13 Things to Consider Before Buying a Golden Retriever

Updated on August 20, 2019
marleyjustine profile image

Golden retrievers have long been one of my favorite dog breeds.

Here are some things you should consider before you get a Golden Retriever. They are great dogs, but you have to be aware of what you're getting into.
Here are some things you should consider before you get a Golden Retriever. They are great dogs, but you have to be aware of what you're getting into. | Source

I was born a dog lover, but my love for Golden retrievers didn't really begin until 1997 when Duke joined our family. For over 20 years, Golden retrievers have remained one of my favorite dog breeds.

If you're thinking of adding a Golden retriever to your family, I don't blame you. However, there are 13 things I think every potential Golden owner should be aware of.

1. They Have Energy

While it seems the breed has developed a reputation for being somewhat of a 'couch potato,' Golden retrievers were originally bred as a sporting dog. Because of this, they are naturally energetic animals.

With proper exercise, most Golden retrievers can adapt to any living situation, including an apartment.

Meeting your Golden's exercise needs is extremely important. An unexercised Golden with pent up energy may develop behavioral problems or bad habits. There are many ways to satisfy your Golden retriever's exercise needs such as long walks, jogging or running, hiking, playing a vigorous game of fetch or chase, swimming or canine sports such as agility. If you enjoy cycling, you can train your Golden to safely trot beside you, or in the winter your Golden can accompany you on snowshoeing or cross country skiing adventures. Doggy daycare is another great way to drain some of your Golden's energy while also providing them the opportunity to socialize with other dogs.

Before buying a Golden, ask yourself if you are ready and able to meet their exercise requirements. Remember, Golden retrievers are slow to mature and may act like a puppy well into their senior years.

The naturally energetic Golden is always ready for a romp.
The naturally energetic Golden is always ready for a romp.

How Much Exercise Do You Provide Your Golden with Daily?

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2. They Were Born to Fetch

I remember sitting on a footbridge one summer with my first Golden, Duke. I was dangling my feet over the side, and not surprisingly, my sandal fell off and dropped into the creek below. Before I even realized what had happened, Duke stood up, trotted down the stone steps, waded into the creek, collected my sandal, and brought it back to me. When our eyes met, it was clear that Duke and I were equally surprised by his actions. It's just one of those moments where you realize, as a retriever, these dogs were born to fetch.

This natural retriever instinct is linked to the breed's tendency to carry items in its mouth. This may be a harmless habit such as picking up a toy and prancing about when they are excited, but it can also be a problematic chewing issue. In addition to mental and physical stimulation, proper obedience and plenty of toys should help combat chewing.

Few things make a Golden happier than a game of fetch.
Few things make a Golden happier than a game of fetch. | Source

3. They Shed

Twice a year, once in the fall and once in the spring, Golden retrievers will experience their most heavy shedding. Light-moderate shedding occurs all year.

With a Golden in the house, you will always have dog fur around, even with regular dusting and vacuuming. As a Golden owner, you may find yourself purchasing clothes, bedding, and even furniture that matches your pooch's fur and you will suddenly understand why Costco sells lint rollers in bulk.

Nothing will completely eliminate shedding. However, to minimize shedding and to keep a Golden's coat looking its best, they should be brushed a minimum of once a week. Daily brushing is ideal. If you own a Golden, a good quality brush is an excellent investment. Do not shave your Golden retriever. Bathing can also help with shedding.

One of the many things I love about Golden retrievers is that their grooming needs, while more demanding than other breeds, are not difficult and can easily be done at home by the owner. Grooming is a great way to bond with your Golden.

If dog fur isn't your thing, you may not be cut out for life with a Golden.

4. They Are Prone to Waxy Ears

Unfortunately, Golden retrievers are prone to waxy ears. This tends to be a result of poor air circulation due to their long ears.

Although it is not always the case, waxy ears can be the symptom of a more serious problem such as an infection (bacterial or yeast) or mites. If left untreated or if not treated correctly and consistently, ear problems can become chronic and affect the dog's quality of life.

The most common cause of ear infections in Golden retrievers is yeast. After swimming or bathing, take the time to dry your dog's ears. Effort should also be made to keep ears clean. There are solutions available for purchase or that you can make at home that in addition to cleaning and soothing your Golden retriever's ears will also change the pH level, creating an environment yeast should not thrive in.

Do You Use Home Remedies for Your Golden's Ears?

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Be careful, Goldens will eat almost anything that resembles food, regardless of whether or not it is good for them.
Be careful, Goldens will eat almost anything that resembles food, regardless of whether or not it is good for them.

5. They Love Food

Golden retrievers love food. Unfortunately, the breed has a tendency to overeat, and because of this, they can easily become overweight or even obese.

In addition to ensuring your Golden is properly exercised and fed a high-quality diet, you will have to master self-control, practicing tough love and not caving to the sad puppy dog eyes your Golden is giving you every time you eat.

The Golden Retriever is a natural water dog.
The Golden Retriever is a natural water dog. | Source

6. They Love Water

There are exceptions, but generally speaking, Golden retrievers have a natural love for water.

Regular trips to a nearby beach for a game of fetch and the chance to swim will almost certainly be appreciated by your Golden. If regular trips to the beach aren't possible, consider purchasing a hard plastic kiddie pool or even a sprinkler for your golden to play in. Not only does this play to their love for water, but it can also help keep them cool in the summer.

If there's mud, your Golden will find it.
If there's mud, your Golden will find it.

7. They Love Mud

If a Golden can't find water, mud will do.

8. They Are Not Aware of Their Size

Adult Golden retrievers typically weigh between 55–75lbs but don't tell them that. And while Golden retrievers are seemingly unaware of their actual size, for people, the combination of their size, enthusiasm, playfulness, and desire to be very close to their owners makes them seem larger than they are.

Be prepared for your full grown Golden to think they are a lapdog.

9. They Have Powerful Noses

One of the reasons Golden retrievers are used for tasks such as drug-detection and search and rescue is because of their keen sense of smell.

Golden retrievers have a tendency to follow their nose, so for their own safety, they should not be allowed to roam freely.

A bored Golden will use their intelligence to entertain themselves.
A bored Golden will use their intelligence to entertain themselves. | Source

10. They Are Intelligent

Today, Golden retrievers are still used by hunters. They are also used by search and rescue teams and police and serve as guide dogs and therapy dogs. One of the reasons for this is because Golden retrievers are extremely intelligent.

While a Golden's intelligence does tend to make them quick learners, it does not necessarily make the breed easier to raise. A Golden's mind must be properly stimulated. Mental stimulation is just as important as physical exercise and can be achieved through sport, obedience, games, or puzzle toys.

11. They Are a Garden's Enemy

If you're working on an award-winning garden, a Golden retriever may not be the right breed for you. While the likelihood of digging increases with boredom, Golden retrievers seem to be attracted to gardens.

As I mentioned, Golden retrievers love mud, so in addition to digging, Golden retrievers also tend to play, sleep, or roll in flower beds.

12. They Are Not Watchdogs

While there are certainly exceptions, as a general rule, Golden retrievers are not watchdogs.

Golden retrievers are friendly by nature and tend to be more suited towards the 'welcoming committee' than 'neighborhood watch.' Though they may bruise a new guest with their powerful, rapidly-wagging tail.

But again, there are exceptions. A Golden retriever's intelligence and loyalty should never be underestimated.

13. They Are Family Members

As a family pet, especially with children, the breed has few equals, but Golden retrievers are more than just a family pet, they are loyal best friends and loving family members.

Although the breed is capable of living outdoors, Golden retrievers were bred to work closely with humans and do best living indoors as part of a family. At times, the breed's desire to be with their family may even come across as needy. There are days my Golden does not leave my side: she will follow me from room to room and stay within arm's reach regardless of what I am doing. In my experience, if you're looking for your Golden, they are probably at your feet. Be careful, they are a tripping hazard.

If you've ever seen the heart-breaking stare of a Golden retriever watching its family leave on an outing, you'll likely agree that this is not an independent breed who is happy to be left alone all the time.

Questions & Answers

    © 2015 M


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      • profile image

        Amy Prangley 

        8 weeks ago

        They are the absolute most wonderful living beings in the world. Stealer of my heart.

      • profile image


        2 months ago

        also one more thing when your precious companion gets old you should get their hips checked and get medicine personally my roofus has sliding hips and does not get along with other dogs.

      • profile image


        4 months ago

        All said and done..... Why do you mention 'buying' a retriever??

        Please promote adoptions and consider giving a needy dog a home, rather than writing articles about buying! Buying a dog is cruel since you are promoting a breeder. Also, how do you justify 'buying' a living, sentient being?

      • profile image


        4 months ago

        This is so my bella

      • profile image


        5 months ago

        My golden must be an alien then haha

      • profile image

        Susan Hayes 

        6 months ago

        Call D’s Golden Delights

      • profile image


        6 months ago

        Looking for a new addition to our family if anyone knows a dog breeder or multiple breeders as it's hard to find anyone on the East coast. Appreciate your help in advance. Thank you.

      • profile image


        6 months ago

        I agree with John, I can totally tell what my golden is thinking! I know exactly what she wants. I love my girl, she’s only 7 months old, and she has taken over our hearts. A lot of work, yes, but totally worth it.

      • profile image

        Bill Dickie 

        7 months ago

        We live on a lake so I keep my golden's hair cut really short - to a baby cut which is like a butch cut. This way he doesn't shed or come in the house dripping wet from his latest swim. I walk him every day for about an hour and we play catch with a tennis ball thrower out by the lake. He's a lucky dog to live on a lake out on a private peninsula - and I'm the luckiest guy in the world to have such a loyal lifelong friend who never leaves my side. I'm a retired college professor, so my buddy boy comes with me every where I go. We couldn't love him more.

      • profile image

        John kasarda 

        7 months ago

        Indeed the most intelligent furbaby I have ever had the privilege of having in my family. Such expressions of emotion with her face and eyes, it sounds weird but I kinda know what she is thinking all the time.

      • profile image


        15 months ago

        you’ll never need to find ur golden, they’ll be right beside you no matter what ur doin. This is just so true, if u are alone, goldens will save ur ass loll

      • profile image


        21 months ago

        All of this is SO true, couldn't have said it better myself! Such great dogs and mine sheds like crazy but I guess what, I brush her (love the paws pamper undercoat rake). As stated please don't shave them. They make the best family dogs (beagles too!) and are so loyal and just plain fun!

      • profile image


        24 months ago

        they love treats covered in peanut butter i can tell u that

      • profile image


        4 years ago

        So much truth in this post. My 8-year-old son wrestles around on the floor with our 14-month old Golden Retriever. She absolutely loves it. She just soaks up the attention.

        We also have a 4-month old Golden Retriever and these are our first experience with the breed. I can't imagine ever having any other kind of dog. I'm hooked.


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