A new study will examine how and why dogs get cancer.

A new study will examine how and why dogs get cancer. (Tacha Steimer / January 22, 2013)

Got Golden? Known for their sunny, loving dispositions, Golden retrievers are among the most popular dogs chosen as family pets. Unfortunately, they’re also among the most susceptible to cancer, which is the number-one killer of older retrievers.

Because of this, the Morris Animal Foundation has launched the first wide-scale study into how and why dogs get cancer, and they’re looking for 3,000 Golden retrievers to participate.

Participation means agreeing to work with your vet to obtain annual exams and tests for your Golden retriever, allowing collection of any tumor samples, being willing to consider a post-mortem exam when your dog’s life ends, and participating for the entire life of your dog -- 10 years or more. Your Golden must be under 2 years of age at the time of application and have a three-generation pedigree, and you must be 18 years or older and living in the mainland U.S. Mos tests and exam fees will remain your responsibility, but the Morris Animal Foundation will reimburse you for up to $75 per year on verification that tests have been completed and submitted.

By following the dogs throughout their lives, scientists hope to find out how genetics, environment and diet affect cancer risk; determine risks for other health issues among Goldens; learn how to better diagnose and treat cancer in dogs; and improve the health of future generations of Golden retrievers.

For more information or to enroll your pet in the study, visit www.caninelifetimehealth.org.