Golden Retriever Overview

Dog Breed:
Golden Retriever
Breed Group:
Sporting Group
Friendly, gentle, affectionate, playful, intelligent
21.5-24 inches
55-75 pounds
Life Span:
10-12 years
Coat Colors:
Dark, Golden, Light, Cream & Red
Area of Origin:
Best For:
Families with children
Adult Food:
Best Dog Food for Golden Retrievers
Puppy Food:
Best Puppy Food for Golden Retrievers
Mixed Breeds:

Golden Retriever Characteristics

Good for First-Time Owners
Good with Children
Easy to Train
Exercise Requirements
Ease of Grooming
Amount of Shedding
Amount of Drooling
Tendency to Bark

About The Golden Retriever

  • Excellent family companion

  • Well-suited to first time dog owners

  • Temperament marked by a friendly and playful spirit


Considered to be a breed of moderate size, the Golden Retriever is a dog of solid construction. A hallmark of the breed is its thick, golden-hued coat, a characteristic reflected in the name of this beloved family dog. Golden Retrievers are well-renowned for their distinctive gait which is both effortless and efficient, assisting them in their original role as a gundog. One of the defining features of the breed is its feathered tail which moves to and fro when in motion and is indicative of the happy spirit of the Golden Retriever. 

READ NEXT: Learn About The Different Golden Retriever Coat Colors

The typical Golden Retriever’s temperament is marked by its friendly nature and willingness to work. The breed is both loyal and dependable and is easily motivated by an intense desire to please its people. The Golden Retriever could easily be described as a perennial puppy due to its penchant to frolic and play through all stages of its life. The Golden has energy to spare, making it a breed that thrives when given the opportunity to enjoy playtime in the great outdoors. 

The Golden Retriever is an excellent family companion and does best in a suburban setting with a large fenced space to enjoy. A dog originally intended to have a job, the Golden loves to retrieve; whether it is tennis balls in the yard or water birds on a hunt. 

A breed that is well-suited to first time owners, the Golden enjoys training and is naturally intelligent. Their only true dislike is too much time spent alone as the Golden Retriever is a loyal and social creature who craves time and affection from its family. 

Golden Retriever Breed History

  • Developed in Scotland during the era of Queen Victoria

  • A combination of several breeds including the Yellow Retriever, the Tweed Water Spaniel, the Irish Setter, and the Bloodhound

  • Originally intended to serve as a gundog

The Golden Retriever traces its origins to Scotland where the breed was developed during the monarchy of Queen Victoria. The gentleman responsible for the breed’s inception was Mr. Dudley Marjoribanks, a man who bore the title of Lord Tweedmouth. From 1840 through 1890, Mr. Marjoribanks carefully recorded his breeding attempts for the learning of future generations. His primary goal was the development of a dog breed that could easily withstand inclement weather conditions while still bearing the stamina to easily traverse the rough landscape of the Scottish Highlands. 

To move towards his desired result, Mr. Marjoribanks combined several different breeds. By breeding the Yellow Retriever with a now extinct dog type called the Tweed Water Spaniel and integrating the Irish Setter and Bloodhound into the lineage, Mr. Marjoribanks was able to achieve the hybrid he sought. 

Originally, the Golden Retriever was the prized companion of Scottish hunters who kept the dogs occupied on hunts. Intended to serve as gundogs, the Golden excelled at retrieving waterfowl without leaving even the tiniest trace of a toothmark in the flesh of the animal. In the early 20th century, the Golden Retriever made its way to Canada then to the United States where it was highly valued for its hunting ability and gentle, amiable personality. 

Though Golden Retrievers have always been a breed that enjoyed great popularity in the United States, it was in the 1970’s that the Golden came to the forefront of public knowledge through President Gerald Ford’s family dog named Liberty. 

Today, the Golden Retriever is happy employed as a cherished hunting dog, playing in a field, or simply curled up on the couch next to its family. Though once a dog reserved for those who enjoyed the sport of hunting, the Golden is now one of America’s most popular dog breeds and has assumed pride of place as one of the most beloved family dog types of all time. 

Golden Retriever Size & Weight

  • Males measure 23”-24” at the shoulder.

  • Females are 21.5” to 22.5” when fully grown.

  • The adult male Golden’s weight may reach 65-75 lbs with females weighing 55-65 lbs.


One of the most important characteristics of a Golden Retriever is its medium build. The average male Golden Retriever should reach a maximum height of 23”-24” at the shoulder. Females are slightly smaller at 21.5” to 22.5”. 

The breed standard for the Golden Retriever gives specific proportions which help with the achievement of a healthy, balanced dog that is built to successfully fulfil its purpose as a gundog. The desired ratio is 12:11 with the length from the forechest to the starting of the buttocks being a longer measurement than the height from the ground to the shoulder. 

Male Golden Retrievers should ideally weigh between 65 to 75 pounds. Females carry less weight at 55-65 pounds. Care should be taken to measure all food to avoid overeating which could lead to excess weight gain. 

Moderately sized dogs are slightly more expensive than smaller dog breeds as the tools needed for them are often higher priced such as dog beds, collars, leashes, and crates. Families must be prepared for the extra expenses associated with medium-sized dog breeds with moderate activity levels like the Golden Retriever.

Golden Retriever Personality & Temperament

  • An outgoing, social dog

  • Highly intelligent

  • Adapts well to new situations


The Golden Retriever has a soft, gentle spirit that makes the breed exceptionally good with children. A breed known for its natural intellect, the Golden Retriever both enjoys training and takes well to it. The Golden is an outgoing dog that enjoys social time with its family. It is also a breed that greets strangers with enthusiasm and affection. 

A breed that is renowned for its dependability, the Golden is a dog that can be trusted alone in the home. Beyond its natural playfulness, the breed is not particularly prone to mischievous behaviour. 

A Golden Retriever should never exhibit shyness or aggression. These traits are not in keeping with the true character of this beloved family breed. 

An amiable dog, the Golden is extremely affectionate, eagerly displaying its love for its family members and new people it meets. A breed that loves the company of children, integrating a Golden Retriever adult or puppy into a home with kids is a simple task so long as care is taken to teach the children how to properly approach and handle the dog. 

Golden Retrievers enjoy sharing their living space with other pets; whether they are of the feline or canine sort. To help ensure successful meetings, it is wise to introduce the Golden to its new animal family members in a neutral setting such as a quiet park where no other animals are present or a vet’s office. It is always a good idea to have the Golden meet each family member one on one before bringing the entire group together. 

An easy-going dog, the Golden adapts well to new situations. Though the breed does best when given a large fenced space to roam, the Golden will adjust to life in an apartment so long as daily walks are provided to meet the dog’s activity needs. 

Goldens bond deeply to their family but also love to meet new people. A dog that prefers social interaction, the Golden Retriever will naturally seek the company of people but is equally content at home with some toys or a bone to enjoy. 

The Golden’s thick double coat provides protection against inclement weather conditions. It is this covering that enables the dog to excel at water retrieval without succumbing to illness from the cold and damp. 

Golden Retriever Health & Grooming

  • Moderate grooming requirements

  • Sheds moderately

  • Can be prone to several health conditions


The Golden Retriever can be prone to several different health conditions. Most of the most prevalent illnesses which can affect the Golden Retriever are genetic. Testing can be performed on a prospective breeding pair to eliminate the likelihood of producing these diseases in any offspring. 

The most commonly seen health problems in Golden Retrievers are hip and elbow dysplasia, luxating patellas (slipping kneecaps), heart problems including Dilated Cardiomyopathy, issues of the eyes, Von Willebrand’s disease (lack of proper clotting of the blood), and cancer. Skin conditions can also plague the Golden, so proper coat and skin care is essential. 

Sadly, the Golden Retriever is one of the dog breeds that most often falls victim to cancer. It is one of the reasons the life expectancy is abbreviated in this active, loving breed. 

The grooming requirements of the Golden Retriever are not excessive; however, regular coat care is required to maintain healthy skin and hair. Goldens are born with a lush double coat that naturally repels water. This coat is lost several times yearly and is then replaced with new hair growth. Though the Golden does shed moderately year-round, the process is intensified when the dog is blowing coat. 

To help keep shedding to a minimum and to maintain a beautiful coat, regular brushing is required. When the dog is blowing coat, daily brushing is recommended

The Golden is not a breed whose coat attracts and retains dirt. However, baths do help to remove dead coat, reducing the amount of shedding into the home environment. Bathing can occur on an as needed basis. The coat should be blown dry following a bath. 

Regular nail and dental care should be provided to maintain optimal health. 

The Golden does have the potential to gain weight readily if daily exercise is not provided. To avoid this, experts recommend carefully measuring all food and increasing activity if necessary. At times, it may be wise to reduce meal sizes or frequency to promote the achievement and maintenance of a healthy weight. 

The Golden is not a breed that is given to much drooling. 

Golden Retriever Training

  • Easy to train

  • Learns quickly

  • Not known to be barkers


The Golden Retriever benefits from puppy socialization and organized obedience training. A breed that thrives on opportunities to work in tandem with its owner, the Golden will enjoy attending puppy classes where the occasion to learn proper canine behavior is presented and reinforced. Though formal obedience classes are not necessary, all Goldens should also learn the four basic commands: sit, stay, come, and down, as a minimum. The Golden can easily learn these few obedience cues in as little as a week so long as the behaviors are continually practiced and reinforced. 

Since Goldens are highly intelligent, they excel at such dog performance sports as tracking, scent detection, Rally, and Obedience. Any of these activities provide an excellent outlet for learning and pent-up energies. 

As with all puppies, Goldens will engage in nipping during the puppy years. This can easily be curbed through an exuberant “OUCH!” when teeth connect with skin. Alternatively, the puppy can be redirected to using its teeth on something more appropriate like a bone or toy. Mouthing or nipping typically only occurs when the puppy is teething, and its mouth is sore. Adult Goldens should never bite. 

Golden Retrievers are not known to chase prey nor are they prone to barking. The Golden is a very trustworthy dog who prefers the privacy of its own yard to wandering off in search of adventure.

Golden Retriever Exercise Requirements

  • Easy to train

  • Learns quickly

  • Not known to be barkers


A sporting dog, the Golden Retriever does best when given regular daily exercise. Goldens who do not get enough mental and physical stimulation can develop destructive behaviors. 

The Golden is well-suited to hiking, jogging, and even accompanying its owners on bike rides. To ensure the health and safety of the dog, it is best to consult with a veterinarian before committing to any regular regimen which includes strenuous exercise. 

As an average, a moderately paced walk of approximately 45 minutes in length each day is suitable to meet the Golden’s activity requirements. Exercise can also come in the form of playtime; something Goldens particularly enjoy.

Golden Retriever Diet & Feeding

  • Choose a high quality diet

  • Meal sizes vary with activity level

  • Packages provide an excellent guideline


To ensure all nutritional requirements are met, it is always an excellent idea to consult with a veterinarian or canine nutritionist to formulate a proper diet for the Golden Retriever. A moderately sized dog, the Golden Retriever must eat a high-quality diet in correct proportions to maintain the lean muscle mass that is so important to the breed. These types of diets will cost more; however, the dog will need to eat less to feel satisfied, thus maximizing the food’s value. 

Golden Retrievers that are highly active or that are employed as hunting dogs will require more food to sustain their energy levels and body condition. Puppies also have different nutritional requirements to adult dogs and typically should eat more frequent meals spread out through the day.  Since puppies are still developing, they should be fed a puppy formulation which is properly balanced to support growth. Likewise, adult Goldens should eat a food that is appropriate for their stage of life and activity level. 

The food selected for the Golden Retriever will come equipped with packaging which outlines the ideal amount for the dog’s age and weight. Since each dog is an individual, the meal size will vary according to activity level and stage of life. It is best to use the recommended serving size as a guideline and to adjust according to the hunger level and weight condition of the dog until the perfect balance is achieved. 

You may also be interested in:

Golden Retriever Rescue Groups


An extremely popular breed, Goldens for adoption can be found through a number of different reputable agencies. 

Here are a few to consider:

Golden Retriever Rescue of Fairbanks


Adopt a Golden Birmingham


Southern Arizona Golden Retriever Rescue


Southern California Golden Retriever Rescue


Yankee Golden Retriever Rescue


Land of Pure Gold