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Is a Golden Retriever the Right Breed for You?

Is a Golden Retriever the Right Breed for You?

Not surprisingly, the golden retriever is an incredibly popular and easily recognized breed. People are quickly attracted to their handsome appearance, their intelligence, their reputation for being good with children and other animals, and their wonderful personalities. Because golden retrievers are known for making great pets, the decision to buy one is often easy to make. But is a golden retriever truly the right breed for you? Are you and your family the right people for a golden retriever? Before making the decision to add a golden retriever to your family, there are several factors that you need to consider.

Time Commitment

All dogs, regardless of their breed, are a time commitment. No dog wants to be left alone all day; this must be remembered when considering adding the extremely sociable and attention-seeking golden retriever to your family.


Many golden retrievers are happy to curl up by their owner’s feet at the end of the day or sit on the couch for extended periods of time while they are showered with love. But don’t count on your golden being a couch potato. It is important to remember that this breed belongs to the “sporting group” and originally was bred to work. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that they have seemingly endless energy. Of course, you also must keep in mind that the naturally energetic golden tends to mature slowly, maintaining a high-energy, puppy-like mentality for years.


Because the breed is naturally energetic, the exercise requirements of a golden retriever are rather demanding. Ideally, in order to satisfy these requirements, you should be able and willing to exercise your golden for at least 90 minutes everyday.

Remember, failure to meet any dog’s exercise needs can result in behavioral problems. If you cannot personally meet the exercise of a golden retriever, are you in a position to hire a dog walker or send your golden to doggy daycare on a regular basis?


In addition to making great family pets, golden retrievers, due to their hardworking nature and intelligence, are frequently employed as service dogs. The breed is also a popular choice in search-and-rescue operations and for drug detection.

As important as physical activity is, it is equally important to stimulate a golden’s mind. Again, failure to do so can result in unwanted behavior.

Natural Instinct

Born to retrieve, golden retrievers have a tendency to carry things in their mouth. While this is normally harmless, if you don’t provide your golden with durable, quality toys, he may scout out things to carry and potentially chew, on his own.


Golden retrievers have a double coat, and on top of two periods of heavy shedding each year (one in the fall and one in the spring), the breed experiences light to moderate shedding year round.  To help minimize shedding and to keep their coat free from tangles and looking its best, golden retrievers should be brushed at least once a week. During periods of heavy shedding, daily brushing is ideal. Even with regular grooming, a home with a golden is a home with dog fur.


When deciding whether or not to add a golden retriever to your family, it is important to consider the size of the breed. Golden retrievers are not small dogs, though they sometimes act like they are. While golden retrievers can live happily in a small home or apartment, provided their minds and bodies are properly exercised, their desire to be with their family at all times means they are frequently at your side; in a small space, this may mean they are always in the way.

After determining whether or not you have the space for a golden, you should consider the correlation between size and expenses. The cost of leashes, collars, dog beds, crates, food and water bowls, and toys increases with size, as do expenses associated with veterinary care, feeding, and grooming.

No matter what breed of dog you are considering, adding a dog to your family is not a decision that should be taken lightly. It should be a decision that you never regret. Take the time to thoroughly research the breed to ensure it will be a perfect match.

For other types of dogs, check out our full list of dog breeds.

  1. Reply
    Andrea Robinson 11/16/2015 at 3:25 am

    Goldens are terrific dogs, and even though they have wonderful personalities 99.9999% of the time, all dog owners should be aware of the potential for aggression, especially if a dog is not socialized properly and using positive methods before 15 weeks of age. That’s challenging, since the puppy is also extremely susceptible to diseases like parvo or distemper, which could be fatal in young dogs (under 1 year normally).

    Emma Parsons wrote a very thorough book, Click to Calm, which tells her story about rehabbing her own very aggressive Golden. I’m really only mentioning it because no dog breed is immune to this social problem.

    All that being said, I think Goldens are a top choice for families. It would be really hard to go wrong, whether you adopt or buy. Whenever you buy a puppy, ask to meet both the parents, and if possible, the grandparents, which will give you an idea of what kind of personality your dog might have when grown. Also, you can puppy-test by shaking some keys and throwing them a few feet away. Does your puppy run to it to investigate (good sign)? If not, beware of a puppy that runs away from the keys in fear or that growls aggressively. These are not necessarily deal-killers, but most people want a dog that’s easy-going and doesn’t get riled or scared too easily, especially if they have kids.

    Also remember that all pure-bred dogs have physical challenges. Goldens can get hip dysplaysia. Check and see what the family history is.


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