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Golden Retriever
Highly Intelligent Companion and
Working Dog

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The Golden Retriever is still a great retrieving dog, bred in Scotland to be able to retrieve from land and water. But it is also a firm favorite as a family dog as well as working in several fields.

Here is the Golden Retriever at a Glance
Name Golden Retriever
Other Names None
Nicknames Yellow Retriever, Goldie, Golden Flat Coat
Origin Scotland
Average size Medium to large
Average weight 50 to 80 pounds
Average height 20 to 24 inches
Life span 10 to 13 years
Coat type Straight or wavy, double, thick, water-repellent
Hypoallergenic No
Color Yellow, golden or Black (rare)
Popularity Very high – Ranked number 3 by the AKC
Intelligence Very high – One of the more intelligent breeds
Tolerance to heat Good – It can handle warm climates but not extreme heat
Tolerance to cold Good – It can handle cold climates but not extreme cold
Shedding High – it does shed a lot so there will me hair to clean up from clothing and furniture
Drooling Above average – It does drool, not as much as some dogs but you can certainly expect some slobber!
Obesity Prone to obesity – it likes its food so measure it out and keep it active
Grooming/brushing Moderate to high – Daily to keep up with loose hair
Barking Occasional – It is not overly vocal but will bark now and then
Exercise needs High – It is a very active dog and will need active owners
Trainability Easy to train – It is eager to please and clever
Friendliness Very friendly – this is a very approachable and happy dog
Good first dog Average – it can be boisterous and has a lot of needs in terms of grooming and activity so may be best with an experienced owner
Good family pet Excellent – it is a great family dog
Good with children Excellent – very affectionate, can be gentle, likes to play
Good with other dogs Very good to excellent – early socialization helps but in general it gets on well with other dogs
Good with other pets Very good to excellent – early socialization helps
Good with strangers Excellent – strangers are new best friends
Good apartment dog No – too big and too energetic for a small living space
Handles alone time well No – it is not happy being left alone for long periods
Health issues Some – it is prone to some health issues such as joint dysplasia and eye problems
Medical expenses $260 annual average
Food expenses $235 annual average
Miscellaneous expenses $475 (includes health insurance, training, toys and treats)
Average annual expense $970
Cost to purchase $1300
Biting Statistics Attacks: 11 Maimings: 7 Child victims: 9 Deaths: 3
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The Golden Retriever's Beginnings

It was once though that this breed was descended from Russian sheepdogs but in the 1950s breeding records were published that found this was not the case. Golden Retrievers were actually developed in Scotland at the estate of Lord Tweedmouth in the late 1800s.

He was a breeder of various kinds of animals and as a man who enjoyed waterfowl hunting he was breeding a good retriever who was loyal and well tempered with a great nose to take with him. The retrievers they were already using were not good at retrieving from water and land. Plus innovation in guns used in hunting meant more waterfowl were being downed over longer distances and terrain that was harder to navigate. Hunters wanted a Retriever that could deal with the distance and the terrain so that less birds were lost.

Since Tweedmouth preferred yellow dogs this is where he started with a yellow dog from a litter of black Retrievers. He bred that dog with a female Tweed Water Spaniel which is now an extinct breed, but who were then great retrievers with a calm and loyal temperament. Their puppies were bred with other retrievers, Twee Water spaniels and red setters. Yellow puppies were kept, other colors were given away.

New Lease on Life

In 1911 the English Kennel Club recognized the Golden Retriever as a separate breed being classified then as Retriever – Golden or Yellow. This changed in 1920 to the name we know today the Golden Retriever. In 1932 the American Kennel Club officially recognized the breed and for the last three years has been the third most popular dog in America.

The Dog You See Today

Golden Retrievers are medium to large sized dogs with a straight muzzle, broad skull and a brow or black nose. It has medium to large eyes that are dark brown and teeth that form a scissor bite. Its ears hang down along the cheeks and when it pulls them forwards they can cover the eyes with the tips. It has a tail that is denser at the base and on the underside has some feathering.

The Golden Retriever has a dense, water resistant outer coat that can be wavy or straight. Feathering can be found on the front of the neck, under the belly and on the legs. The coat comes in cream, light or dark golden color. White Golden Retrievers are not allowed in the show ring.

There is a difference between British bred Golden Retrievers, American bred and even Canadian bred. British bred can be found not just in Britain but also in Australia and across Europe. The skull is broader and it has front legs more muscular than other types. Also its coat tends to come in a lighter color and it has straight hindquarters rather than a slight angulation the American bred dogs have.

American bred dogs have slanted or triangular shaped eyes whereas the British counterpart has dark and round eyes. As well as being less muscular the American bred Golden Retriever is leggier and have a larger variety of coat colors in various shades of gold. The Canadian Golden Retriever tends to be taller than other types and its coat is darker and thinner.

The Inner Golden Retriever

Temperament

Golden Retrievers are intelligent, patient, kind, loyal and affectionate making them a wonderful and popular dog to have as part of a family with children and other pets. They can be trusted and can form a wonderful bond between them and their human companions. When a stranger approaches they will bark, but if they are then introduced to that stranger they would then be welcoming the next time. They are still great at retrieving things and are happy to go out hunting with you for long periods of time. They love to have fun and be active.

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Golden Retrievers tend to stay puppy like for longer than other dogs, still wanting to be playful and silly even into their adult years. Their energy and focus can be turned to work but be warned their eagerness to please means they will work till they drop. This means the job of ensuring they stop when they need to is on their owner.

Living with a Golden Retriever

Training needs

Because of their intelligence, good nature, loyal and hard working nature these dogs are very trainable and are often used in various important roles including search and rescue, drug or explosive sniffer dog, guide dogs and more. They are also used in a lot of water rescue because they love to swim and are good at it.

When training you still need to be patient and consistent and your Golden Retriever will accept the training happily. Use positive reinforcement with praise and rewards. A dog with no training or poor training can have behavior issues and be disobedient. Their intelligence (ranked 4th in Coren's The Intelligence of Dogs list) makes them highly trainable but they need firm handling.

How active is this dog?

Golden Retrievers love action and outdoor adventures so if you like to camp or hike or go biking your dog will happily join you. They also love retrieving things so will happily play fetch, or catch a ball. Ideally give them two lots of exercise a day, 20 to 30 minutes long each, at a vigorous level. This will keep it from acting out indoors. Give them something to carry as they love to carry around something, a ball, the paper, your sock and so on.

They can live in an apartment as long as they are getting enough exercise outside. A large sized yard is handy as a place for them to engage in moderate level activities, and they should be kept mentally fit too with training and challenges. They love to swim but walking or jogging or long hikes are just as effective.

As puppies Golden Retrievers have a rapid growth spurt between the age of four and seven months that can make them more likely to get bone disorders if you do not take care with the activity during this phase. Avoid letting it run on hard surfaces until two years old so its joints are not damaged.

Caring for the Golden Retriever

Grooming needs

Golden Retrievers can have wavy or straight coats and have a thick undercoat with a water-repellent dense outer one. They do shed all year a moderate amount but this is worse in the Winter and Summer months. You will need to get used to hair around the house and on yourselves. To help control it give the coat a brush every day as this will also help stop tangling. It will likely need a bath once a month to keep him smelling good, more often if he gets really dirty.

To stop tartar from building up leading to bad teeth and bad breath, brush the teeth daily if possible, or at least 2 or 3 times a week. Nails need to be trimmed as well if you notice a clicking noise as it walks. It means it is not wearing them down enough naturally. If you trim them yourself take care of the blood vessels in them otherwise you will cause pain and bleeding.

As the ears fold over this makes them more prone to bacteria or fungal infections. Ear infections are a problem for Golden Retrievers so check them at least once a week for any signs of something not being right. Also check them after getting wet. You can wipe them with a cotton ball damp with a pH balanced cleaner. Just wipe out the outer ear, do not try to stick anything down the ear canal.

Grooming from a young age helps keep your pet healthy and happy. It is a chance to check for sores, rashes and so on, and is also a time to get it used to being handled all over, including the paws. Keep it as positive time with praise and rewards.

Feeding time

Golden Retrievers have a recommended daily amount of high quality food set at between 2 to 3 cups a day, split into two meals. However you should be guided by how big your dog is, its health, level of activity and metabolism. Avoid leaving food out all day as they can easily become overweight.

How are Golden Retrievers with other pets and children?

The Golden Retriever does so well in a family because the noise and hustle of children in the house does not phase it, in fact they rather enjoy all the chaos. Because it is a larger dog it may accidentally knock over smaller children, for that reason supervision may be a good idea. Teach your children how to treat it, no tail or ear pulling, leave its food alone and a well trained and socialized Golden Retriever can handle anything. This even extends to other animals, it will be happy to have a friend in another dog and when trained and introduced correctly will happily adopt other pets like cats or rabbits into the family too.

What Might Go Wrong?

Health Concerns

While on the whole Golden Retrievers are healthy there are a few health issues that they can be more prone to which include; Joint Dysplasia, Eye Problems, Osteosarcoma, Von Willebrand's Disease, Subvalvular Aortic Stenosis, Suspect bloat Epilepsy, OCD (Osteochondrosis Dissecans), Hemangiosarcoma, Allergies, Hypothyroidism and Bloat.

Biting Statistics

When looking at data for reports of dog attacks against people over the last 34 years the Golden Retriever can be linked to 11 attacks. 7 of those were categorized as maimings, meaning the victims were left disfigured, has lost a limb or were permanently scarred. 9 victims were children and there have been 3 deaths. This puts this dog in the top 30% of attacks by dogs on people. Since these attacks happened over a long time period this averages to about 1 attacks every 3 years.

It is worth noting that one of those deaths was a child when the Golden Retriever was pulling at her neck scarf playing with her, and accidentally strangled her. Another attack was because the dog was rabid.

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Your Pup’s Price Tag

How much a Golden Retriever puppy will cost can change depending on who you are buying from and where you are. You can get cheaper ones from less reputable locations starting at about $500. Some reputable breeders, breeding dogs for show, will charge something like $3000. A rescue dog will be adoption fees that cover some medical costs at about $200 but will probably be an adult. On average you should expect to pay $1300.

Initial medical costs will need to be taken care of. Neutering or spaying will cost $220 or thereabouts. Shots, tests, and a check up will cost around $70. Annual medical cost will include medical emergency savings or pet insurance, check ups, shots, flea prevention and so on. These come to about $485 a year.

When you have your Golden Retriever there will be some basic gear to buy like collar and leash, toys and a crate. You will also need to have it licensed. This comes to another $210.

Even with its good reputation for being smart and loving this dog should still receive early socialization and obedience training. You can expect to start at $120 a year for these but that could go up quite a bit if you are using professionals.

All dogs need to eat. As a medium to large dog it will cost you at least $235 a year on a good quality dry dog food. Any wet would be extra. Treats as rewards and well treats will be at least another $30 a year.

Initial costs to be prepared for when getting a Golden Retriever come to $450. Annual costs start from $970.

Finally there is the food. Labs are large dogs and eat a fair bit. A year of good quality dry dog food will cost about $235. Factor in treats for training rewards and well the occasional treat! These come to another $30 a year or more.

Overall adding up all of those costs you can expect to pay initial costs of $450. Annual costs will start from $970.

Names

Looking for a Golden Retriever Puppy Name? Let select one from our list!

  • Male Golden Retriever Names
  • Female Golden Retriever Names
  • When buying a Golden Retriever puppy be sure to choose a breeder with a good reputation and be ready for the responsibility this brings. Your dog will require commitment from you as well as financial stability and love. Your puppy should not be younger than 8 weeks old and when you go to visit observe them first. Ideally you want to avoid the most and least dominant puppy, the former will be the one who climbs over the others to eat first, the latter will perhaps be hiding in a corner. The more dominant puppy may be harder to train and the weaker one may be more anxious and more prone to health issues.

    You also want the puppy vaccinated, dewormed and have a health clearance certificate for it and its parent's health history. This should include clearances from OFA, CERF, the Auburn University. All of these can be checked on offa.org. Because of their popularity there are a lot of breeders out there that are just about the money and do not care about the health or happiness of the dogs. Try to avoid these breeders.

    The Golden Retriever is a very popular breed of dog amongst families with children. It retains its puppy playfulness and silliness into adulthood which for the kids can be fun, but for owners requires patience! They are very affectionate and like to be active. Their intelligence makes them very trainable and they have a great love for water! Be prepared though as they can shed profusely!

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