Retriever, Golden

Golden Retriever

The intelligent Golden Retriever is a friendly, easily-adaptable dog with lots of playful energy. The social breed makes a wonderful family dog. The eager, alert, and confident Golden is adept as a working dog or service animal. Golden Retrievers have made appearances in numerous TV shows and movies as the friendly family pet, perpetuating their reputation as a top companion breed. Plenty of exercise is required for this high energy dog. The amiable Golden is one of the most popular dog breeds.

Other Names

Golden Retrievers are also known as Goldens.

Golden Retriever Mixes

Golden Retriever mixes are commonly available from shelters and rescues. While a Golden Retriever mix may share common physical traits and temperament with Golden Retrievers, any number of other breeds characteristics may also be present. Most shelters do not do DNA testing, so breed heritage is usually a best guess based on appearance and any information shared when the dog is surrendered.

If you want a Golden Retriever mix, contact shelters or rescue groups to let them know know you are interested in Golden mix or AKC registered Golden Retriever surrenders as the breed is popular and is often adopted quickly. It is important to note that even in an AKC registered Golden Retriever, the personality may differ from the breed standard based on their unique genetics, experiences, training, and socialization.

Common Golden Retriever mixes include Poodle, Cocker Spaniel, Boxer, Labrador Retriever, and German Shepherd.

Physical Description


The Golden Retriever's long, water-repellent coat is dense and heavy shedding, so furniture protectors or dog-proof blankets are recommended to keep your furniture clean. The fur may be wavy or straight. This breed presents varying shades of golden fur.


Average Height: 22-24 inches


Male: up to 75 pounds

Female: up to 65 pounds

Breed Standard & History

The Golden Retriever is a powerfully-built, well-balanced dog. A broad, deep skull and straight muzzle should be well defined, with rounded ears that fall close to the cheek. Kind eyes should offer an intelligent expression. The dense golden coat varies in shade and feathers at the edges. The temperament should be friendly and trustworthy, not timid or shy. – AKC Breed Standards

In the 19th century, Scottish waterfowlers crossed water spaniels with retrievers to develop the Golden Retriever breed. They were aiming for a breed with high endurance and a soft mouth. While England recognized the breeds 'Flat Coats - Golden' in 1903 and later as Golden Retriever in 1911, the first AKC registration of a Golden Retriever didn't occur until 1925. British, American, and Canadian Golden Retrievers have a few differing characteristics, though the regional differences do not affect the most recognizable features or temperament of this popular breed.

Presidents Gerald Ford and Ronald Reagan each owned Golden Retrievers while in office.

AKC Breed Category

Sporting Group


General Temperament

Well-mannered, patient, and outgoing, the Golden Retriever makes an ideal family companion. This playful breed tends to greet everyone—strangers included—with a wagging tail. They are known for their goofy, attention-seeking behaviors that delight owners and passersby alike. While the breed is highly adaptable and generally relaxed, they do not like to be left alone. They have plenty of energy and require exercise and mental stimulation to prevent destructive behaviors due to boredom.

Family Life

Are Golden Retrievers Good with Kids? This patient, kindly breed is a wonderful addition to homes with children. Their gentle way is sought after by families. They have plenty of energy, though, and may jump on or knock over small children.

Are Golden Retrievers Good with Other Pets? Golden Retrievers are friendly with dogs, cats, and other pets.


The ever-loyal Golden Retriever is known for its easygoing, friendly nature. They may bark at intruders, but they tend to lack strong guarding instincts.

Energy Levels

The athletic Golden Retriever is a medium energy dog who requires plenty of activity and exercise.

Specific Concerns

  • Craves lots of attention and may be considered 'needy'
  • Can become bored easily
  • Loves to leap, jump, and bounce
  • Needs exercise to match its abundance of energy
  • Has a strong tendency to roam
  • Known to chew and mouth both objects and people
  • Likes to retrieve and carry objects, even without permission



Golden Retrievers appreciate time indoors with family members. Energetic breeds like the Golden require regular exercise outdoors to help prevent destructive behaviors. They can adapt to life in an apartment with the appropriate amount of attention and exercise.


A thick, weather-resistant coat means the outdoors is usually a fun place for the Golden Retriever to romp. Outdoor activities are welcomed by many Goldens, but a fenced yard or leash may be required due to the breed's tendency to run or roam. This people-oriented breed should not be expected to stay outdoors alone for long periods. Try outdoor activities you can participate in together such as fetch, agility, and swimming.


The athletic, energetic Golden Retriever craves exercise and play. Their retrieving instinct makes them a wonderful partner for endless games of fetch or frisbee. Overeating and obesity can be a concern for this breed; regular exercise will help maintain a proper weight.


Golden Retrievers are known for their impressive endurance and long-lasting energy. They will tackle any activity with enthusiasm, and work until the job is done.

Activity distance rating

  • Running Miles: Healthy, well-conditioned Golden Retrievers may be able to run more than five miles.
  • Hiking Miles: Golden Retrievers may be able to put as many as 10 miles behind them on the trail—though they'll want to visit with everyone they meet on the way.


The food-motivated Golden Retriever is prone to overeating. The general recommendation for how much high-quality dry dog food (based on average weight and activity level) to feed is two to two-and-a-half cups of food per day. This amount should be split between two meals, or can be offered in a food-dispensing puzzle toy.

Golden Retrievers do not tend to guard their food, but children should never be allowed to touch or remove food while any dog is eating.

Alone Time

The family-centric Golden Retriever dislikes being left alone. While they may be left alone for a few hours during the day, this sensitive, social breed may require crate training to avoid undesirable or destructive behaviors. Golden Retrievers need exercise and time with family each day.

Health and Grooming

Life Expectancy

12-14 years


The wavy, feathered coat of the Golden Retriever requires weekly brushing and occasional baths to minimize shedding. Daily brushing may be necessary during seasonal shedding of the undercoat during fall and spring. Trimming nails regularly will help prevent painful splitting, cracking, or a broken nail.

Common Health Issues

Golden Retrievers can be prone to breed-specific health concerns, such as:

  • Hip dysplasia
  • Obesity
  • Cancer
  • Heart disease
  • Joint diseases
  • Cataracts, glaucoma, and other eye disease
  • Skin allergies

You can minimize serious health concerns in a Golden Retriever by purchasing him from a reputable breeder who engages in responsible breeding practices, and through screening for common diseases and conditions.



Golden Retrievers are eager to please and learn quickly, making them quick studies in basic obedience. They're considered an easy to train, well-behaved dog. This highly intelligent breed craves activity and attention and will work diligently to earn praise.

Advanced Training

Intelligent and hardworking, with energy to boot, the Golden Retriever is a natural agility dog. Goldens instinctually love water and often enjoy the low-impact sport of dock diving. Golden Retrievers are known to perform admirably in the obedience ring. They are favored for movies and television because of their high trainability.

The Golden Retriever is a sought after breed for assistance or service dog training, and as a working dog. Their acute sense of smell earns praise as an ideal scent dog.

Sporting Dog Training

A keen sense of smell, soft mouth, and eagerness to please puts the Golden Retriever near the top for ideal sporting dogs. Goldens love to work alongside their people and are always happy to retrieve from water or land. Originally bred as bird dogs, this sporting breed retains a love of the hunt. Even better than the sport is the time they get to spend working with their people.

Breed FAQ

Here are a few commonly asked questions about Golden Retrievers.

Explore Other Breeds

No, while both were bred as working dogs and share many qualities, they are two separate breeds with distinct characteristics.

When a Golden Retriever is born, the color they present may not be the color they keep. As a Golden matures, their coat color may change. If the puppy has color-tipped ears, the tips may be an indication of their adult coloring. Usually, the coat is lighter colored at birth than it will be after a Golden has reached maturity.

While people claim a strict pairing of purebred Golden Retrievers can produce black puppies, breeders—and the science of genetics—don't seem to agree.

A few breeders say black puppies could be the result of genes from a distant ancestor sneaking through. The claim is that a stray dominant gene may cause the Golden's black-pigment-blocking genes to turn off, thus allowing the color to present. Because part of the Golden Retriever's genetics is the gene that blocks black pigment in order to create the golden color, this theory is widely disputed.

Many others insist a black Golden Retriever must be the result of an unintended breeding or even a case of mistaken identity—perhaps the dog bred was a Flat-Coated Retriever instead. Any way you shake it, a black dog—no matter how much it looked like a Golden Retriever—could not be registered as such by the AKC.

There is a gene mutation that may cause black splotches to appear on a Golden Retriever. This somatic mutation is not genetic and won't pass to future generations.

While some breeders are working to develop a miniature Golden Retriever—a hybrid of Golden Retriever, Cocker Spaniel, and Poodle—this breed is not recognized by the AKC. 'Designer' breeding such as this is how breeds are established, so in time this hybrid may have a breed standard of its own.