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Golden Retriever

General Description:

The Golden Retriever, with its intelligence and eager to please attitude, is one of the most popular breeds in the United States. The working ability that has made the Golden Retriever such a useful hunting companion also makes him an ideal guide, assistance and search and rescue dog. The golden-colored coat is the hallmark of this versatile breed, and can range from light to dark gold.

A Look Back

The Golden Retriever originated in the Scottish Highlands in the late 1800s and was used predominantly for hunting. The breed was developed by Lord Tweedmouth, whose goal was to create a superb retriever suited to the Scottish climate, terrain and available game. He crossed his original "Yellow Retriever" with the Tweed Water Spaniel (now extinct) found on his estate. Later integrations of Irish setter, Bloodhound, and more Tweed Water Spaniel produced the retriever we know today.


Medium to large-sized dogs. The breed standard is 23"–24" in height for males, 21 1/2"–22 1/2" in height for females, and weight 65–75 pounds for males, and 55–65 pounds for females. In our experience with Rescue Goldens, males can range between 23"–26" at the shoulder and weigh between 75–105 pounds. Females can stand between 21"–23" and weigh between 55–85 pounds.


Rich, lustrous golden of various shades. Feathering may be lighter than rest of coat.

Energy Level:

Goldens need to have hard, consistent exercise daily (20-30 minutes twice a day) or they may have trouble adjusting to the calm house-pet role expected by most owners. Dogs will not exercise by themselves. Their owners must interact with them. Goldens that do not get enough exercise can exhibit behavior problems such as inappropriate chewing, excessive barking, unruly behavior, and digging. Fenced areas for safe exercise are a must! Senior Goldens also require daily walks and playtime in order to stay healthy.

Life expectancy:

Goldens have an average life span of twelve to thirteen years although fifteen year–olds are not unknown. Consider what your plans might be in five to twelve years. Will you still welcome the responsibility of a highly social dog when you have a family, go back to work, have an “empty nest” when the kids go to college or when you retire and want to travel?


Golden Retrievers are by definition friendly, reliable and trustworthy with children. However, the majority of rescue Goldens should be considered “a breed apart” from Goldens who have lived in loving homes from puppyhood. Most rescue Goldens come to us requiring special care, attention and training. Small children, many at a dog’s eye level, see a Golden as a play partner or a stuffed animal. The quick movements of a young child and their loud noises can become too much for these rescue Goldens, which has led to injury to the children. Therefore we highly recommend that if potential adopters have children in the home, that the children are above the age of five years old.

Other animals:

Golden Retrievers typically get along well with other dogs, and also have been known to tolerate other animals well. However these dogs were originally bred to retrieve fowl, so livestock may present an issue.


Golden Retrievers are people-pleasers and are known for being highly trainable. They typically excel in performance sports such as agility, obedience, weight pull, tracking, fly-ball).


Goldens have long, beautiful coats that shed at least twice a year. Regular brushing and professional grooming can keep the amount of hair loss to a minimum; however, you will always have some dog hair on furniture, rugs, clothing, and occasionally, in your food!


Feeding one medium-sized dog for a year will cost about $300–400. Routine veterinary expenses run between $200– 300 a year. Goldens, like all breeds, have certain hereditary conditions. They are prone to skin allergies, hot spots, and ear infections, and occasionally have hypothyroidism (underproduction by the thyroid gland which is easily treated with daily oral medication) or hip and eye problems. Though many expenses are hidden in the grocery bill (food, dishes, leashes, collars, brushes, shampoos, toys, etc.), they do affect the family budget!

Best with:

Goldens are outgoing “people” dogs. They need to be with, around, near, on the lap, or underfoot of humans, because they thrive on love and attention. In second-hand Goldens these traits are often exaggerated. Goldens cannot be maintained as outside-dogs, they are indoor companions. Consider your lifestyle and household schedule—do you travel a lot, do you work long hours, are you busy with your children’s activities? In other words, do you have time to give the love and attention a Golden needs?

Not for:

People looking for an independent dog with little exercise or attention needs.


Friendly, highly trainable, loving, loyal, fun-loving


Lots of shedding, potential health issues, high exercise needs, needy

Further Information:

AKC website
Is a Golden Retriever the Right Dog for You?
Golden Rescue

Breed Details

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