things to know before getting a Golden Retriever

12 Things to Know Before Getting a Golden Retriever

It’s not difficult to fall in love with the Golden Retriever breed. It’s the total package: affectionate, gentle, friendly, and intelligent. But before you contact a breeder, there are some things to know before getting a Golden Retriever.

As with any dog, there are pros and cons to bringing home a Goldie. This canine is large, and they have a fair share of potential health problems as well.

To help you weigh if this is the right breed for you, it’s important to note the following aspects:

1. Golden Retrievers are intense shedders

things to know before getting a Golden Retriever

The very first thing aspiring Goldie owners should know is that this breed sheds, A LOT. Golden Retrievers shed all year long, with heavy shedding occurring before winter and summer. This is to prepare their coat for the extreme temperature changes.

If you’re a reluctant cleaner, a Golden Retriever dog may not be a wise choice. This is the same if you live with someone who has a dander allergy.

Expect furballs around your furniture and on almost every fabric surface in your home. You’ll finally understand why lint rollers are sold in bulk.

Take note that there’s no way to stop a Goldie from shedding. It’s also not a good idea to shave them clean because this will ruin their coat and mess with their normal body temperature regulation.

Does this sound reasonable to you? If so, it’s time to consider the next point. 

2. Golden Retrievers are prone to separation anxiety

One of the biggest deal-breakers for many aspiring Goldie owners is the fact that this breed isn’t for busy people.

If you live alone and work long hours, a Golden Retriever isn’t the best choice for you. Unless you can find a pet sitter or afford a second companion dog, you should think this over carefully.

Golden Retrievers are bred as companion dogs to hunters. When they got domesticated, they retained this dependence on human interaction. When you leave them alone for long, Goldies will become anxious, notorious barkers, and aggressive chewers.

Take note that separation anxiety affects 20% to 40% of all dogs. Some of the symptoms are accidents despite being housetrained, howling and barking, escaping, chewing, and eating their feces. These conditions just get worse the longer you subject your Goldie to solitary confinement.

Proper training and desensitization will surely go a long way for Golden Retrievers. Still, it’s best to keep them accompanied as much as possible.

You wouldn’t want to go home to a shredded couch. Trust me, you won’t.

3. Golden Retrievers are NOT apartment dogs.

things to know before getting a Golden Retriever

Are you living in an apartment? If yes, a Golden Retriever may not be the right choice for you. 

This breed isn’t known as an apartment dog. They are quite energetic, and their large size will consume a lot of space. Aside from that, they need a large yard where they can play and expel their extra energy.

While some Golden Retrievers can adapt to apartment living, it takes a lot of training and massive lifestyle changes. Also, not all Golden Retrievers will respond positively to apartment living.

If you’re keen to raise a Golden Retriever in an apartment setting, you have to schedule multiple walks each day. You also have to provide enough mental stimulation to compensate for the lack of space for playing.

Aside from that, you should expect your Goldie to occupy a lot of space and topple things around. Their tails are quite powerful, too, especially when they are excited.

4. Golden Retrievers are high maintenance.

Grooming and raising a Golden Retriever isn’t a walk in the park. This breed is high maintenance and will require a lot of attention.

As I mentioned earlier, Goldies are heavy shedders. They also have double coats, so you have to brush them daily to keep their fur clean.

Also, Goldies need a lot of exercise and playtime to stay happy. You also have to take them to the vet for regular checks as this breed is quite prone to several health problems. This includes hip dysplasia, joint issues, skin infections, and cataracts.

Nevertheless, you can reduce your Golden Retriever’s maintenance needs by getting a puppy from a reputable breeder. This way, you’re sure that the dog has undergone rigorous testing to prove that it’s free of life-threatening and congenital conditions.

5. Golden Retrievers are energetic.

things to know before getting a Golden Retriever

Golden Retrievers are far from couch potatoes. They love running around, chasing, and playing every chance they get. This isn’t surprising considering their large size and affinity for the outdoors.

However, this means you’re obliged to give them the physical activities they need. You need to take a Goldie on long walks every day, aside from daily mental stimulations at home.

Take note that failing to provide ample exercise to a Golden Retriever will lead to behavioral problems. We’ve noticed that Goldies kept indoors without exercise become aggressive chewers and barkers. These Goldies also get overexcited easily since they aren’t fully desensitized to various outdoor stimuli.

6. Golden Retrievers love fetching (everything!)

True to their names, Golden Retrievers love fetching and retrieving just about anything they can get their mouths on. Don’t be surprised if your doggo will go home carrying a large branch or someone else’s shoes.

Goldies will keep on retrieving inside the house and hiding socks, shoes, slippers, and other random things. We have a friend whose Golden Retriever will steal valuables like wristwatches, wallets, and even jewelry.

This is a hard-wired instinct among Golden Retrievers. They were bred to retrieve waterfowl for hunters, which explains their love of water and fetching things.

If you don’t like finding your stuff in the mouth of a Goldie, you should think twice before getting this breed. The good news is that Goldies are quite easy to train out of obsessive fetching, but you simply can’t fully suppress the urge.

7. Golden Retrievers are prone to ear infections.

Since Golden Retrievers love soaking and playing on the water, they become prone to ear infections. Such infections occur when moisture gets trapped inside the ear canal. It will then harbor bacteria and dirt, resulting in a massive ear infection.

Regular ear cleaning is very important to all dogs, but you may need to perform it more frequently if you have a Golden Retriever. Also, you have to dedicate some time to check your dog’s ears for other problems like ear mites.

Whenever your Goldie dips in the water, you have to rinse and dry it off right away. You should also get their ear hair trimmed to prevent dirt from sticking on it.

8. Golden Retrievers have a massive appetite.

Goldies have an insatiable appetite, which is why they are prone to obesity. Portion control is very important to this breed to prevent excessive weight gain.

Also, you should hide their food supply because this doggo is quite a clever one. They can steal treats if you leave them in the open or inside an unlocked cabinet.

A complete and balanced diet is also a must for Golden Retrievers. You literally have to invest a few more bucks to get high-quality food for this large breed. Otherwise, their coat will become dull, and their fur may fall off.

9. Golden Retrievers love mud and water.

Golden Retrievers aren’t filthy dogs, but they just love rolling in the mud. If they can’t find water, they will look for mud instead. God forbid you left your doors open for them to run inside afterward.

Rolling in the mud is more than just a way of cooling their bodies. Golden Retrievers do this to hide their scent, so they can sneak into a prey without being detected. Goldies learned this tactic as hunter companions in the past.

Aside from that, the scorching heat of the summer will take its toll on your Goldie. With that, a nice roll in the mud would help cool down their bodies wrapped in a thick coat of fur.

10. Golden Retrievers are not aware of their size.

Despite their large size, Golden Retrievers think that they are lap dogs. They will try to sit their 50 to 65 lbs. of body weight on your lap to get pets and hugs. Also, this dog matures slowly, so expect them to be puppy-ish until the age of two.

With this nature, it’s not a good idea to get a Golden Retriever used to sleep in your bed. Goldies grow big fast, and by the time they reach a year old, these doggos would be stealing the bed from you.

Also, imagine a large dog zooming at you with full enthusiasm and speed. They can easily topple a toddler even if the dog didn’t mean to.

11. Golden Retrievers love digging.


Do you have a beautiful flower bed? That may not be the case once you bring home a Golden Retriever. Due to their hunting and retrieving instincts, Goldies love digging.

Golden Retrievers were also trained for rescuing small animals and humans. This task entails digging through rubble, snow, and soil. Over time, it got ingrained in their genes. So even if you don’t train your Goldie to dig, it will do so any chance it gets.

You can reduce a Golden Retriever’s obsessive digging by giving it enough exercise. However, it doesn’t guarantee that you won’t find a hole in your garden. Aside from that, this dog loves rolling and sitting on flower beds.

12. Golden Retrievers are lousy guard dogs.

If you’re looking for a guard dog, you have to consider other breeds. Golden Retrievers are super friendly, even to strangers. They will wag their tails to an intruder instead of barking or fighting back.

This personality is both a gift and a curse for pet owners. In a public place, Goldies are charmers because they love the attention and pets they get.

But in terms of home protection, you can rely on them to be watchdogs. Besides, they weren’t bred to be one.

Nevertheless, you can train your Golden Retriever whenever someone approaches the door. However, they are not the best pick for chasing intruders or attacking criminals.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What is bad about Golden Retrievers?

A: Like any dog, Golden Retrievers have a share of health problems like orthopedic problems, hypothyroidism, allergies, and skin problems. Nevertheless, any dog can experience these health issues. It can also be prevented by getting a puppy from a legitimate breeder.

Q: Why you shouldn’t get a Golden Retriever?

A: You shouldn’t get a Golden Retriever if you’re looking for an outdoor dog. Also, this breed isn’t the best choice if you’re planning to leave the dog alone at home for multiple hours. And if you can’t put up with high maintenance, you should consider non-shedding breeds instead.

Q: Do Golden Retrievers pick a favorite person?

A: Golden Retrievers tend to run favorites among household members. They gravitate toward the person they feel more bonded to. It’s usually the person who feeds them and spends a lot of time with them.

Q: Can Golden Retrievers be aggressive?

A: While Golden Retrievers are known for their sweet and affectionate nature, poor training and lack of socialization will make them aggressive. Abuse and negligent owners will also fuel this problem. This is why you should ensure that you’re ready for a Goldie before getting one.

Q: Can Golden Retrievers protect you?

A: Golden Retrievers can be protective, but don’t expect them to become reliable guard dogs. This breed is produced to become companions and working canines. Despite their long list of abilities, being a dedicated guard dog isn’t one of them.

Final words

These things to know before getting a Golden Retriever will help set realistic expectations for this breed. While it’s true that Golden Retrievers are ideal for first-time dog owners, they still come with responsibilities. You have to ensure that you’re truly prepared for a dog before deciding to get this pup.

Do you have a Golden Retriever? How’s your experience so far? Share it with us in the comment section below!

About Tom Thorpe

Tom Thorpe has overtime interacted with different species of dogs mostly through breeding and training; according to him, man’s best friend is yet to find solace in the company of man, as they are continuously mistreated. He, therefore, runs a rescue center that provides shelter to stray dogs, and has been advocating for the rights of animals; the Golden Retriever dogs are among his favorites, the reason he came up with the extensive excerpts to help educate the society on the right treatment and care of the respective breed. Tom spends most of his time running his dog shelter; he is a husband and proud father of two boys and loves to go fishing during his free time.

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