Golden Retriever

Golden retriever sitting down in a farm
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The golden retriever is one of the most popular dog breeds in the United States. They are medium-sized, athletic dogs with energetic natures. Goldens are known for their kind eyes, loyalty, and enthusiasm for life. Though bred as hunting dogs, these qualities also make them excellent family dogs. Goldens usually get along well with children and are incredibly affectionate and intelligent. Golden retrievers make wonderful service dogs. They are often very successful as guide, assistance, or search and rescue dogs.

Breed Overview

  • Group: Sporting
  • Size: Males 65 to 75 pounds and 23 to 24 inches in height; females 55 to 65 pounds and 21.5 to 22.5 inches in height
  • Coat and Color: Medium length double coat in light to dark gold
  • Life Expectancy: 10 to 12 year

Characteristics of the Golden Retriever

Affection Level High
Friendliness High
Kid-Friendly High
Pet-Friendly High
Exercise Needs High
Playfulness High
Energy Level High
Trainability High
Intelligence High
Tendency to Bark Medium
Amount of Shedding High

History of the Golden Retriever

Golden retrievers originated from the Scottish Highlands, where they were used primarily as hunting dogs. The Scottish estate owners needed a dog that could retrieve birds either in water or on land since their hunting grounds had many ponds and marshes. As guns were improved, retrievers needed to be able to bring back birds from farther distances.

To develop the ideal retriever, the Baron of Tweedmouth, Dudley Marjoribanks, crossed a Tweed water spaniel with a yellow-colored retriever. The four pups were then used in further breeding with lines including the Irish setter, bloodhound, St. John's water dog, and black retrievers. He kept detailed records throughout the later years of the 19th century. His goal was to develop a dog with a soft mouth for retrieving game but who was also strong and active. The breed gained popularity in England and was recognized by The Kennel Club of England in 1911.

In the early 20th century, golden retrievers were introduced to North America as both a hunting dog and a companion. The golden retriever was officially recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1925. When the AKC debuted the AKC Obedience Champion title in 1977, the first three dogs to earn the designation were golden retrievers. Presidential golden retrievers include those owned by Gerald R. Ford and Ronald Reagan.

Golden Retriever Care

Golden retrievers have medium-length hair with a thick undercoat and a water-repellent outer coat. They shed moderately most of the year and heavily in the spring and fall. They should be brushed daily. They also will probably need a bath about once a month. You can expect to live with plenty of dog hair if you have a golden retriever.

Your dog will need his nails trimmed once or twice a month to keep them from splitting and causing foot problems. You should also help your dog maintain good oral hygiene by brushing his teeth at least a couple of times per week. Because they have droopy ears, they are more likely to have ear infections. Check your dog's ears regularly.

These are active dogs which require daily exercise and thorough training. It is best for a golden retriever to have access to a play yard for romping and to be taken out for a walk a couple of times per day. They love playing fetch. Golden retrievers get along well with most other dogs and a trip to the free-run dog park is likely to be appreciated. If these needs are met, a golden is bound to be your happy, loyal companion.

Golden retrievers are known to be mouthy, carrying things around in their mouths. Have toys and chew bones available to satisfy this oral fixation.

This breed likes to be where the action is with the family rather than relegated to the yard where they can easily get lonely. They are not suited to be watchdogs as they are friendly with everyone. Socialization is important for dogs and comes pretty naturally to the golden retriever. They should do well in a multi-pet household with other dogs and cats.

Golden retrievers are gentle and patient and enjoy playing with kids, but their size means they can knock over a small child if they are excited. This might scare little kids, especially playmates who are visiting and not used to a larger dog. When they learn to play together appropriately, a golden retriever is a good match for families with kids.

Common Health Problems

Responsible breeders strive to maintain the highest breed standards as established by kennel clubs like the AKC. Dogs bred by these standards are less likely to inherit health conditions. However, some hereditary health problems can occur in the breed. The following are some conditions to be aware of:

Diet and Nutrition

Golden retriever puppies grow rapidly and should be on a low-calorie puppy diet that will keep them from growing too fast and increasing their risk of bone disorders. An adult golden retriever should be fed two meals a day of up to 1.5 cups of dry dog food per meal. It's best to measure out the food and provide it as meals rather than leaving food out for free-feeding. The amount needed for an individual dog depends on the dog's size, activity level, age, and other factors. You should always provide fresh, clean water.

Be sure to monitor your dog's weight. Obesity will shorten your pet's lifespan and predispose him to other health conditions. If you notice your dog is gaining weight, discuss this with your veterinarian. Get recommendations for feeding schedules, amount of food, type of food, and exercise to keep your dog healthy.

More Dog Breeds and Further Research

Before you decide on a golden retriever, be sure to do plenty of research. Talk to other golden retriever owners, reputable breeders, and rescue groups to learn more.

If you’re interested in similar breeds, look into these to compare the pros and cons.

There is a wide variety of dog breeds out there. With a little research, you can find the right one to bring home.