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Explore the Breed: Golden Retrievers

Posted By SLCo Animal Services
December 10, 2021

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golden retrievers

The Golden Retriever is one of the most popular dog breeds in the United States. They make good family pets, they are kind, friendly, confident, exceptionally patient, and very intelligent and have an eagerness to please. They are active, and love to work and have a keen ability to focus on a given task.

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The Golden Retriever is a medium-large Scottish gun dog that was bred to retrieve shot upland game birds. The name “retriever” refers to the breeds ability to retrieve shot game undamaged due to their soft mouths. They have a dense, water-repellant outer coat with a thick undercoat. Some coats are wavy, some are straight. Golden Retrievers come in all shades of gold from light to dark. Some regional variations have emerged in the breed creating 3 subtypes.

British type Golden Retrievers which are prevalent in Australia and Europe. They have a broader skull and forequarters and are more muscular than other types. Their eyes are round and dark, and they can have a coat color of any shade of gold or cream.

American Golden Retrievers are lankier and less muscular than other types. Their coats are darker in color and various shades of gold.

Canadian Golden Retrievers have a thinner, darker coat and stand taller than other types.

They can be slow to mature and retain the silly and playful personality of a puppy until they are 3-4 years of age. Many will keep their puppyish traits into old age.

Golden Retrievers are often very social and do well with other dogs, cats and even livestock.

Explore the Breed

What They Need

Golden Retrievers need daily exercise and would benefit from 2 hours of exercise daily. They thrive on obedience training, love the water and do best when given a job to do. They are family dogs and want to be a part of their family’s activities.

Golden Retrievers topcoat is water-resistant and slightly wavy and sheds in small amounts all year. The undercoat is soft and keeps them cool in the summer and warm in the winter. They shed most in the spring and fall. Daily brushing and occasional baths will help remove some of loose hair from the coat but if you live with a Golden you will have to get use to dog hair. They also need to have their ears cleaned regularly to avoid ear infections.

Golden Retrievers love to eat and can quickly become overweight if overfed. Make sure to limit treats and measure your dog’s daily kibble. It is better to feed regular meals than to have their food out all the time.

Golden Retrievers excel at retrieving game for hunters, tracking, sniffing out contraband for law enforcement, and as therapy and service dogs, often they are guide dogs for the blind and hearing dogs for the deaf. They're also natural athletes and do well in dog sports such as agility and competitive obedience.

Size and Health

Males are typically 22-24 inches in height and weigh 65-75 pounds

Females are typically 20-22 inches in height and weigh 55-65 pounds.

Their average life span is 10-12 years

Goldens are generally healthy but like all breeds, they are prone to certain health conditions. Hip Dysplasia, Elbow Dysplasia, Cataracts,progressive Retinal Atrophy, Subvalvular Aortic Stenosis, Osteochondrosis Dessecans, Allergies, Von Willebrand’s Disease, Gastric Dilatation (Bloat),Epilepsy, Hyperthyroidism, Hemangiosarcoma, Osteosarcoma.

Not all Goldens will get any or all these diseases, but it is important to be aware of.


The Golden Retriever was bred in Scotland in the mid- 19th century. At that time, wildfowl hunting was a popular sport, but retriever breeds were inadequate for retrieving downed game form the water and land. Retrieving from both the water and land was necessary because hunting grounds at the time were pocketed with marshy ponds and rivers. The best water spaniels were crossed with the existing retrievers, resulting in what is now known as the Golden Retriever.

The original cross was of a yellow-colored retriever “Nous” with a Tweed Water Spaniel named “Belle”. In 1868 this cross produced a litter that included 4 pups, these 4 became the basis of a breeding program which included an Irish Setter, the sandy colored Bloodhound, and the St. Johns Water dog. The ancestry of the Golden Retriever is all sporting dogs. The Tweed Water Spaniel is now extinct.


Golden Retrievers were first accepted by The Kennel Club in the UK in 1903, as Flat Coats-Golden and in 1911 recognized as a breed referred to as a Retriever (Golden and Yellow). The breed was first registered in Canada in 1927.  It was not until 1925 that the breed was recognized in America by The American Kennel Club.

Fun Facts

FUN FACT: Golden Retrievers have webbed toes! The toes on their paws are joined together by thin webs of skin.

FUN FACT: Golden Retrievers are known for their smarts and according to one study are the 4th most intelligent breed of dog, with just the Border Collie, Poodle and German Shepherd beating them to the top spots

FUN FACT: A Golden holds the record for the loudest bark. 113.1 decibels, the loudest dog in the canine world is Charlie the Australian Golden Retriever.

FUN FACT: A Golden Retriever broke the ground for Instagram. The first image ever uploaded to Instagram was a picture of a Golden Retriever in 2010.

Credit: Wikipedia, AKC (American Kennel Club),, the happy puppy site.