Know about Breed: Golden Retriever
- Life expectancy: 10 – 12 years
- Colors: Dark Golden, Light Golden, Cream, Golden
- Height: Female: 51–56 cm, Male: 56–61 cm
- Weight: Female: 25–32 kg, Male: 30–34 kg
- Temperament: Friendly, Intelligent, Kind, Reliable, Trustworthy, Confident
- Origin: United Kingdom, Scotland, England
- Cheerful, easy to train and eager to please, the Golden Retriever is what you see in the dictionary when you look up “Perfect Family Dog.” Goldens love everyone, especially children, and get along well with new people and strange dogs. They draw admiring looks – and usually loving pats – from almost everyone they meet. The Golden is an active dog who will retrieve a tennis ball until your arm gives out. The breed’s loyalty, intelligence and stable temperament have made them the darlings of the service dog world. Their smiling faces and sun-kissed coats have brought more than a few to movie fame, including a starring role in two “Homeward Bound” movies.
- The Golden was developed to be a working retriever, and that means a high level of activity is a must for these dogs. They are best suited to life with active singles, couples or families in which someone is home during the day and will enjoy spending time with and exercising the dog. Goldens love, love, love their people, and they don’t do well as home-alone dogs. They will find their own (destructive) entertainment if no one is home to channel their energy through walking, jogging, hiking, swimming or playing fetch, plus brain games that will wear them out mentally.
- Like many breeds developed to hunt, the Golden has diverged into different types – primarily the fluffy, teddy-bear Goldens of the show ring and the leaner, darker, smaller and less-coated athletes popular as hunting companions and dog-sports competitors. Each camp swears their “type” is the best. Dogs bred for looks only – and for the currently trendy near-white color – are anecdotally less healthy and some seem to sport a considerably un-Golden temperament, including problems with biting. Hunting and dog-sports lines may be a little too energetic for many families, but the traditional stable temperaments remain intact, and they may be healthier overall.
- Goldens of both types are enthusiastic about exercise. If you aren’t an active person before you get a Golden, you will be afterward -- or you’ll suffer the consequences. Goldens get up every morning with one thought on their mind: What are we gonna do today?
- Keep your Golden occupied by taking him for extended walks or hikes of at least an hour a day (or break it up into two or three outings), make him your jogging or running partner, or teach him to run alongside your bicycle. Take him swimming at your local lake or beach. He excels at all dog sports, including agility, obedience, flyball, rally, freestyle, dock diving and tracking. Being a therapy dog appeals to his love of people and satisfies his need to get out and do something. If you don’t have kids yourself, enlist the neighbors’ kids to throw tennis balls for your Golden to fetch. That can keep them busy for hours. Teach him tricks and acquire an assortment of puzzle toys to challenge his brain. Often, mental work is just as satisfying — and tiring — as physical exercise, although it can’t replace it entirely.
- Ask anyone about the defining characteristic of the Golden Retriever, and the answer you will always get is temperament. The hallmark of the Golden is his kind, gentle, eager-to-please nature. He craves affection and will seek it from strangers as well as his own family.
- Goldens are adaptable and people-oriented, and those characteristics are at the top of the list of reasons people love them. Unfortunately, the breed’s popularity has meant that careless or clueless people have begun churning out Goldens without any attempt to maintain their sweet, gentle disposition. Shyness and aggression can be problems, leading to fear biting or unfriendliness toward people and other dogs.
- Proper Goldens love everyone, but that love for people will often translate into jumping as a form of greeting. Basic, early obedience training is a must for these big, rambunctious dogs. Fortunately, Goldens are very easy to train, and a small investment of time when the dog is young will pay off when he's full-grown. He will readily sit on command, walk on a leash without pulling and come when called.
- If not trained, socialized and exercised daily, the good-natured exuberance of Goldens – especially as adolescents and young adults can be overwhelming, and even frightening to small children, despite the dog’s best intentions to be friendly. Choose a Golden as a family dog only if you are prepared to supervise kids and dog when they are together and make sure everyone plays nicely. It’s normal for puppies to chase and bite in play, so you need to teach a Golden pup how to act around kids, as well as teach the kids how to play properly with the dog.
- Golden Retrievers look beautiful, but are they healthy? An individual Golden certainly can be, but the breed as a whole can be affected by a number of health problems.
- At the top of the list of health concerns in the breed is cancer, including hemangiosarcoma, lymphosarcoma, mast cell tumors and bone cancer. Some veterinarians call Goldens "Cancer retrievers," and treatments for this disease can be emotionally and financially devastating. It's not known to what extent all these forms of cancer are genetic or exactly how they're transmitted from one generation to the next, but the sky-high rate of cancer in Golden Retrievers is suspected to be at least partly inherited. The Morris Animal Foundation and the Golden Retriever Foundation have teamed up to do a major cancer study that will focus on Goldens and may eventually benefit other breeds, and people, as well.
- Goldens also suffer from a high incidence of the painful genetic hip deformity known as hip dysplasia, which develops when the head of the thigh bone doesn't fit properly into the hip socket. Serious hip dysplasia can lead to crippling arthritis and requires costly surgical treatment.
- It takes some dedication to live with a Golden Retriever. The Golden's profuse coat requires regular brushing and bathing to remove debris and mats. And while all dogs shed, Goldens do it with the same enthusiasm they bring to swimming and retrieving. You can keep it under control with daily brushing to remove the dead undercoat, but if shedding is a deal-breaker at your house, this is not the breed for you.
- Like most retrievers, Goldens love water. When your Golden gets wet -- and he will -- give him a thorough freshwater rinse to remove chlorine, salt or lake muck from his fur, all of which can be drying or otherwise damaging to the coat. Keep his ears dry to prevent infections, and use an ear cleaner recommended by your veterinarian after he goes swimming.
- The rest is basic care. Trim his nails as needed, usually every few weeks, and brush his teeth for good overall health and fresh breath.