Golden Retriever

Breed Group: Sporting

Temperament and Behavior

With their gentle, happy, loving disposition, it’s no wonder Golden Retrievers are consistently one of the most popular choices for dog owners. Naturally wonderful with children of almost any age, they make an always willing playmate. But if not well trained, their rambunctious, outgoing nature and their size, can intimidate small children. They get along well with other animals, even cats. Loving and playful with everyone in the family, they can make an exceptional family pet. Highly active, especially inside when young, regular exercise is extremely important for these lively dogs. They can adapt to an apartment provided they receive daily walks, games and mental stimulation. Not known as frequent barkers, they will bark loudly to warn their owners of an approaching stranger, making them good watchdogs. But they are not suitable as guard dogs as they are rarely aggressive. With typical retriever instincts, they are mouthy and have a need to chew, particularly when young. Do not let them mouth your hands. Instead, make sure to provide plenty of toys to satisfy their chewing instincts. They adore water and are excellent swimmers.

Physical Characteristics

A large dog that stands between 21 and 24 inches tall, and weighs between 55 and 75 pounds, Golden Retrievers are easily recognized by their lustrous, medium length, golden colored coat which is feathered on their tails, legs, and abdomen. With a sturdy, well-proportioned body, they have “floppy” ears that hang down framing a face with twinkling almond-shaped eyes, it’s no wonder Goldens are loved as much for their delightful appearance as their wonderful temperament. Although not as difficult to groom as they might appear, they shed abundantly. They are definitely not the dog for an owner who likes an immaculate home. The breed thrives in a wide range of temperatures.

Trainer's Notes

Without reasonable socialization, a Golden Retriever can exhibit a lack of confidence and even shyness. They also need regular human interaction; if left alone for long periods of time, they can become destructive. Golden Retrievers are an easy breed to train because they are eager to determine what their owner wants and willing to work hard to achieve this goal. Although they tend to have a high activity level when younger and mature slowly, Golden Retrievers make a wonderful choice for a first-time dog owner provided they do not mind a dog that sheds profusely. Given proper training, together with physical and mental exercise, they are happy, easy to keep, obedient dogs. In fact, they are so well respected for their obedience and eagerness to please, they are commonly used as guide dogs for the blind, in police work, and in hunting and field trials.

Photo © by Andreas Dobler available under the CCSA
Golden Retriever

Golden Retriever


The Golden Retriever has a number of health issues. One study showed Cancer was responsible for almost 2 out of every 3 deaths. Bloat is also a killer of the breed. About 10% have Elbow Dysplasia and 20% suffer from Hip Dysplasia. About 7% of tested dogs have Hypothyroidism and another 4% have luxating patellas. Less commonly seen concerns are the eye problems of Entropion, Distichiasis, PRA, and Cataracts, the last two of which can cause blindness. Other less commonly seen issues include SAS, OCD vWD, and Cardiomyopathy. Skin allergies are also seen. Many dogs have weight problems; portioned food is important to maintain a healthy weight. The breed’s lifespan is typically about 12 years.


The Golden Retriever is ranked 4th in popularity by the American Kennel Club, behind only the Labrador Retriever, the Yorkshire Terrier, and German Shepherd. With nearly 50,000 dogs registered each year, they have consistently been one of the most popular family dogs for years.

Breed History

The Golden Retriever resulted from one of the best-documented efforts to produce a breed ever undertaken. Created by Lord Tweedmouth in Scotland, historical records show that in 1867 he bred a yellow wavy-coated Retriever (named Novus) with the now extinct Tweed Water Spaniel (named Belle). This cross produced four pups. Subsequently, breeding was done with black retrievers, Tweed Spaniels, Irish Setters, St John’s Water Dogs, and even a Bloodhound. Officially recognized as a breed in 1912, the AKC recognized them in 1927. First valued for their hunting skills; only later did they become pets.

Additional Information

Golden Retrievers celebrate a special distinction- they were the first breed to have three different dogs sucessively become the AKC Obedience Champion. Many famous people have owned Golden Retrievers. Some of them are: U.S. Presidents Ronald Reagan and Gerald Ford, entertainers Christopher Reeve, Neil Diamond, Jamie Lee Curtis, Jimmy Buffet, Mary Chapin-Carpenter, Jimmy Stewart, Phyllis Diller, Paul Newman, Joan Rivers, Mary Tyler Moore, Ron Howard, Frank Gifford, Jerry Seinfeld, Bill Murray, Oprah Winfrey, and Betty White, golfers Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus, plus Norman Vincent Peale, and Timothy Leary. The National (US) Breed Club is the Golden Retriever Club of America.

Is A Golden Retriever THE BEST Dog For YOU?

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