Meet the Breed: The Golden Retriever



Golden Retriever puppy photo by Dennis Brekke.


  • Height: 20-24"
  • Weight 55-80 pounds
  • Historical Function: Retrieving waterfowl from tough terrain and water
  • AKC Classification: Sporting

Physical Characteristics:

The Golden Retriever is a medium to large-sized sturdy dog of solid proportions. The British specimens tend to have blockier heads and fuller build, whereas the American ones have a more triangular-shaped head and lankier bodies. Their fur is thick and can be straight or wavy. The undercoat is water resistant. They have feathering under the tail, legs, and abdomen. They come in a variety of colors ranging from cream to rich golden. They have dark-brown soulful eyes.

History of the Breed:

The Golden Retriever was developed in the mid 18th century in Scotland as a retrieving hunting companion. Crosses were made with Irish Setters, the sandy-coated bloodhound, wavy-coated black retrievers, and the now-extinct Tweed Water Spaniel. They were bred to be athletic and to have "soft" mouths, meaning that they would carry game in their mouths without damaging them. They were capable of maneuvering in rough terrain and were bred to love water. They have webbed toes.

The ideal family dog! Photo by Zephyr.


Golden Retrievers are known for their patient, friendly personalities. They have the ability to be watch dogs and let you know when strangers are coming, but they do not  make good guard dogs as they are more likely to befriend strangers and happily reveal the whereabouts of the family heirlooms with their eager-to-please attitude. Because of their high intelligence and athletic abilities, it is wise to provide them with daily walks and activities to keep them from becoming bored and even potentially destructive. Some of the Golden's many talents are hunting, tracking, retrieving, agility, competitive obedience, narcotics detection, and performing tricks. These dogs also love to swim. They can be mouthy, so proper training at a young age will teach them the appropriate behaviors.

  • Best suited for: Families, joggers, hunters.
  • Preferred living conditions: As Goldens are very smart, active and social creatures, they prefer to be in the middle of family or working life. They do well with a large yard. As retrievers, they are adept at fetch games and do well in agility competitions.

Care and Health:

Unfortunately, Golden retrievers are prone to cancers. They can be susceptible to cataracts, hips dysplasia, joint issues, and skin allergies. They are also prone to obesity, so be sure to keep them active and do not overfeed.

  • Grooming Requirements: That beautiful coat requires regular daily brushing and bathing every two months. Since they love water, this is usually not a problem. Daily brushing will help minimize shedding, but seasonal shedding will be heavy.
  • Exercise needs: A daily walk plus active games of fetch are imperative for these athletic dogs. They make great running companions. Hyperactivity my be a problem in dogs not sufficiently exercised.
  • Life expectancy: 10-12 years.
  • Health concerns: Be sure to use a responsible breeder who is aware of their genetic concerns and monitor for hip dysplasia. Yearly checkups are imperative to monitor their weight and for cancer screenings as cancer is their number-one killer. Keeping their weight in check will also help minimize joint problems.

Breed Club Links: Golden Retriever Club of America

Perfect Pairings: Hyper Pet Flying Duck Toy, Long Hair FURminator for Large Dogs, NuviFlex Maximum Strength Dog Hip & Joint Formula.

Have any great stories about a Golden Retriever in your life?

Featured photo by Andrew Morrell.

This entry was posted by Mary.
Linda Wenger on November 14 at 7:08 AM said:

Oh yes, Goldens do love water. We dog-sat for a friend's Golden once, and the first thing she did when let out into our yard was to run to our fish pond and jump right in. Then of course, being a very friendly dog, she jumped all over everyone to celebrate.
sally on November 14 at 1:48 PM said:

My golden is the first dog my mom has gotten my family, and we love him...and he loves well EVERYTHING Including our cat who despises him. our dog loves attention and playtime so when we watch t.v. He comes up to us with a pillow in his mouth so we have to chase him! Also, we live by a beach and try to take him, but he is scared of swiming! He will wade in but never actually swim.
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