Everything You Need to Know About the Golden Retriever

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Everyone who loves dogs is familiar with Golden Retrievers, who are known for their intelligence, friendliness, and devotion to their families.

They’re even in the top 10 list of most popular dog breeds in the States, Canada, as well as Lebanon and Mongolia! You can also find this versatile canine in service lines and movies.

Get to Know About the Golden Retriever dog

What else makes Goldens or Goldies so unique and an all-time favorite? Let’s find out.

Origin: Where are Golden Retrievers from? 

The Golden Retriever came from an aristocratic background. Dudley Majoribanks, also known as Lord Tweedmouth I, wanted to create a specialized gundog and develop a breed for his Scotland estate.

The criteria was a canine who wouldn’t mind the rain or rugged terrain, while still being friendly.

This breed development happened between 1840 and 1890. He crossbred the “Yellow Retriever” with the Tweed Water Spaniel, Irish Setter, and Bloodhound.

Sport hunters saw and appreciated Golden’s usefulness, while show fanciers adored them for their beauty and flair.

Although the American Kennel Club (AKC) officially recognized this breed in 1932, it took a few more years for them to get really famous.

It’s when President Gerald Ford introduced his very own Golden Retriever named Liberty in 1970.

The other organizations that recognize the Golden Retriever are:

  • United Kennel Club (UKC)
  • National Kennel Club (NKC)
  • Federation Cynologique Internationale (FCI)
  • Continental Kennel Club (CKC)
  • American Canine Association Inc. (ACA)
  • American Pet Registry Inc. (APRI)
  • Kennel Club of Great Britain (KCGB)
  • American Canine Registry (ACR)
  • New Zealand Kennel Club (NZKC)
  • North American Purebred Registry Inc. (NAPR)
  • Australian National Kennel Club (ANKC)
  • Canadian Kennel Club (CKC)
  • Dog Registry of America Inc. (DRA)

Learning more about the Golden Retriever’s lineage

To understand the appeal of the Golden Retriever, we must first look at their ancestors. These were the breeds that gave birth to one of the world’s most popular breeds.

“Yellow Retriever” or Russian tracker

Yellow Retriever

Russian Trackers look very much like a Golden. They share the same glamorous coat and build. This extinct pooch was much larger, though, weighing in at 100 lbs (45 kg) or more and standing at 30 inches (76 cm).

Legend has it that these sheepdogs were so capable that they kept wolves at bay. They also didn’t need human intervention and were able to take care of their flock independently.

Tweed Water Spaniel

Meet the Tweed Water SpanielThis breed gave the Golden his love for water and his waterproof coat. They’re athletic dogs that were used in waterfowl hunting, and they weren’t small, either.

Growing up to 80 lbs (36 kg) and standing at 24 inches (60 cm), they are about the same size as the biggest male Golden.

While the Tweed Water Spaniel is now extinct, it’s legacy lives on in both the Golden Retriever and Curly-Coated Retriever.

Irish Setter

Meet the Beautiful Irish Setter

A sweet-tempered family dog used in hunting, The Irish Setter was likely responsible for the Golden’s feathering.

Another medium- to large- sized breed, they can grow to 75 pounds (34 kg) and 28 inches (71 cm).

They are highly playful and very affectionate, which is why they’re sometimes used as therapy dogs.

Bloodhound

Meet the Bloodhound

Characterized by his droopy eyes and ears, this breed is renowned for its sensitive nose. Golden Retrievers must have inherited their keen sense of smell.

Used in hunting deer and wild boar, Bloodhounds are known to grow up to 110 lbs (50 kg) and 27 inches (69 cm).

While they were popular in the Middle Ages, only 55 Bloodhounds were registered in 2013. They’re also an intelligent dog breed with a sweet disposition.

With all those genes, it definitely resulted in a gorgeous pooch.

What does a Golden Retriever look like?

It’s hard to miss a Golden Retriever. They’re stunning dogs that stand out from the crowd, mainly because of their dense waterproof golden coat and high-held, feathery tail.

A smiling Golden Retriever dog

According to its breed standard, they have a solid and broad head. It’s more apparent in males, but both genders should have well-defined skulls.

Aside from that, they have eyes that are friendly and intelligent – lookers that will melt the coldest heart.

Their soft, floppy ears aren’t too long. When you gently pull them forward, they should just cover the eyes.

Size: At what age is a Golden Retriever fully grown?

They usually reach their full height at one, but won’t grow into their adult weight until they’re two years old.

Male Golden Retrievers have a height of 23 to 24 inches (58 to 61 cm) and weigh 65 to 75 pounds (29 to 34 kg).

Females are slightly smaller as they stand around 21.5 to 22.5 inches (55 to 57 cm), with a weight of 55 to 65 pounds (25 to 29 kg)

Due to their size, it’s not advisable to keep them in an apartment. They require spacious homes that will help fulfill their daily exercise requirements.

However, the most crucial part is keeping them indoors. They thrive when they are with their families, regardless of whether you have a yard or not.

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Are Golden Retrievers hypoallergenic?

No, Golden Retrievers are not allergy-friendly. Their waterproof double coat sheds twice a year, just like Huskies.

Those with sensitivities might want to look for a different breed because this canine is a heavy shedder.

But Goldies come in all shades of gold. If you’re planning to join dog shows, know that the darkest and lightest golden shade is considered undesirable.

That includes being too white.

Those Golden Retrievers with white markings on their face are an exception because it’s often due to old age.

Their coat can be straight or wavy, where some have thicker feathering, while others have close to none.

These are acceptable in conformation events since there are three types of Golden Retrievers – the Canadian Golden Retriever, the American Golden Retriever, and the British Golden Retriever.

Show dog VS. Field dog variant

Aside from the Golden Retriever types, there are also differences between Goldies who are bred for the field to those who are bred to be show dogs.

Field dogs have a sleeker appearance. They’re more aloof with family members but are considered more intelligent.

They’re also smaller with less lavish coats because they’re more active since they’re meant to work. They sometimes come in a mahogany color, like the Red Golden Retriever.

Show dog Goldens are basically the prettier version since they are bred for the ring or conformation events. They look more like teddy bears when compared to field-bred Goldies.

They have the signature blocky heads and are generally more heavy set.

Temperament: Are Golden Retrievers good family dogs?

A happy Golden Retriever with his pet owners

Absolutely! They’re big-hearted fidos who’ll love every member of the family. Goldens are affectionate furballs who always need to feel included.

Even though they’re gentle with kids, interactions between your Goldie and small children should always be supervised. Because of their size, they may accidentally knock over little ones while having fun.

Other than that, they’re tolerant and will hardly ever nip a child no matter how rough they are during playtime. Still, teach your tots how to treat dogs with respect.

Since Goldens are super friendly, some say that they’re horrible watchdogs, BUT this is untrue. Despite being social butterflies, they’re very alert and will loudly bark when they notice something amiss.

Most dogs who are intelligent and have high energy tend to get destructive when bored. Keep your Golden Retriever happy by getting him on the move.

Simple tasks like training him to fetch the newspaper or help you get the groceries from the car will have your fur buddy feeling involved.

This video is proof of how helpful Golden Retrievers are:

They’re one of the most versatile dog breeds because aside from their history in fieldwork like hunting, the Golden Retriever can now be found in different canine jobs like search-and-rescue, drug detection, and as service dogs such as in therapy and guide for the disabled.

Goldens are also commonly found in Hollywood movies! This is partly due to their beautiful appearance, but also because of their high trainability.

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Is a Golden Retriever dangerous?

As excellent this breed is, any dog that was abused and treated negatively can be considered dangerous. If a

Golden is in fear because of a threat, their adrenaline and instinct will kick in, which can force him to attack.

But they’re not inherently aggressive. Adequate training and early socialization, as well as treating your dog with respect, will avoid any behavior that’s exceptionally undesirable.

Golden Retrievers can hold eggs in their mouths?

Goldens have something called “soft mouths” or bite inhibition that enables them to retrieve game without damaging it. Watch Abby and Cooper give it a whirl with this egg challenge:

This is good news for hunters hoping to get a Golden Retriever to accompany them during hunting.

And because of their eager-to-please trait, they’ll also excel in tracking, agility, and obedience training.

Even potty training should be a dream! All you need is consistency and a bit of patience.

To make sessions fun, teach your Goldie to be your shadow, which will make him learn to heel. Keep him on a leash and get him to stay by your side as you run, stop, and turn.

Improve his recall by giving him a treat every time he responds to his name, and practicing it in different, unfamiliar environments.

Some owners play “Which Cup?” with their Golden. It’s when you place his favorite doggy snack under one of the cups and guide or let your pet guess where it’s hidden.

Eventually, you can build up his tricks by teaching him to fetch your keys, the laundry, or your favorite drink from the fridge.

How to take care of your Golden Retriever 

Feed your Golden Retriever two to three cups of high-quality dog kibble that suits your dog’s energy levels. You can divide this into two or three smaller meals to prevent him from scarfing everything down.

Avoid chicken bones and anything with high-fat content. Since they can become overweight, give food, and treats sparingly. Overfeeding can lead to certain health problems.

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Grooming: Are Golden Retrievers high maintenance?

A woman grooms a Golden Retriever at dog parlour

It depends on how well you maintain his coat. If you brush him once or twice a week, you can keep grooming down to 30 minutes per session. 

Leaving your Golden’s coat untended for extended periods will lead to mats and tangles. This can be a nightmare to remove, and you’ll spend hours trying to get his coat gleaming again.

Properly groom your Golden Retriever by bathing him first to help loosen dead hair. When he’s completely dry, break out the slicker brush and run it thoroughly through his fur.

Overbathing can ruin his undercoat and encourage more shedding, so schedule showers once a month.

Don’t shave your Golden Retriever, as well. Their double coat has a purpose, and doing so wouldn’t minimize shedding.

Keep his nails trimmed. If it clicks on the floor, it’s too long. And don’t forget about the dewclaw. His ears also need to be checked regularly for discharge or mites.

Brush his teeth or give him a dental bone twice a week to prevent plaque buildup, which can cause bad breath and oral problems.

Exercising your Golden Retriever

An adult Golden Retriever playing frisbee

The Golden Retriever is a sporting breed that requires plenty of exercise. Spend 40 minutes to an hour of physical activities with your Goldie daily.

Other owners break it into two sessions a day. Switch things up by bringing him along to your hunting trips, trekking, and cycling adventures.

But be warned, these playful canines sometimes don’t know when to stop. Some have so much energy that they’ll keep running until their legs give out.

Overexercise is possible, and it wouldn’t do your pet any good. Because of this breed’s love for water, you can take your fur buddy to go swimming.

It has a low impact on his body yet very beneficial. Pups should be introduced gently to this activity.

Those who are used to it will join in the pool on their own. Just look at Mia in this video:

The possibilities are truly endless. All you have to do is wait till they are fully grown before doing anything strenuous.

Health problems your Golden Retriever may have

Golden Retrievers have a life expectancy of around 10 to 12 years, but the oldest Golden to date is August, who’s 20 years old. But it’s best to be prepared for the illnesses that your pet is susceptible to.

One of the best things about pedigrees is that you know what kind of health issues they might get. It’s an extensive list, but this doesn’t mean your Golden will inherit all these diseases.

What you can do to acquire a healthy pup is to find a reputable breeder, but we’ll get to that later.

Goldens have a reputation for developing cancer. Vets believe that it is inherited since they have a relatively high rate of getting the disease. The only way to avoid this is to look at your pup’s bloodline.

The other common problem that Goldens are prone to are hip and elbow dysplasia. This can cause lameness due to improper joint formation.

It’s usually exacerbated by fast growth, obesity, or high-impact activities.

While it can be painful, dogs who suffer from dysplasia may not always show any symptoms. It’s best to have your fido screened once he reaches two years of age.

Another joint-related problem is Osteochondritis Dissecans (OCD), which causes elbow stiffness.

A vet checking up the Golden Retriever's health

Prevent health concerns like this with proper feeding. If your Goldie eats too quickly, he can also get Gastric Dilation-Volvulus or “stomach twist.”

If your doggo is eating too fast, he might not be able to burp excess air. This may sound like a minor problem, but it can turn fatal. That’s why it’s worth investing in a slow feeder.

Goldens who have cloudy eyes or abnormal discharge may be signs of Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA) or juvenile cataracts that can cause blindness.

Pigmentary Uveitis is an eye problem exclusive to Golden Retrievers, usually affecting those who are middle-aged. It’s an inflammation that can lead to glaucoma.

Other health concerns that this breed is predisposed to are heart or thyroid problems like Subvalvular Aortic Stenosis (SAS), hypothyroidism, allergies, Von Willebrand’s Disease, and epilepsy.

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How much does a Golden Retriever puppy cost?

You can expect to pay a price of $1,200 to $4,000 for one Golden Retriever pup.

Cute Golden Retriever puppies

But even when looking for purebred puppies for sale, be careful of breeders who are in it for the money, especially if you’re interested in a popular breed.

Aside from the breeder, the cost of a puppy will also depend on the kennel’s location, the parents’ bloodline, and the number of pups available.

For reference, a Golden Retriever’s average litter size is between 5 to 10 puppies.

Don’t Miss: Golden Retriever price: What you’ll really pay

Should I get a female or male Golden?

Males are bigger, and their boxy heads are more pronounced, which gives them a more huggable appearance. Marking and aggression could become a problem in intact males.

Females are leaner in comparison and can become quite clingy when they’re in heat. Aside from those slight differences, either gender will give you a calm and even-tempered Golden.

Golden Retriever breeders & kennels

Before finding a breeder, you should consider whether you want a Golden as a family pet, a working dog, or a show dog.

When you’ve decided on a variant, you can visit the AKC’s Marketplace or the Golden Retriever Club of America for a list of breeders near you or your local area.

Here are other websites that we found that have available Golden Retriever puppies for sale:

  1. Golden Meadows (Central Ventura County, SC)
  2. Godiva Goldens (Cumberland and North Yarmouth, ME)
  3. Shadalane Golden Retrievers (Vista, CA)

Research about the breeder and their kennel before agreeing to any deal.

And aside from answering questionnaires, ask if you can meet the puppy, its littermates, and parents. While you’re visiting, check how they care and interact with their breeding stock.

Request to see the medical records and any other document that will show proof that genetic testing was done before breeding. If the pups have vaccination records already, take a look at that, too.

Most reputable breeders offer health guarantees. Others even provide an option where you can return the pup in case you aren’t able to raise it, regardless of the reason.

Since they care more about their dogs, they want to make sure that they all end up with their forever home.

Golden Retrievers for adoption

We highly recommend that any dog lover looking for a new pet to adopt or rescue instead of buying.

This is a good option for those who prefer older dogs instead of pups. After all, most shelters will ensure that each dog has been trained and are healthy so that if someone wants to adopt them, they’re all ready.

Adopting can also mean you’ll have a better idea of what the fur angel’s behavior is like, its size, and its preferences when it comes to food and exercise.

There are plenty of rescue organizations all over America, many of which are listed on the Golden Retriever Club of America National Rescue Committee.

Here are a few other adoption sites worth checking out:

  1. Golden Retriever Rescue (Dallas, TX)
  2. Golden Retriever Rescue of Atlanta (Atlanta, GA)
  3. Southern California Golden Retriever Rescue (Los Angeles, CA)

Breeds often compared to the Golden Retriever

Golden Retrievers are well-rounded doggos. If it were a person, it’d be the popular jock loved by all and kind to everyone.

However, this breed might not fit everyone’s lifestyle due to their size, grooming requirements, or characteristics.

Here are a few other options you might want to consider.

Golden Retriever VS. German Shepherd

Meet the German Shepherd
German Shepherd

The German Shepherd is bigger than a Golden Retriever. GSDs can grow up to 26 inches (66 cm) tall and can weigh up to 90 pounds (41 kg).

Their wolfish look, coupled with their erect ears and low back, give them an intimidating appearance. But they also have thick coats which require as much grooming as Goldens.

German Shepherds are sharp creatures that rank as the 3rd most intelligent breed. This fido is a true working dog, and they’re more motivated by physical activity than treats.

Though they’re highly energetic, they’re one of the large dogs suitable for novice owners. So if you’re looking for a guard dog that doubles as a family pet, the GSD fits the job.

Proper training is crucial, though, as they may become overprotective.

Golden Retriever VS. Labrador Retriever

Meet the black Labrador Retriever
Black Labrador Retriever

These two dogs are very similar, and people often have a hard time choosing between them. So, which is the better breed?

It’s hard to say because they share the same wholesome nature. Labradors are a tad bit stubborn and hard-headed.

If you’ve seen “Marley & Me,” it shows Labrador puppies having boundless energy and requires more attention. Because of that, they’re prone to separation anxiety and have strong destructive tendencies.

However, this hasn’t stopped the Labrador from being America’s top breed for 29 consecutive years.

One distinct feature that separates the two is their coats. Labrador Retrievers also have a double coat, but they require much less grooming.

Their fur is short and neat, with no feathering. They also come in three colors – yellow, chocolate, and black.

Labs also have slightly longer lifespans, capping on an average of 14 years. 

Golden Retriever VS. Border Collie

Meet the Border Collie
Border Collie dog

Better suited for experienced owners, the Border Collie is a sly and wickedly smart breed that also makes a good guard dog.

Borders are slightly smaller than Golden Retrievers. They have a height of 18 to 22 inches (46 to 56 cm) and a weight of 27 to 45 pounds (12 to 20 kg).

Compared to the Goldie, they require a lot less grooming, at around one brushing a week. They also have fewer health issues and live an average of 12 to 15 years. 

You can find them in various colors such as black, blue, lilac, red, and gold. There are also a few different coat patterns like merle, brindle, sable, and white-ticked.

Fun facts about Golden Retrievers

Some things that you should know before you get a Golden Retriever. Since they are such a popular breed, there’s a ton of fun trivia about them.

February 3 is Golden Retriever’s Day!

Goldens are so admired that they have their own national day that started in 2012. In its 2019 event, thousands of Goldies showed up at Golden, Colorado, to celebrate this breed.

Golden Retrievers hold two Guinness world records

Charlie, a Golden Retriever that lives in Australia, holds the record for the loudest bark. Clocking in at 113.1 decibels, it is akin to a rock band. You can hear it for yourself here: 

Now, how many balls can a Golden Retriever hold in his mouth at once? The answer is 6, along with a world record! Finley from Canandaigua took the title on the 23rd of Feb, 2020.

What are Golden Retriever zoomies, and how fast can they run?

All dogs can get the zoomies, which are bursts of frenetic energy. Think of it as a way for them to blow off some steam.

It can happen for no apparent reason, but it’s mostly due to excitement.

It’s most common after a bath or when a dog has been confined for too long. Don’t worry because it’s completely normal.

About their speed, Goldens can run up to 30 miles per hour (40km/hr). Check out Red running at 24 miles per hour (38.6km/hr) at 11 months old.

What is bad about Golden Retrievers?

Every pet has its own quirks. With Goldies, they’re slow to mature and act like puppies longer than other breeds, which some people don’t like.

They can retain their puppy playfulness until 3 to 4 years of age, and other Goldens never grow out of that behavior.

Golden Retrievers also shed a whole lot. Some owners swear that they shed all year round.

Is there a dog that looks like a mini Golden Retriever?

There’s the Miniature Golden Retrievers – a cross between a Golden and a Poodle or a Cocker Spaniel. 

If you want a purebred with similar features with a Golden and are more petite, you might want to consider a Cocker Spaniel.

They have the same glamorous golden coat. They’re great with kids and love people, even strangers. Sounds familiar, right?

Do Golden Retrievers really smile?

All dogs can smile. Goldens just happen to have a sweet face that makes it seem like they’re always cheerful.

But, there are three different kinds of “smiles,” and it’s essential to recognize each one.

Panting Smile: You can generally see this after a good romp. They’re relaxed, tongues out, big goofy grin with mouth wide open.

Submissive Smile: This comical smile will have your Golden baring his teeth with his body close to the ground to show deference. This smile is about avoiding confrontations, so there won’t be much eye contact.

Aggressive Smile: Goldens are hardly ever aggressive, so you’ll rarely (if ever) see this. You can recognize it by a wrinkled muzzle and a full show of his teeth.

Sometimes, it is accompanied by an intense glare or even a growl.

Do Golden Retrievers get darker?

Meet the Dark Golden Retriever
Dark Golden Retriever

They do because not all Golden Retrievers retain their puppy coat color. If you want a darker dog, check the fur behind their ears. The darker it is, the darker his hair will be.

Is there such a thing as a White or Black Retriever?

Meet the Light English Golden Retrievers
Light English Golden Retrievers

The AKC does not recognize white or black as a color for a Golden Retriever.

Most of the time, White Goldens are simply very light English Golden Retrievers. Since they are cream-colored, you sometimes get one so light it looks white.

Black Golden Retrievers are usually Flat-Coated Retrievers, Newfoundlands, or a crossbreed with a Black Labrador or a Black German Shepherd.

When do female Golden Retrievers have their first heat?

Golden Retrievers come into sexual maturity at roughly 8 to 12 months of age. This is when males will start marking (urinating with his leg lifted), and females will come into heat.

To avoid any behavioral problems associated with it, neuter your dog. This can be done as young as eight weeks old.

Pros & Cons: Who should get a Golden Retriever?

Adorable Light Golden Retriever
Light Golden Retriever

Their playful personality and gentle nature make Golden Retrievers the perfect family pet, especially for active families.

However, they do shed quite a bit and require a fair amount of exercise. If you have a relaxed lifestyle or are often away from home, this may not be the breed for you. They’re also prone to a few hereditary issues.

But there’s no denying that Golden Retrievers are loved best by most households and sporty individuals. Have a Goldie of your own?

Tell us what you love most about them!

Further Reading: Other articles related to Golden Retrievers

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