Golden Retriever Dog Breed: Your guide to their traits, history and care
January 09, 2020
Golden Retrievers are friendly, happy dogs that are great with kids, eager to please and are the very epitome of a family dog. If someone describes a dog that’s overjoyed about pretty much everything — kibble, the kids, walks — you’re probably going to picture a Golden Retriever. If you’re considering whether a Golden Retriever would be a good dog to add to your family, we pulled together some facts about this beloved dog.
Golden Retrievers at a glance
Appearance: Expressive eyes, straight muzzle, top coat that’s golden brown in color with long straight hair. Tails have long, “feathery” streaming hair.
Height: Males reach 23-24 inches; females reach 21.5-22.5 inches
Weight: Males reach 65-75 pounds; females 55-65 pounds
Life expectancy: 10-12 years
Breed type: Sporting
Fun fact: Third most popular of 195 AKC dog breeds
Top job: Originally bred for hunting and field work, these make excellent service dogs, and are well-suited for search and rescue work.
Bottom line: Good-natured family dogs who love spending time with you.
Golden Retriever traits
- Golden Retrievers are always up for the next thing. It can be a drive or your daily walk. If you get up to fetch something in another room, you’ll probably be followed, because they don’t want to risk missing out on the fun and adventure. In a household, Golden Retrievers are easy-going with kids, tolerant of cats, and willing to pal around with other dogs in the house.
- Golden Retrievers aren’t highly territorial, compared to other dogs. They’ll certainly let you know if the mail carrier is coming up the walk. However, their barks are just as likely to be accompanied with their flowing tails held high in the air, waving like a flag of greeting and celebration.
- Golden Retrievers have lots of energy, with a need to socialize with their humans. Before getting a Golden Retriever, consider the size of your living space, your lifestyle and how much time you two can spend together, especially in the great outdoors. If they’re left home alone (or penned in the yard) for long stretches of time, they’ll likely become bored. Boredom can lead to destructive behavior, like chewing, digging and making a mess of your yard and home.
- Golden Retrievers can be an ideal companion for any active family. if you love the idea of having a live-in excuse to take extended hikes and walks, consider a Golden Retriever!
- Want to learn more? Check out the LinkedIn Profile of the Golden Retriever, found at the end of this resource page for the Raising Your Paws podcast. And keep listening to get more out of your life with your furry friends.
History of the Golden Retriever
The breed emerged in Scotland during the 1800s as a bird dog, and was certified as a purebred in 1925 by the American Kennel Club. Retrievers have what breeders call a soft mouth, meaning they can pick up and carry game, bringing it home to the hunter without damaging it. According to records, Golden Retrievers are the result of crossing several breeds of retrievers, spaniels and setters. Because of their breeding to retrieve game from the water, they’re natural and eager swimmers, with their double coat offering protection against the cool water. Discover more about the fascinating history of the Golden Retriever and download episode 26 of Raising Your Paws podcast today.
Golden Retriever hair and grooming needs
As pets, Golden Retrievers do have high grooming needs, especially in the spring when they start shedding their undercoat. To keep the hair and fluff under control, it’s important to brush your dog every day — more often during shedding season. Begin grooming during puppyhood, using a soft brush, going in the direction of the fur.
To get ahead of the spring-summer shedding, some pet parents opt to have their dog shaved. Before you take that step, it’s important to understand Golden Retrievers are double-coated, and those two layers each have a job to protect the dog and keep her feeling comfortable. You know how as puppies, Golden Retrievers look like freshly laundered bear cubs? That fluff is their future undercoat. When a Golden Retriever reaches about three months old, the first “feathers” (long flowing hair) start emerging in the tail. Eventually, that adorable puppy fluff is completely covered with a long, coarse, water-resistant top coat.
Under that long hair, the “fluffy” undercoat offers year-round insulation against both the cold and the heat, while also protecting the dog’s skin against things like sunburn. These coats are self-regulating, meaning changes in the day length trigger hormone changes in the dog that cause the hair to grow thicker in the winter, and thin out naturally in the summer.
So before you go with the summer haircut, work with a professional groomer, so you can ensure that undercoat gets the right amount of thinning without causing discomfort to your dog.
In the meantime, learn more how a high-quality diet and great grooming habits will keep your dog’s coat lustrous, healthy and free of itchiness from Pet Grooming 101.
Activities with your Golden Retriever
As their name suggests, they’re great dogs if you’re looking for a loyal companion when hunting for fowl and game birds. Because they’re so trainable, affable and intelligent, they also perform very well in professional capacities, as service dogs and on search and rescue teams.
If you’re feeling a bit burned out on launching the tennis ball from your back deck, Golden Retrievers are game for mixing it up and trying new things.
- Most Golden Retrievers will enthusiastically paddle out into the water, so if you’re spending time at the lake, she may love to go splashing after that tennis ball. For a more enriching option, check your community resources to see if dock diving training and activities are available.
- To supplement your walks, they’ll happily trot alongside you during long hikes on rugged nature trails. (Before you go, always confirm that dogs are permitted, and whether that park allows off-leash dogs.)
- Finally, Golden Retrievers are well-suited for agility training, which is where you work with your dog to zip through a canine obstacle course featuring leaps, tunnels, runs and weave poles. This offers an outlet for their energy, as well as the mental stimulation they crave.
For a long healthy life with your Golden Retriever, the right diet makes all the difference. Only NutriSource has Good 4 Life supplements, which are formulated to help dogs feel better in their skin, achieve a shiny, lustrous coat you love to pet, and stay healthy, from their nose down to their fanning tail. For starters, each formula is supplemented with Taurine for heart health. Discover more about the benefits of NutriSource and shop for it at your local, independent pet supply shop.