At a glance
Golden Retrievers originated in Scotland and were bred to be excellent water-hunting dogs. They are known for their gentleness and enthusiasm. They are currently one of the most popular dog breeds in the United States.
- Names – Goldens
- Group – AKC: Sporting Group; KC: Gundogs
- Size – medium
- Life expectancy – 9 – 15 years; average of 12
- Cost of ownership – low
- Ease of ownership – high
- Aggressive tendency – low
- Amount of Exercise – medium
- Amount of Grooming – medium
- Ease of Training – high
- Obedience level – high
- Suitable for Children – high
- Amount of Care Required – low
- Susceptibility to Health Problems – low
The first thing in this breed that catches the attention is its lustrous, golden coat of sturdy quality and medium length. The Golden Retriever’s face is vibrant and intelligent, with well-proportioned symmetry and easy freedom of movement.
- Bitch 27 kg (60lbs) to 32 kg (71lbs)
- Dog 30 kg (66lbs) to 34 kg (75lbs)
- Bitch 51 cm (20″) to 56 cm (22″)
- Dog 56 cm (22″) to 61 cm (24″)
- Color – The fur is vibrant and can be many shades of gold. The color may be as light as cream on some parts of the dog’s body, especially among lighter-colored Goldens. Today, medium and light shades are more common than the burnished copper-gold coloring.
- Coat – The coat is dense and water-repellent with an excellent undercoat. The outer coat is either straight or wavy; the legs and tail have longer feathering.
- Shedding – high
- Allergies – medium
- Causes Allergies – medium
These are well-mannered, intelligent dogs with charismatic charm. They are easy to train and respond well to commands and are always patient and gentle with children. Goldens are loyal, optimistic, sweet and eager to please. He is an active, loving and outstanding family dog.
- Separation Anxiety – medium
- Barking tendency – medium
- Aggressive tendency – low
- Compatibility with other animals – high
- Suitable for children – high
- Watchdog suitability – low
Golden Retrievers love to be praised by their owners and they will enjoy obedience training. They are generally accepting of everyone and other animals, even fellow canines. This particular breed has an almost non-existent guarding instinct but they make a fine watchdog and will loudly signal a stranger’s approach. Goldens are happiest around high ranking “pack members” (family members with authority). Without regular mental and physical exercise, the Golden may become overly mischievous, bored, timid or a super energized dog that cannot focus on anything. Owners need to establish themselves as a firm and consistent pack leader in order to train the dog to be calm and confident.
Early socialization and puppy classes are key to the Golden’s development. Socializing him will encourage his natural friendliness and will help control his excited bursts upon greeting people.
Training must never be harsh but firm and gentle. Games are excellent ways to train a golden. This breed enjoys anything it can fetch (e.g. Frisbee, a ball). He will also take pleasure in sniffing out hidden toys and retrieving them.
- Obedience – high
Adult Goldens need to be kept on their toes with regular exercise. A walk or jog helps them keep fit. As puppies, their growth can occur at a rapid rate, and it’s possible that their weight will outpace the speed of their bone growth. For this reason, they must not be allowed to have too much free-range exercise which could lead to a bone problem involving lameness.
- Energy – medium
- Amount required – 80 – 100 minutes per day.
Aside from grooming, to ensure a Golden Retriever’s wellbeing, they require moderate daily exercise and mental stimulation. Owners should also take care to watch the Golden’s energy levels because this dog loves to work and will do so until collapse.
The Golden diet should consist of premium kibble. Owners need to be careful that they do not overfeed their dog, as this breed has an insatiable appetite and can easily become overweight They should also not be fed table scraps and treats should be limited. Many veterinarians and breeders suggest adult food with less than 25 percent protein instead of puppy food once the dog’s first three months are over.
The compact coat of the Golden requires regular grooming and trimming. The water resistant undercoat will not mat with consistent, proper brushing. The feathers on his front legs should be trimmed regularly, as should the fur between the pads. The hair on the back legs up the hocks needs to be cut close and the feathering under the tail should be trimmed. The tail is best kept in a crescent shape. The chest area should be relatively short in order to show off the neck length. The top coat on the body only needs brushing and can be either flat or wavy. Whilst the length of the coat attracts water and mud, this is easily cleaned off once the coat has dried.
- Ease of grooming – high
- Amount of grooming – medium
When examining a Golden Retriever’s pedigree for breeding purposes, check as far back as the past five generations. One should also check the American Kennel Club registration and have an expert look into the pedigree documentation.
Aside from looking for ideal dog temperament, an example of a good Golden Retriever mate would be one whose appearance fits the characteristics of the standard. Furthermore, the dogs need to be at least two years old and in good health before attempting breeding.
While pregnant, the female Golden is initially fed premium adult food before being switched to special food during the 4th and 5th weeks. This is to ensure that there is complete nutrition for both mother and the fetuses. A golden retriever litter is best left intact and interacting with each other until they are seven and a half to eight weeks of age.
- Litter size – average of 8 and a range of 4 to 12 puppies
- Puppy cost – an average of $726 with a range of $436 to $872
Retrievers are highly prone to genetic disorders and cancers. In fact, the Golden Retriever Club of America reports that at least 60% of Golden deaths are the result of cancer. Other issues they face are allergies and they should be groomed regularly to prevent fleas.
- Life expectancy – average of 12 years; range of 9 – 15 years (in rare cases some Goldens have lived to 16 and 17 years)
- Susceptibility to illness – low
- Common health problems – hip dysplasia, skin allergies and congenital eye defects
Goldens need to be properly socialized and trained so that the dog can develop into a credit to his breed. They are a wonderful family pet and the perfect companion for both adults and children.
- Living conditions – This breed can adapt to apartment living but will require sufficient walks and play time to receive the exercise he needs. They are active indoors and will appreciate a medium to large yard to romp around in.
- Good with Children – These dogs are famous for their patience with children of all ages, which is a likely reason for their popularity.
The Golden was developed in Britain in the 1800s. His sporting breed lineage includes the extinct Tweed Water Spaniel, a small Newfoundland, the Irish Setter and other water dogs. The Golden was developed by Lord Tweedmouth at his estate on the Tweed River near Inverness, Scotland. He was bred to be the most ideal dog for retrieving shot waterfowl. The foundation stock of the breed was a yellow retriever puppy of unknown heritage and a Tweed Water Spaniel, both of which appear several times in early pedigrees. By the 1890s, many Atlantic travelers started bringing along their Goldens to the U.S. Initially, the dogs were used to hunt, but they gradually migrated to the show ring, and eventually became a companion dog of ever-growing popularity.
- County or origin – British Isles
- AKA KC name and group: Gun Dog, AKC Sporting
Did you know…
- Well-known owners of Golden Retrievers include: Gerald Ford (“Liberty”); Trent Reznor, Oprah Winfrey, Dean Koontz
- Golden Retrievers were the first three dogs to win in the Obedience Trial Championship hosted by the American Kennel Club in 1977.
- Goldens are famous for being excellent surrogate mothers to other mammals. Kittens and even tiger cubs from zoos are well taken care of by Golden Retrievers.