Let's talk Golden Retrievers

The very definition of the words “bounding dog”, Golden Retrievers are full of joyful exuberance. Also a very gentle breed, however, they have an excellent temperament and are friendly and affectionate to all around them.As at home in the heart of the family as they are on a search-and-rescue mission or working as a guide dog, the Golden Retriever is a remarkably versatile breed, too. When you add in their golden good looks and robust constitution, it’s no surprise they are one of the world’s most popular dogs. 

Official name: Golden Retriever

Origins: Scotland

Two Golden Retriever puppies sitting with mother in black and white
 Drooling tendencies

Medium

 Warm weather? Low
 Grooming needs  Medium  Cold weather? Medium
 Shedding level  High  Suited to apartment living  Low
 Barking tendencies  High  Can stay alone?* Low
 Energy level (high, low, medium)*  Medium  Family pet?* High
 Compatibility with other pets  High    

* We advise against leaving pets alone for long stretches. Companionship can prevent emotional distress and destructive behaviour. Speak to your veterinarian for recommendations.

Every pet is different, even within a breed; this snapshot of this breed specifics should be taken as an indication.

For a happy healthy and well-behaved pet, we recommend educating and socializing your pet as well as covering their basic welfare needs (and their social and behavioral needs.

Pets should never be left unsupervised with a child.

Contact your breeder or veterinarian for further advice.

All domestic pets are sociable and prefer company.However, they can be taught to cope with solitude from an early age. Seek the advice of your veterinarian or trainer to help you do this.

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Illustration of beige Golden Retriever from the side
Male
56 - 61 cm Height
51 - 56 kg Weight
Female
51 - 56 cm Height
25 - 30 kg Weight

 Baby age  Birth to 2 months
 Puppy age  2 to 15 months
 Adult age 15 months to 5 years
 Mature age  5 to 8 years
 Senior age  8 to 18 years

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Get to know the Golden Retriever

All you need to know about the breed

In terms of their appearance, Golden Retrievers have a thick, water-resistant coat with a dense undercoat. This can vary in colour from a pale gold to a deeper amber shade and everything in-between. The one constant is that it is very thick, and built to withstand the elements. But this does mean it requires a fair bitof grooming. Golden Retrievers are also known for being quite a high-sheddingbreed.

With their hunting-dog background, Golden Retrievers do need a fairly high level of daily exercisetoo –whether that’s a walk, a jog or running after a ball. Retriever by name, retriever by nature, they like nothing better than fetching an object and bringing it back to you. So, if you can indulge your Golden Retrieverin this, they’ll be your number one fan. 

 

Golden Retriever standing on grass and yellow flowers

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2 facts about Golden Retrievers

1. 101 Retrievers

In July 2006, the Golden Retriever Club of Scotland organised a gathering at the ancestralhome of the breed. During the event, a photo was taken –and, with 188 dogs, it is believed to hold the record for the most Golden Retrievers in one picture.

2. A dog’s dinner 

This is a breed that loves to eat! As a result Golden Retrievers can easily become overweight. It is important, therefore, to keep treats to a minimum and be sure to opt for a high-quality, low-fat food. For more facts on the best diet for the Golden Retriever, see below.

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History of the breed

The origins of the Golden Retriever date back some 200 years. To discover the breed’s story, we need to head to the Scotland of the 19th century. There, we meet a Scottish aristocrat called Lord Tweedmouth and his Yellow Retriever named Nous. 

In 1865, this keen hunter decided that he wanted to create a gundog that could cope with the tough terrain and harsh climate. So, he crossed his Yellow Retriever with the now extinct Tweed Water Spaniel, and added the Irish Setterand Bloodhound into mix. As he kept careful notes of his findings, we have the full history of the Golden Retriever.

The early Golden Retrievers were first shown in England in 1908 and recognised by the Kennel Club there in 1911.At that point, however, they were classified as a ‘Retriever–Yellow or Golden’. Following the creation of the Golden Retriever Club, in 1913, the name was changed in line with that. The Golden Retrieverwas inaugurated by the American Kennel Club in 1925. 

Today, they are one of the most popular dog breeds across the world –though, interestingly, there are actually three different types of Golden Retriever: the English, Canadian and American. However, as there are only subtle differences between them, they are all classed as the same breed.

Golden Retriever sitting facing camera in black and white

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From head to tail

Physical characteristics of Golden Retrievers

1. Ears

Soft, floppy ears that usually reach down toaround chin-height.

2. Face

Face is characterised by a long, elegant muzzle, distinctive black nose and brown eyes.

3. Fur

With lustrous golden fur, they have the added benefit of a water-resistant undercoat.

4. Body

Large in stature with alevel toplineand strong and muscular loins.

5. Tail

Set high, tail is naturally long and rarely stops wagging – and their whole body can wiggle at times.

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Things to look out for

From specific breed traits to a general health overview, here are some interesting facts about your Golden Retriever
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Be sure to check their ears regularly

Among the more common afflictions that can affect the Golden Retriever is a condition called ‘otitis’ –otherwise known as ear infections. This is often caused by an allergy and can be painful and itchy for the dog. In more serious cases, it can also result in hearing damage. As a result, ears should be checked weekly for any sign of infection and, in the event of anything unusual, your Golden Retriever should be taken straight to your vet. Professional examinations are also recommended at least twice a year.

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They can also experience joint complaints

Like a number ofother dog breeds, Golden Retrievers have a genetic predisposition to something called hip dysplasia –a condition in which the ball and socket become out of kilter. This can lead to pain and inflammation and also result in arthritis later on in the dog’s life. However, the condition can be managed, so have a chat with your vet about the options available. For example, if your Golden Retriever is carrying excess weight, this can magnify the condition, so it’s important that they have a carefully balanced diet. In severe cases, surgery can also be an option.

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Be aware of any changes in their body

Unfortunately, Golden Retrievers can also be susceptible to several types of cancer –including lymphoma, hemangiosarcoma and mast cell tumours.

As early detection is key, it’s important to keep an eye out for any unusual symptoms –in-particular any lumps and bumps, obvious pain or laboured breathing. Your Golden Retriever’s grooming sessions can be a good opportunity to give your dog the once-over. Unfortunately, if an internal organ is affected, it can be much harder to spot. So if your Golden Retriever seems a bit off-colour, refuses to eat or loses weight, have them checked. Comprehensive examinations with your vet are also recommended at least twice a year.

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Caring for your Golden Retriever

Grooming, training and exercise tips

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One of the few–only? –catches of having a Golden Retriever is that their long coats can require a fair bit of maintenance. Especially as they love nothing better than tearing through muddy fields, rolling in a puddleor enjoying a swim (which, by the way, they are a big fan of). In addition, Golden Retrievers are prone to shedding quite profusely. They should therefore be brushedat least twice a week, anddaily during the moulting seasons. Their coat should also be checked after their walks, to make sure nothing is tangled in their fur, and they will need regular baths to keep them smelling sweet. Trimming their nails, checking their ears andbrushing their teeth should all be done regularly too.

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A smart and intelligent breed, Golden Retrievers are also eager to please –so this makes traininga pleasant experience for both dog and owner alike. As they’re also very food-motivated, treats can be an extra enticement –as long as they are healthy ones! Think about taking treats from their daily food portion. Start your Golden Retriever early with regular socialisation and puppy-training classes and they’ll soon get the hang of things. Also renowned for their excellence in agility and obedience classes,many go on to excel in the show ring. Your Golden Retriever’s training can also be supported with regular games back at home –another good bonding opportunity.

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As former gundogs, Golden Retrievers require plenty of outdoor exercise, so adult dogs should be getting at least an hour a day –but ideally two or more.If they don’t have enough exercise, Golden Retrievers can become a little bit boisterous, so, a good long walk or run will help them to burn off any excess energy. Conversely, some dogs, given the opportunity, will quite happily turn into couch potatoes, which can lead to weight gain, so exercise is important all-round. Given the breed’s hunting heritage, Golden Retrievers usually enjoy fetching and swimming, so it’s worth being a bit creative with their activity programme. 

All about Golden Retrievers

While it’s true that there is only one breed of Golden Retriever, there are three different sub-typeswithin that: the English, Canadian and American. In general, English Golden Retrieverstend to have a stockier build and a lighter-coloured coat than the others.Conversely, Canadian and American Golden Retrievershave a similar frame to each other but Canadians have a thinner coat. And a different accent when they bark, of course.

While Golden Retrievers can cope better than some breeds when left alone, they actually like nothing better than hanging out with their human family. Also, if separated from them for too long or too frequently, separation anxiety can occur –as with any breed,. This can lead to barking, howling and destructive behaviour. So, in summary, it’s best to leave your Golden Retrieveras little as possible. As with any dog, really.

Other breeds that might interest you.

Sources

1 - Veterinary Centers of America https://vcahospitals.com/ 

2 - Royal Canin Dog Encyclopaedia. Ed 2010 and 2020

3 - Banfield Pet Hospital https://www.banfield.com/

4 - Royal Canin BHN Product Book

5 - American Kennel Club https://www.akc.org/