Young Golden Retriever

Golden Retriever Dog Breed

Other names:
English Golden
English Retriever

The Golden Retriever is one of the most popular dogs in North America. This comes as no surprise as the breed's friendly behavior, beautiful looks, willingness to please, and intelligence makes it a well rounded dog perfect for any family.

The golden retriever is a sporting dog and feels compelled to perform tasks whether it's retrieving waterfowl, fetching the newspaper, or greeting guests. As a sporting dog, the golden retriever has abundant energy and will require 30-40 minutes of exercise daily in order to keep the dog from becoming hyperactive.

Golden Retriever Breed Details

The Golden Retriever is a gun dog whose abilities to track and retrieve in cold, wet, hilly terrain is well-known the world over. They are also renowned as excellent family pets and for their versatility in seemingly countless jobs and tasks. They are good for first-time dog owners, families with kids of most any age and homes with pets, canine and otherwise. They are also independent-minded and have a habit of being distracted by their superior sense of smell, and this can present problems. You may also want to think about getting Golden Retriever insurance as these very popular dogs are high on the list of dog breeds that are kidnapped. They may also act like a puppy for their first few years, and as they get big quickly, this might be frustrating at times.

Here are some Golden Retriever facts, pros, and cons you should know if you wish to adopt one of these dogs:


  • Great with kids
  • Barks very little
  • Loves other pets
  • Highly adaptable
  • Immensely friendly
  • Extremely intelligent
  • Great for very active people


  • Prone to escaping
  • Massive shedders
  • High chance of cancer
  • Not a good watchdog
  • Huge grooming needs
  • Lots of health problems
  • Tendency to chew on things
  • Needs a lot of daily exercise
  • Long maturity period (2-3 years on average)
10 - 12 yrs.
21 - 24 in.
60 - 80 lbs
OverallFamily FriendlyChild FriendlyPet FriendlyStranger Friendly
Easy to GroomEnergy LevelExercise NeedsHealthShedding Amount
Barks / HowlsEasy to TrainGuard DogPlayfulnessWatch Dog
Apartment DogCan be AloneGood for Busy OwnersGood for New OwnersIntelligence

Golden Retriever Breed Description

The golden retriever is considered a large dog breed. Males can stand as tall as two feet from ground to shoulder and weigh as much as 75 pounds. This size makes them ideal jogging companions and the breed is strong enough to be good guide dogs as well.

The golden retriever is well known for their friendly behavior and because of this they make very poor guard dogs as they'll welcome any stranger with delight. The breed is very lively and oftentimes will keep their puppy-like behavior until they are three to four years old. Golden retrievers were originally bred to retrieve waterfowl, so they have very strong retrieving instincts and love getting in the water and swimming.

The breed has a thick and wavy water-resistant coat which comes in all shades of yellow and gold. The fur will feather on the legs, tail, and underbody. The breed's long thick coat requires daily grooming and the golden retriever will shed heavily in the fall and spring. The coat will also need to be washed and bathed as needed to keep out tangles and odors.

Golden Retriever Breed History

The origin of Golden Retrievers is an intriguing story that was for many years debated. There may be further debate of the breed's heritage due to a painting that was apparently unearthed a few years ago.

In the mid-19th century, the Industrial Revolution inspired a rapid development of long rifles which in turn allowed for longer, more accurate shots to be made. This proved to be a problem in Scotland where the land was cold, uneven and marshy. Fowl shot at too far a distance tended to drown before the retrieval dogs could get them if they could at all. A faster, more water-prone dog was required, and so the crossbreeding of water spaniels and retrievers began in earnest.

The person credited with successfully developing the Golden Retriever was the first Baron Tweedmouth (later Lord), Dudley Marjoribanks. He did his breeding trials at Guisachan, his Highland estate near Glen Affric in Scotland. He kept detailed records and stud books from 1835 to 1890, but they weren't publicly disclosed until 1952. By this time, it had been long believed that his Goldies had origins in Russian tracker sheepdogs purchased for that reason. The records corroborated claims made as far back as 1928. That year, Jacqueline Nottingham challenged the Golden Retriever's ancestry in a February edition of The American Kennel Club Gazette. A decade later, in a June 1939 edition of an English dog magazine called The Field, a one A. Coxton also contested the Russian dog belief.

About two years ago, a new challenge apparently arose. This one challenges the entire origin of the Golden Retriever. A one Jeffrey Pepper claims to have acquired a signed lithograph dated 1854 with what many dog experts agree depicts Golden Retrievers. The litho is from a painting that was made around 1852. If this litho's history is correct, it precedes by more than a decade that of Tweedmouth's claim in 1865 of producing the first Golden Retriever.

Golden Retriever Appearance

The Golden Retriever is a dog with modest features that nevertheless displays a wonder athleticism, strength, and sturdiness. They may not look waterproof, but as soon as they leap in and swim out, you'll see that they are that too!

This somewhat tall dog has a broad head, a medium-length, straight-forward muzzle, and a scissors bite. Their short ears tend to make the head look bigger than it is. The friendly, highly expressive eyes will no doubt capture your heart from the get-go. Despite being gun dogs, the Goldie has a happy face! The muscular neck, substantial forelegs and straight rear legs all lend to a beautifully balanced body that should be on the narrow side. The Goldie's paws are small with webbing between the toes, and they have long, strong "otter" tails.

The coat is basically one style. It is a double coat that may be a little wavy or somewhat straight, and it tends to be on the heavy side. There are slight variations in style and, to a degree, color. The Golden Retriever coat types are discussed in Variations.

Golden Retriever Colors

The images below represent the coat colors and patterns associated with Golden Retrievers.

Dark Golden
Light Golden

Golden Retriever Variations

There are basically three variations of the Golden Retriever — "basic" because there are also three color styles beyond the kennel standards that are not exactly varietals yet kind of exist on their own too. The formal types of Goldie are the American, the English (sometimes called the "English Cream") and the Canadian. The three non-standard colors are black, white and red.

The American Golden Retriever is the one that most people think of when this breed is mentioned. The American has a thicker coat than the other two but a more narrow body than the English, and these dogs tend to be more golden but not too dark. The English Creme, sometimes called a White Golden Retriever, is lighter and often associated with the color varietal in its nickname. Canadian Goldies are lean like the American but have a still less heavy coat like the English, and the color is lustrous golden like the American.

The other two color varietals, red and black, are not acceptable by the standards of the big kennel clubs (AKC, UKC, CKC, etc.) The "black" Goldies are actually just very dark shades of golden. The red Goldens, however, are practically red and may have a copper or deep amber hue. These dogs tend to distinctly show the long ago heritage of the Irish Setter.

If you are looking for a long-haired or short-haired Golden Retriever, there are no such styles recognized. Goldies are naturally long-haired dogs, and grooming tends to dictate the length of their coat. There is only one size, and if you are told you can get a toy, mini, micro, pocket, teacup or other small Golden Retriever, that dog is either a runt or a crossbreed.

Golden Retriever Temperament

The Golden Retriever temperament makes this breed probably the most friendly, versatile and easy-going dog around. The nature of their puppy personality, however, is one that lasts for 2-3 years, so don't be surprised if it takes that long for them to calm down.

These dogs may be spirited hunters, but they are so friendly that you wouldn't know it unless you were in the field with them. They are always seeking new friends, playing with other pets and ready to use their many traits for work such as search-and-rescue, therapy, guidance and more. They are easy to train, excel in obedience and agility competitions and always ready to be with you no matter what. They love water, sports and most anything active.

This dog's characteristics make them great for large families and a home with a figurative revolving door for friends as your Goldie will love all the company and attention!

Living Requirements

These dogs don't bark much and can be easily trained to only bark when necessary. They are prone to separation anxiety, however. They are not for dog owners who want a dog that sits at home alone. You'll find that they are extremely amicable to everyone, friends new and old alike. Living with a Golden Retriever is best done with an owner's guide to help you understand these dogs' wants.

Goldies prefer large houses with a lot of outdoor space to run in. They can easily be trained to not chase other pets. They must be exercised and allowed to be very active, or they will quickly become anxious and destructive. They are adventurous, and they must be constrained lest they run off. If they run away, they risk being kidnapped.

Golden Retrievers are not hypoallergenic, and they do shed a moderate amount. They also have a couple of coat blow outs annually, usually when the seasons change.

Golden Retriever Health

The Golden Retriever breed is one that has many health problems as well as one huge one. According to a health survey of 1,500 Goldens conducted by the Golden Retriever Club in the very late 1980s, these dogs have a 50% chance of developing cancer. The problem has prompted the Morris Animal Foundation to start its own study to attempt finding out why Goldies are so susceptible to cancer.

Here is a list of other Golden Retriever health issues:

  • Bloat
  • Diabetes
  • Epilepsy
  • Cataracts
  • Blindness
  • Entropion
  • Glaucoma
  • Liver shunt
  • Ear infections
  • Skin diseases
  • Osteosarcoma
  • Joint dysplasia
  • Heart diseases
  • Osteochondritis
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Luxating patella
  • Megaesophagus
  • Retinal Dysplasia
  • Cushing's disease
  • von Willebrand's disease
  • Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA)

The average lifespan of a Golden Retriever is 10 to 12 years and is apparently shorter than that what used to be.

Golden Retriever Health Concerns

Below are potential health concerns associated with Golden Retrievers.

Hip dysplasia
Von willebrand's disease
Progressive retinal atrophy
Elbow dysplasia
Osteochondritis Dissecans
Subaortic Stenosis

Random Details

Hardly a year goes by that a Golden Retriever hero dog isn't in the mainstream news somewhere in the Western world. Be it locating an autistic boy, or saving a person from freezing to death, or rescuing a drowning baby deer, there seem to be so many such incidents that there is even a Web site devoted to listing these incidents. Perhaps no bigger hero Golden Retriever lived, however, than Bear. This dog helped to find people and bodies after the World Trade Center Towers were destroyed on that fateful day in lower Manhattan on Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2001. Unfortunately, Bear was buried just one year later, nearly to the day the buildings fell. His death was attributed to health problems caused by the pollution of the buildings' fiery destruction. The Guinness Book of World Records hailed Bear as "the most celebrated dog in the world."

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