Golden Retriever: Breed Profile, Characteristics, and Care Guide

| Updated: August 18, 2023
golden retriever standing on the shore of a lake staring at something off camera side profile

Golden Retrievers are one of the most popular dog breeds in the world. They are known for their intelligence, loyalty, and gentle temperament. They are also great companions for families, service dogs, and field work. But how much do you really know about this fluffy and friendly breed? In this article, we will tell you everything you need to know about Golden Retrievers, from their history and appearance to their health and personality. We will also give you some interesting dog facts and tips on how to care for your Golden Retriever. Let’s get started!

History of the Golden Retriever

The Golden Retriever originated in the Scottish Highlands in the late 1800s. They were bred by Dudley Marjoribanks, later called Lord Tweedmouth, who wanted to create a hunting dog to retrieve game from land and water. He crossed a yellow-colored retriever with a Tweed Water Spaniel and then added some bloodlines from other breeds such as the Irish Setter, the Bloodhound, and the St. John’s Water Dog. The result was a versatile and adaptable dog that could excel in field trials and field work.

Happy golden retriever laying down tongue out

The Kennel Club registered the first Golden Retrievers in 1903 as “Flat Coats – Golden.” They were later recognized as a separate breed in 1913 and given the name “Golden Retriever.” After World War II, the breed gained popularity in America when many soldiers brought them home as pets. Today, they are one of the most beloved breeds in the world, ranking third in the American Kennel Club’s list of most registered dogs.

Physical Characteristics of Golden Retrievers

Golden Retrievers are medium to large-sized dogs that have sturdy and well-balanced bodies. They have a broad head with a straight muzzle and a black nose. Their eyes are dark brown and expressive, and their ears are short and hang close to their cheeks. Their tail is long and feathered, and their coat is dense and water-repellent. Their coat color can range from light golden to dark golden, with some variations such as cream, red, or black.

The average height of a Golden Retriever is between 21 to 24 inches at the shoulder, and the average weight is between 55 to 75 pounds. Males tend to be slightly larger than females. The lifespan of a Golden Retriever is between 10 to 12 years.

Golden Retriever Personality: Are They Friendly?

Golden Retrievers are known for their friendly and outgoing personality. They are very affectionate and love to be around people. They are also very smart and eager to please, which makes them easy to train and socialize. They enjoy learning new tricks and skills and excel in obedience, agility, and other dog sports.

golden retriever sleeping with his teddy bear

Golden Retrievers are also very loyal and devoted to their owners. They will protect them from any harm and alert them of any danger. They are not aggressive or territorial but bark if they sense something suspicious or unfamiliar.

Golden Retrievers are great family dogs that get along well with children and other pets. They are gentle and patient with kids and love playing with them. They are also tolerant and friendly with other dogs, cats, and even smaller animals. However, they may chase or retrieve them if they think they are toys or prey.

Golden Retrievers need a lot of attention and companionship from their owners. They do not like being left alone for long periods, as they may develop separation anxiety or boredom. They may also become destructive or noisy if they are not given enough exercise or mental stimulation.

Common Health Issues Affecting Golden Retrievers

Golden Retrievers are generally healthy dogs, but they are prone to some health issues that may affect their quality of life or shorten their lifespan. Some of these health issues include:

  • Hip dysplasia: This genetic condition causes the hip joint to be malformed or loose. It can lead to pain, lameness, arthritis, or even paralysis in severe cases.
  • Elbow dysplasia: This is another genetic condition that affects the elbow joint. It can cause inflammation, cartilage damage, bone spurs, or joint instability.
  • Eye problems: Golden Retrievers may suffer from various eye problems such as cataracts, glaucoma, progressive retinal atrophy (PRA), or entropion.
  • Skin problems: Golden Retrievers may have skin problems such as allergies, infections, hot spots, or tumors.
  • Cancer: Golden Retrievers have a high risk of developing cancer, especially hemangiosarcoma (a type of blood vessel cancer), lymphoma (a type of blood cell cancer), osteosarcoma (a type of bone cancer), or mast cell tumors (a type of skin cancer).
  • Heart problems: Golden Retrievers may have heart problems such as subvalvular aortic stenosis (SAS), which is a narrowing of the aorta that can cause heart failure or sudden death.
  • Bloat: This life-threatening condition occurs when the stomach twists or fills with gas. If not treated immediately, it can cause severe pain, shock, or death.

Choosing a reputable breeder who tests their dogs for genetic diseases and provides health certificates is important to prevent or reduce these health issues. It is also important to provide your Golden Retriever with regular veterinary check-ups, vaccinations, parasite control, spaying/neutering (if not used for breeding), dental care, grooming, and a balanced diet.

golden retriever puppies crowding around a food bowl

Caring for a Golden Retriever

Golden Retrievers are easy to care for if you provide enough exercise, mental stimulation, socialization, and love. Here are some tips on how to take care of your Golden Retriever:

  • Exercise: Golden Retrievers need at least an hour of exercise every day. They love to run, swim, fetch, hike, or play with other dogs. They also enjoy participating in dog sports such as agility, obedience, or flyball. You can also provide them with interactive toys, puzzles, or games that challenge their intelligence and keep them entertained.
  • Mental stimulation: Golden Retrievers are very smart and need mental stimulation to prevent boredom or frustration. You can teach them new tricks or skills, enroll them in training classes, or expose them to different environments and situations. You can also praise and reward them for their good behavior and achievements.
  • Socialization: Golden Retrievers are very sociable and need socialization to develop their confidence and personality. You can introduce them to different people, animals, and objects from an early age and in a positive way. You can also take them to different places, such as parks, shops, or cafes, where they can interact with others and learn how to behave appropriately.
  • Love: Golden Retrievers need a lot of love and attention from their owners. They thrive on human contact and affection. You can cuddle with them, talk to them, or play with them. You can also include them in your family activities, such as watching TV, reading books, or cooking meals. You can also provide them with a comfortable and safe place where they can rest and relax.

Interesting Facts

Here are some interesting facts about Golden Retrievers that you may not know:

  • The first three dogs ever to achieve the AKC Obedience Champion title were all Golden Retrievers.
  • The most famous Golden Retriever in Hollywood was Air Bud, who starred in several movies about playing different sports such as basketball, soccer, or baseball.
  • A Golden Retriever on social media named Jiffpom has over 10 million followers on Instagram and holds two Guinness World Records for being the fastest dog on two paws.
  • A town in California has a Golden Retriever in politics. Max was elected as the honorary mayor of Idyllwild, California, in 2012 and served until his death in 2019. He was succeeded by his nephew Mayor Max II, who continued the legacy of promoting goodwill and happiness among the residents and visitors of Idyllwild. Mayor Max II passed away in 2022 and was succeeded by Mayor Max III.
Mayor Max II riding in his truck hanging out the window greeting residents
Phyllis Mueller
  • Shadow, a Golden Retriever, is one of the main characters in The Incredible Journey by Sheila Burnford. The book was later adapted into several movies by Disney, such as Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey (1993) and Homeward Bound II: Lost in San Francisco (1996).
  • The most famous Golden Retriever in music was Dodger, who belonged to singer Chris Evans and appeared on several covers of his albums, such as No Bad Days (2008) and The Road Less Traveled (2013). He also inspired some of his songs, such as “Dodger Blue” and “Best Friend.”
'Air Bud - First Shot
Scenes from the Airbud movie

Where to Buy a Golden Retriever

Buying from a breeder can be a good option if you want a purebred Golden Retriever with a known pedigree and health history. You can also choose the puppy that matches your preferences in terms of appearance, temperament, and personality.

However, buying from a breeder can also be expensive. The average price of a Golden Retriever puppy may range from $1,000 to $3,500, depending on various factors such as gender, age, coat color, location, popularity, and lineage of the breeder and the dog.

Check your local shelters and dog rescues if you’d like to adopt a Golden Retriever. They aren’t particularly rare and often seen available for adoption, especially if you don’t mind a mix and want to give a dog a good home.


Golden Retrievers are amazing dogs that have many qualities that make them ideal pets for anyone who loves dogs. They are intelligent, loyal, gentle, friendly, and fun-loving. They are also great companions for families, service dogs, and field work. However, they also have some challenges that require proper care and attention, such as health issues, exercise needs, mental stimulation, socialization, and grooming. If you are ready to welcome a Golden Retriever into your life, you will not regret it. They will bring you joy, love, and happiness for many years to come.

More Dog Breeds

If you’re interested in learning about similar dog breeds, check out:

Or browse our extensive dog breed articles.


Do Golden Retrievers shed a lot?

Yes, Golden Retrievers shed a lot. They have a double coat that sheds heavily twice a year, usually in spring and fall. They also shed moderately throughout the year. You will need to brush them regularly and vacuum frequently to keep the excess fur under control.

How much is a Golden Retriever?

The price of a Golden Retriever can vary depending on where you get them and what quality they are. The average price of a Golden Retriever puppy from a reputable breeder can range from $1,000 to $3,500. The adoption fee from a shelter can be as low as $50 to $300.

Are Golden Retrievers hypoallergenic?

No, Golden Retrievers are not hypoallergenic. They produce dander, saliva, and urine that can trigger allergic reactions in some people. They also shed a lot of fur that can carry allergens. If you are allergic to dogs, you may want to consider a different breed or consult your doctor before getting a Golden Retriever.

How long do Golden Retrievers live?

The average lifespan of a Golden Retriever is between 10 to 12 years. However, depending on their health and genetics, some may live longer or shorter. You can help your Golden Retriever live longer by providing them with proper care, nutrition, exercise, and veterinary check-ups.

Are Golden Retrievers smart?

Yes, Golden Retrievers are very smart. They are ranked as the fourth most intelligent dog breed by Stanley Coren, a canine psychologist, and author of The Intelligence of Dogs. They are also very eager to please and easy to train. They can learn new tricks and skills quickly and enjoy mental stimulation.

BuzzPetz Staff Author Image
BuzzPetz Staff

Temporary BuzzPetz About Us

Read More

More From BuzzPetz

Before you go - You'll want to check out these articles!
[ultimatemember form_id="4648"]

Already a member?

Login Here

[uwp_register id="3" title="register"]

Not a member?

Register Here