BREED SPOTLIGHT

Breed Spotlight: Golden Retriever 

3 min read Dec 05, 2022

Golden Retriever: Quick Stats

Lifespan: 10 – 12 years

Weight: 55 – 75 lbs.

Height: 21 – 24 inches

Do I shed?: Yes, heavily

Personality: family-oriented, intelligent, loyal, eager to please

Common health problems: obesity, hypothyroidism, hot spots, Von Willebrand disease

Golden Retriever: How Do I Look?

Your average golden retriever stands anywhere between 21 and 24 inches at the shoulder and shouldn’t weigh more than 75 pounds.³ Their golden coats are thick and long with a cream, brownish gold, or gold coloring. Most members of this breed have a happy-go-lucky “grin” coupled with a medium tail that is covered with curly fur.  

Golden retrievers have remained one of the best dogs for families since they were first introduced to the US public in the early 1910s. Athletic, eager to please, and steadfast are some of the first things that come to mind when you see this tall, long-haired dog.

Coat type and colors

A golden retriever has a thick double coat that is medium length. Some goldens are bred for sporting so their coats may be a bit shorter compared to a show dog.³ Golden retrievers come in various shades of yellow-gold, which fades to a light, almost cream color as they age.³ You may find some mixes of golden retrievers with curly fur but this isn’t a “classic” golden retriever.

Do golden retrievers shed?

Yes, a golden’s beautiful, double coat sheds constantly. Owners of golden retrievers should expect to spend time brushing their dog at least daily or every other day to remove any excess fur. If you have allergies or are overly neat, this breed may not be for you.

Grooming

Golden retrievers need regular baths with high-quality shampoo to keep their skin and coat healthy. Experts don’t advise shaving their coats because it protects them from rain, snow, and other adverse weather.³ Use good grooming shears to keep their coat at a reasonable length to avoid matting. While you are at it, trim their nails! Their nails should be kept low to avoid injury to their legs.

Ears

Golden retrievers have medium-length ears that, when pulled forward, cover their eyes only a little bit.³ Because their ears are covered in fur, experts recommend cleaning golden retrievers’ ears weekly to prevent ear infections.

Drooling level

Golden retrievers are moderate droolers so drooling may vary dog to dog. Most goldens don’t drool unless they get excited or smell something tasty, like chicken. Pet parents should only worry if the drooling is coupled with something else like swollen gums or refusal to eat. This may be a sign of periodontal disease or a broken tooth.

Golden Retriever: Personality Traits

What My Adoption Bio Would Say:

I am looking for a good backyard and a gaggle of kids to play with. My favorite type of ball is “tennis” and I promise I’ll give it back (most of the time). If you take me home, I will spend every day making you smile.

Golden retriever temperament

Golden retrievers are extremely friendly and intelligent, so they quickly pick up on daily routines. This breed is the go-to choice for special needs families, hunting enthusiasts, and dog sports competitors. Golden retrievers keep their “puppy” stage energy into their adult years, meaning the good times will last for a long time.

Trainability

Golden retrievers are easy to train because they are extremely intelligent with an eagerness to please their pet parents. In fact, golden retrievers are effective working dogs used to hunt and track wild game (like water fowl), participate in coursing games, and act as service dogs.

This breed has a lot of energy, so obedience training is not optional. Take the time to socialize your golden early. You may want to invest in training classes to avoid mischievous behavior like pulling on their leash or not coming when their name is called.

Exercise needs

Your golden retriever will need a minimum of 60 minutes of activity per day to remain in good health and avoid behavioral issues. To help maintain your golden retriever’s weight, it’s key to keep them active.

Activity could be a combination of playing a game of fetch or going for a walk. You may need a fenced-in backyard to prevent them from running off. If you live in a townhome or apartment, it’s important to go on long walks or visit a designated dog park to keep your golden happy and fit.

Are golden retrievers good with kids?

Golden retrievers are great family dogs who love being a part of the action. They want to be with their “pack” at all times, whether that means going for a car ride or snuggling on the couch and watching television.

Are golden retrievers good with other pets?

A golden’s love of the pack will include the other pets in your family. This retriever dog has an upbeat attitude, so they shouldn't be bothered by rambunctious kittens or bossy toy dogs.

Barking level

Most golden retrievers only bark to alert their pet parents of danger (or a passing squirrel). But if barking starts to become an issue, it’s possible to train them when to bark and who to bark at.

Golden Retriever Fun Facts

You’d think golden retrievers were from the United States given how popular they are in this country. They actually aren’t American at all — in fact, they hail from Scotland! Here are some other fun facts about this golden beauty.

  • The man credited with developing the breed is Dudley Marjoribanks, Lord of Tweedmouth in the Scottish Highlands. Golden retrievers came to the Americas in the 1900s by hunters in Canada, then eventually made their way into the United States.³
  • American politicians love goldens! Some notable retrievers are President Gerald Ford’s companion, Liberty, and Senator of Massachusetts Elizabeth Warren’s dog, Bailey.
  • There are hundreds of golden retriever rescues across the country, so don’t feel compelled to spend money on a purebred dog. Adopt one instead!
  • Goldens are water spaniels who are strong swimmers. Love boating or kayaking? This may be the dog for you.

This breed has a long, storied history. You’ll see them on billboards, in viral videos, and, of course, in movies, including the Air Bud movies popular in the late ’90s and early 2000s.

Common Golden Retriever Mixes

You will be hard-pressed to find a dog the golden retriever hasn’t been mixed with! Here are some of the popular cross breeds to look for:

  • Goldendoodle: a mix between a golden retriever and a poodle
  • Golden Cocker retriever: a mix between a golden retriever and a Cocker spaniel
  • Golden shepherd: a mix between a golden retriever and a German shepherd
  • Beago: a mix between a golden retriever and a beagle
  • Golden Pitbull: a mix between a golden retriever and a pit bull

Golden Retriever Health Problems

Even though they are relatively healthy dogs, irresponsible breeding has resulted in dozens of health issues associated with golden retrievers. The American Kennel Club is a great resource to use to find reputable breeders who care about the welfare of their puppies. Here is a short list of common health issues golden retrievers may experience3,4:

Protect Your Golden Retriever With Pet Insurance  

A golden retriever’s lifespan is roughly a dozen years, which means dozens of opportunities for laughter and joy with a great friend. You’ll also spend dozens of hours with your veterinarian, so if you invest in dog insurance with MetLife Pet Insurance, you could save thousands on routine care and medications for your golden. 1,2

Hot spots

Signing up for dog insurance while your dog is young may be a good idea, especially when it comes to conditions like hot spots. Golden retrievers’ beautiful water repellent coats are prone to this acute type of dermatitis, which develops around the thickest parts of their coat, like their necks and ears.⁶ It looks like a small, red area, and it can quickly become infected if your dog starts messing with it.

Luckily, hot spots are very common and treatable. Proper grooming can keep hot spots at bay. The way pet insurance works means you could be reimbursed for any medications or shampoos your vet gives you to treat the infection. Take the time to invest in your dog's health so you can have fun well into their golden years.

Protect your Golden Retriever

Enroll in 3 Easy Steps

Nothing in this article should be construed as financial, legal, or veterinary advice. Please consult your own advisors for questions relating to your and your pet’s specific circumstances.

1 Pet Insurance offered by MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions LLC is underwritten by Independence American Insurance Company (“IAIC”), a Delaware insurance company, headquartered at 485 Madison Avenue, NY, NY 10022, and Metropolitan General Insurance Company (“MetGen”), a Rhode Island insurance company, headquartered at 700 Quaker Lane, Warwick, RI 02886, in those states where MetGen’s policies are available. MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions LLC is the policy administrator authorized by IAIC and MetGen to offer and administer pet insurance policies. MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions LLC was previously known as PetFirst Healthcare, LLC and in some states continues to operate under that name pending approval of its application for a name change. The entity may operate under an alternate, assumed, and/or fictitious name in certain jurisdictions as approved, including MetLife Pet Insurance Services LLC (New York and Minnesota), MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions Agency LLC (Illinois), and such other alternate, assumed, or fictitious names approved by certain jurisdictions.

2 Provided all terms of the policy are met. Application is subject to underwriting review and approval. Like most insurance policies, insurance policies issued by IAIC and MetGen contain certain deductibles, co-insurance, exclusions, exceptions, reductions, limitations, and terms for keeping them in force. For costs, complete details of coverage and exclusions, and a listing of approved states, please contact MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions LLC.

³ “Golden Retriever,” American Kennel Club

⁴ “About the Breed: Health & Research,” Golden Retriever Club of America

⁵ “Hypothyroidism in Golden Retrievers,” Golden Retriever Club of America

⁶ “Treating and Preventing Hot Spots on Dogs,” American Kennel Club

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