Golden Retriever Guide: A-Z Canine Breed Information
Golden Retrievers are an incredibly popular dog breed, consistently landing in the top ten most popular. They are friendly in nature, making them an ideal companion for the whole family.
Whether you’re considering adoption or purchasing from a breeder, this comprehensive Golden Retriever guide will tell you everything you need to know about your future family member. Learn training tips, general breed information, temperament, and health issues to be aware of.
A Brief History of Golden Retrievers
The Golden Retriever origin is traced back to Scotland in the 1800s. They were initially bred to help with the hunting of land and waterfowl. At the time, hunting was popular for both sport and for sustenance, so the need became prominent for a medium-sized dog that could assist in this.
A complete origin records of the Golden belonged to Dudley Majoribanks, later referred to as Lord Tweedsmouth, where he purchased the only yellow puppy in the litter of all black wavy-coated Retrievers.
This dog, named Nous, was bred with a Tweed Water Spaniel, and they had four yellow pups, which built the foundation of the breed. Lord Tweedsmouth continued breeding strategically over several generations, also including in the process Black Wavy-Coated Retrievers and a Red Setter, resulting in the Golden color and temperament known today.
The Golden Retrievers Club of America states that although Golden Retrievers were a stand-alone breed as early as 1913, the first registered Golden with the American Kennel Club was in 1925, and they slowly gained popularity until after World War II, when their popularity exploded.
Golden Retrievers are considered medium-sized canines . Here are some key stats to know:
- 21 to 24 inches tall at shoulder when fully grown
- 55 to 75 pounds when fully grown
- Average life span of 10 to 12 years
Their coats are dense and water resistant and can be wavy or straight. Their coloring can range from a light, creamy golden to a dark, coppery golden.
Owners of Golden's rave about this breed. While consistently being included in the top ten most popular dog breeds, Golden's are known for being the epitome of ‘puppy dog eyes’, their friendly and kind appearance and expression, intelligent and trustworthy nature, and being a fantastic companion for the whole family, including children and other pets.
Golden Retriever personality traits are desirable to most, which is why they remain such a popular breed. As with most breeds, Goldens do require daily exercise to keep physically and mentally fit. As puppies, they can be rambunctious and full of energy, so daily walks and runs are a must.
They are incredibly eager to please, so time spent in the company of their families is where the Golden thrives.
Goldens are a very adaptable breed and can live in almost any living situation, however, if they are not well exercised, or well trained, they can start to exhibit traits that are not common to typical Golden Retriever characteristics. It is important to start training Golden Retriever puppies as soon as they come home to instill good habits as early as possible.
A Golden Retriever is an intelligent and incredibly trainable breed. They are often trained to be guide dogs for the blind. The American Kennel Club states that obedience training is necessary for any responsible pet owner, not only to raise a respectful and socialized pet, but training also allows the bond between owner and pup to flourish.
Cost & Buying Tips
There are three common ways to purchase a puppy, and the cost of Golden Retrievers can vary drastically. Whether it’s adoption, a pet store or a reputable breeder, each method has a very different cost and comes with its own set of pros and cons.
Golden Retriever adoption generally ranges from $300-$600 depending on the fees which are unique to each agency. Almost all adoption agencies will have all health records for that puppy, ensuring a clean bill of health, or transparency about any potential concerns.
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They also generally let the prospective owner spend time with the dog before adoption to ensure they get along and they will be going to a good home. Adoption is a great way to home an older dog who has possibly endured hardships or trauma, but usually, requires a structured and proven training method to become obedient in a new family.
If the Golden is being purchased from a pet store, prices can vary from $300 - $1,000. The downside of purchasing from a pet store is that the store does not obtain or disclose is the health history or standards of the breeder.
Purchasing directly from a breeder can run up to $3,000, especially AKC certified pups. The benefit, if this price is reasonable, allows the buyer to confirm the breeder is ethical and not a puppy mill, and most likely meet the parents to ensure the puppies are as healthy as they can be.
Feeding Your Golden Retriever
The cost of feeding Golden Retrievers can run between $50-70 per month, depending on the quality of the food, how big the dog is and how much they are being fed. If the dog is kept very active, they will also require more food.
Since Golden's are prone to allergies and skin issues, it is recommended that they are fed a high-quality food, not food that can be purchased at a grocery store or discount store. This will prevent costly vet bills to treat conditions that arise from a poor diet.
Quality pet insurance is a consideration for new owners. Vet bills can be very expensive if an emergency were to arise. Pet insurance helps to alleviate the burden of emergency vet bills.
Choosing a puppy is an exciting experience. Depending on the qualities desired, spending time with each puppy before deciding on one is important. Submissive, dominate and shy puppies can be trained to exhibit different traits, but the training must be tailored to their individual personalities.
Like all dogs, Golden Retriever health issues can be both genetic and arise as they age. Responsible breeders have their dogs go through a comprehensive screening to gain clearance, specifically for eyes, hips, and heart as a bare minimum standard. The health concerns to be aware of include the following:
- Hemangiosarcoma (HSA) & Lymphoma: HSA is a cancer of the cells that line the blood vessels. Unfortunately, it affects nearly 1 in 5 Golden's at around age 10. Early detection is key to treat and save lives. Lymphoma is cancer of the Lymph nodes and is also common in older Canines.
- Regular Eye Examinations to prevent Pigmentary Uveitis: Goldens should have examinations for symptoms of PU like squinting, excess tearing, redness, cloudiness in the eyes or light sensitivity. Cataracts are also a potential issue. Some of these can be corrected with surgery, while some may result in blindness.
- Subvalvular Aortic Stenosis (SAS): This is a condition that affects the blow flow from the heart.
- Hip and Elbow Examinations: Hip and Elbow dysplasia are common, and certification is required between 18 and 24 months by the Orthopedic Foundation of Animals.
- Von Willebrand’s Disease (VWD): This is a blood disorder that prevents blood from normal clotting. This can be identified by a simple blood test.
- Hypothyroidism: This is a genetic disorder that affects the hormones, but typically can be treated with hormone therapy. This is also identified through blood testing.
- Allergies and Skin problems: The most common allergy to this breed are to fleas and their saliva. This causes inflammation, dark spots to the skin and potential fur-loss. It is also possible for them to have food allergies, and skin sensitivity to household cleaners and chemicals on their paws.
Grooming & Care
Golden Retrievers grooming requirements can be taken care of at home. They have a dense, water-repellent coat that can be straight or wavy, with feathering on the neck, back of the legs and tail. The Golden Retriever Rescue of Mid-Florida advises against shaving a Golden, as it is not good for them.
Basic grooming requirements include brushing and bathing, light trimming of hair on paws and ears, and trimming nails. It is important to introduce this to the pup as early as possible so they become used to it and not scared of it as they become full grown.
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Since Golden's were bred for hunting, they require about an hour of exercise a day. The younger the dog, the more exercise they require. Fenced yards, Dog parks or walking paths are great options to help get in all the exercise they need to be happy and fit.
Dog parks are also a fantastic method to socialize Golden's as soon as they have all their shots and are protected around a lot of other dogs.
A clean and organized space for a Golden is a must since they can be rambunctious, and have powerful tails that can clear a coffee table in one swoop. They are typically messy drinkers, slightly slobbery and want to be near their owner constantly.
Golden Retriever Training Tips
Golden Retriever training can start relatively easy since they are very intelligent dogs. It is always ideal to take obedience classes or an online course that is a more affordable solution. It is important to choose a trusted and reputable solution, as Golden's can be sensitive in training situations.
A gentle, patient, yet firm approach is best for this breed. They are eager to please and very loyal, so training sessions with a professional can help build and strengthen the bond between the Golden and the owner.
As with all dogs, crate training a Golden Retriever should start as early as possible. Crate training a full-grown dog is usually uncomfortable, stressful and they have a hard time adjusting. Crate training can be hard at first, but it is worth it for both pup and owner once they are used to it.
When introducing the Golden to their new crate, it is important to praise and treat them when they explore the crate and enter it by themselves. As a pup, they should not be left in the crate for longer than a few hours at a time.
Eventually, the crate becomes their safe space where they can go to sleep or for relaxation, and they should never be disciplined in it. It is in their nature: they instinctively search for a small, safe place that they consider their private space.
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A Life-Long Friend
A Golden Retriever is a loyal, intelligent and sensitive companion and is a breed whose popularity has withstood the test of time. They are friendly, caring, beautiful creatures and they are very bonded with their owner.
Owning a Golden is a rewarding experience. They are hard-working animals, and they are serious about their duties. With the right and consistent training, a Golden will be a fantastic lifelong, obedient friend.