Golden Retriever Temperament: What's Good About 'Em, What's Bad About 'Em
Golden Retriever Temperament, Personality, Behavior, Traits, and Characteristics, by Michele Welton. Copyright © 2000-2018
The Golden Retriever's kindly expression says it all. This is one of the finest family dogs in the world: cheerful, demonstrative, trustworthy with everyone, and forgiving of any mistakes made by inexperienced owners.
Give this breed two brisk walks each day, play fetch games, and take him out for a good run once a week, and he is adaptable to almost any lifestyle.
Friendly with everyone (strangers, children, dogs, cats, smaller pets), his bark is welcoming rather than protective.
You must control his tendency to chew on objects and to mouth your hands -- provide a box filled with toys so he can carry things around in his mouth.
A Golden Retriever remains enthusiastically puppy-like for many years, so early obedience training is required to instill calmness and good manners.
Eager to please and wonderfully responsive, he is nonetheless distracted by exciting sights and sounds, so you must be both patient and persistent.
The mind and heart of a Golden is sweet and gentle, but his body is robust -- until he's taught not to pull on the leash, you'll need good biceps to walk him.
If you want a dog who...
- Is large, athletic, and natural-looking
- Has a pretty feathered coat
- Has a cheerful, tail-wagging nature
- Is steady-tempered and dependable with everyone
- Is peaceful with other animals
- Is eager to please and very responsive to training
A Golden Retriever may be right for you.
If you don't want to deal with...
- Providing a goodly amount of exercise
- Exuberant jumping, especially when young
- Mouthiness -- chewing on things, carrying things around
- Regular brushing and combing to avoid mats and tangles
- Heavy shedding
- A distinctive doggy odor
- Concerns about a multitude of serious health problems
A Golden Retriever may not be right for you.
Keep in mind that the inheritance of temperament is less predictable than the inheritance of physical traits such as size or shedding. Temperament and behavior are also shaped by raising and training.
- You can avoid some negative traits by choosing an ADULT dog from an animal shelter or rescue group. With an adult dog, you can easily see what you're getting, and plenty of adult Golden Retrievers have already proven themselves not to have negative characteristics.
- If you want a puppy, you can avoid some negative traits by choosing the right breeder and the right puppy. Unfortunately, you usually can't tell whether a puppy has inherited temperament or health problems until he grows up.
- Finally, you can avoid some negative traits by training your Golden Retriever to respect you and by following the 11-step care program in my book, 11 Things You Must Do Right To Keep Your Dog Healthy and Happy.
More traits and characteristics of Golden Retrievers
If I was considering a Golden Retriever, I would be most concerned about...
- High energy when young. Young Golden Retrievers (up to two or three years old) romp and jump with vigor. They don't mean any harm but things can go flying – including people who are not steady on their feet. If you have toddlers, or if you or anyone who lives with you is infirm, consider adopting an adult Golden Retriever from a rescue group. Adults have a wonderfully settled temperament and you can specifically look for a calm one.
- Providing enough exercise and mental stimulation. Golden Retrievers were developed to be hunting dogs, which mean they are athletic and smart dogs. They need regular opportunities to vent their energy and do interesting things. You can't just let them in and out of the back yard and think that qualifies! They will become bored – which they may express by becoming rambunctious and destructive.
You can control your Golden Retriever's bounciness AND keep him mentally stimulated by enrolling him in ongoing agility classes (an obstacle course for dogs). Also follow the training program in my book Teach Your Dog 100 English Words, which includes lots of fun exercises for your Golden.
- Shedding and doggy odor. Golden Retrievers are heavy shedders – you need to be okay with this reality. You'll find a lot of hair on your clothing and furniture. Golden Retrievers also have a noticeable doggy odor and produce a lot of dander. Not the breed for anyone with any type of allergies!
- Grooming. Some Golden Retrievers have a medium-length coat that's not difficult to groom, while others have a heavier coat with lots of feathering. These latter dogs need regular grooming to comb out tangles before they become painful mats. Goldens also need occasional clippering and scissoring, especially around their "bathroom parts" in order for those to remain sanitary.
- Serious health problems. Unfortunately, the Golden Retriever has lots and lots of potential health problems. Many Goldens do live to 12 or 13 years old, but they're not necessarily healthy during those years; chronic health issues can really take their toll. Many other Goldens are lost at age 6 or 7 or 8, to crippling joint and bone diseases, heart disease, epilepsy, or cancer. Golden Retrievers should not be fed a kibble diet, as this can cause (or worsen) skin disorders and allergies, which are all too common. I recommend feeding a homemade diet of real meat and vegetables and absolutely no grain. Read more about Golden Retriever Health.
To help you train and care for your dog
Dog training videos. Sometimes it's easier to train your puppy (or adult dog) when you can see the correct training techniques in action.
The problem is that most dog training videos on the internet are worthless, because they use the wrong training method. I recommend these dog training videos that are based on respect and leadership.
To learn more about training your dog to be calm and well-behaved, my dog training book is Teach Your Dog 100 English Words. It's a unique Vocabulary and Respect Training Program that will teach your dog to listen to you and do whatever you ask.
My dog buying guide, Dog Quest: Find The Dog Of Your Dreams, will teach you everything you need to know about finding a good-tempered, healthy dog.
My dog health care book, 11 Things You Must Do Right To Keep Your Dog Healthy and Happy, shows you how to help your dog live a longer life while avoiding health problems and unnecessary veterinary expenses.