A Quick Overview of Golden Retriever

The Golden Retriever is one of the most popular popular dog breeds in the world. However, only a small proportion of the Golden Retriever population is actively used in breeding, and, therefore, the Golden Retriever breeders and enthusiasts are now interested in learning more about the genetic diversity in this breed. The estimations based on pedigrees (coefficient of inbreeding) don't necessarily reflect the genetic situation of the breed. A more detailed overview can be obtained by making use of DNA information.

Golden Retriever and genetic diversity

Based on the genome-wide measured information, the median for genetic diversity in Golden Retrievers is currently 25.4 % (indicated with the blue and white dot in the picture). This means that the tested dogs have inherited different gene forms from the dam and sire in approximately 25.4 % of the tested loci. Within the breed the diversity level varies within the range of 22.6 % - 31.6%. The median for all tested dogs is 28.8 % (orange line in the graph).

The diversity graph (blue line for Golden Retrievers) shows two separate peaks. By utilizing the information based on the genetic differences graph (below), it can be concluded that the two separate peaks reflect two different breeding lines, show dogs and work dogs. Higher peak reflects the main population; lower peak the working line dogs. The genomes of working line dogs thus appear to be more diverse compared to the main population.

The genetic differences graph describes the breed's population structure. It reveals the genetic differences between individuals: the more genetically alike the individuals are, the closer they are to each other on the graph. In this graph the working line dogs are more distant from one another than the show line dogs.

Golden Retriever and genetic disorders

MyDogDNA assesses a large selection of inherited canine disorders. Here below are listed the tested known disorders in Golden Retrievers, included in the MyDogDNA test panel, and their prevalence within breed according to the tested population in the MyDogDNA database (as a percentage of tested individuals).

Golden Retriever Progressive Retinal Atrophy 1 (GR_PRA 1) 15.83 %
Epidermosis Bullosa, dystrophic 1.44 %
Muscular Dystrophy, Duchenne type or Golden Retriever Muscluar Dystrophy (GRMD) 0 %

MyDogDNA test panel includes tests for a large variety of inherited disorders. However, one must bear in mind that over 600 inherited disorders have been discovered in dogs and only about 150 of these can currently be tested. Monitoring genetic diversity is a key element in efforts to prevent the occurrence of hereditary diseases within a breed. It is also the only weapon in the fight against serious polygenic diseases.


The genome-wide measured genetic diversity in Golden Retrievers is slightly lower than the average of all tested dogs so far. The strength of the population, however, is the variation within the breed. The breed is clearly divided into two lines that are genetically different from each other. Detecting genetically different dogs is possible with modern DNA testing and bioinformatics tools. Using genetically different dogs in breedins helps maintain or even improve the genetic diversity in the future. Systematic development of genetic diversity brings long-term benefits for the breed health. The benefits can also be immediate: Using one genetically different male in breeding can already increase the breed's heterogeneity. On the breed level, the change can be very quick if a wide range of individuals are used in breeding.