up with a disease-free dog who lives a full life with little to no problems. However, with a dog that’s so prone to serious medical problems, it’s a good idea to budget for emergency or unexpected veterinary bills. Pet insurance isn’t a bad idea if you purchase the policy when your dog is a puppy and free from serious health problems.
Pet insurance could cover things like cancer, hip surgery, and monthly thyroid meds, so thoroughly research their policies before you buy one to ensure they cover ailments/illnesses Goldens are predisposed to.
It’s critical to remember pet insurance isn’t like human insurance. Your vet won’t bill the insurance company, meaning you’re responsible for covering the bill up front and then waiting for the insurance company to reimburse you. Most people get pet insurance because they can’t afford an unexpected $1500 bill, but knowing you’ll being reimbursed makes it a bit easier to come up with such a large sum of money temporarily.
If you get a Golden Retriever, you won’t have any regrets! They’re wonderful with people of all ages, sociable with dogs, and rarely aggressive to animals like cats. When you’re looking for a dog that’s cheerful, gentle-natured, and easy to train, a Golden Retriever is the breed for you.