Care of Golden Retrievers


As additional information is added, I'll integrate it and post it on my web site.

So far, the existing information is compiled by:

November 08, 2010,   Jerry,    Golden Retriever.

November 9, 2010,   Miller,   Golden Retriever mix


I'll start an accumulation of notes. The suggestion is for other people to add notes and modify this document. This document as of November 08, 2010 is a compilation of notes and is not well formatted. Pretend it is Wikipedia and make it better. When you add notes or make changes be sure to include your name and date. You can email your information to Jerry at j78749s@tkpro.com. For now this information will be posted on the web site so you will have it in digital format for editing. You may also email me for a copy of this information.


My reference is based on Koko and Brandy. They are children of Buster Lee Roy Bankston and Lady of the Valley IX. My data will be primarily based on this breeding line although other Golden Retrievers could be included regarding common breed problems. Problems common to all dogs would also be welcome. An example would be large breed dogs with hip problems.  For your reference Koko's certification is SR33748701.

Causes of Problems

I believe the main cause of dog allergies and digestive problems is due to improper feeding.

Hip joint problems is due to improper breeding. The effort to closely duplicate the predisposed look of the Golden Retriever has led to excessive inbreeding. I believe the  ancestral tree does not take enough into consideration. The mother and father should have complementary genetic code. Breeding is the only thing I know of to cure the problem but the need for similarity and profits by the breeders are not pointed in the right direction. Koko and Brandy have exceptional genetics. X-rays reveal the best hip structure of any large dog. Allergy problems are unlikely and the few occurrences are due to some improper foods. I give this information about Koko and Brandy to other existing breeders and they are not interested in my breeding suggestions. They prefer to get their dogs from breeders with better publicity and better promotional information.

A new product.

I am not here to promote a product. My purpose is to keep the dogs healthy. Douxo Calm Micro-emulsion spray by Sogeval is a miracle medicine in my opinion. I'll explain its use as we continue. It is an over the counter medication and can be purchased on the Internet.

An older product.

Zymox Otic 1.0% Enzymatic Solution with 1.0% Hydrocortisone is helpful to ear allergies but it must be used strictly according to directions. Improper use may just reduce the ability to fight allergies. This is a prescription item from your veterinarian.

Flea Medication

Along came Frontline flea medication and that put an end to fleas. In Austin Texas I apply it to the dogs about 3 times per year even though some veterinarians recommend it every month. Oops. correction here. Once per month is best. Prior to Frontline, there was the use of many chemicals that made people and dogs sick and did nothing to get rid of the flea problem. Now, if a flea is seen, we add a dose of Frontline and end of story. Another reason I only use it a few times per year is I keep a very close eye on the dog. The dogs live in the house with us. It is obvious when a dog gets bit by a flea. Medication is applied the next day if the dog has not had a bath in 4 days. Then the dog cannot have a bath for 4 days while the medication does its job.

Allergies Outside the Ear

First, the hot spots were caused by canned dog food. We went to Natural Balance dry dog food and all problems went away. While still on canned dog food, Koko got allergies in the form of hot spots on his tail and the rear side of his upper rear leg. Douxo Calm Micro-emulsion spray by Sogeval solved the problem. The hot spot was about the size of a dime. I cleaned the area and then applied a very thin coat of Douxo Calm Micro-emulsion spray. The hot spot was dead the next day. It totally dried up and disappeared in 3 to 4 days. Koko also got a dime sized hot spot on the inside of his left ear flap. I simply cleaned a little and wiped a small amount of Douxo Calm Micro-emulsion spray on the area. The allergy infection was dead the next day. His ear was without blemish in 5 days.  I believe a mild or diluted quantity of Douxo Calm Micro-emulsion spray by Sogeval could be put inside the dogs ear and let the dog shake it out. I would consult a veterinarian first regarding your particular dog. My veterinarian said it was OK for my Koko. The veterinarian used the word "heat" with regards to heavy foods that caused excessive metabolism. It caused the dog to produce more heat and this had an adverse affect on the ears. So, no canned dog food.

Ear Care

This will be a lengthy topic and you need to be diligent about following instructions. It is the missed applications that do an enormous amount of damage as immunity is lost by more powerful bugs that manage to survive. Please excuse my lack of proper medical terminology. 

Once again, canned dog food is the culprit for ear problems in my opinion.

Koko had an ear allergy. Dark, thick substance was in his left ear. Seven day use of Zymox Otic 1.0% solution did not help. This is because I did not apply the medication properly. After an additional week I started the application of the medication again with instructions from a more informative veterinarian.

I started the Zymox Otic 1.0% solution again but this time I really worked it into the dogs ears for a long time. Then I spent time and massaged the dogís backbone area from front to rear. This was done for 7 consecutive days without any deviation. At the same time we also reduced the dogs diet slightly. We also removed chicken, turkey and beef from the diet. In 3 days the problem seems to have gone away. In 7 days the ears were perfectly clean. I now administer the Zymox on a weekly basis. Everything is under control. I clean the ears if necessary prior to application of the Zymox.  Sometimes, cleaning is not needed. I always inspect each ear with a good flashlight so I can see down deep in the ear. If cleaning is needed I use Vet's Best Natural Formula Ear Relief wash with chamomile and yucca. I buy it at Petco. This product also is supplied with Ear Relief Dry. The veterinarian told me not to use the drying solution. The ear should not be totally dry. I'm sure other cleaning solutions would work.

First I trim the hair on the inside of the ear with blunt scissors. The idea is to get the ear canal open so medicine can be dropped in and so any spinning of the cotton ball on hemostats does not catch hairs. Naturally a little hair on the inside of the ear will prevent debris from entering the ear. Clip the hair just enough to get the job done. Keep in mind that excessive hair on the inside or outside of the ear causes heat and thus problems. The hair on the outside, lower, rear area of the ear tends to get very thick and will knot up.

When cleaning the ear, it may be wise to suggest we will not remove the natural oils from the dog's skin. We are going to simply clean just enough to remove dirt and then apply a very thin coat of medication. We do not want to get rough with the sensitive and delicate skin inside the ear.

Tear a cotton ball in half and put it securely on the grips of locking hemostats or forceps. Next, the cotton is lightly saturated with the cleaning solution. Then carefully clean the ear doing so very gently. Twisting of the hemostats should be limited to 180 degrees and be careful it does not grab. In and out motion would probably be best with gentle movement. The small indented areas of the ear can be cleaned with cotton sticks. Be gentle. You can also use a full size cotton ball held by your index finger and thumb to clean inside the ear flap area using the cleaning solution. After the ear is clean you add 4 to 5 drops of Zymox Otic 1.0% in each ear. Then the most difficult job occurs. You must massage both ears for a very long period of time so the solution is totally coated on the inside of the ear. This means the solution should work its way down and inside the "L" shaped ear canal. It takes gentle massaging and squeezing in the ear canal area to get the solution in there completely. The ear should not be flooded with medication. You only want a light coat completely distributed to all areas inside the ear. Once you are finished you should reward the dog with a good massage of the backbone from front to rear. I have actually heard of a veterinarian who uses this massage method to get rid of the allergy. I have my doubts but Koko tends to think it is a good idea. When I get out the ear medication, the dogs compete for who goes first.

When finished I use a cotton ball and wipe a very thin coat of Douxo Calm Micro-emulsion spray by Sogeval on the inside of the ear flap which also tends to provide a little extra cleaning. I am not certain but you might consider a few drops of the Douxo Calm Micro-emulsion spray inside the ear and then immediately let the dog shake it out. Remember, the Douxo Calm Micro-emulsion spray is very concentrated and effective. It only takes a very light coating of this stuff to work. I personally would dilute it with 4 parts distilled water and one part Douxo Calm Micro-emulsion spray.

The Douxo Calm Micro-emulsion spray comes in the form of a spray and soap. I only use the spray. The Douxo soap would work well after the dog has already been washed. It would then be used as a second soap application on problem areas. So far, I find the Douxo soap unnecessary since the spray is properly used.

A veterinarian can see debris in the ear and guess with 99% accuracy what it is? This is mostly based on experience. Anyone can see in a dogís ear fairly well using a small flashlight. Once a problem is diagnosed, you can take a good look and identify it in the future. Your eye will never be as good as a veterinarian but you can suffice if you catch a problem early. If you clean your dog's ears weekly you can avoid the big expense and the suffering the dog experiences with this type of problem.

If your dog goes swimming in any lake, river or creek you should be ready to clean out the ears. If you won't drink the water then it should not remain in a dog's ears. This is where I would use the 4:1 ratio of distilled water and Douxo Calm Micro-emulsion spray by Sogeval and then let the dog shake it out.

 From Miller:  If you want to think about going the allergy route, I have a bit of experience with  my dog's skin allergies. After trying everything except steroids, I finally found a vet who practices homeopathy.  Normally I don't find this often works, but he put my dog on a monthly dose of what I believe was some type of sulpher, and her allergies immediately got better for the first time in her life. Eventually I completely quit giving her the remedy, and she's never had problems again. In Austin I believe the only homeopathic vet is Dr. Vandermause at Crystal Mountain Clinic on Bee Caves Rd.


Food is the primary source of most dog problems in my opinion. Food caused Koko's allergy problems. It also caused digestive problems. It seems at this point that beef, turkey and chicken are the main culprits. I mix a little canned food in with dry food. The dogs like it. That does not mean it is best for them. Most dog food is too much like human food. It is too "hot" according my veterinarian. They are better off with wild animalís products. Good foods would be fish, venison, duck and fish with potatoes. I believe buffalo is OK. Lamb may be OK. Problem foods would be chicken, turkey, beef. Lamb is questionable. Stick to dry foods like Natural Balance. We add in an egg or slice of lunch meat. A good quality dog cookie is OK occassionally.

An excessive variety of food can also cause a problem with their digestive system since it changes too often. Loose stool is a good sign of improper food or too much variation.

Many dogs with chronic or recurrent ear infections have allergies or low thyroid function (hypothyroidism), but diet is usually the problem.


From the best information I can gather it is best to wash a dog once per month. Naturally if the dog is oily or dirty you can wash more often in warmer weather. I would limit the heavy soap application to once per month. Good soap would be oatmeal. I find the oatmeal soap at Wal-Mart to be good and sufficiently concentrated.  Excessive drying of the skin can also cause hot spots, rashes and more allergic reactions.

A cotton ball can be put into each ear to prevent excessive water from entering. One veterinarian said the 4:1 diluted Duoxo soap or spray could be applied to each ear and let the dog shake it out. I put the solution in a large syringe for application. I've only used it once. The other methods of ear cleaning are sufficient for my dogs. You could finish with a very light spray application on the inside flap of the dogs war with the Douxo Calm Micro-emulsion spray by Sogeval.

According to my friend Miller, Paul Mitchell now has a line of dog products available....all extremely pet-friendly.  The Tea Tree Shampoo is strongly recommended. While oatmeal is mild enough to not irritate the dog's skin, tea tree oil actually soothes.  It also provides a much better sudsing action.  It's marketed under the name of John Paul Pet, and is less expensive than the oatmeal shampoos. You can find it at The Beauty Store. The Central Market store at Lamar & 35th Street in Austin Texas carried it.

Dog Doors

We tried a few dog doors over the years. You pay for what you get. We chose the pet door at Moorepet-petdoors.com. It is expensive but the quality is very good. Then the utility bills decreased substantially with less energy loss. The large variety of sizes will accommodate the dog. Our golden retrievers are tall and weigh about 100 pounds. They easily pass through the double flap door we chose. We chose the MaxSeal Wall Mount dual flap - XL Grand (12 x 24) which is perfect for a grown golden retriever.

The most amazing thing about a dog door is the freedom it gives the dog. With that comes a higher degree of civility. They become a better family member and take on a greater role guarding the house. Naturally, our fence and gate are very secure, so they cannot get to the street. The people/dog relationship is priceless when you have a good dog door. Yes, the house must be cleaned more often.


Send me your medical and care tips. Try to complement this article. Include a picture to add here. j78749s@tkpro.com