From their earliest moments to full adulthood, Golden Retrievers are some of the most popular dogs in the world. Those majestic creatures were originally bred in Scotland in the mid 19th century by crossing the flat-coated retrievers with the now extinct Tweed water spaniels, which resulted in the shaggy, blonde pups we now know and love. These beautiful pups have the intelligence and loyalty of most canines with an extra dash of charm and playfulness, making them a dream family pet. And if Golden Retrievers with their bubbly personality and contagious enthusiasm weren’t enough to win you over to their fan club, just look at the pictures of how these Golden pups are gorgeous!
If you’re reading this article, then you probably own a Golden Retriever or are thinking of adding one to your pack. Either way, you’re in luck for we’ve assembled 12 essential facts that every current or potential Golden Retriever owner needs to know.
1- They Shed Profusely
This breed has 2 layers of fur that come in all shades of gold; a thick inner layer that keeps them warm and a water-repellent outer layer. Most Golden Retrievers shed profusely, especially during the spring and fall, but the amount of hair they shed mostly depends on the pup’s health status and breed type. Regular brushing can help control the shedding, and they’ll typically need to be brushed at least twice a week; however, some Retrievers may require daily brushing to get the loose hair out of their coats. Although regular brushing can keep your dog’s hair from sticking to your clothes and setting all over your furniture, dog hair is something you’ll have to live with when you’re living with a Golden.
2- They Require Endless Grooming
The Retriever’s thick coat means lots of grooming, but the good news is; having your dog’s hair cut by a professional groomer isn’t essential since regular brushing usually does the trick. Besides brushing, your pup will need at least one bath per month to keep their golden locks looking and smelling clean. Your dog’s teeth need to be brushed with a dog-specific toothpaste at least 2-3 times a week to remove the lurking bacteria and tartar buildup. If you’re up for wrestling with your dog on a daily basis, brushing their teeth every day is even better as it helps prevent bad breath and gum disease.
This breed’s nails can become razor-sharp if they don’t wear them down naturally. In that case, you’ll need to trim their nails twice a month. You’ll know that it’s time for the nail clippers to come out if you hear your Retriever’s nails clicking on the floor, but be careful not to cut them too short because this can cause bleeding which will send your dog running every time they see the nail clippers in sight! To prevent infection, eyes and ears need to be regularly cleaned. Check your Golden’s ears weekly and wipe them out with a cotton ball dampened with gentle, pH-balanced ear cleaner. Check them every time your pup gets wet too but be careful not to insert anything into the ear canal itself; just clean the outer ear.
3- They are Super Active Dogs
Golden retrievers are bird dogs at heart, this means that they’re built for action and outdoor play. If you hike or jog, your pup will be more than ecstatic to join you, and if you feel like throwing around a ball in the backyard, they’ll be equally thrilled with a good game of fetch. But if you go to the beach every now and then, your pup will be the happiest dog on earth! They’re like nothing more than a fun splashing swim. A tired Retriever is a good Retriever; if sufficient exercise is provided daily, your pup will be more obedient and mellow when they’re back inside the house. 20-30 minutes of hard exercise twice a day is usually enough to tire your dog out and ensure their health and happiness. Slacking on exercise, on the other hand, can lead to behavioral problems and even depression.
4- They Love Food
Retrievers love to eat and are susceptible to quickly becoming overweight if overfed. A male golden retriever typically weighs between 65-75 pounds while females usually weigh between 55-65 pounds. To maintain a healthy diet and proper nutrition for your pup, measure out their daily portions, limit their treats, and regulate their feeding times rather than leaving food out all the time. Look for breed-specific food for your pooch and make sure it’s a high-quality, well-balanced kind. Meat is an essential source of nutrition for your dog. Ideally, the type of food you choose should list meat as the first 2 ingredients and shouldn’t include grain within the first 5 ingredients. Your dog’s age is also important to consider when choosing their food; if your retriever is a puppy, they’ll need special puppy food.
Many human foods can be toxic for golden retrievers and can make them severely ill. Avoid feeding your dog foods such as avocados, alcohol, chocolate, raisins, grapes, almonds, walnuts, onions, and garlic. If your dog accidentally ingests any of these, consult with your vet immediately.
5- They are Really Big Furry Babies In Disguise
They are some of the most energetic and spirited breeds out there. They retain the silly, playful puppyish traits until 3-4 years of age, many even keep the personality of a puppy well into old age. The lively outgoing nature of retrievers makes them a great addition to any family and their enthusiastic approach to life will keep you young at heart and can even help you reduce your waistline. So, get ready to run around and play lots of fetch with your them!
6- They’re Great Service Dogs
In addition to their vibrant personality, these gorgeous dogs are also known for having a wide variety of skills that makes them one of the best service-dog breeds. They’re beloved therapy dogs, search and rescue dogs, medical detection dogs, sniffer dogs, movement assistant dogs, guide dogs, and devoted companions to the elderly. The wonder of the retrievers doesn’t stop here! Although it’s not their most prominent skills, thanks to their remarkable sniffing abilities, they are incredible hunters and adept trackers. Whether it’s tracking your prey or fetching your slippers, Golden Retrievers love to work, so make sure that your pup gets enough training and stimulation to ensure that they remain happy.
7- They’re Super Smart
The mind of a Golden Retriever is as sharp as their nose. It is one of the brightest dog breeds in the world, ranking as the fourth most intelligent breed world-wide. Their intelligence shines through obedient training where they can understand and memorize a new command with less than 5 repetitions. When it comes to teaching your Golden new tricks, the only limit is your creativity! To keep these intelligent pooches stimulated and entertained, try swapping out their toys occasionally with different ones and use a puzzle toy to encourage them to use their problem-solving skills and earn treats.
8- They are Easy to Train
Besides their intelligence, these dogs are eager to please, which is another reason why they’re such popular service and family dogs. They’re highly-responsive to training and can find out the association between commands and actions quite quickly which makes their house-training an easier task than with many other breeds. When it comes to teaching your dog any commands, make sure that your training sessions are kept short and frequent because Golden Retrievers don’t have long attention spans. A 10-minute session or less is usually ideal.
Start by teaching your pup basic commands like sit, lay down, stay, and heel. When training your retriever, it’s crucial that you only use positive reinforcement by giving them treats, praise, and affection when they successfully follow a command. Hitting or screaming at your dog will most definitely not teach them anything.
9- They’re Quite Sensitive
Nobody likes change, not even Golden Retrievers! They don’t like an unstable environment, noisy household, or frequent stranger visits. This breed thrives best with a steady daily routine and they’ll quickly show when they’re unhappy with new changes. They are more sensitive than their Labrador cousins; they need constant positive reinforcement, joyful recognition of their good work, and lots of love and affection.
If you don’t subject your dog to socializing at an early age, they can grow to be fearful of certain situations, so try to expose him to other dogs, cats, people, crowded places, and cars before they reach 5 months of age. Just make sure that you keep them on a leash and stay close enough to reassure them if they get scared. Because they bond so strongly with their owners, Golden Retrievers respond intensely to their owners’ emotions. Your happiness is their happiness and vice versa, so make sure your dog gets enough attention and in return, you’ll be getting double the love back.
10- They aren’t the Best Watchdogs
Some dogs are strong defenders of their territory, while others are more likely to let a stranger trespass. Golden Retrievers belong to the latter category. They lack guard instincts, and they rarely bark unless they’re scared, bored, seeking attention, or are experiencing separation anxiety. Although they may alert you if they sense something different, observing potential dangers isn’t their strongest suit, which makes them average watchdogs at best.
11- They Don’t Like to be Left Alone
Given the fact that they’re family dogs, Golden Retrievers will often experience separation anxiety if left alone for too long. This may make them a higher maintenance breed, but it’s only because they bond very closely with their owners. They need a lot of social interaction on a daily basis and desire to always be with someone or around people, even if there isn’t much activity involved. While it may be hard sometimes to give your pup the attention they need, they will always recognize and reciprocate your care with genuine love and lifelong loyalty.
12- They are Prone to Certain Health Problems
Golden Retrievers are generally healthy, but like all dog breeds, they’re prone to certain conditions such as hip and elbow dysplasia, eye problems, allergies, and epilepsy. Your pup won’t necessarily get any or all of these diseases, but it’s important to be aware of them. You may not always notice the signs of discomfort in your dog, so it’s important to ask your vet to perform the appropriate exams to watch for breed-specific diseases and check for early signs of these conditions.
Hip and elbow dysplasia are heritable conditions in which the bones don’t fit tightly with the joints; the symptoms usually manifest through pain and lameness in one or both legs. The most common eye condition in Golden Retrievers is canine cataracts which, like in humans, is characterized by cloudy spots on the eye that can grow over time. From pollen to certain foods, they can be allergic to a variety of substances. If you notice your dog licking their paws or rubbing their face extensively, have them checked by your vet because this is likely an allergic reaction. As for epilepsy, the symptoms are usually quite obvious. They manifest in the form of periodic seizures and convulsions. If your dog suffers from seizures, your vet will need to know how severe the convulsions are and how often they occur so be sure to keep a close eye on these episodes if they occur.
If someone were to describe how a perfect dog would be, they would get very close to describing a Golden Retriever. This breed’s playful, friendly attitude makes them wonderful family pets, their dedicated loyalty makes them the perfect companions, and their intelligence makes them highly capable service dogs. Because your pup is also your lifelong faithful friend, it’s your duty to take good care of them, and in order to do so, you have to understand their special needs. From feeding and grooming to entertaining and training, we hope this guide can help you ensure your dog’s happiness and well-being.