- Temperament: friendly, loyal, smart
- Height at the shoulder: 23-24 inches in males and 21.5-22.5 inches in females
- Weight: 65-75 lbs. for males and 55-65 lbs. for females
- Life expectancy: 10 to 12 years
- Breed group: sporting group
About the Golden Retriever breed
The Golden Retriever is the third most popular dog breeds in the USA and among the world’s favorite dogs.
These beautiful and high spirited canines were bred as gundogs in Scotland, and today are still among the best-hunting dogs, but are also preferred as loving companions, as guide gods for the visually impaired and are used in various search and rescue operations.
Goldens are also superb performers at different canine sport including obedience and agility. And when they are not working, the Golden Retrievers are perfect family pets.
The dogs from this popular breed are medium-sized, quite resilient and muscular and have the highly recognizable golden colored coats which have given their name.
With intelligent eyes on a broad head and a straight muzzle, these friendly dogs are not only gorgeous looking, but are one of the best working dogs, which can excel in tracking, hunting, retrieving, drug sniffing, and as guide, assistance and therapy pups.
Their smooth gait and their ever waving feathery tail make them one of the most elegant dog breeds in the world too.
Overall, the Golden Retriever is recognized as a friendly, highly intelligent and stunningly beautiful dog breed, and it comes to no surprise that Goldens are among the 3 top preferred breeds in the US.
The dogs from this breed take their time when it comes to maturing, so if you add a Golden to your family, you can expect to have a fun, happy and a bit goofy pup for up to three and even four years of age.
Some of the Golden Retrievers will maintain their puppy-like personalities until old age.
Since they were originally bred to perform physically demanding work as retrievers of ducks and fowl, these gorgeous dogs do need some serious daily exercise. They are perfect running or cycling buddies, and superb swimmers and playmates.
If you give your Golden Retriever jobs to do and keep it well-exercised you will have a very well behaved pet. You will also need to prepare yourself to add your dog into most family activities if you want a happy and loving companion.
The minimum recommended daily exercise for the dogs from this breed is about 40-60 minutes of vigorous activity.
One of the best ways to keep your Golden mentally and physically active is via agility or obedience training, or any other canine sport.
One of the few drawbacks of the Golden Retriever is that it is most definitely not a watchdog. In fact, your pup will enjoy meeting most strangers and will be friendly to just about anybody.
The other potential problem which you will face after bringing in a Golden into your home is that it does shed quite a bit, especially in the spring and fall, when its coat “blows.”
The Golden Retriever may be a working dog, but it is also a family dog, so don’t adopt one if you are not ready to share your house with it. These dogs should definitely live inside, rather than in a kennel or crate outdoors. They love their families and want to be active participants in all family activities.
Goldens adore children of all ages, but since they are strong and pretty boisterous especially when they are young, you should supervise them around toddlers to avoid accidental injuries.
These pups simply love to eat and are very prone to become overweight, so you should carefully portion their meals and limit the treats you give them.
Because of the extremely high popularity of the Golden Retriever, some irresponsible breeders have been producing and offering dogs which have not been bred in accordance with the standards set by the serious breeders who do their best to breed healthy and happy puppies.
So, avoid buying a dog from a store or a puppy mill, and always look for a responsible breeder or at your local rescue shelter instead.
These dogs originating from Scotland have a strong retrieving instinct especially for waterfowl and will love playing catch as well as swimming and spending hours outdoors with you.
Definitely a dog breed for active families, the Golden Retriever is the perfect pet to have if you want a canine companion which you can take on each and every adventure with you.
Here are the main pros of the Golden Retriever:
- They are beautiful looking and have gorgeous golden coats and ever-wagging tails
- They are athletic, hard-working and highly intelligent
- Their tempers are steady and they are friendly with just about anyone
- These dogs are friendly with other dogs and pets as well
- They are easy to train and very eager to please
- They are loyal and loving companions which will follow you in every new adventure
And some of the cons of the dogs from this breed:
- They do require vigorous daily exercise
- They are pretty boisterous especially when they are young
- As retrievers, they will chew and carry things around
- Their beautiful coats require regular brushing and grooming
- They shed heavily especially before the summer and winter seasons and produce a lot of dander which is a no-no for people with allergies
- They are pretty smelly pups
- The breed is predisposed to various health problems
- They are not watchdogs
The hallmark calm nature and sweetness of the dogs from this breed can be read in their smart and kind eyes. The Golden was originally bred to work and live with its human, so the dogs from this breed are always eager to please. Even though they have kind temperaments, Golden Retrievers, just like all other dogs do require training and socializing from early puppyhood.
It is recommended that you start introducing your Golden pup to as many people, dogs, cats, situations and sounds as early on as possible. Proper socializing will reduce the risk of your pup growing up to be fearful.
Otherwise, these kind, trustworthy and cheerful dogs are probably one of the best family dogs in the world. They are suitable even for inexperienced owners as they are easy to train eager to please and forgiving of mistakes.
As mentioned previously, although the Golden Retriever is irreplaceable for the hunting of waterfowl, for use in search and rescue or drug-sniffing operations, as well as for assisting and guiding people and as a therapy dog, it is most definitely a watchdog. It will bark, but with a friendly bark at strangers, and will wag its tails at anybody, even at strangers to come into your home.
Since the breed was developed to retrieve ducks and other waterfowl during hunting, you can expect to have a pretty mouthy puppy and dog at home. Golden Retrievers will instinctively retrieve, carry and chew just about anything.
This means that you will need to work hard to curb the unwanted chewing and retrieving from an early age. You can teach your pup to fetch you your slippers or your newspapers instead of chewing on the wrong objects.
You should also make sure that you provide you Golden with enough sturdy chew toys to play with and carry around instead.
Even though the Golden has a gentle temperament, it is a powerful and pretty boisterous dog, so you should be careful when it interacts with very young children, and should also train it to walk on a leash without pulling.
Otherwise, the Golden Retriever will easily and peacefully live with other dogs, cats or other pets, as well as with families of all sizes and types.
Golden Retrievers are middles sized and quite active dogs, so they do need to receive about 2 to 3 cups of premium quality dog food – either commercial or homemade per day.
Remember to always divide the dog’s meal into two portions, and feed it twice a day to avoid the dangerous condition known as bloat, which can be caused by the quick consumption of large portions of food.
Of course, the exact amount of food your dog needs depends on its age, its activity level, its metabolism and its healthy. The more active the dog – the more calories it will need, and vice versa – couch potatoes require fewer calories.
Goldens love to eat, so they are quite prone to becoming overweight and obese. This is why you should refrain from feeding your pup with human food scraps, as well as overdoing it with the highly caloric treats.
The recommended amount of dog treats per day should comprise of no more than 10% of the entire caloric intake of the pup.
An overweight or obese dog can become affected by numerous related conditions such as joint and bone problems, diabetes and other serious health issues, which is why you should always measure the food you give to the pup, and never leave out kibble or food in the bowl all day long.
Also, if your pup is on the heavier side, you should provide it with more physical exercise, so that it can burn that excess fat and get back in shape again.
If you are worried about the weight of your Golden or have other questions regarding the best food and portion size for it, make sure you ask your vet for advice.
Thankfully, today there are various commercial weight loss and diet dog foods, which are still nutritious and delicious but will help keep your Golden Retriever in perfect shape and health.
Golden Retriever puppies aged 4-7 grow very quickly, so you should feed them with low caloric and yet high-quality food which will prevent joint and bone problems caused by the vigorous growth process.
Always choose dog food which is suitable for the age of your dog. Puppies require puppy food, active young dogs need highly caloric food, and senior dogs require fewer calories and easier to digest dog food.
Also, if you will be preparing your Gulden’s food at home, make sure you check which ingredients and foods are not recommended and can even be toxic for canines. To mention just a few – onions, garlic, nuts, grapes, raisins, and chocolate are some of the foods you should never give to your dog.
Goldens can have very light to dark gold colored dense and water-resistant double coats.
As we already pointed out, the beautiful golden coat of the Golden Retriever comes with a price. It does require regular brushing and combing to avoid matting and tangling. Plus, twice a year, the coat of your pup will “blow” so be prepared for a snowstorm of hairs at home in the spring and in the fall.
You can reduce the number of hairs stuck on your furniture and clothes, by brushing your Golden with a slicker dog brush once or twice a week.
During the shedding seasons, the brushing and combing of the water-repellent double coat of the Golden Retriever should be done daily.
Although Golden Retrievers require only occasional baths, a nice bath can help loosen the dead hairs and also help resolve any tangling or matting of the coats and especially in the feathering on the underbody, legs, and tail of the dog.
So, bathe your Golden Retriever once a month if you want to keep it pristine looking and to smell well.
Unfortunately, Goldens to come with a specific doggy odor and do shed a lot of dander as well, which is not good news for those of you allergic to dogs.
You will need to brush the dog’s teeth at least twice a week to remove any plaque, tartar or bacteria, and to keep the teeth and gums healthy and the breath fresh.
If your dog does not wear its nails off naturally, you will also need to trim them twice a month. Always be careful when trimming the nails of your dog, because they have blood vessels in them, and you can hurt your pup if you cut off too much.
The fact that Goldens have fold over ears makes them prone to fungus or bacteria growth. You should always inspect the ears of your pup and watch for redness, bad smell or other signs of possible ear infections. When you clean the ears of your pup, clean the inside of the ear flap gently and without sticking anything inside the ear canals.
Also, when you groom your Golden, make sure you examine it for any sores, rashes, redness or other signs of inflammations on the skin, nose, eyes, mouth and all other body parts.
The best way to have an easy time when grooming your Golden Retriever (or any other dog) is to teach it to tolerate the brush, trimmers, and toothbrush from an early age.
By teaching your dog to stand still and not resist your grooming efforts, you will make your life with a dog much easier on yourself.
The Golden Retriever is a Sporting breed and a hardworking retriever and working dog. This means that it requires a lot of exercises, especially when it is young.
Goldens mature very slowly, and you can expect your dog to be pretty bouncy, vigorous and boisterous until an age of 3-4 or more. You should be very careful when teaching your pup to walk on a leash as well as when teaching it to avoid jumping on people, especially on young kids.
If you have toddlers at home, you may want to opt for an older and more mature dog from a shelter instead of a puppy with endless energy.
Golden Retrievers are very easy to train and are always eager to please their humans so you won’t have problems teaching them to perform various jobs for you and thus keep them busy.
The dogs from this breed are ready to go an adventure every day and need both physical and mental stimulation to stay happy and out of trouble.
You can’t achieve this by just letting the pup spend the day in the backyard. Rather, you should find interesting games to play with your dog, take it running, cycling or hiking with you, and allow it to vent its energy in something interesting.
One of the best ways to keep your Golden mentally and physically stimulated is to enroll it into obedience classes or in any other dog sport.
Since they are bred to retrieve waterfowl from the water or from anywhere, you can easily entertain your Golden Retriever by playing catch or taking it to the lake for a swim and for some games.
This retrieving instinct though can make Goldens pretty mouthy, so make sure you provide your pup with enough chewy toys to play with and carry around.
The recommended daily physical exercise per day is 40 to 60 minutes of moderate or 20-30 minutes of vigorous exercise. These dogs are perfect jogging or running buddies. They will also happily join you for a hike, or for a game of ball with the kids in the backyard or park.
Keeping the Golden active physically and mentally will help keep it happy and away from destructive and unwanted behavior which can occur when the dog gets bored. Also, by exercising your dog on a regular basis, you can help prevent it from becoming overweight or obese which is very bad for the health of any dog.
Be careful when exercising your Golden Retriever puppies, because they grow very quickly up to an age of 7, and there is a risk of bone and joint problems if overfed with highly caloric foods, as well as with exercising them and playing with them on hard surfaces such as concrete.
Instead, you can enjoy some fun games with your young Golden on the soft green grass, or enroll it to puppy kindergarten or agility classes.
No matter how kind and smart Golden Retriever are, early socializing and training is a must, just like with all other dogs.
As soon as it is safe for your puppy to meet other people, dogs and to go out, you should start doing exactly that – meeting it with as many people and dogs as possible, and also taking it to different settings and exposing to all kinds of sights and sounds. This will help you raise a well-rounded and non-timid dog.
Puppy training classes are perfect for socializing.
As for the training, Goldens are very smart, learn quickly and are eager to please. You should proceed with the obedience training early on, and use positive reinforcement to teach your pup to behave, to walk on a leash without pulling, and to refrain from chewing things other than its toys or chewy treats.
Obedience training with rewards will help strengthen the bond between you and your dog. Your loyal and eager to please Golden Retriever will do anything possible to make you happy, so as a whole the dogs from this bred are pretty easy to train. This makes them suitable even for inexperienced dog owners.
Since these dogs are superb retrievers, you can easily channel the retrieving instinct of your dog into something useful, like teaching it to bring over your slippers, its leash, the laundry, the newspapers or others.
Although the dogs from this beautiful breed are very loving and adore children, you should be careful if you have toddlers, because your highly energetic and strong dog can push them over by accident.
You should teach your children how to interact with the dog safely by explaining to them to not approach the pup when it is sleeping or eating, as well as to abstain from any tail pulling or other rough actions.
Always supervise any interactions between your children and the dog!
As for teaching the Golden to live in a household with other pets – this is a very easy task because it seems that the approach of these dogs is – “the more the merrier!”
Goldens are sturdy working dogs and when coming from responsible breeders are pretty healthy. The dogs from this breed though are predisposed to a number of serious health conditions, which you should be warned about and watch out for.
The average lifespan of the Golden Retriever is 12-13 years, but unfortunately, many of them hardly make it up to 6-8 years because of some underlying bone and joint diseases, epilepsy, heart disease or cancer.
In order to ensure that your puppy is at minimum risk for any of the hereditary health problems, ask the breeder for health clearances for hip and elbow dysplasia, for eye problems and for heart conditions. A responsible and reputable breeder should be able to provide you with written proof for all of these health tests for both parents of the puppy.
Even though the following health conditions are more common among Golden Retrievers, don’t start worrying immediately, because not every Golden will be affected by any of them.
Here are the most common health conditions which affect the Golden Retrievers:
This is an inherited condition in which the thigh bone does not fit properly into the hip joint. Hip dysplasia can affect one or both rear legs and can cause limping and pain. Later on in life when the dog starts developing arthritis, matters can get even worse for the dog. Since dogs with hip dysplasia should not be bred, always check for clearance for this health problem for both parents before buying your puppy.
Similarly to hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia is a hereditary health problem. It affects the front legs of the dog and is caused by the uneven growth of the three bones which make up the elbow. This condition can be diagnosed via an x-ray examination and can be treated surgically.
Left untreated it can cause pain and lameness in one or both front legs of the dog. Once again, dogs; with this disease are not supposed to be bred so always require that the breeder provides you with valid proof that both parents of your puppy are dysplasia-free.
This is another hereditary disease and it affects one or both eyes of the dog. The eyes become cloudy, and over time, the dog can become partially or completely blind. Even dogs do adapt pretty well to complete blindness, it is still a good idea to check for a valid health clearance by an ophthalmologist when you are buying a Golden Retriever puppy from a breeder.
Cataracts can be removed surgically.
Progressive Retinal Atrophy
PRA is another condition affecting the eyes of the pup. It is actually a term refereeing to several diseases affecting the eyes. The deterioration of the retina can cause night blindness or complete blindness in dogs. Unfortunately, it is irreversible.
Still, PRA can be avoided if breeders abstain from breeding dogs which have it or are genetically predisposed.
Subvalvular Aortic Stenosis
This is a serious heart condition caused by a narrow connection between the aorta and the left ventricle of the dog’s heart. If left untreated it can cause the dog to suddenly faint or even dye.
Your vet should be able to diagnose it if your dog has it, and will prescribe treatment to keep the pup safe.
This painful condition can affect the joints of the dog’s legs and most commonly occurs on the shoulders or elbows. It is caused by improper growth of the joint cartilage which can cause stiffening of the joint, pain and even inability to bend it.
This condition can be identified in puppies at an early age of just 4 months. It is believed that feeding the young puppy with growth formula foods and high protein foods can cause this condition due to the rapid growth which occurs between the ages of 4 to 7 months.
Golden Retrievers can suffer from various types of allergies – from food, from pollen, dust, mold, dander, fleas, from chemicals, fabrics, and many other allergens.
If you notice that your dog is scratching too much, rubbing its eyes, sneezing, biting at the base of its tail or its paws, or has unexplained vomiting or diarrhea talk to your vet about the possibility of your Golden suffering from an allergy.
The exact allergen can be a bit tricky to determine, but once you find it, you can easily avoid allergic reactions by helping your dog avoid or limit its contact with the allergen.
Von Willebrand’s Disease
This inherited disorder affects the ability of the dog’s blood to clot. The symptoms can include excessive bleeding following an injury or surgery, during heat or after childbirth, as well as bleeding gums, nosebleeds and others. It is a dangerous condition and there is no cure for it, but it can be managed.
There are tests for Von Willebrand’s disease, and you should ask your breeder for health clearance for this condition for both of the parent dogs because pups suffering from it are not supposed to be bred.
Gastric Dilatation-Volvulus (Bloat)
Bloat is a life-threatening condition which affects mostly dogs with larger chests. It occurs when air gets trapped in the dog’s stomach and as a result, it distends and twists. This prevents the dog from being able to get the air out and causes the blockage of blood flow. As a result, the dog can die without emergency vet treatment.
Some of the signs of bloat include the dog trying to belch or vomit but not being able to, a distended abdomen, excessive drooling, depression, weakness, rapid heart rate, low blood pressure or collapsing.
If you notice any of these worrying symptoms you should take your pet to the vet immediately because it can lead to death pretty quickly.
Bloating is believed to occur when dogs eat a single large meal very quickly, or when they start running or other vigorous activities or drink a lot of water after a large meal. This is why you should divide the food of your dog into smaller portions and several meals, and prevent your pup from taking off to play and run right after eating.
Also, limit the amount of water it drinks directly after eating.
Epilepsy can cause seizures or convulsions, which can display themselves in different ways including running wildly as if somebody is chasing the dog. Epilepsy is not curable, and even though it can look frightening, it is actually a condition which the Golden Retriever can live with comfortably.
Your vet may prescribe medication to limit or completely prevent the seizures if necessary.
This is a disorder of the thyroid gland of the dog, which can cause obesity, hair loss, lethargy, dark skin patches or other skin conditions, epilepsy and others. Hypothyroidism can be treated with a special diet and medications.
Although every dog can develop any kind of cancer at some point in its life, it has been found that Golden Retrievers are particularly susceptible to several types of cancer.
One is Hemangiosarcoma which usually affects middle age or elderly dogs and affects the lining of the blood vessels as well as the spleen. Osteosarcoma is another dangerous cancer which affects the bones and usually occurs among the large-sized and giant dog breeds.
The National Breed Club recommends the following tests for Golden Retrievers:
- Hip evaluation
- Elbow evaluation
- An ophthalmologist test
- A cardiac health evaluation
Although some people still support the myth that Golden retrievers were originally brought from a Russian circus with sheepdogs, the fact is that the breed originated in Scotland. The Golden Retriever breed was developed at the estate of Lord Tweedmouth (previously known as the Sir Dudley Majoribanks highland estate).
The oldest and completest records of the history and development of the Golden Retriever breed can be found in the record books kept in the Guisachan estate of Lord Tweedmouth.
The records were officially released to the public in 1952 by the great nephew of Lord Tweedmouth and the sixth Earl of Ilchester in Country Life magazine in 1952.
Like most of the other members of the gentry in those years, Lord Tweedmouth bred dogs and animals of all kind with a goal to create the perfect breeds. His records from 1835 to 1890 show that he was working on developing the Golden Retriever.
The aristocrat wanted to create the perfect hunting companion with a superb nose and with better attention to the owner that the spaniels and setters. Since Lord Tweedmouth himself was an avid waterfowl hunter, it comes to no surprise that he wanted to develop the perfect retriever.
He also pointed out that he was working on developing a dog which is also even-tempered and loyal at home.
The historical records show that the Lord purchased a Yellow Retriever called Nous from a cobbler in Brighton in 1865. Nous the only yellow puppy in a litter of black dogs with Wavy-Coated Retriever parents.
He took the dog hunting for quite a bit of time and proceeded to breed it with the now extinct Tweed Spaniel (another avid retriever) named Belle. The four female pups which came out of this litter are believed to be the ancestors of all of today’s Golden Retrievers.
Later on, the Lord continues experimenting with the breed by crossing one of his Yellow Retrievers with a Setter, and it is believed that the cross between the yellow and red dogs is what ultimately led to the unique golden color of the Golden Retriever.
The other puppies from Nous and Belle’s litter were bred with Flat and Wavy-coated retrievers. Lord Tweedmouth kept predominantly the yellow colored puppies and used them for the continuing breeding process. The others were given away to friends.
As a result, the breed soon began attracting the attention of hunters and fanciers due to their retrieving skills and their beautiful golden coats. One of the first Golden Retrievers to gain immense popularity was a dog named Don of Gerwyn who won the Gundog League trial in 1904.
In 1911, the English Kennel Club finally officially recognized the Golden Retriever as a breed and were first classified as Retriever – Yellow or Golden. In 1920, the breed was officially renamed to Golden Retriever.
In 1932, the American Kennel Club also recognized the breed.
Today, the Golden retriever is the thirst most popular dog breed in the USA and among the top most popular breeds worldwide!