Do blondes really have more fun, and other questions from the Golden Retriever Lifetime Study.
Blond, red, medium gold. Question # 8 of the owner questionnaire is all about hair coat color. Because coat color in golden retrievers often is associated with certain breeding lineages, knowing an enrollee’s coat color provides some clues into a dog’s heritage. For example, field trial golden retrievers tend to have red coats. Many conformation competitors lean toward light colored coats. Although no correlations have been found yet in golden retrievers, in other dog breeds certain coat colors and patterns are associated with diseases such as deafness and blood disorders. If these correlations are found, links between coat color and disease could direct breeding selection and provide visual cues to veterinarians and breeders about potential disease development.
Question #14 asks for a detailed travel history: city visited, zip code, length of stay, time of year. The effect of environment on cancer risk is a major focus of the Golden Retriever Lifetime Study. Any change of environment, no matter how brief, can be significant. Exposure to infectious agents can be seasonal, so knowing the time of year is important – for example, exposure to ticks in the summer, which transmit a wide variety of diseases. Some other diseases anecdotally have been thought to peak at certain times of the year and in certain seasons. This study is a golden opportunity to explore seasonal patterns of disease.
Question #41 is second in a series of questions about swimming. Specifically, it asks how often your dog goes swimming in cold weather. This question seems to be about exposure to infectious agents like parasites or viruses. But the question actually relates to energy expenditures during exercise. Energy expended by swimming is an interplay between water temperature and air temperature. Total calories burned, depends on both factors. One goal of the study is to assess the relationship between physical activity and health status. Getting the most precise measurements possible on energy output is important.
Each month, we explain a few questions from the Golden Retriever Lifetime Study questionnaire.