Should I Get a Golden Retriever? What You Need to Know

should i get a golden retriever

Golden Retrievers are the third most popular and fourth most intelligent breed of dog in the United States. It’s very likely that you know someone that has one or had one and simply raves about how intelligent and well mannered they are.

There are many great qualities about a Golden Retriever. They even make great actors.

With all the great things you hear about them it’s important to note that they aren’t for everyone. Like any pet, you should really understand all the facts before making the commitment.

This article will lay out everything you need to know about Goldens and if they are a right fit for you.

Introduction to Golden Retrievers

The Golden Retriever is considered large sized breed of dog. They are sporting dogs and were trained to ducks and other similar animals after they have been shot down. 

They are very active dogs and need their daily dose of exercise with you. They’ll need room to play around inside and outside as well.

In general, Golden Retrievers are intelligent and very trainable. In addition to making obedient family and hunting dogs, Goldens are often used as a disability assistance dog.

Brief History of Goldens

Goldens were originally bred in the mid nineteenth century in Scotland. Golden Retrievers were created by the offspring of Tweedwater Spaniel and the yellow Flat Coated Retriever. Breeded as a sporting dog, the Scottish wanted a companion that would retrieve from land and water.

In England, Golden Retrievers were first accepted for registration by The Kennel Club of England in 1903, they were known as Flat Coats Golden at the time.

In 1925, the American Kennel Club (AKC) recognized Goldens. The Golden Retriever Club of America was founded 13 years later in 1938.

Size & Weight


As mentioned previously, Goldens are considered large breed dogs. Females tend to be smaller than

In general the following are standard weight and sizes of adult males and female Goldens;

  • Female Weight: 55 to 65 pounds
  • Female Size: 21.5 to 22.5 inches tall
  • Male Weight: 65 to 75 pounds
  • Male Size: 23 to 24 inches tall


Unfortunately, dogs don’t live as long as humans. Although we’d love for dogs to live until they are 80, the reality is most Golden Retrievers live 10 to 12 years.

There are general health tips and routine maintenance that will help mitigate the risk of health complications so that your Golden will live as long as he or she can.

Coat & Color

Goldens are bred to adapt to both land and water. They have long coats with an inner coat that provides them with sufficient warmth for the outdoors and an outer coat that repels water. The long, dense hair of a Golden can be wavy or straight.

The color of the Golden Retriever can range from light to darker shades of gold. 

The AKC allows for various, rich shades of gold, but does not permit pure white or red coat colors.

You may hear some people mention “red Golden Retrievers” but, in fact, they are a darker gold or mahogany.

Younger pups tend to be lighter and as they grow older there coats will become darker. Many times, you can tell what shade of gold they will be by looking at the color of the tips of the ears. Their true coat color will usually be pronounced around the age of one.

Male or Female?


It’s difficult to answer this question because every Golden has its unique personality and features.

In general male Golden Retrievers tend to be 10 to 15 pounds larger. Male Goldens are usually stronger and often shows more male dominance than female Goldens.

Female Goldens typically mature more quickly. Males on the other hand, mature sometime when they are two. This may be important depending on your threshold for patience in the early stages of your Golden’s life.

Should I get a cute puppy?

People will tell you that puppies are a lot of work and guess what? Those people are right and then some.

Everyone sees really cute pups on Instagram and think to themselves that they are too cute to be difficult or destructive.

Goldens, by nature, are high energy dogs. Therefore, they demand a lot of attention and play time to form a strong bond with its owner.Golden Retriever Puppy

Puppies can’t be left alone for a very long time and it may be emotionally draining for them to see you seldom. In addition to daily exercise, you’ll need to let your puppy out every couple hours to go to the bathroom. This could put a wrench during the day and/or night. They can hold it longer as they get older.

Additionally, its wise to consider your financial situation before making the commitment. Can you afford all of the upfront costs necessary to establish a healthy life for your pup? Between – routine vet checkups, vaccinations, deworming, spaying/neutering, toys, crates, grooming expenses and lots of food – costs do add up early in a puppy’s life. 

Ensure you are ready to take on the financial impact in addition to the decade long commitment.


One of the best attributes of a Golden is its temperament.

Goldens are kind, reliable, trustworthy and confident. This is one of the main reasons they are considered great family pets.

They are often as loving to other dogs and humans as much as they are to their immediate family. This is why Goldens make for very poor guard dogs, it’s just not in their nature.

Goldens have an insatiable appetite to please everyone and especially its owner.

Golden Retrievers are also patient, hardworking and intelligent. These three traits make dogs of this breed very trainable.

Goldens and Children

Many dogs can be distraught, scared or panicky by loud noises and commotion but a Golden tends to not be. By nature, they are very gentle and kind with kids.

One of the keys to a well behaved Golden around children is to teach a child to be gentle and kind with them. It really does go both ways.

A well trained Golden can be a man/woman and child’s best friend. But, when untrained and lack of exercise enter into the equation then your family may see him or her as more of a burden.

Golden Retrievers will play a lot with children but also make time for snuggles. Best of both worlds!

They’ll need their daily exercise

Goldens are sporting dogs and therefore need to support their personality by retrieving, playing, chasing and even chewing.

Allowing a Golden Retriever to expend its energy will deflect destructive behavior. Many times an “out of control Golden” is a direct result of lack of physical activity.male-or-female-golden-retriever

It is very important to not just let the dog loose and run around in the backyard. They prefer to join you in daily activities like walks.

There are a number of activities that are perfect for a large sporting dog. Some activities you can do with your Golden are;

  • Walks and/or jogs (as they get older)
  • Catch (they’ll retrieve the ball and bring it back)
  • Frisbee games
  • Game of tag (but your Golden would probably be the only one trying to “tag”)

How much does a Golden need to exercise? It truly depends on the age, overall health and physical abilities. There’s really no line in the sand for the amount of time a Golden should exercise for.

With that being said, it’s important to regulate the amount of time a puppy should exercise for. Puppies grow at a rapid pace early on and their bones and joints can be easily damaged by over-exercising.

A good rule of thumb for a puppy Golden Retriever is a ratio of five minutes for every month it has been alive for. For example, a four month old Golden should exercise for no more than 20 minutes per day.

The 5 minute rule is advantageous for a healthier adult Golden.

So, if you are unwilling to exercise on a daily basis then a Golden Retriever may not be the right fit for your lifestyle.

Health Concerns

Overall, Golden Retrievers are healthy breeds. But, like many other dogs, Goldens are prone to certain health concerns and risks.

If you are purchasing a Golden from a breeder, it’s important to see health clearances for the puppy’s parents. This will prove that they have been cleared from a particular condition.

Cancer in Goldens have increased substantially over recent decades. Hemangiosarcoma is the most common cancer, followed by lymphosarcoma, mastocytoma, and osteosarcoma.

Unfortunately, Goldens also suffer from high rates of elbow and hip dysplasia.

Other health concerns that Goldens are prone to are;

  • Cataracts
  • Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA)
  • Subvalvular Aortic Stenosis (heart disease)
  • Osteochondrosis Dissecans (OCD)
  • Allergies (food, pollen, etc.)
  • Von Willebrand’s Disease
  • Gastric Dilatation-Volvulus (aka bloat)
  • Epilepsy
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Hemangiosarcoma
  • Osteosarcoma.

Don’t get alarmed by the list of health problems Golden’s inherit. The length of the list would be nearly identical for other dog breeds.

In addition to the primary concerns about your dog’s health, you need to be aware that vet bills could be costly if your dog does need to be treated. Routine items (food, checkups, toys, etc.) are pennies on the dollar compared to what you could pay to treat major problems like cancer.

Is a Golden Right for me?

As you read, there are a lot of pros but also some cons – depending on certain situations.

In addition to being very good-looking dogs, Goldens are really good with children and other pets. They
are also very intelligent enabling them to be trainable at a young age.

Before considering this big commitment, it’s important to realize what you’re getting yourself into. It’s never easy to have to give away a pet so this is why I want you to know all of the facts.

Reasons you may want to reconsider getting a Golden Retriever;

  • You are looking for a small dog that you can carry around as an adult
  • You are allergic to dog hair or simply don’t like dog hair
  • You are looking for a lazy dog
  • You like everything 100% clean
  • You don’t like to interact with other people or other dogs
  • You are looking for a guard dog
  • You live in a very small space
  • You travel often or need to be out of the home a lot

Obviously, I don’t know your situation but, for the most part, I think a Golden is right if;

  • You are looking for a larger breed dogconsidering golden retriever
  • You are financially ready
  • You don’t mind dog hair
  • You don’t mind routine grooming
  • You are home on a consistent basis
  • You live an active lifestyle
  • You are looking for a well mannered family dog
  • You have space inside and outside your home
  • You will love him or her like your own family

Goldens are not the right fit breed for everyone but does fit many lifestyles and can make your life much more enjoyable.

Remember to look at all the facts and determine if, for your current and future situation, a Golden is right for you.

I hope this article helps you figure out if a Golden Retriever is going to be your next dog or not!

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  1. Michelle

    This article was sooo helpful!! Thank you so much