Golden Retrievers are one of the most popular dog breeds across the nation. These Scottish dogs are loyal, friendly, and eager to please. Their name is a reflection of their coat, which ranges between light golden and dark golden colors. Originally bred to be a gun dog, this dog in particular has grown to be reliable family dogs.
Also, Golden Retrievers make amazing work dogs. Their eagerness to please makes them easy to train, which means this breed is perfect for first-time dog owners.
Golden Retriever Characteristics
Nicknamed “Golden” for their coats, they are considered medium-sized dogs with long flowing hair. Their coat is water repellant, can either be wavy or flat, and varies in color from dark gold to a lighter brown. This canine is slightly longer than it is tall, an attribute that is caused by the lengthy tail. They typically will have a feathered coat, which means their hair grows longer in some places. Typically, feathering occurs around the neck, belly, upper arms, and tail.
Goldens have broad heads and strong necks. Their large head, friendly and knowing eyes, and straight muzzle are easily recognizable. This breeds ears hang to the top of the jawline and have a sturdy back that’s held up by their powerful hind legs, giving them an almost regal stance. Goldens usually have a life expectancy of 10-13 (human) years.
Golden Retriever Size
The Golden Retriever is considered to be a medium-size dog. Males are typically larger than females, measuring roughly 23 to 24 inches in height and weigh approximately 65 to 75 pounds. Females are about 21 to 22 inches in height and weigh approximately 55 to 65 pounds.
Typically, a newborn Golden Retriever pup will weigh approximately 14 to 16 ounces. These pups have a moderately quick growth rate. These pups can grow between 5–10% larger each week. It should reach a full adult height between 9-12 months old. After reaching full height, it may take another year and a half for your pup to fill out weight-wise. Keep in mind that your dog’s growth can be affected by various factors, such as genetics, sex, and age at spay/neuter.
Golden Retriever Personality
Golden Retrievers are affectionate dogs who absolutely love to please. When you pair those traits with their intelligence level, it gives you a truly dependable pet and companion. They respond very well to obedience training and make excellent work and task dogs. You have heard stories of a dog grabbing a beer from the fridge for their owner, or a dog trained to bring their owner the remote. More times than not, Golden Retrievers are ever obedient and always waging to please. They also have a great sense of smell as well, making them popular detective dogs.
Golden Retrievers usually get along very well with strangers and other pets. Although they can be a bit energetic, these dogs are also amazing with kids. Their nurturing nature makes them great playmates for children.
Because this dog is so friendly and loving towards everyone, they aren’t the greatest guard dogs. They are not known to bark heavily or patrol the house like other dogs might. Every dog is different though, and there have been owners who say their loveable Golden Retriever is very vocal.
How to Care for a Golden Retriever
There are four things that are necessary when taking care of your Golden Retriever: Exercise, grooming, training, and dental. Responsible owners will make sure to keep up with these things at home. Still, regular trips to the vet are highly recommended.
Golden Retriever Exercise
Golden Retrievers are energetic and will act up if they do not get the exercise they need. These dogs need to be active, as it’s in their blood. If you allow your Golden Retriever to be inactive for months at a time, it could also lead to some health issues. This breed absolutely loves to swim, jog, go on long walks and play fetch, all of which are excellent exercises.
Roughly 30 minutes of exercise a day is good for an adult Golden Retriever. Puppies, although more energetic, require less exercise. This is because you do not want them to overexert or hurt themselves. 10-15 minutes of exercise with a Golden Retriever puppy will do the trick.
Taking your pup to the dog park will do wonders for socialization and is highly recommended. Your Golden Retriever should be naturally friendly with other dogs. Also, introducing your pet to toys that stimulate the mind makes for great mental exercise. Mental exercise can help reduce anxiety and stress in dogs. Toys that stimulate the mind can range from puzzles to hide and seek games.
Swimming is a favorite pastime for Golden Retrievers, but they are also infamous fetchers.
It is possible to over-exercise your Golden Retriever, although it is hard. These dogs are born to last, but over-exertion is possible. Pay attention to your dog’s level of fatigue and try not to overdo exercise or playtime. All dogs are different though. While some Golden Retrievers may have no issue swimming a half-mile, others may tire much more quickly. Diet plays an integral role in fatigue and health, which we will discuss later.
Golden Retriever Grooming
Golden Retrievers have gorgeous long coats that are water-repellant. These beautiful locks of hair are pretty easy to maintain. Goldens typically shed their coat twice a year, but continue to have moderate shedding all throughout. Owners should brush their Golden Retriever once or twice a week with a dependable rubber brush. While they are in the process of the twice a year coat shed, brushing should be done daily to help combat the clumps of hair that will undoubtedly pile up around the home.
This breed is not known to need to be bathed too often. Of course, this depends on the dog and owners. Some owners have their Golden Retrievers outside for extended periods of time, which would mean they need more frequent baths. Otherwise, the occasional bath (once every 3-4 weeks) is acceptable.
Baths do help to loosen dead skin and hair during heavy shedding periods, but you should make sure your pet is completely dry before you begin brushing after a bath. Owners should trim their Golden Retriever’s nails after each bath.
Golden Retriever Training
Golden Retrievers love nothing more than pleasing their owners. They are not stubborn or hard-headed and are exceptionally easy to train due to their need to cater. Positive reinforcement is the easiest method of training because they love to know they are pleasing their owner. Keep a treat bag in your pocket and reward your pet with a treat when he or she obeys commands or uses the bathroom outside as a puppy. This positive reinforcement will help build a grateful and obedient adult dog.
Try to get your Golden Retriever socializing with other dogs as soon as possible. Between seven weeks and four months is the best time to introduce your canine to strangers, other dogs, cats, and other pets. During this period, your puppy is very impressionable, so the more exposure to different people, places, and things the better.
Because this breed is so eager to please, when they do something naughty (like use the bathroom in the house), do not reprimand them too hard. They will pick up on the fact this negative action displeases their human and are sensitive to being harshly reprimanded. Keep the punishments light and short.
Golden Retriever Dental
Dental care is essential for all dogs. Imagine if you didn’t brush your teeth for weeks, months, or years? Many owners fail to brush their pet’s teeth regularly. That is when plaque can build up and become destructive and cause a range of different oral diseases. Owners should brush their Golden Retriever’s teeth at the very least once a week. Daily, or every other day, is highly recommended. Provide your Golden canine with chew toys that help get rid of bacteria build-up and plaque which can lead to bad breath.
Golden Retriever History
The Golden Retriever is a Scottish dog. Its history can be traced back to Dudley Marjoribanks, the first Lord Tweedmouth. Marjoribanks created the breed and keep intense and detailed records between 1840 and 1890. These records go in-depth and describe how he was yearning to create the best gundog on the planet. He wanted one that was waterproof and rugged yet eager to please and be friendly, so he crossed Yellow Retrievers (which are now extinct) with a Tweed Water Spaniel. Bloodhounds and Irish Setters were also used in the breeding process.
The Golden Retriever first debuted publicly in a British dog show in 1908 and soon made its way to America after that. They were very popular, but President Gerald Ford’s Golden Retriever Lib won the heart of Americans and catapulted this breed to stardom in the 1970s.
Golden Retriever Health
The Golden Retriever is essentially a healthy dog. The breed has a life span ranging from 10-13 years. Although these are loveable and healthy canines, there are some ailments that Golden Retrievers are more likely to get than other breeds. Unfortunately, cancer is one of them. Hypothyroidism, sub-aortic stenosis (SAS), canine hip dysplasia (CHD), and elbow dysplasia are a few of the other health issues that are more common in his breed as well.
Unfortunately, Golden Retrievers have one of the highest chances of getting cancer of any dog breed. Purdue University managed the National Breed Health Survey and discovered that 61% of Golden Retrievers die from cancer. Researchers are still trying to determine why Golden Retrievers have such a high chance of developing cancer, although there haven’t been many answers. It is highly recommended that all Golden Retriever owners place their dogs on Pet Insurance.
The thyroid gland is in the neck and helps control metabolism. When your Golden has hypothyroidism, the gland does not produce enough hormones to do its job correctly. Although this is a common disease in all dogs, it tends to surface in Golden Retrievers more often. It is more typical for Golden Retrievers to get this disease during middle age (5-10).
Neutered and spayed dogs have a higher risk of hypothyroidism, although vets do not know why this is. If left untreated, this will drastically affect your dog’s quality and length of life. Symptoms of hypothyroidism include weight gain, muscle loss, fatigue, hair loss, and sluggishness.
Another common health issue that is prevalent in Golden Retrievers is hip dysplasia. It is a form of arthritis that affects the ball and socket of the hip bone. This effect can vary: your dog may have a socket that is too shallow or a ball that is too big. But regardless, it causes a functionality problem that causes pain, inflammation, and can lead to your canine not being able to walk. If your dog is walking gingerly, in discomfort when sitting or shifting, or attempting to avoid putting pressure on certain limbs, it may be Hip Dysplasia.
Subaortic stenosis is an ailment that causes the blockage of blood flow through the heart. SAS is common in large breed dogs, and even more so in Golden Retrievers. The blockage can be mild, which is not very dangerous. If the blockage is severe though it can be extremely harmful to your pet’s health. Vets can typically spot SAS at birth as it appears to be genetic.
Golden Retrievers are more prone to develop digestive issues. Acute Gastroenteritis, Colitis, and Pancreatitis are the three most common digestive issues that owners may face. It is best to place your dog on a healthy, organic, grain-free diet to help avoid these issues.
Because of the long beautiful coat of the Golden Retriever, it is easy for underlying skin conditions to go noticed under all that hair. So while this breed isn’t more prone to skin conditions, owners often miss the signs because it’s hidden under all that hair. There are several different causes of skin conditions including allergens, parasites, bacteria, and fungus. Be sure to check your Golden Retriever’s skin when bathing or brushing.
For additional information on how to screen for these illnesses, owners can read the Health & Research data on the Golden Retriever Club of America website.
Nurturing and Feeding
Golden Retrievers have a habit of gaining weight – and fast. It is not uncommon to see overweight Golden Retrievers, so it is best for owners to watch their pet’s calorie count. Try to stick with foods that are grain-free and are organic. Limit the number of treats you give your pet outside of positive reinforcement training. A snack for using the bathroom outside is acceptable, but a snack just for being cute may add up to a few extra pounds. Avoid giving your dog table food that is high in fats (honestly, you should avoid giving them table food at all, but to each their own).
Owners should try to avoid highly processed dog foods, which typically come in the form of cheap kibble. Artificial coloring and flavoring is also a big “no-no.” Wet food and raw food is the healthiest type of food for dogs because they are typically high in protein and have shorter shelf lives (which means they are fresher).
There are three different types of Golden Retrievers:
- Canadian Golden Retrievers
- British or English Golden Retrievers
- American Golden Retrievers.
Although all these breeds look almost identical, there are small differences that set that apart – all of which can be found in the coat. There are also three coat colors, which typically coincide with the type of Golden Retriever. They consist of golden, light golden, and dark golden coats. If you are curious as to what color your Golden Retriever’s coat will become as it gets older, look at the tip of your puppy’s ears. This is usually the color that the adult Golden will mature to.
The Canadian Golden Retriever’s coat is usually shorter and thinner than the other two varieties. They may also be a tad bit taller, although the thinner and shorter coat sometimes makes them just appear to be more slender and long. The Canadian Golden Retriever’s coat differences are the most noticeable of all three varieties. This type usually has a golden or dark golden coat.
British or English Golden Retrievers are the originals of this breed. They have the most common Golden Retriever look that you’ve probably seen prior. Their coats are long and creamy golden with heavy feathering. They are a little smaller than the Canadian variety. English Golden Retrievers mostly have light golden coats but can also have the midground, golden hue.
American Golden Retrievers are usually skinnier and less muscular than the other two variants mentioned. Their coats are normally dark golden but have the same length and heaviness as British Golden Retrievers. In the US, these are the most popular variations followed closely by their British counterparts.
Children and Other Pets
Golden Retrievers are famously great with kids and as well as other pets. This breed loves to please and play, and will immediately fall in love with your young ones. They are not biters, and are known to have “soft mouths” and are fabled to be able to carry a raw egg in their mouth without breaking it. This makes owners ever more comfortable with them around children. Once again, this breed loves to please and they understand that caring and being careful with the young ones is integral to gaining heir owner’s trust.
Golden Retrievers are known to be great with other pets as well. Still, this typically depends on when they are introduced. If your pet doesn’t see a cat until it’s 3 or 4 years old, it will be harder for it to acclimate. However, if your pup is introduced at a younger age, it will likely be friendly with that entire species for the rest of its life.
Because this dog is in the top 3 most popular breeds in America, there is most likely a designated rescue group in your town. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of rescue groups online for the Golden Retriever. Owners should always check the ASPCA though. The ASPCA rescues dogs and will take care of many medical procedures such as shots and neutering/spaying for a fraction of the price that other places will.
Owners should also look to rescue pups from high kill shelters. These loveable dogs need a home and are in a very dangerous environment. Owners can check the Offical Golden Retriever website for the best rescue groups in the nation.
The Golden Retriever Club of America and The Golden Retriever Foundation are two of the best breed organizations in the nation. Owners can also check locally for clubs and organizations that specialize in treatment, safety, rescue, and education for this unique dog breed.
More About This Dog Breed
Golden Retrievers are loyal to the core, loveable, great family dogs, and amazing companions. They enjoy sleeping with their owner for a good cuddle and love to go swimming. It can make a good family dog, but they are not necessarily the greatest guard dogs. Their over-eagerness to please and friendly mentality makes them great with strangers, even if that stranger is breaking into your home!
This breed isn’t known to be barkers either, so guarding just isn’t in their blood. But these highly intelligent dogs are work dogs and are easily trainable. They are pretty low maintenance and are great dogs for first-time owners due to how easy they are to manage. If you’re looking to get your first dog or your 100th dog, the Golden Retriever is always a great choice.
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Written by Karlton at www.holistapet.com