Golden retriever: Dog breed characteristics & care (2024)

Golden retriever: Dog breed characteristics & care (1)

Table of Contents

  • Golden retriever fun facts
  • Temperament and characteristics
  • Appearance
  • Common health problems
  • History
  • Caring for your golden retriever
  • Training
  • Similar breeds
  • Frequently asked questions

Breed overview

  • Breed group — Sporting group (American Kennel Club)
  • Height — 21.5-24 inches
  • Weight — 55-75 pounds
  • Coat length & texture — Soft, medium-length double coat
  • Coat color — Golden retrievers are true to their name. They come in shades of golden fur, from light cream to fox-red. Their coats typically have no markings.
  • Exercise needs — Daily
  • Intelligence — Moderate
  • Barking — Only to alert
  • Life span — 10-12 years
  • Temperament — Friendly, loyal, lovable, intelligent
  • Hypoallergenic — No
  • Origin — Scotland

Golden retriever fun facts

👉 Coming up with a pet name can be fun but tricky. Search no further! According to PetScreening’s 2024 database, the majority of our users name their male Golden Retrievers Cooper; Charlie is the 2nd most popular male name. Meanwhile, most of our users with female Golden Retrievers love Luna, then Daisy equally.

  • Golden retrievers are excellent swimmers. These dogs were originally bred for hunting and retrieving birds from water, which means they have a natural affinity for swimming. Their webbed feet and water-repellent coat helps as well.
  • Golden retrievers make great therapy dogs. Because of their friendly and gentle nature, golden retrievers are often used as therapy dogs in hospitals, nursing homes, and other care facilities. Their presence can help reduce stress and anxiety in patients.
  • The breed was developed in Scotland. In the mid-19th century, Lord Tweedmouth of Scotland began breeding golden retrievers by crossing a yellow flat-coated retriever with a tweed water spaniel. The result was a dog well-suited to hunting in the rugged Scottish Highlands.

Golden retriever temperament and characteristics

Golden retrievers are one of the most beloved dog breeds in the world and for good reason. These friendly and loyal dogs have a temperament that makes them great family pets and companions.

Known for being gentle and patient with children, golden retrievers are an ideal choice for families looking for a furry friend to add to their household. They’re also highly intelligent, eager to please, and obedient, which makes them easy to train.

One of the defining characteristics of golden retrievers is their love for people – even ones they’ve never met. They’re social animals that crave attention and affection from their owners. This can sometimes lead to separation anxiety if they’re left alone for long periods of time.

Another notable trait of golden retrievers is their love for water. Originally bred as hunting dogs, these pups have a natural instinct to retrieve objects from bodies of water.


The Golden retriever is an intelligent dog with a strong work ethic. According to the American Kennel Club (AKC) breed standards, its coat should be thick and water-repellent. The coat is always a lustrous golden in various shades. Feathering may be lighter than the rest of the coat. Except for graying or whitening the face or body due to age, any white marking, other than a few white hairs on the chest, should be penalized according to its extent. We teamed up with FidoTabby Alert, and according to their database, a common coat color for the Golden retriever is (87%) gold.

Common golden retriever health problems

For the most part, golden retrievers are a healthy dog breed. Daily exercise, good nutrition, and lots of love can help them live long, happy lives. But there are a handful of common genetic and/or environmental health conditions to be aware of.

  • Bloat. Golden retrievers, like other dogs with deep, narrow chests, are prone to gastric dilation volvulus, or bloat. It’s a serious, often fatal condition that can occur if the dog ingests too much air by eating too much or too quickly.
  • Allergies, skin, and ear issues. Red eyes, paws and bellies, frequent paw licking, and rubbing the face and ears are all signs that your golden retriever may be suffering from allergies. Left untreated, allergies can lead to ear infections and general discomfort.
  • Cancer. Unfortunately, this breed is prone to cancer. The two most common cancers for golden retrievers are hemangiosarcoma and lymphoma . Hemangiosarcoma affects the cells that line blood vessels while lymphoma affects the lymph system.
  • Hip dysplasia. This is a common condition with larger dog breeds. In the case of golden retrievers, hip dysplasia can result from poor breeding, poor nutrition, strenuous exercise, or a combination of these factors.

Cost of caring for a golden retriever

While some of the above conditions are easy to avoid or treat, like bloat and allergies, others can become costly to manage. Health insurance may be a way to reduce out-of-pocket expenses. Pet owners who sign their pets up early will reap the greatest benefits. Alternatively, you might consider starting a pet savings account.

History of the golden retriever

In the 19th century, Sir Dudley Marjoribanks set out to create the perfect retriever breed. He acquired the only yellow pup from a litter of flat-coated retrievers named Nous and bred it with a Tweed Water Spaniel named Belle.

Marjoribanks, who would later become Baron Tweedmouth, chose the Tweed Water Spaniel for its athleticism and affinity for water. The flat-coated retriever brought its natural gundog ability and eagerness to please to the new breed.

The first litter from his two original dogs produced four yellow pups from which several mating pairs were established. By 1890, two golden pups, Nous II and Queenie, established the foundation for the breed. Every golden retriever can trace their lineage back to this breeding pair.

Following World War I, golden retrievers gained immense popularity outside of Scotland with Kennel Club recognition from America, Canada, France, and Australia. During World War II, golden retrievers were used as search-and-rescue dogs on the battlefield and as therapy dogs for wounded soldiers.

Caring for your golden retriever

Golden retrievers are beloved for their friendly personalities and gentle nature, but they also require proper care to keep them healthy and happy. First and foremost, make sure your puppy receives all necessary vaccinations. This includes vaccinations for diseases like distemper, parvovirus, and rabies. On your puppy’s first trip to the vet, your veterinarian will be able to provide you with a vaccination schedule based on their age and health.

You may want to consider puppy-proofing your home to ensure your furry friend stays safe. This means removing any potential hazards like toxic plants, cleaning supplies, or small objects that could be swallowed or used for teething.

For golden retrievers, a stranger is just a friend they haven’t met yet. That said, if you want to keep your pup safe and reduce the chance of them turning up lost, FidoAlert provides a free Fido ID and tag so you’re prepared just in case.


Golden retrievers have a moderate to high energy level, which means they need regular opportunities to burn off excess energy. They enjoy a variety of dog sports and other activities, including walking, running, hiking, swimming, and playing fetch. They also benefit from mental stimulation through activities like training sessions or puzzle toys.

When exercising your golden retriever, be sure to give them plenty of attention and affection as well.

Golden retrievers are social animals that crave attention from their humans. They thrive on human interaction and enjoy spending time with their family members.

Golden retrievers should get at least 30-60 minutes of exercise per day. More may be necessary depending on the individual dog’s energy level and age. Puppies and young adults will require more exercise than older dogs.


Golden retrievers have a thick, double-layered coat that requires regular grooming to keep it healthy and looking its best. Plan to brush your golden retriever at least once a week to prevent matting and remove loose hair. More frequent brushing may be necessary during shedding season, which typically occurs twice a year.

You don’t need to bathe your golden retriever too often – about every 2-3 months should suffice unless they get particularly dirty or smelly. Be sure to use a gentle dog shampoo and thoroughly rinse out all soap residue.

Even with regular exercise, check their nail length to make sure the nails aren’t getting too long. Your golden retriever’s nails should be trimmed every 4-6 weeks to prevent discomfort or potential injury.

Because of their floppy ears, golden retrievers are prone to ear infections. You should check your dog’s ears regularly for signs of redness, swelling, or discharge and clean them with an ear-cleaning solution as needed.

Diet and nutrition

As a larger breed, golden retrievers should have a balanced diet of protein and fat to support their growth, energy needs, and overall health. They’re also prone to overeating and can become obese if overfed. It is important to feed dogs the appropriate amount of food based on their age, weight, and exercise level.

In general, puppies require more frequent meals than adult dogs, while senior dogs may need a lower-calorie diet. Consulting with a veterinarian can help ensure that your golden retriever gets the proper nutrition for their individual needs. And always ensure that your pup has access to fresh water.

Training your golden retriever

From hunting to search-and-rescue to just a plain old game of fetch, golden retrievers are a highly trainable breed. They excel in obedience training and can learn a wide variety of commands, from basic obedience like “sit” and “stay” to more complex tasks like retrieving specific items or performing search-and-rescue operations. Positive reinforcement training methods such as treats, praise, and playtime work best with this breed.

They also have a natural desire to work alongside humans, making them easy to train for a variety of roles. Whether working as service animals, therapy dogs, or simply beloved family pets, golden retrievers are known for their trainability and willingness to learn new skills.

Breeds similar to the golden retriever

Not quite sure that a golden retriever is right for you? Even if you are, it’s worth taking the time to research and consider other similar breeds. Here are a few to get you started:

  • Labrador retriever. Often mistaken for golden retrievers, labradors share similarities in physical appearance and personality. Some key differences are the length of their coats and available colorations, their independence, and a need for greater activity.
  • Newfoundland. A close canine cousin of the golden retriever, Newfoundlands are known for their patience and devotion. Their agreeable nature makes them fast friends with kids, dogs, and new friends, too.
  • Cavalier King Charles spaniel. If you love the lustrous coat of a golden retriever but don’t have room for a larger dog, this compact spaniel may be an option. They’re also similar in temperament, trainability, and activity needs, but at a third of the size.

Frequently asked questions

How much exercise do golden retrievers need?

Golden retrievers make great hunting companions, farmhands, hiking partners, fetch players, and pretty much any other activity. If you don’t have a job for them to do, daily exercise of 30–60 minutes will suffice.

What events can golden retrievers participate in?

Because of their eagerness to please and high trainability, there’s almost nothing a golden retriever can’t do. They can be trained for search-and-rescue, therapy, agility, obedience, conformation, dock diving, and more.

Are golden retrievers really descendants of Russian circus dogs?

Golden retrievers are traceable to 19th-century Scotland. Their original breeder, Baron Tweedmouth of Inverness kept meticulous records of his process. The story about them being descendants of Russian circus dogs is part of popular golden retriever lore.

What’s the difference between a golden retriever and a labrador retriever?

Goldens and labradors share an ancestor in the now-extinct St. John’s water dog. At first glance, they do seem to share many physical and behavioral similarities. Some of the key differences are in the size of the ribcage, coat type and color, independent nature, and love for competition.

Golden retriever: Dog breed characteristics & care (2024)


Golden retriever: Dog breed characteristics & care? ›

Goldens are outgoing, trustworthy, and eager-to-please family dogs, and relatively easy to train. They take a joyous and playful approach to life and maintain this puppyish behavior into adulthood. These energetic, powerful gundogs enjoy outdoor play.

What is the personality of a golden retriever? ›

Golden Retriever personality

Golden retrievers are playful, yet gentle with children, and they tend to get along well with other pets and strangers. These dogs are eager to please, which probably explains why they respond so well to obedience training and are such popular service dogs.

Is a golden retriever a high maintenance dog? ›

In some ways, like grooming, socialising with other dogs, and exercising, Golden Retrievers can be considered high maintenance. However, these pooches are also super adaptable, friendly with other people and dogs, and can be easily trained. They could be considered less high maintenance than a lot of other dog breeds.

Is a golden retriever a good family dog? ›

Golden Retrievers' soft and gentle nature, combined with their fun-loving personalities, has made them a firm favourite as a family pet. These dogs are naturally good with children and make ideal playmates.

What do I need to know about owning a golden retriever? ›

Goldens make a wonderful family pet and are fiercely loyal to their humans. They love companionship and will not do well when left alone for long hours. Golden retrievers shed moderately on a somewhat frequent basis. Their coats are water repellent, so they only occasionally need a bath.

What are Golden Retrievers weaknesses? ›

allergies as well as dry and brittle coats. Additionally, they have varying degrees of problems with hip dysplasia and eye defects.

Do Golden Retrievers like to cuddle? ›

Golden Retrievers are affectionate and enjoy cuddling with their owners. This doesn't necessarily mean that every single Golden will enjoy a cuddle. Every dog appreciates the affection of their humans in different ways.

Can Golden Retrievers be left alone? ›

Like all dogs, Golden Retrievers like to chew, so it's better if there is someone around for the majority of the time to keep an eye on them. Remember, it's recommended that you never leave your dog alone for more than four hours as it can cause them to become stressed and anxious.

What do Golden Retrievers love the most? ›

Golden Retrievers adore spending time with their owners. They enjoy companionship and are happiest when they can be by your side. These affectionate dogs love snuggling up with their owners and soaking in all the love and attention. They love outdoor activities like fetch, frisbee, and swimming.

Are Golden Retrievers prone to problems? ›

Some common health problems in Golden Retrievers include hip dysplasia, cancer, thyroid, heart issues as well as seizures.

What are the pros and cons of Golden Retrievers? ›

Sensitive and slow to mature, the golden retriever doesn't respond well to harsh handling or training, but it's an ideal choice for families with children, as this breed gets along well with other people and other dogs.

Do Golden Retrievers bark a lot? ›

Fortunately, Golden Retrievers aren't known to bark a lot. They're moderate barkers, which means they will bark with less frequency than other types of dogs, and most of the time, they'll do it for a reason. The best way to address a Golden Retriever's barking is through proper training and attention.

Should you own a golden retriever? ›

Yes, a golden retriever is a great choice as a first dog. This breed of dog is loyal, friendly, and gentle, making it an ideal pet for novice owners. It is also an intelligent breed that is eager to please, so it is relatively easy to train.

How often should you walk a Golden Retriever? ›

A healthy adult Golden Retriever should receive 40 to 120 minutes of exercise per day, broken up into two sessions. And because Goldens are easy to please, they will be content with a wide range of different activities. This breed loves going on nice, long walks through nature.

What is the hardest age for a Golden Retriever? ›

The adolescence period starts about the age of 5 months and lasts until they are about two to three years old. The most difficult is usually between 8 and 18 months (which is when most dogs are surrendered to rescues and shelters).

Do Golden Retrievers chew furniture? ›

Golden Retrievers are energetic dogs who need plenty of exercise to help them stay in shape. An active lifestyle can also help prevent stress, frustration, and boredom, which can result in bad behaviors like chewing up your favorite shoes or damaging the furniture.

Do Golden Retrievers have good behavior? ›

Golden Retrievers are alert, enthusiastic, and self-confident. They are also very playful, eager to please, and trainable. They are gentle with children and respond well to obedience training.

What is the personality of a golden retriever in a relationship? ›

Named in reference to the beloved dog breed, a Golden Retriever Boyfriend is a partner who is wholly loyal, supportive and a pleasure to be around.


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