One of the most popular choices for a dog in the home is a Golden Retriever. In fact, in 2021, this breed was number three on the AKC Most Popular Dog Breed list. But why do so many people adore this breed?
From their loving nature to their fun disposition and intense loyalty, Golden Retrievers can be an excellent addition to any home. They are highly intelligent and are terrific with children or as service animals. So let’s explore what makes these dogs a popular choice.
The Golden Retriever breed is a medium-sized dog, which can range in weight from 55 to 75 pounds. They will reach between 22 to 24 inches tall at the withers and have floppy ears. This breed has a medium-length coat that can range in hue from light to dark golden colorings.
They are not hypoallergenic dogs and will require grooming. Additionally, this breed is quite active and requires enough exercise and stimulation, even well into its senior years.
History of the Golden Retriever
Originating from Scotland, Sir Dudley Marjoribanks bred the Golden Retriever as a hunting dog. However, documents from the mid to late 1800s describe the development of this breed to create a sporting dog for waterfowl.
These dogs were to have soft mouths to fetch and retrieve waterfowl and be a companion for humans.
By crossbreeding flat-coated Retrievers with Tweed Water Spaniels, and eventually even some setters and bloodhounds, the Golden Retriever became a recognized breed by the kennel club in 1913.
Characteristics of the Golden Retriever
There are dozens of reasons why having this dog is a good fit for your home. Golden Retrievers can vary in appearance, but this breed carries much of the same characteristics.
Although this breed is a medium size, they are powerful and graceful. With its large head and broad muzzle that sits on a muscular neck, the Golden Retriever’s stature is for activity, both in the water and on land.
They sport a double coat in which the undercoat is water-resistant and dense to protect against the cold, while the outer coat is medium length and feathers along the tail and legs. The coloring of a Golden Retriever can range from light cream to yellow or darker gold hues, depending on the breeding lines.
The temperament of a Golden Retriever is that of a gentle animal with a well-balanced nature. Their exceptional intelligence and loyalty to humans create the perfect dog that is quick to learn and aims to please.
This breed does not become startled by loud noises or upset with many people or other pets. Instead, they enjoy pet friends and large families since they are incredibly social and love to be part of a pack.
A Golden Retriever’s loyalty to its humans provides an affectionate and loving pet, even for children. In addition, this breed loves to be active and is happy to follow its people on any adventure.
Because Sir Dudley Marjoribanks bred this dog for retrieving waterfowl, they love to swim and play in the water or spend hours at a game of fetch in the backyard.
Golden Retrievers will keep their fun-loving puppy nature well into adulthood. Some owners will attest to their dog as a big goofy pet with a happy-go-lucky attitude. Golden Retrievers will quickly adapt to any schedule and is willing to participate in any activity.
Golden Retrievers love to be near their people as much as possible. Although they have a double coat and can tolerate outdoor weather, they would much rather curl up at your feet at night.
They can be prone to digging or running away, especially if you leave them in a yard without supervision. Golden Retrievers will miss their humans, and without proper training, they will try to escape to find them.
They enjoy games of fetch and other outdoor activities. So if you live in an apartment or small house without a fenced-in yard, they will require enough daily exercise outside the home.
This dog breed’s life expectancy is typically between ten and 13 years. This timeline is generally an average length for a healthy animal. However, the larger your pet is, the shorter its life will typically be.
Larger dogs tend to have many predispositions to health problems, such as cancer, thyroid issues, and more.
Golden Retriever Care
Owners of a Golden Retriever will need to provide proper care to ensure a happy and healthy life. If one of these areas is lacking, they could develop obedience problems or health issues.
Training & Exercise Needs
This dog breed has a high degree of intelligence, making training relatively simple, even for puppies. They pick up commands easily and love to please their owners. Generally, they are easier to train than many other dog breeds, making them popular for many households.
Golden Retrievers need regular activity to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Exercise ensures they do not become overweight, but it also helps solidify the bond between them and their owner. This breed does well as a bird dog because of its water-repellent coat, swimming abilities, and intelligent tracking attributes.
These dogs will require more than 40 minutes of exercise each day. However, many owners will find that Golden Retrievers still need stimulation and activity from other areas, even with their long walks.
For example, playing fetch in the yard and providing additional training, like treat puzzle balls or agility courses, will also keep their minds engaged.
Golden Retrievers are highly social dogs. They love their people and get excited when meeting new visitors to the home. Often if this dog barks at strangers, it is because they are eager to meet someone new in hopes of playing a game of fetch.
However, like all dog breeds, Golden Retrievers should have proper socialization with other animals to ensure they maintain good manners while out on walks or at the dog park.
They are highly tolerant of children, but you should never leave a child alone with any animal if they snap at a youngster because of ear pulling or grabbing their hair.
When it comes to grooming Golden Retrievers, many pet owners should embrace the hair. Golden Retrievers will shed a lot during specific times of the year, so regular grooming will help minimize shedding and dander.
If you do not bathe and brush your Golden Retriever regularly, they can also suffer from various skin conditions. Issues can arise because of a build-up of dirt or debris in their undercoat or excessive oils on the skin, all of which you can eliminate with grooming.
Golden Retrievers should have a cleansing bath once per month to ensure their hair is clean and free of dirt and debris. If your dog has a pre-existing skin condition, a monthly bath can also help restore moisture to their skin.
Because they are active dogs with medium-length hair, brushing should be part of their weekly routine. Some owners will find using an undercoat rake twice a week can help minimize shedding in the spring.
In addition, regular brushing will ensure the hair does not have mats or aids in removing debris that could irritate the skin later.
Golden Retrievers are a healthy dog breed by nature, but unfortunately, they are not without some pre-disposed conditions. Although many reputable breeders will screen potential sires and dams for health issues, others may not. Some common health problems of Golden Retrievers include:
- Elbow and hip dysplasia
- Eye conditions
- Heart conditions
- Skin issues
However, many Golden Retrievers can live long, healthy lives without suffering from common health problems with proper diet and care.
Diet and Nutrition
An adequate diet is necessary for Golden Retrievers, especially since they are medium-sized dogs with high energy. This dog breed should get between two and three cups of high-quality food each day.
Consequently, owners should break up this amount into two separate feedings rather than letting the pet freely feed all day.
Puppies grow extremely fast as they develop and mature. They will require a lot of food during this time but should have special low-calorie puppy food to prevent gaining too much weight. Overweight Golden Retriever puppies can develop bone problems that will be troublesome into adulthood.
If your Golden Retriever is becoming overweight, cutting back the amount of food is vital to keep them from developing heart problems or bloat. Owners should feed their pets high-quality dog food meant for medium to large breeds.
For more information on Golden Retrievers, check out these frequently asked questions.
Do Golden Retrievers make good family dogs?
Yes, this dog breed is an excellent choice for families with children. They are social, loyal, and have a gentle, fun-loving nature. However, they will require adequate training as puppies to ensure they have proper manners and do not jump up or mouth the hands and feet of kids.
Are all Golden Retrievers high-energy?
By nature, Golden Retrievers have a great deal of energy. As a result, they maintain a playful puppy disposition even as adults. However, with age, some dogs will slow down, and although they will still enjoy playing fetch and swimming, these sessions will be shorter overall.
Comparing this breed to other dogs, Golden Retrievers are high-energy and will require ample exercise to minimize adverse behaviors.
Do Golden Retrievers bark excessively?
Generally, Golden Retrievers are not excessive barkers. However, they will get excited during playtime or when meeting new people or dogs and can bark continuously during that time.
Owners will note that when a Golden Retriever barks, it typically happens when they are playing or a doorbell rings, rather than a continuous bark at a back fence, which can annoy the neighbors.
Are Golden Retrievers better than Labrador Retrievers?
Both of these dog breeds have many of the same qualities and features that make them terrific pets. However, many dog owners who prefer medium-length feathered hair opt for a Golden Retriever rather than a short-haired Labrador Retriever.
Golden Retrievers are typically smaller than Labrador Retrievers, making them slightly more attractive as a family pet. However, Golden Retrievers do not come in as many colors as Labs do, which can cause some potential pet owners to go with a different dog breed.