Golden Retriever Breed Overview
One of the most popular dog breeds worldwide, the Golden Retriever is known for its friendly, engaging, gregarious personality. That delightful attitude has made this breed a favorite family pet and a more than adequate working dog and exercise partner. With a keen aptitude for tracking, hunting, and agility work, the Golden Retriever is a versatile dog who fits in just about anywhere. The breed is also a common choice for therapy, guide, and assistance dogs.
With his shining golden coat and a friendly, eager attitude, the lively Golden Retriever charms anyone who encounters him. This breed does bond strongly with family and requires enough mental and physical exercise to keep him happy and tired. With a Golden Retriever in your life, you can expect always to have a loyal friend at your side.
Golden Retrievers can reach 61 cm in height and 34 kg in weight.
Their life expectancy is approximately 10 – 13 years.
- Suitability for Children – High
- Tendency to Bark – Medium
- Energy – Medium
- Suitability as a Guard Dog –Low
- Grooming Requirements – More than Once a Week
- Trimming Required – Frequent
- Amount of hair shed – Heavy
- Food Cost – $15 to $20
- Average Monthly Pet insurance Premium – $58
The Golden Retriever is considered a large breed dog and can live anywhere between 10 – 13 years; however, with genetics, excellent care, and some luck, a Golden Retriever can live as long as 16 years or more. Goldens are typically healthy, but as with any breed of dog, they are predisposed to certain diseases and illnesses. It is important that a potential Golden owner be aware of these health concerns.
Origins of Golden Retriever
Developed in Scotland in the early 19th century, the Golden Retriever was the creation of a wealthy businessman named Dudley Marjoribanks, Lord Tweedmouth, who was trying to develop the perfect hunting retriever. During this time, gentry enjoyed gun hunting, and these hunters wanted a gun dog who would excel at finding and retrieving small animals and birds that had been shot. Tweedmouth envisioned a dog who could sniff out and retrieve waterfowl, but just as importantly, he wanted a dog who was a loyal, dependable companion for its human owner. Ideally, the dog would be calm and even-tempered and suitable for families.
To begin this process, Tweedmouth purchased an unregistered Yellow Retriever named Nous.
Over a few years, Tweedmouth mated Nous with Belle, a Tweed Water Spaniel. Their first litter resulted in four female pups from whom all Golden Retrievers are descended. It is also possible that further cross-breeding occurred with Wavy and Flat-coated retrievers and Red Setters. Lord Tweedmouth kept only the yellow or golden coloured puppies from the litters and gave the remaining puppies away to family and friends. The descendants of this group would be officially recognised as Golden Retrievers by the Kennel Club in England in 1911 and the American Kennel Club in 1925.
Today the Golden Retriever is valued well beyond the hunting field. This breed is one that is incredibly versatile, succeeding at being a family dog at home and a champion in the show ring. Golden Retrievers are also a breed frequently used as assistance, comfort, therapy, and guide dogs. Their keen sense of smell and determination to do their job well has made them a frequent choice for drug detection and search-and-rescue situations. In recent years, Golden Retrievers have been involved in some of the world’s most tragic events, such as search-and-rescue during the 9/11 attacks and serving as comfort dogs in the aftermath of school shootings.
Golden Retriever Personality
Everyone is a friend to the Golden Retriever. This happy-go-lucky breed may be a ball of energy as a puppy, but eventually, he will settle down a develop a calm, reassuring nature. This breed was designed to work alongside people, making the breed a surefire people-pleaser. As with any dog, proper training and socialization early on in puppy-hood is the best way to raise a Golden who is respectful and trustworthy. Expose your dog to different places, sounds, experiences, people, and other dogs at whatever age he is to engage his body and mind while helping him adjust to the world around him.
Common Golden Retriever Conditions and Diseases
Golden Retrievers are susceptible to some inherited diseases, and although not every Golden will develop these illnesses, prospective breed owners should know about these potential health problems. If you purchase your Golden Retriever from a breeder, it is critically important that the breeder be trustworthy and reputable. The breeder should have legitimate documentation and health clearances from the puppy’s dam and sire. In particular, Golden Retriever breeders should have health certificates showing genetic clearance for hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia, and hypothyroidism amongst other conditions.
Here are the most common health issues that Golden Retrievers may develop:
- Hip dysplasia is a deformity that occurs within the ball and socket joint of the hip during puppyhood when the puppy’s bones are still growing. When balanced growth does not happen during this time, the joints remain weak and worsen as the dog ages. Over time, hip dysplasia can cause serious arthritic conditions, such as osteoarthritis and degenerative joint disease, both of which will impact a Golden Retriever’s quality of life as he ages. This condition is often blamed on genetics and diet, and common symptoms include limping, lameness, hind end weakness, and difficulty getting up or down stairs. This disease can be managed with dietary supplements, anti-inflammatory drugs, a proper diet, moderate exercise, and weight management.
- Elbow dysplasia occurs when an abnormal growth develops within the dog’s elbow joint. Diet, trauma, genetics, and excessive exercise may cause this condition, and any combination of them may advance the improper growth between the elbow and the wrist. Large breed dogs like the Golden Retriever are typically affected by elbow dysplasia. Surgery is the best means by which to address the disease.
- Allergies commonly affect a wide range of Golden Retrievers, and the source of the allergens can range from diet to parasitic to environmental. Allergic reactions often cause dogs to excessively lick, scratch, or bite at their paws, sides, ears, and stomach. Usually, the application of organic topical creams or sprays, the use of corticosteroids, or a change in diet can help control or eliminate allergies.
- Cataracts are filmy spots on an eye lens that grow over time. Although they can develop at any age, they typically show up during a dog’s senior years. Some cataracts cause significant vision loss while others don’t impair vision at all. In most cases, cataracts can be surgically removed with positive results.
- Epilepsy is a common neurological condition in dogs, and Golden Retrievers are particularly prone to this condition. Epilepsy is when recurrent seizures happen because of abnormal brain activity. The disease often develops over time but without noticeable symptoms until the illness has advanced to the seizure stage. Seizures occur most often when the dog is resting or sleeping.
Although seizures can manifest differently with individual dogs, typically a seizure consists of the dog falling over on his side then begins to shake and pedal with some or all of the legs. The dog may salivate or even eliminate during the seizure itself. Epilepsy can be controlled through anti-seizure medications prescribed by a veterinarian.
- Osteochondrosis Dissecans (OCD) is a severe orthopedic condition that, similarly to elbow dysplasia, involves abnormal growth of cartilage in the joints and the shoulders. This illness causes the joints to stiffen until they are eventually unable to bend. Some dogs are diagnosed with OCD as early as four months of age. Feeding an excessively high-protein diet or overfeeding growth formula puppy foods are often blamed for the development of this condition.
General Exercise and Care
Golden Retrievers are active dogs who need vigorous exercise at least twice a day. As a working dog breed, Goldens love to have a job to do, and they will do it joyfully whether its hiking or playing fetch in the backyard. True to their name, Goldens love retrieving items and they also enjoy a pleasant walk, jog, or swim in the pool, pond, or lake. Exercise is a must with this breed, and if you fail to provide your Golden Retriever with the amount of activity he needs to be physically and mentally tired out, he may relieve his anxiety and boredom through destructive behaviors, creating a whole other level of problems.
As is typical of retriever breeds, the Golden is “mouthy,” meaning they love to carry something around in their mouths and greet you with the item as a gift. Items of interest can range from a favorite ball or squeaky toy to a dirty sock or shirt. Understand that your Golden is satisfying both his need to carry an item and his need to please his owner by bringing you whatever object he can fit in his mouth.
The Golden Retriever has folded over ears which provide the perfect environment for bacterial or yeast infection to grow. Goldens are infamous for their ear infections, and as such, you should check your dog’s ears weekly for any signs of irritation, redness, or smelly odor, which may mean an infection is starting. If your Golden is in the water often, check his ears each time he swims as wet ears are a welcome sign for infections. Use a gentle, pH-balanced ear cleaner to prevent infections, and if you think your dog has one, get him to the veterinarian as soon as possible for medical attention. Ear infections can be painful, so do not wait too long to get your Golden the help he needs.
Don’t forget to check your Golden Retriever’s teeth and brush them at least twice weekly to remove plaque and tartar buildup and to remove bacteria that may cause serious dental problems. To prevent bad breath and gum disease, try to brush your dog’s teeth daily.
Coat and Grooming
Golden Retrievers have a double-coat consisting of a water-repellent outer coat and a thick under coat. Their fur feathers are found in certain locations on the body including the neck, chest, front legs, back of thighs, and the tail. Golden coats can be straight or wavy or a combination of both. The coat colours span the complete range of gold, from pale gold to a dark reddish gold. Generally, Golden Retriever coats fall into three categories: light golden, golden, and red golden.
This breed is known to shed frequently during the year, especially at seasonal points; shedding is typically heavier in the spring and fall than it is in the summer and winter. You can cut down on the amount of fur flying around the house by proactively brushing your Golden Retriever regularly to remove loose and dead hair before it gets on your floors, clothes, and everything else you own.
The thick Golden coat gets easily tangled and matted if not cared for on a weekly if not daily schedule. It is recommended that you brush your Golden daily to prevent these conditions from happening. Bathing your Golden at least once a month, and more often if he gets into water and mud as Goldens are wont to do, is necessary to keep him clean. If the upkeep becomes too much, consider taking your Golden to a professional groomer or pet salon to have someone with experience spruce up your dog.
Children and Other Pets
Golden Retrievers are wonderful family pets, and they typically get along well with children. Calm and at times stoic, the Golden is generally patient with young kids, although all children should be taught how to behave around dogs and should never be unsupervised around them.
This breed is also accommodating towards other family pets, especially other dogs and cats. They are usually good with small animals like rabbits and ferrets, but some Goldens have a strong prey drive and may not be suitable around smaller pets. As with children, always supervise your Golden’s interactions with any other animal.
An Australian Golden Retriever holds the world’s record for the loudest bark at 113.1 decibels, about 3 decibels louder than a chainsaw.
- Golden Retrievers are great to watch dogs, but not well as guard dogs because they tend to get friendly with everyone, even with strangers.
- Golden Retrievers can act like puppies until the third year.
Former United States presidents Ronald Reagan and Gerald Ford owned Golden Retrievers.
A Golden Retriever named Augie in Dallas, Texas, holds the world’s record for the most number of tennis balls held in a dog’s mouth with 5 tennis balls.
Golden Retrievers are excellent swimmers thanks in part to the webbing between their toes and their tail which acts as a steering aid in the water.
Because of their obedient nature and train-ability, Golden Retrievers are one of the most often used dog breeds in television shows and movies.