Let’s See What Makes Golden Retrievers so Special

Winston, the Golden Retriever

I’m writing this post in memory of my friend Penney’s dog, Winston, a beautiful Golden Retriever who sadly passed away not long ago. Along with the research I did for this post, I’ll be sharing Penney’s feedback on owning Goldens. Her other dog, Cooper, is four years old and a constant companion to her and her son.

There are countless great things about Golden Retrievers that make them special and wonderful pets. If you want a dog that is friendly, patient, sweet, gentle, good with other dogs and animals and responds well to training, a Golden Retriever would be the right dog for you.

We’ll explore below in more detail all about their personality, colors, grooming, and more.

Types of Golden Retrievers

There is only one breed but Golden Retrievers come in different colors with various shades of cream, red, and golden. There are no black Goldens.

There are also three different types, English, Canadian, and American which relate to ‘breed standards’ which slightly differ in each country.

Golden Retrievers are great family dogs

They are extremely gentle and patient. These personality traits are why they are a perfect match as a family dog.

Golden Retrievers are very good with kids. Their incredibly soft mouth grip will ensure that little fingers don’t get hurt when a child tries to give the dog treats.

They are very social and love people, especially their ‘family people’.

Winston and Cooper
Penney’s Feedback

Were all your Goldens good with your son?

Yes, all of them have been super sweet with Jake, no matter what age he was.

Winston was a puppy when my son was seven, so they grew up together. Now my son is older and can take Cooper to the park.

photo credit: @penneyfox

Behavior of Golden Retrievers

Do Golden Retrievers bark a lot?

Golden Retrievers are generally a quiet breed and may bark occasionally if there is a good reason for it. They would if they’re in distress but most likely they’re bark because they’re excited about something that will happen, like going for a walk.

You can get an idea of why your Golden Retriever is barking by listening to the pitch the dog uses. A higher pitch is usually associated with something urgent while a lower pitch would be used more to get your attention. 

Does a Golden Retriever chew stuff?

Of course, since a Golden is a retriever, it likes to put things in its mouth. Mine (and others I know of) would always have to go get her toy and put it in her mouth before greeting us or visitors at the door. So cute!

It’s important to be watchful and make sure your dog doesn’t ingest items that it should not. Vet bills can be very expensive when it comes to surgery to remove whatever your dog ate. We know first hand as not long ago our Husky mix swallowed a small tennis ball!

Make sure it gets enough exercise, and have many chew toys to keep it busy.

Do Goldens like to play?

They love to play outside and fetch games are their favorite activity. It’s in their DNA to retrieve, whether it’s a ball, a stick or a toy. The breed is part of the working/sporting dog category, which means having a job to do makes them happy.

Can Golden Retrievers swim?

Winston and Cooper at the beach
“they loved to swim anywhere they could – pools, rivers, the ocean – it’s hard to keep them out of the water”
Penney @penneyfox

Golden Retrievers can swim as they were bred to retrieve ducks or geese, from bodies of water after the hunter shot down these birds. Playing a game of fetch in the water is a ‘job’ they love. Nevertheless, they should be exposed to swimming when they are puppies.

Our Golden had no idea she could swim. But I admit she was about five years old when I took her to a beach nearby for the first time and I thought she would just be happy to jump in.

Nope! She was afraid of the water, but I think she wanted to go in. She would run parallel to the shore after the waves.

I had to ‘train’ her by throwing a stick in the water, at first on the sand close to the water. She would bring it back to me. Then slowly I would throw the stick a little further and she would have her two front paws in the water.

After about a week of going every day and slowly throwing the piece of wood further and further, one day she finally retrieved it far enough that her legs didn’t touch the ground. It was so funny to see her expression when she realized she was actually swimming.

Boone and Mr. Buns – thanks Brenda @trendybrendy1222

Are Golden Retrievers good with other pets?

They are very friendly and tend to get along with other pets in the household, whether it’s cats, rabbits, or other dogs.

Boone here is my friend Brenda’s (also our dog babysitter) Golden and has been living with Mr. Buns for a long time. Brenda also babysit dogs in her home and Boone is a very nice host 🙂

How big do Golden Retrievers get

A male Golden Retriever can reach 23 to 24 inches max. A female on the other hand will be slightly smaller and measure 21 – 22 inches max.

As far as weight, the male would normally be between 65 to 75 lbs, and the female Golden Retriever would range between 55 to 65 lbs.

Goldens are considered ‘big dogs’ but at the lowest end of the spectrum, compared to Great Danes who would be at the high end.

When is a Golden Retriever full grown?

When a Golden turns two, it will have reached its full physical size and be considered an adult dog. However, it will take another one to two years before it is matured mentally.

Our Golden “sort of” calmed down and stopped acting like an energized puppy when she reached four years old.

Exercise needed

Golden Retrievers are amongst the 15 most active dog breeds, according to the American Kennel Club. As such, a Golden will need plenty of exercises otherwise it might get destructive.

Being high-energy dogs, an adult Golden Retriever needs about an hour of exercise each day. This could be split into two walks of 20-30 minutes each. A young adult might need more and an older dog would need less.

For young puppies, A good rule of thumb is a ratio of five minutes exercise per month of age (up to twice a day) until the puppy is fully grown e.g. 15 minutes (up to twice a day) when 3 months old, 20 minutes when 4 months old and so on.

This doesn’t apply to young puppies, because too much exercise can damage their joints and overtire them.  A general rule of thumb is to multiply by five the puppy’s age to find the average minutes it can walk. For example, if a puppy is four months old, a 20-minute walk twice a day would be good. Asking the vet for advice would be ideal to make sure this would be best for the puppy.

Remember that mental exercise is just as important and playing fetch and tug will help with that. Another game would be to let the dog chase you, which counts as training it to come to you. Puzzle games and chew toys are also perfect

Are Golden Retrievers hypoallergenic?

No Goldens are not was is commonly known as hypoallergenic. No dog is 100% hypoallergenic. Other breeds will be less allergenic because of their non-shedding coat producing less dander.

Golden Retrievers Health

Some health issues a Golden Retriever could develop include hip dysplasia, a form of arthritis, and skin conditions. There could be others for sure but you can’t know what the future will hold, which is true for any dog, whether a purebred or a mix. Our other Husky mix was only three years old when he passed away from epileptic seizures.

Our Golden Retriever lived to 11 years old and over the years did get ‘hot spots’ where a specific area of skin is inflamed and infected.

At first, if you’ve never seen one, you may not notice or think it’s just an insect bite. But a hot spot will spread very rapidly and become red and the fur in that area has fallen out. It’s really important to treat it right away. A visit to the vet is a must so it can be treated with antibiotics.

Life expectancy of Golden Retrievers

The average lifespan of a Golden Retriever, whether male or female, is between 10 and 12 years.

Personality of a Golden Retriever

A Golden is playful, very friendly with people, other dogs, children, and other animals. Very loyal, the golden retriever is also even-tempered, intelligent, and affectionate.

They have a sweet and calm nature once they have outgrown their puppy stage, around three years old.

Golden Retrievers are easy to train

Golden retrievers are easy to train because they’re smart and very intelligent. They are loyal and eager to please people.

Training should start early, two-six months old, and puppy classes are great to socialize them and for the owners to learn how to train their dog.

Then you have the ‘teenage rebellion’ stage. Exercises, games, and other activities like agility, going to the dog park, would greatly help owners survive this period, which should diminish when the dog is 24 months old.

Penney’s Feedback

I never took any of my dogs in for training – I trained all three of them myself without having to use treats – just repetition and praise.

They have a sweet disposition – they only want to please you and they’re very smart so they’re very easy to train.

For the longest time, we could leave Winston off the leash outside and he wouldn’t run away. He always came back when you called him and we never worried that he was going to hurt any of the kids in the neighborhood.  

photo credit Penney @penneyfox

Golden Retrievers are great service dogs

Golden Retrievers are excellent service dogs. Because they are intelligent, easy to train, and loyal Goldies are perfect for the job. They are strong enough to provide physical support such as pulling a wheelchair.

They also work well as ESA (emotional support animal) for adults as well as with children since they are very gentle and attentive in nature.

Golden retrievers also work in SAR (search and rescue) missions to help humans locate victims of avalanches, missing persons as well as cadavers, amongst other things. Because they are obedient, energetic, and eager to please their owners, they are well suited for that job.

Golden Retrievers are not guard dogs

In my opinion, it goes against Goldies personality to be guard dogs. They are friendly with everyone, even strangers. When we had our Golden, we always said that if someone would invade our home while we were away, she would have greeted them with joy and excitement.

Not to say that they wouldn’t defend their family if an intruder would attack. I’m pretty sure that any dog would protect their loved ones if needed.

Golden Retrievers are natural athletes

They perform well in dog sports. If you’re looking for a dog breed with competitive obedience and agility, a golden retriever would be a good choice.

Starting at four months old, puppies can register for pre-agility puppy classes. When a dog is one year old it can then start training to run agility courses and compete or just for fun.

Golden Retrievers shed – a lot and need grooming

Because of the shedding, basic brushing, combing and a good vacuum is a must!

Penney’s Feedback

After breaking two vacuums in less than a year from the dog hair, I found the best one for me…a Bissell pet hair bagless vacuum. I was willing to pay whatever I could to clean my carpet! This one has been amazing, especially when we had two Goldens with two sources of shedding hair. 

They have a lot of hair, especially on their hind legs, I used to call that “pants” on my Golden. They can get matted fur and they are prone to ‘hot spots’, an inflammation of the skin when it’s hot and humid.

Breeders and groomers agree that Golden Retrievers should not be shaved. The fur doesn’t grow back well and they need it to stay cool in the summer.

Golden Retrievers can live in apartments

But they definitely need enough exercise and walks to keep them active. Goldens love to fetch, so playing games with them will keep their mind sharp as well.

And as mentioned above, Golden Retrievers are medium size dogs and shed a lot, which should be considered if living in an apartment.

You can adopt from Golden Retriever Rescues

Yes, there are wonderful rescue organizations all over the country where you can give a sweet Golden a second chance.

A Google search for ‘Golden Retriever rescue near me’, will give you options where to find their websites. You can also search Facebook, making sure you find reputable rescues.

Golden Retrievers in movies

Of course there are famous Golden Retriever actors and here are the most popular movies featuring these wonderful dogs.

  • Air Bud series, starting in 1997
  • Snow Buddies, 2008
  • The Retrievers, 2001
  • Christmas with Tucker, 2013
  • The Art of Racing in the Rain, 2019
  • Super Buddies, 2013
  • Golden Winter, 2012
  • The Trial of Old Drum, 2000
  • Bailey’s Billion$ (2005)
  • Love and Sunshine (2019)

Celebrities who own Golden Retrievers

Some celebrities who own or have owned one or two Golden Retrievers.

Jackie ChanOprah Winfrey
Ricky MartinJennifer Gardner
Jimmy FallonAdam Levine
James MarsdenConan O’Brien

Two Golden Retrievers vs one

Although not necessary, a Golden Retriever might like the company of another dog, whether a Golden or not. Dogs are pack animals and would enjoy playing, wrestling, and hanging out together.

The benefit is the unconditional love of two amazing pets. On the other hand, it creates a lot more hair and more expensive vet bills.

Fostering a second dog would be a great way to find out if you like and can handle two dogs. Local rescues are always in search of foster homes.

Golden Retriever vs Labrador Retriever

These two breeds are very similar in weight and personalities. They both are very active, loving swimming, running, and retrieving.

Both have double coats, and are big shedders. So good grooming routine is essential.

Both Goldens and Labs are very intelligent and are used as service, guide, and search and rescue dogs.

Mini Golden Retrievers don’t exist

What people think are mini Golden Retrievers apparently really turn out to be a mix of Golden Retriever, Cocker Spaniel, and/or mini Poodle. Breeders can sell them double the price of Goldens by calling them mini Golden Retrievers.

Penney’s Feedback

What are the best qualities of your Goldens?

They’re very friendly, have a sweet personality and they can be the best comfort dogs, they like to be hugged! – though sometimes they think they’re a lapdog.  They’re very smart so you can take them anywhere and know that they’ll behave. They’re really good with kids of any age.