Golden Retriever Dog Breed Information – 14 Things to Know

Golden Retrievers are among the most beautiful, popular, and instantly recognizable dog breeds in the world.

Known for its sweet nature and charming personality, this dog breed has been sought after in America for almost a century. But what do you really know about the breed? Is it right for you when you consider your family and your living arrangements?

Read on to find out more about this fantastic dog breed, what makes it so popular, and if the Golden Retriever is the right dog breed for you.


Golden Retriever Dog Breed Information

  • Height: 21 to 24 inches
  • Weight: 55 to 75 pounds
  • Life Span: 11 to 15 years
  • Energy Level: Moderate
  • Eager to please, good search and rescue dogs. Goldens love water
  • Common Health Problems / Health Concerns: Ear infections, Elbow and Hip Dysplasia
  • Recognized by the American Kennel Club and Golden Retriever Club of America

Golden Retrievers are the third most popular breed on the AKC listing.

They’ve held that spot on the listing for years with no sign of change. They’re popular because they appeal to different people. Hunters love them for practical purposes, for the breed’s ability to track and retrieve game. People who show dogs love them because of their gorgeous appearance, easy temperament, and how trainable they are for different competitions. And they’re beloved by regular dog lovers because of their happy-go-lucky personality and their gentle way with all people.

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Finn is a young Golden Retriever puppy. He’s just a few months old, and he’s already learning basic obedience commands. His owner would like to train him to be a therapy dog when he is older, so she has started young.

Purchasing a Golden Retriever puppy can be expensive.

If you’re interested in purchasing a GR puppy, be aware that they can be quite expensive. AKC Puppyfinder will link you with notable breeders, and puppies available range anywhere from $1,600-$2,000. One breeder notes simply that “Priceless is not free,” meaning you’ll probably pay a good amount for one of their puppies, but in their estimation, it’s worth it because of how great the dogs are.

And you will be getting an excellent dog for that money. Golden Retrievers are a good size, with males topping out at 24” tall and 75 pounds, and females at 22.5” and 65 pounds. Their life expectancy is 10-12 years.

A Golden Retriever’s coat is a thing of beauty.

The fur on this breed is stunning, and also manages to serve a purpose. It has three breed standard colors – dark golden, golden, and light golden – and its fur is a dense, double coat that is water-repellant for all the times it retrieves hunted fowl from the water. The breed does shed heavily in fall and winter, and will require a daily brushing during those times to keep the fur under control. During the rest of the year, this dog is low maintenance, only requiring a weekly brush and occasional bath.

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This is the characteristically thick coat that is classic of a Golden. Note just how dense the fur is and fluffy it makes the dog appear.

There are some health concerns to watch for in the Golden Retriever breed.

Of utmost concern recently is the connection between a dog’s diet and its development of heart disease. Some dog foods that are rich in legumes have been connected to higher instances of dogs developing heart disease. For reasons that are currently unknown, Golden Retrievers seem to be more affected by that connection than other breed and have a higher risk of developing heart failure or dying due to eating the wrong foods. Talk with your vet before you buy your dog food to make sure your dog is getting the right amount of protein and nutrients without causing bodily harm.

Secondary to that, there are other tests recommended for this breed. They should undergo hip, elbow, and eye testing to make sure that everything is normal. See the breed’s official health statement for more information.

The Golden Retriever has a winning temperament.

The Golden Retriever’s desire to please is almost legendary. Because of that in combination with the dog’s natural intelligence and outgoing nature, GRs are easy to train. They maintain a puppy-like spirit and playfulness well into adulthood, long past when other breeds have shed their puppy energy and enthusiasm. They are affectionate but not overprotective, and are a good size but not overbearing.

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Finn chases after a ball in his backyard. He’s clearly bounding after it and is almost hyper-focused on getting it so that he can joyfully bring it back to his owner.

The Golden Retriever makes great service dogs.

Largely because of their temperament, Goldens make fantastic service dogs. They are also used because they love to be used and given tasks to do. Primarily due to their hunting background, these dogs have the strength to carry out the physical duties that some service dogs are required to do, but they never use that strength to harm people. They’ve long been used as seeing eye dogs for blind people, drug detection dogs for police forces, and therapy dogs in all sorts of settings.

The Golden Retriever can be mouthy, but is very gentle.

Goldens like to have something to do with their mouths at all times, so they are prone to carrying toys or balls all around the house. Some even hold their own leash while they take a walk. One GR named Augie holds the Guinness Book of World Records title for most tennis balls in her mouth at one time. She can pick up and hold an astonishing five tennis balls.

But just because they like to have something in their mouths doesn’t mean they’re going to chew it to smithereens. Just the opposite is true, in fact. Golden Retrievers are so gentle that they can actually hold a raw egg in their mouths without cracking it. After a teenager in Michigan posted a video online of a relative’s dog completing the challenge successfully, trying this out became the latest internet craze. It got so big that vets finally had to speak out against it in news articles, citing the dangers that might happen if your dog failed and ingested raw egg and shell.

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A Golden Retriever is seen carrying a stuffed toy down a street. Some members of this breed have an oral fixation issue that means they like to hold something in their mouths at all times. 

We have a man named Dudley Marjoribanks to thank for the Golden Retriever.

Marjoribanks was also known as Lord Tweetmouth. During the reign of noted dog-lover Queen Victoria,  Lord Tweedmouth decided to create the quintessential gun dog, another name for a hunting dog who tracks and retrieves game. He spent 50 years, from 1840-1890, perfecting his new breed. They were a mix of Yellow Retriever with the Tweed Water Spaniel (now extinct), along with the Irish Setter and the Bloodhound. The result was a dog whose coat was ideal for river retrievals and whose body was built to endure the rugged terrain. After he was finished, there was minimal tweaking to the breed, and for the most part, today’s Golden Retriever very much resembles Marjoribanks’ creation.

The Golden Retriever was introduced in America in the early 1900s.

After Marjoribanks had perfected the breed, they were slowly introduced to the rest of the world around 1908. Shortly after that, they made their way to the United States by way of Canada. However, it would take them another 17 years, until 1925, to be formally recognized by the AKC.

The Golden Retriever loves kids, other dogs, and (usually) cats.

Golden Retrievers really were born to love, and that love extends to just about every other living creature. Because of their gentle nature, they are one of the better breeds to be around children. They get along great with other dogs, and most other cats. You do want to keep an eye on them around cats and smaller pets initially, keeping in mind that they were originally bred to be hunters. But most do get along great with just about everyone and everything.

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Finn has an elementary-aged human brother who is very hands-on with him and who helps with training him and caring for him. They get along great, and the boy loves teaching his dog new things.

Golden Retrievers aren’t good watchdogs.

They will bark at strangers, although not excessively, but their first priority with humans is to kiss them and greet them exuberantly. They’re more likely to jump up and lick someone than they are to growl and chase away a potential prowler. They’re not interested in warning you that someone is coming for protection purposes, but rather more to let you know that someone they think is a new friend is coming up to the door.

The Golden Retriever does not do well in apartments.

While it’s true that any dog can learn to adapt, as we’ve shown, this is a breed that loves its exercise. The Golden Retriever needs to run and play several times a day to get all of its energy out. If it’s cooped up in an apartment for most of the day, it’s highly likely that the dog will turn that restless energy into destructive behavior.

Finn needs a lot of playtime, and one of his favorite things to do is chase a ball that his family throws for him. Golden Retrievers love this ball launcher because they can control how hard they throw it and how far it goes, therefore controlling how much running Finn does.

The Golden Retriever has never won Best in Show at Westminster.

Despite their quick-to-please personality and their immense and ongoing popularity, Golden Retrievers are on the formidable list of dogs who have never won Best in Show at Westminster. Golden Retrievers are in good company as that list also includes other favorite breeds like the Labrador Retriever, the French Bulldog, and the Great Dane. The closest they came was winning Best in Sporting Group in 2006, and they were won the title of AKC Obedience Champs for the first three years of that competition.

American presidents helped boost the breed’s popularity.

Gerald Ford owned a GR named Liberty, who had her run of the White House. During Ford’s presidency, Liberty gave birth to a litter, and Ford’s family decided to keep one of the pups. They named her Misty. When he was elected, Ronald Reagan brought his Golden Retriever Victory to live at the White House. Other famous non-presidential Goldens who helped to give the breed mainstream superstardom were “Bud” from the Air Bud movie franchise, “Comet” from TV’s Full House series, and Tonight Show host Jimmy Fallon’s female GR Gary.

The Golden Retriever’s status as a beloved dog is hard-earned and well-deserved. If this is the right breed for you and you decide to adopt one, you’ll have a best friend – and maybe a shadow – for the rest of its life with Golden Retrievers.

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