Golden Retriever Lifetime Study

Update v17-4

Golden Retriever Lifetime Study Update v17-4

The Golden Retriever Lifetime Study is following our enrolled dogs throughout their lifetimes. That means that we will not only witness their amazing lives but, sadly, we will mourn their deaths. Some dogs will die younger, and some will live into old age – unfortunately, there is no way around it. No matter the case, owners have an important decision to make regarding whether or not to consent to a necropsy; the term for an autopsy on an animal.

When an enrolled dog dies, the owner is encouraged, but not required, to consent to a necropsy (post-mortem examination) for their dog. While no one wants to think about this decision, the information collected at necropsy will provide important clues to help us understand the risk factors golden retrievers face for cancer and other diseases. Owners who have consented to a necropsy on their dog’s study profile recently received a Necropsy Kit containing instructions and paperwork to keep on-hand for use when needed. We certainly hope it won’t be needed for a long time, but we know that life is unpredictable. The kit should remain with each dog’s caregiver so that it can be provided to any veterinarian that may perform the necropsy.

Please note:

  • You may change your consent status at any time.
  • Having a kit does not obligate you to go through with a necropsy.
  • Your dog’s body is not shipped to Morris Animal Foundation. Morris Animal Foundation does not conduct the necropsy.
  • Necropsy instructions are always available at in the Study Veterinarian Resources section or by contacting the study team at or 855.4GR.DOGS.

We acknowledge the magnitude of the decision to consent to a necropsy on a beloved companion. This decision is always up to the individual owner, but we encourage everyone to discuss necropsy options with their veterinarian sooner rather than later. Pre-planning may help ease the stress involved with end-of-life decisions.

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