Your Purebred Puppy, Honest Advice About Dogs and Dog Breeds

Questions and answers about Golden Retriever temperament, personality, behavior, physical traits and characteristics, feeding, health care, buying, adoption, puppies and adult dogs.

Golden Retriever dog breed

Golden Retriever FAQ: Frequently Asked Questions About Golden Retriever Dogs

By Michele Welton. Copyright © 2000-2014



How big are Golden Retrievers?

About 21-24 inches at the shoulder, with males usually in the higher half of that range, and females usually in the lower half. Weight can be as low as 55 pounds, but is usually 60-75 pounds. However, there are many oversized Goldens, with some individuals topping 90 pounds. Unfortunately, this heavier weight isn't good for their joints.




Where does the Golden Retriever come from, and why was the breed developed?

He was developed in England and Scotland as both a land hunter and a water retriever (retrieving shot ducks from the water).




What kind of temperament and personality does the Golden Retriever have?

To get an idea of what a breed might be like, always look at what he was developed to do (see the question above). Many of the Golden Retriever's characteristics -- his strong body, his energy level and enthusiasm, his love of swimming and retrieving, his strong desire to carry things around in his mouth -- are hardwired into his genes, because they were needed for a retriever to do his work.

I give you my honest opinions about Golden Retriever temperament and personality -- positives AND negatives -- in my dog breed review, Golden Retriever Temperament (What's Good About 'Em, What's Bad About 'Em).




Can Golden Retrievers be any color other than golden? I've seen some reddish ones.

Golden Retrievers come in only one color, but the shade of their coat ranges from reddish (like an Irish Setter) to medium gold to pale cream to nearly white. It's all the same breed, and no shade is more desirable than another.

Golden Retrievers do tend to turn white around their muzzle at a fairly young age -- this is normal for the breed.

During the winter, some Golden Retrievers will lose pigment on their nose, which turns pinkish. This is a harmless and temporary condition referred to as "snow nose."




How much grooming do Golden Retrievers need?

Their silky feathering needs to be kept combed to avoid mats and tangles, which can be quite painful, as they pull on your dog's skin whenever he moves. The worst places for mats and tangles are behind their ears, behind their front legs (in their "armpits"), and on their chest, stomach, and groin. Their legs and paws also need to be kept combed, and their tail. The rest of their body can just be brushed.

Several times a year, their feathering should be trimmed short to make it easier to comb. You can do this yourself, or have a professional groomer do it.

During shedding season (see the next question), you should brush your Golden Retriever every day to pull out the worst of the dead hair so less of it ends up on your floor and furniture.




How much do Golden Retrievers shed?

Golden Retrievers shed quite heavily. They shed some hairs here and there throughout the year, with the bulk of their shedding occurring twice a year, for three weeks in the spring as their winter coat switches over to a cooler summer coat, and three weeks in the fall as their summer coat switches over to a thicker winter coat.




Do Golden Retrievers have a doggy odor?

Yes, definitely, and it can be quite strong.




Are there different builds in Golden Retrievers? My brother has a hunting Golden Retriever, which looks different than the Goldens on the Westminster Kennel Club dog show.

Yes, breeders who show their dogs in the conformation ring produce Golden Retrievers who look quite different from the Golden Retrievers produced by breeders who specialize in hunting and field trials. Golden Retrievers from show lines are stockier and heavier-boned, with a large blocky head and dense coat. Hunting/field lines are lankier, more athletic and agile, and more energetic, with a narrower head, longer muzzle, and shorter coat.




How long do Golden Retrievers live, and what health problems do they have?

Typically 10-12 years. Some reach 13-14 years . . . but many others don't even make it to age 10. This is a sobering reality, and you should definitely read my full article, How Long Do Golden Retrievers Live?




Do crossbred or mixed breed Goldens make good pets? What about "Goldendoodles"?

They do make good pets, yes, but first you need to know what a purebred dog really is -- and what crossbred and mixed breed dogs really are. You might think you know, but I bet you'll be surprised by my articles: The Truth About Purebred Dogs, The Truth About Crossbred Dogs, and The Truth About Mixed Breed Dogs.




Can you help me decide whether the Golden Retriever is the best breed for me?

Yes, I offer personal consultations on choosing the best breed for your family and lifestyle. Learn more about my Dog Breed Consulting Service.




Do male dogs or female dogs make better pets?

Ah, let the debate begin! Honestly, male Golden Retrievers have pros and cons, and female Golden Retrievers have pros and cons. Visit Male Dogs versus Female Dogs




If I just want a dog for a pet, not for showing or breeding, does it matter whether he has AKC registration papers?

First you need to know what registration papers really mean -- and don't mean. You might THINK you know -- but you might be wrong! Find out the truth about AKC Registered Puppies: Are AKC Papers Important?.




There's an adorable Golden Retriever puppy at the pet shop. The store manager assures me they only buy from responsible breeders. Could this be true?

No. There are no responsible Golden Retriever breeders who would ever place one of their Golden Retriever puppies in a pet shop for resale. To find out more about pet shop puppies, visit Pet Shop Puppies: Buying a Puppy From a Pet Store.




How do I find a good Golden Retriever breeder?

It's hard! The sad truth is that the vast majority of people offering Golden Retriever puppies for sale are unknowledgeable, irresponsible, completely clueless -- or all of the above. Visit Dog Breeders: How To Find a Good Breeder.




How do I pick the best Golden Retriever puppy from a litter?

You can do puppy personality tests. Visit How To Choose a Good Puppy.




I'm interested in adopting a dog rather than buying from a dog breeder. How do I find Golden Retriever dogs for adoption?

You can find Golden Retrievers available for adoption from dog rescue groups or from the animal shelter. Visit Adopting a Dog From Rescue and Adopting a Dog From The Animal Shelter.




I just got a new Golden Retriever. Which pages should I read first?

  • Golden Retriever Health, which includes my advice on feeding, vaccinations, and health care. These pages are very important, because if you start your Golden Retriever puppy off on the wrong foot, he will probably experience health problems later on. Starting off RIGHT is essential!
  • Training Golden Retrievers, which includes my advice on respect training, housebreaking, and socialization. Again, you must start your Golden Retriever puppy off on the right foot by teaching him what he needs to know and you must avoid doing the wrong things with him so that he doesn't develop bad habits that will be much harder to fix later on.



What's a good training schedule for training Golden Retriever puppies? What things should I teach, and when?

Here's the puppy training schedule I use for Golden Retrievers: Puppy Training Schedule.




How do I housebreak my Golden Retriever?

The key to housebreaking your Golden Retriever is confinement, confinement, confinement. Visit Housebreaking Your Puppy or Adult Dog.




My Golden Retriever has some behavior problems I'd like to solve.

Respect training solves behavior problems much better than obedience training. Visit Respect Training For Puppies and Adult Dogs.




What's the best dog food for Golden Retrievers?

Homemade dog food. Visit The Best Dog Food For Your Dog. If you can't feed homemade dog food, there are only a few (very few!) commercial dog food brands I recommend. Visit The Second-Best Dog Food For Your Dog.




I have to take my Golden Retriever to the vet soon for shots. Which vaccinations does he really need?

The schedule of vaccinations that dogs really need has changed dramatically -- but most vets are not telling you the truth about this! Don't let your vet give your Golden Retriever any more shots until you've read my article on Puppy Shots and Dog Vaccinations.




What are the pros and cons of spaying and neutering my Golden Retriever, and when should it be done?

Spaying and neutering are often recommended too early, which can lead to health problems later in life. Visit Spaying Your Female Dog or Neutering Your Male Dog for the straight scoop on the safest (and riskiest) times to spay or neuter.




My vet doesn't agree with some of the things you've written about health care.

That just means he belongs to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA). There are two competing veterinary organizations in the United States and they disagree on just about every aspect of canine health care. The health information on my web site comes from vets who belong to the American HOLISTIC Veterinary Medical Association (AHVMA). In my opinion, AHVMA vets are better than AVMA vets. Visit Think Your Veterinarian's Good? Here's How To Tell.




I have a question about Golden Retrievers that I don't see answered on your web site.

It's probably answered in one of my books: