There is a lot of speculation and conjecture regarding the history of the Golden Retriever. It was said that the first Golden Retriever resulted from a union of talented Russian circus dogs. This theory, though colorful has been laid to rest.
In actuality, Golden Retrievers were first bred in Scotland by Lord Tweedmouth in the late 1800s. At that time, wildfowl hunting was popular amongst the Scottish aristocracy. However, existing retriever breeds proved to be inadequate for retrieving downed game from both water and land.
Lord Tweedmouth combined the Tweedwater Spaniel with the Yellow Flat-Coated Retriever in an attempt to breed an attentive hunting dog capable of retrieving game wherever it fell. He was remarkably successful.
However, in his quest to breed the ultimate hunting dog he also succeeded in breeding what would become one of the world’s most popular canine companions.
Though the breed has been around since the late 1800s, it wasn’t registered by the American Kennel Club until 1925. Since then the Golden Retriever has earned a reputation for being an exceptionally capable working dog with the affectionate personality of a lap dog.
The Golden Retriever also has a history of top performance in the arena. The first three dogs ever to achieve the AKC Obedience Champion title were Golden Retrievers.
Golden Retrievers are bred to be intelligent, friendly and incredibly loyal hunting companions, they are also irresistibly cute when they are puppies.
Golden Retriever puppies are born in litters of 5 to 10, and in a variety of coat colors and lengths. Though small, 3-5 lbs, Golden Retriever puppies grow quickly and soon discover an insatiable curiosity for their surroundings.
Like a mischief seeking missile, Golden Retriever puppies are known to be very inquisitive and eager to explore and play.
Thus, new puppy owners are encouraged to puppy-proof their homes to ensure their Golden Retriever puppy doesn’t get into too much trouble.
Golden Retrievers are also instinctively drawn to the water. Therefore, it’s always a good idea to fence off potentially dangerous areas like pools and backyard ponds.
New puppy owners should also research their houseplants to determine if they are potentially poisonous to a canine.
Lastly, Golden Retrievers explore their surroundings with their mouth. It’s very important that new puppy families do not leave garbage or anything small enough to swallow on the floor, or in reach of your new Golden Retriever puppy.
Golden Retrievers belong to the Gun Dog breed group of canines. Gun dogs are working dogs; bred to assist their owners in finding and retrieving game. The breed group consists of three subgroups; flushing dogs, pointing dogs and, of course, retrievers.
Flushing dogs, like the English Springer Spaniel, are bred and trained to “flush” fowl and other small game from the brush and into the sights of a waiting hunter.
Pointing dogs, such as the Irish Setter, are bred and trained to locate game (rabbits, fowl, etc.) and “point” out its location to the hunter by characteristically angling their bodies in the direction of the game.
Retrievers, unlike pointing and flushing dogs are trained to watch and follow a hunter’s gun as they shoot; marking and remembering each bird that is downed. Once the hunter has downed the bird, a command is issued to the dog to retrieve the downed bird wherever it lay.
Because Golden Retrievers are bred primarily to retrieve birds and return them intact to the hunter, they have what is known as a soft mouth; the ability and willingness to carry game in its mouth without biting into it.
Needless to say, Golden Retrievers are the embodiment of the retriever subgroup of gun dogs.
The pedigree of the Golden Retriever is formally recognized by all breed experts and kennel clubs. Therefore, the Golden Retriever is subject to a detailed breed standard detailing the appearance and temperament of an officially recognized breed.
However, variations from the breed standard do exist. British Golden Retrievers are prevalent throughout Europe and exhibit a lighter coat. Canadian Golden Retrievers are generally taller and exhibit darker coats. American Golden retrievers are thinner and exhibit a feathered lustrous golden coat.
Symmetrical, powerful and adorned in a luxurious golden coat, Golden Retrievers possess an iconic appearance that is hard to mistake for any other breed.
Golden Retrievers possess a broad, slightly arched skull with a wide foreface that is nearly as long as the entire head. The muzzle is straight but slightly deeper and wider at the stop than at the nose, which can be black or brown.
Eyes are set well apart in deep in sockets and portray a friendly, intelligent expression. Eye color is typically dark brown.
Ears are short with their front edge attached well behind the eye and close to cheek. When pulled forward the tip of the ear should just cover the eye.
Golden Retrievers possess a body that is well balanced with a powerfully built chest and well-developed forequarters. Ribs are well sprung but not barrel-shaped and extend most of the way to the hindquarters.
Legs and Feet
Legs are muscular, well-coordinated and should possess a full range of movement. When viewed from the front the legs should be straight with no suggestion of weakness. Shoulder blades are long and fairly close together.
Tail and Hindquarters
The tail is deep set, muscular, and thicker at the base. Tails typically exhibit a moderate upward curve and wag with near ceaseless merriment.
Hindquarters are broad, strongly muscled and slopes slightly. Tailbones extend to the hock but not below it.
When standing naturally, the femur should join the pelvis at a 90-degree angle. As in front, legs are muscular, well-coordinated and should possess a full range of movement. Feet are medium size, round and compact.
Coat and Colors
The Golden Retrievers trademark coat is dense, water-repellent and surprisingly resilient. The outer coat can be straight or wavy and lays close to the body. The coat on head, paws, and front of legs is short and even.
A Golden Retriever’s coat is a lustrous gold that comes in a variety of shades. Unlike many purebreds, there are only three subtypes of the Golden Retriever that reflect a noticeable variation from the breed standard; those with blonde, yellow or gold coats.
Needless to say, the Golden Retriever’s physical characteristics are remarkably homogeneous throughout the entire breed.
Height and Weight
Male Golden Retrievers stand between 23 and 24 inches in height and weigh approximately 65 to 75 pounds. Females stand between 21 and 22 inches in height and weigh on average 55 to 65 pounds.
Typical Golden Retrievers are active, and fun-loving animals with the exceptionally patient demeanor befitting a dog bred to sit quietly for hours in a hunting blind.
Unsurprisingly the affectionate breed is well known for its friendly temperament and incredibly social personality.
Cheerful, trustworthy, and very eager to please, Golden Retrievers make great family dogs. Retrievers are so eager for your attention that they may exhibit separation anxiety.
Golden Retrievers are easy to train and forgiving of any mistakes made by first-time dog owners. Barking is friendly, not defensive. In fact, the Golden Retrievers have a reputation for being exceptionally gentle and sweet with children and other pets, even cats.
Medium and large dogs, like the Golden Retriever, are prone to a range of hereditary disorders thanks to years of indiscriminate purebred breeding practices.
The life expectancy of the Golden Retriever is between 10 and 12 years; relatively long-lived when compared to many large dog breeds.
On average, Golden Retrievers live 10.5 years; however, Golden Retriever females typically outlive males by nearly two years.
The best way to ensure a long, happy and healthy life for your Golden Retriever is by providing a safe environment, regular exercise, mental stimulation, and a nutritious diet.
Golden Retrievers are affectionate, intelligent and very eager to please. Compared to other high energy breeds, caring for a Golden Retriever is relatively straightforward.
The breed is exceptionally friendly and very gentle, which means Goldens don’t make the best guard dogs. Large, intelligent dog breeds such as the Golden Retriever are also prone to separation anxiety when left alone for an extended period of time.
Therefore, while separated from your Golden Retriever it’s always a good idea to ensure they have plenty of toys and distractions in the dog’s environment.
Golden Retrievers are keen, high energy carnivores who require a regular diet, rich in protein to fuel their agile bodies. Like all dogs, Golden Retrievers are purely carnivorous. They will never require gluten, wheat or grain, nor are they likely to benefit from artificial ingredients.
During the weaning stage, it is imperative that a Golden Retriever puppy’s diet consists primarily of their mother’s milk, from which they receive 90% of their natural defenses.
Beginning at 6 to 8 weeks, Golden Retriever puppies are gradually transitioned from their mother’s milk to solid food over a period of 3 weeks.
After 8 weeks, it’s essential that Golden Retriever puppies learn that food will no longer be provided constantly throughout the day.
Instill a feeding schedule by feeding your Golden Retriever puppy moistened dry puppy food, 3 to 5 times per day for no longer than 10 minutes per feeding. After 10 minutes remove their food even if they haven’t finished. However, 10 minutes should provide enough time for your puppy to consume the entire meal.
Adult Golden Retrievers are energetic creatures who require a power-packed, protein-rich diet to fuel their energetic lives and support greater quality of life.
Vets recommend a diet consisting of healthy protein and foods rich in carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals. A Golden Retrievers diet should also contain healthy fat content.
Healthy fat supports a Golden Retriever ability to regulate its body temperature, which is critically important considering the breed’s reputation for shedding.
Senior Golden Retrievers, like all elderly dogs, require a special diet rich in nutrients that support joint, bone and digestive health. However, every dog is different. Before starting your elderly dog on a new diet, we recommend that you speak with your veterinarian to establish a diet that supports their needs specifically.
Quick Tip: Golden Retrievers rarely turn down a snack, which is why obesity is a common problem found throughout the breed. Owners should avoid feeding their Golden Retrievers from the table.
Grooming a Golden Retriever is essential to the dog’s health, and the strength and color of their iconic coat. Golden Retrievers possess a medium-length double coat that is dense enough to repel water and insulate the body from the elements.
Therefore, they also shed a great deal. Regular brushing will remove a significant amount of loose fur from your Golden’s coat, and incidentally your home. Brushing is also a terrific time to check your Golden’s skin for ticks, fleas, inflammation or abrasions.
Though it may be tempting to shave your Golden Retriever to minimize the shedding in your home, this is unanimously frowned upon by experts and enthusiasts alike. A Golden Retrievers thick double coat not only insulates the dog from heat and cold but protects their sensitive underbelly and even wards off forms of skin cancer.
Owners are recommended to groom their Golden Retrievers, so they appear neat, with the thickest hair on the neck, tail, legs, and feet trimmed to look smooth and even.
The next step in the grooming process is to bathe your Golden Retriever in warm, soapy water.
The Golden Retriever coat is loaded with natural oils that promote a healthy coat and skin. Be sure not to over-bathe your Golden as it will strip the natural oils from the coat and leave the skin dry and irritable. A bath is only essential once every 4-5 months.
After a bath, a Golden Retriever needs to be fully dried and thoroughly brushed to remove tangles in the coat and prevent matting.
Like all medium-large dogs, Golden Retrievers require a substantial amount of exercise and room to romp and play. However, Golden Retrievers are also notorious coach potatoes when given the opportunity. Inactivity can lead to obesity in Golden Retrievers.
The dog park and your backyard are great places to exercise your Golden Retriever and ensure they receive regular outdoor activity. Golden Retrievers are sporting dogs and also need regular mental stimulation. Agility training is a great way to provide exercise for your Golden’s body and mind.
Golden Retrievers love outdoor exercise, especially swimming. However, as sporting dogs, Golden Retrievers can be easily distracted by birds and other animals. A leash is always recommended when outside a safe fenced-in area.
The Golden Retriever’s affectionate and eager-to-please personality makes the breed relatively easy to train. Like all dogs, training a Golden Retriever is easier the earlier it begins.
Though it is very rare for a Golden Retriever exhibit aggressive behavior, regular training will ensure aggression remains a mystery to your friendly puppy.
To acclimate your Golden Retriever to its new environment, slowly introduce your puppy to their new home by confining them to a single room or floor for its first few days.
Carefully monitor your Golden’s behavior for the first few weeks after introducing it to its new surroundings. Be sure to consult a trained veterinarian if you notice unusual behavior or symptoms of a potential disorder.
When housebreaking a Golden Retriever puppy, it’s important to remember Golden Retrievers are sporting dogs who operate based on their keen instincts, which are greatly influenced by their owner’s emotions.
Therefore, to ensure a smooth and successful housebreaking process, owners should be patient and consistent. Use the same words and phrases to indicate when, where and how you want your puppy to do its business.
Use basic reward-based training principles like “sit” and “stay.” Every time your Golden Retriever correctly executes a command reward them with a treat to reinforce the behavior. Remember; It can take up to 6 months to fully housebreak a puppy.
Golden Retrievers are known for their energy and playfulness. They require rigorous activity to burn up the excess energy inherent in the breed.
Golden Retrievers frequently kept at home are less likely to gain the experience needed to feel safe in a given environment; therefore prone to act out when presented with new situations, people, or pets.
Fetch is a great way to exercise your dog’s physical body and provide it with an opportunity to play according to its natural instincts.
Daily walks are a great way for a Golden Retriever puppy to explore their surroundings, including other dogs and people while feeling secure in your presence, but keep your Golden Retriever on a short leash at first.
Golden Retrievers who are not properly trained may destroy precious and expensive belongings, wander away from owners, or beg at the dinner table.
Golden Retrievers are also prone to jumping, which can knock down a child of the elderly. Obedience training should be considered an essential part of owning a Golden Retriever.
Golden Retrievers are incredibly affectionate, social and friendly, and puppies respond to calm confidence. So, stay calm and firm in your instructions with your Golden Retriever and they will be following your commands in no time.
Are Golden Retrievers good family dogs? Absolutely. Golden Retrievers are incredibly affectionate, devoted and gentle when properly trained, housebroken and socialized.
Do Golden Retrievers bite? Any dog can bite. However, Golden Retrievers are exceptionally gently and rarely show aggression. Though, like all dogs regular training and socialization are essential to ensuring your Golden Retriever learns appropriate behavior.
Why do Golden Retrievers put their paw on you? Golden Retrievers are attention hogs who love to interact with their owners constantly. When a Golden Retriever paws at your leg they are simply fawning for your attention.
How often should I walk my golden retriever? Golden Retrievers will benefit the most from a 20- to 30-minute walk, twice per day.
Are Golden Retriever puppies easy to train? There are difficulties inherent in training a puppy, regardless of breed. However, Golden Retrievers have a reputation for being easier to train when compared to other medium-large dog breeds.
Are Golden Retrievers affectionate? Golden Retrievers are extremely affectionate, friendly and social.
Are Golden Retrievers good first dogs? The Golden Retriever’s highly sociable temperament and affectionate personality make them a great decision for first-time dog owners, and dog owners with children.
Why do Golden Retrievers love water? Golden Retrievers were originally bred as gun dogs and trained to retrieve downed game like ducks and other semi-aquatic birds. Therefore, the Golden Retriever is driven to the water where its keen instincts say it will find its prey.