The good natured, lovable and loyal Golden Retriever is a wonderful breed of dog. However, like all dogs, they will require ongoing training, attention and exercise, and are definitely a high maintenance breed when it comes to grooming. In addition the Golden Retriever does have a higher rate of some types of cancers and eye conditions than other breeds, so owners have to be diligent in getting the dog to routine vet appointments as well as caring for the dog.
There are several questions listed below that individuals considering a Golden Retriever should consider before deciding if this is the right breed for you. As with any dog, knowing all the pros and the possible cons to the breed will ensure that you are prepared to work with the dog to make the match work for you both.
Are you prepared to groom your dog every day, a process that typically will take about 15 to 20 minutes?
A Golden Retriever has a beautiful coat that is dense, thick and shiny when it is well cared for. This coat, however, comes with a price. A Golden Retriever does need to have daily grooming or at least every other day grooming to stay in top shape. Even a couple of missed grooming routines is going to result in mats, some which will spread very rapidly, leading to having to cut chunks out of the hair or work for a significant amount of time to remove the mats and knots. The Golden Retriever should never be clipped or shaved as this will damage the coat significantly.
Throughout the year the Golden Retriever will be an average shedder, grooming will help reduce the hair loss fairly significantly. However, during the spring and fall the dog will completely blow their coat, which means they shed the woolly, dense undercoat. During this time your house and yard will be covered with cream colored clumps of dog hair that seems to be endless. There is no way to prevent this from happening, but again routine grooming with an undercoat rake will help minimize the unwanted shedding throughout the house.
Do you want a watchdog that is also very friendly and welcoming to everyone?
Although most Golden Retriever are good watchdogs and do bark very loudly to let you know someone new is approaching, they are not guard dogs by nature. The breed is simply too trusting of humans and too friendly by nature to be aggressive towards a person. Some may be more territorial towards other dogs, however this is usually easily overcome once the two dogs are properly introduced.
Although most Golden Retriever are good watchdogs and do bark very loudly to let you know someone new is approaching, they are definitely not guard dogs. The breed is simply to trusting of humans and too friendly in temperament to be aggressive towards a person. Some may be more territorial towards other dogs, however this is usually easily overcome once the two dogs are properly introduced.
Are you prepared to use positive training methods and establish yourself and the family as the leaders?
Even though the Golden Retriever is not a dominant type of breed, they will assume the leadership role in the family if the humans are not effective, consistent and firm in their training. This means that the dog understands when the human gives a command they will get positive attention and perhaps a reward, but if they choose to ignore the command they will likewise be ignored and corrected. If a Golden Retriever learns that he or she can do what they choose to do, they will soon become disobedience although still a very affectionate and loving dog.
A Golden Retriever that doesn't have routine training and at least basic obedience can be challenging to work with. As a dog that can mature to over 80 pounds, they need to be under control at all time. This include early and consistent leash training to prevent the dog from dragging you around the block rather than going for a walk in the direction of your choosing.
Are you prepared to routinely walk the dog and provide play and intensive exercise times?
While the Golden Retriever is not a highly demanding dog when it comes to exercise, they do need routine walks, jogs and play times each and every day. When they are young, Golden Retrievers that don't get enough exercise will be rambunctious and can be very hyperactive when people first get home from a day away. Routine exercise will prevent this from becoming a bad habit and a real problem.
Older Golden Retrievers tend to be less hyperactive but they are still a dog that was bred for an active lifestyle. Unlike many of the sporting dog breeds the Golden Retriever can adapt to apartment life and they are typically very calm and sedate in the house, provided that they have routine exercise, longer run times and lots of play. Ideally a Golden Retriever does best when they have a large fenced yard to spend time exploring and playing in, and a loving family to spend time with inside in bad weather or whenever anyone is home.
Golden Retrievers love to fetch as well as run free, so finding a rural area of a large dog off-leash park where the dog can really play and enjoy his or herself is a great option. Since the Golden Retriever is such as social dog they also love to play with other dogs in the park, a great mental and physical activity for a solo dog living in a one pet household.
Making the decision to get a Golden Retriever, as with any dog, is a consideration that should go on for the length of the dog's life. These lovable dogs bond with their family and while they can be rehomed, it is always best if they can stay with their original family throughout their life. As there are some significant health issues with the breed, always purchase from a reputable breeder and be sure to ask for hip and eye certifications as well as the health records of both parents.