With silky coats, wagging tails and welcoming smiles, it’s no wonder why the Golden Retriever ranks as one of the most popular dog breeds in America. These adorable animals look just as great in their older years as they do when they’re puppies and are friendly to all types of people. Though the dogs do shed more than other breeds, they are more affectionate and are great around both adults and kids. The breed does well around the elderly too.
Golden Retrievers need quite a bit of exercise and prefer long walks and play sessions. They are generally friendly around cats and do especially well with other dogs. Even if you have older dogs who don’t like change, a new Goldie will make itself right at home alongside that dog. Goldies are also fairly useful as guard dogs because they aren’t as welcoming of strangers as you might think. Your new dog can alert you of any stranger at your door or outside.
Bringing a new dog into your home is a commitment that requires the help of everyone living there. Before you pick up a Golden Retriever, you need to make sure that you understand this breed and what it takes to raise one. You’ll likely find that the time you spend training and grooming that dog is worth the companion that you get in return. Looking at the 10 things you should know before owning a Golden Retriever is a good way to make sure that you know this breed.
1019th Century Origins
The Golden Retriever is one of the few breeds with a solid origin story. This story states that Lord Tweedmouth of England acquired a Yellow Retriever in 1845 called Nous that he later bred with a dog from Scotland called a Tweed Water Spaniel. Belle, as the female was known, was a type of Scottish dog that no longer exists. Nous and Belle had a litter of four puppies that displayed all the characteristics of the modern day Golden Retriever. Though Belle was a registered dog, Nous was not. Lord Tweedmouth discovered that the two dogs created a new breed that combined the best of both types of dogs and decided to begin selling these new dogs. As the popularity of the breed grew, they became the Golden Retriever.
While this is a nice story, there is some controversy over the breed’s origin.
An older story claims that Golden Retrievers were originally circus dogs from Russia. Lord Tweedmouth purchased several dogs directly from a breeder and used them as hunting dogs on his estate. To ensure that the dogs could perform all the tasks he had in mind, Tweedmouth began breeding the females with other dogs and later generations of the circus dogs. This helped create the Golden Retriever found today. While both stories have some merit, no one is really sure of the true origin story behind this dog. Even the kennel clubs can only admit that Lord Tweedmouth had a hand in creating the breed during the 19th century.
9Golden Retrievers Need Daily Exercise
While some dogs are content to lounge around the house and relax on the couch, others need regular exercise. The Golden Retriever is a breed that needs exercise every day. Many people love these dogs because they’re so playful and because they have so much energy. That energy can cause problems that you never expected though simply because you didn’t spend enough time with that dog. This can include the animal ripping the cushions on your couch and tearing through other pieces of furniture or chewing on your carpets and shoes.
Golden Retrievers need a minimum of 40 minutes of exercise every day divided into two sessions. You typically want to spend 20 minutes playing and working out with your dog in the morning and then again at night. Exercise can include walks too. You can easily take your Goldie for a long walk before leaving for work and then when you get home. The dog also responds well to nightly walks after dinner but before bedtime.
It’s equally important that you schedule time to play with your Goldie. The dogs need toys that they can interact with on their own and when humans are around. It’s helpful to encourage other members of your family to play with the dog too. You can toss sticks and balls for them to chase outside and encourage the chewing of toys only inside your home. Golden Retrievers usually do not do well in situations where they’re kept locked up for long hours at a time.
8Celebrities Like Retrievers
Golden Retrievers sometimes have a reputation as Hollywood dogs because so many celebrities love and own them. Those celebrities include Oprah Winfrey who has two Goldies. Oprah’s dogs have acres to run around on because she owns multiple private homes. They also have plenty of playmates as the former talk show host and her long-term boyfriend also own multiple other dogs. Other celebrity owners include Adam Levine and Andrew Garfield. Levine, the front man for Maroon 5, took his Goldie, Frankie Girl, with him on tour and when working on television and in films. After she passed away, he and his wife adopted Charlie, a female Goldie, and a second dog that is a Goldie mix. Former Spider-man Garfield brought home a Golden Retriever named Renn who he shared with his girlfriend Emma Stone. After the two broke up, they split custody of the dog.
Many celebrities such as Levine who owned and lost a Golden Retriever later owned a second. Chris Colfer of “Glee” fame owned his dog, Jake, for more than a decade and often took the older dog to sets with him. After Jake passed away, Colfer took some time off before looking at the dogs available from the Southern California Golden Retriever Rescue and later adopting an orphan Goldie from that group. Betty White, the Hollywood icon and well-known animal lover, has a fondness for Golden Retrievers too. She’s owned several of these dogs over the years and even appeared with some of them on TV.
You wouldn’t have a child without thinking about how that baby would impact your life over the next 18 years, but some people bring home dogs without thinking about the commitment that pets require. Golden Retrievers are very loyal and love their families. You cannot simply bring one home and then decide to drop it off at the shelter later because it ate your shoes or peed on the carpet. That dog will have a hard time adjusting to life with someone else and may never get over the loss of its family. Some dogs will remember their old families for the rest of their lives.
The average lifespan of a Golden Retriever is a decade. Most dogs in this breeding group live for a minimum of 10 years. With proper care and regular check-ups, your new four-legged family member can easily live for 12 years or longer. The oldest living Golden Retriever in history lived for almost 20 years.
A good way to make sure that your Goldie lives as long as possible is with regular vet appointments. Your vet will weigh and measure the dog to make sure that it fits the average measurements for the breed. This is between 23 and 24 inches long for males and between 21.5 and 22.5 long for females. The average weight for a Golden Retriever is between 55 and 65 pounds for females. If you have a male Goldie, you can expect that dog to reach a minimum weight of 65 pounds.
6Golden Retrievers Have a Strong Personality
If you want a dog who will be your best friend and a faithful companion, look no further than the Golden Retriever. Known for being affectionate with all types of people, a Goldie is a good addition to any home. Not only do these dogs respond well to children, the elderly and adults, but they can handle being around other types of animals. You shouldn’t be surprised if you come home to find your pup cuddling with an older dog or even a cat.
Many owners like that Goldies are easy to train.
You don’t need to send your dog to obedience school because you can usually do the training yourself at home. They pick up commands quickly and do especially well when rewarded with treats and affection. As Golden Retrievers belong to the Hunting Dog group, you’ll find that your dog responds to training that involves these commands. They really like playing fetch and retrieving items that they bring back to you. During its puppy days, the dog may run away with a toy rather than bring it back.
Golden Retrievers are not a good choice for watchdog purposes. The chances are good that your dog will pick up on the humans who live in your home and any visiting strangers. Though it might bark to tell you that there is a stranger at the door, it likely won’t do anything else. The laid back attitude of the dog combined with its quiet demeanor makes it a popular pet.
5They Need Regular Care
Golden Retrievers are one of the few dog breeds with a double coat. Their coats consist of a top layer that may feel soft and silky to the touch and a bottom layer that feels rough and short. This second layer sits close to their skin. The dogs may have a coat that is straight and silky or one that is wavy and slightly rougher. Their coats protect them from the water and keep that liquid from drying out their skin.
As a Goldie owner, you need to take time to brush your dog’s coat at least two times a week.
Though you can use different types of brushes, the best are those that can get through the upper coat to the one below. Regular grooming with a brush will reduce the amount of hair that the Goldie sheds.
You’ll also need to care for your dog’s teeth and nails. Goldies have nails that grow quite quickly and can become very brittle. If you do not trim your pup’s nails, they can crack and split. This can cause infection and other problems. There is no real rule of thumb about how often you should trim their nails though. It depends on the amount of exercise the dog gets and how quickly the nails grow. You may want to aim for a trimming every six to eight weeks. Golden Retrievers need their teeth brushed too. Groomers and veterinarians often offer this service and nail trimming for owners who don’t want to do it.
4Golden Retriever Health Problems
All dogs are susceptible to certain medical conditions. As a Goldie owner, you’ll want to work with your veterinarian to ensure that your pet is healthy and lives as long as possible. Vets will often check the dog’s joints, especially around the hips and legs. One condition that affects these dogs is canine hip dysplasia (CID). CID occurs when the ball and socket of a joint do not develop properly. It causes pain and discomfort, which can make your dog seem lethargic or tired. Goldies may develop a symptom called the bunny hop that changes the way they walk and makes it seem as if they hop rather than walk. Other symptoms of CID can include changes in the way the dog runs and plays and trouble standing, climbing stairs or jumping.
Golden Retrievers are also susceptible to skin conditions such as dry skin and infections that do not heal properly. Hypothyroidism is also common among this breed. This is a type of condition that affects the dog’s hormone production. It can make dogs weak and lethargic and cause issues with its mental capacity. You may also notice symptoms such as red or dry spots on the dog’s skin and uncontrolled shaking that occurs when the dog is cold. Some Golden Retrievers will also have seizures, especially when they are older. Proper health care is important for Goldies. Not only can your vet spot the symptoms of any of these diseases, but the doctor can give you tips on caring for the dog at home.
While some dogs do well in small apartments, the Golden Retriever is not one of them. These dogs require more open space to run around in and play. They do well in the country and in homes that have large yards. You don’t want to keep the dog cooped up for long periods either. Though you can create your Goldie when you sleep at night or leave for work, this allows the dog to build up its energy reserves. You’ll need to take it for a long walk and spend 30 minutes or more playing with it to burn off that energy.
As Golden Retrievers were originally hunting dogs, they have a great love of the outdoors bred into them. Some owners still use Goldies when hunting because the dog can do deep into the bushes or the woods and flush out prey. Don’t expect your dog to know how to do this right away though. It may take a few trips and some extensive training sessions before your Goldie is ready to hunt.
Golden Retrievers are a good breed to take hiking or camping. They respond to commands and quickly learn not to get too far away from their groups. The dogs also have webbed feet that make them excellent swimmers. You can spend the day on the lake or in the ocean and watch your pet have a ball. Golden Retrievers love the outdoors and burn through their energy when playing outside, but will then come back to you to relax.
2They are Very Sensitive
Golden Retrievers are one of the more sensitive dog breeds. Have you ever had a dog that refused to listen to a word you said? Some dogs do not respond to commands and do not care what you want. They’ll jump on the couch, chase other animals through the house, jump on visitors and go to the bathroom whenever and wherever they way. These low-sensitivity breeds are hard to train. Golden Retrievers are more sensitive than other breeds and quickly learn what they can and cannot do.
Many owners find that they can use a quick and sharp “No” to make one of these dogs stop. That same tone of voice will help when it comes to training and making the dog more obedient too. Once the Goldie learns the word no, you can use it any type of situation. This comes in handy when you want the dog to get off the bed or stop digging through the trash. Sensitive breeds of this type can eventually learn when the command is coming too. They can pick up on subtle changes in your actions, which will make them stop their bad behaviors.
The downside to this sensitivity is that it leaves the dogs looking for quiet homes. If you have kids running around all the time and dozens of visitors each week, the Goldie may feel nervous and even anxious. Golden Retrievers do best in homes that are quiet and less chaotic, which allows them to focus on their humans.
1Owning a Goldie Takes Money
Though Golden Retrievers are great dogs for many different people, they’re not the best breed for those on a budget. It can cost at least $500 to buy a Goldie from a breeder who owns the dogs and more than $3,000 to buy a registered pup. Some of the top breeders in the country show Golden Retrievers at American Kennel Club (AKC) and other shows. They take those same dogs and breed them before selling their puppies. Some breeders will take the time to register those puppies or to provide you with the paperwork that you need to register your new pet. This can save you some time and gives you a registered puppy that you can show yourself.
The cost of buying and raising a Goldie includes much more than what you pay upfront though. It can take a few hundred dollars to cover its first vet appointment and a few hundred dollars more for the vaccinations and check-ups that it needs in the future. You’ll also spend at least $100 a month on food and even more for the grooming that a Goldie needs, including nail trimming and teeth brushing.
Golden Retrievers that suffer from serious health conditions will require more money out of your pocket too. The cost of treating CID can easily cost $1,000 or more. Those with thyroid conditions may require expensive treatments too. It’s really important that you consider the cost of ownership before deciding that a Golden Retriever is the best dog for you.
Studies show that people who own dogs live longer and happier lives. When you come home to a gorgeous Golden Retriever who can’t wait to see you, you can’t help but feel your heart swell. These dogs have beautiful coats and love being around both humans and animals. You can introduce a Goldie to a home with one or more other dogs and see them make new friends by the end of the day. They also do well with cat-friendly homes and will treat those cats as members of their families.
Goldies are great for outdoor enthusiasts and those who love spending time outside. With a harness and a leash, you can take your dog anywhere you go. They’ll love jumping off the boat when you’re fishing on the lake or hopping into a stream to cool off on a hunting trip. Their webbed feet make it easy for them to get through the water, though they don’t do well with sharp temperature changes. You’ll need to dry the dog off after getting it out of the water and keep it as warm as possible.
As you look at the 10 things you should know before owning a Golden Retriever, you’ll find that these dogs are susceptible to certain health conditions too, including CID that affects the joints and some skin conditions. Those conditions can add to the cost of owning the dog. Golden Retrievers can live for 10 to 12 years though, giving you and your family an amazing and loving companion.