Are Golden Retrievers Good At Fetch? [Revealed!]

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So, you’re dying to know “Are Golden Retrievers Good At Fetch?”

After all, the word retrieve is in their name. So naturally one would assume that a Golden Retriever has the ability and instinct to fetch and be good at it.

But, is fetch something that comes naturally to a Golden Retriever?

Or, do they need to be trained?

Find out as we reveal the answer below.

Are Golden Retrievers Good At Fetch?

Yes, Golden Retrievers are generally very good at fetch. It’s in their DNA to retrieve and carry objects in their mouths. Golden Retrievers have a strong desire to chase and search for objects, and they are very athletic. These traits along with their intelligence and eagerness to please, make many of them excellent at fetching. Getting your Golden Retriever to drop the object, however, can be a challenge! This is where training comes in.

Golden Retrievers are one of the best dogs to play fetch with because they possess certain traits that make them a natural at it.

Let’s look at what it is that makes them good at fetch below:

1. It’s In Their DNA To Retrieve And Carry Objects

Are Golden Retrievers Good At Fetch-A Golden Retriever carrying a large stick in its mouth while walking along the beach.

Golden Retrievers were originally bred to retrieve shot waterfowl for hunters and carry them back in their mouths.

Most Golden Retrievers possess this natural instinct to carry things in their mouths.

They are a very mouthy breed, which is why they have a strong desire to carry objects.

Golden Retrievers can often be seen carrying large sticks, rocks, their favourite toy, or their owner’s prized possessions.

This natural instinct to carry things in their mouths is just one of the reasons why Goldens are good at fetch.

2. They Were Developed To Have Soft Mouths

A young Golden Retriever carrying a shot waterfowl in its mouth.

A Golden Retriever’s original job back in the 19th century was to assist hunters by retrieving their shot waterfowl and bringing the prey back in their mouths unharmed.

Golden Retrievers were selectively bred for having a soft mouth so that they would not damage birds when retrieving them.

Having a soft mouth is a great trait when it comes to a game of fetch.

It means that your Golden Retriever can hold the fetched object in its mouth without doing damage.

Of course, this is something that needs a little bit of training! Puppies first need to learn bite inhibition.

RELATED ===> Stop Golden Retriever Puppy Biting.

3. Golden Retrievers Are Sporting Dogs Who Love To Play

Part of the sporting group of dogs, Golden Retrievers are very athletic and have plenty of energy.

What better way to burn off that energy than with a game of fetch?

Sporting dogs like the Golden Retriever love the outdoors and swimming.

Many Goldens will happily fetch a ball or frisbee that is thrown on land, as well as in the water.

Combining their athleticism with their love of play makes them good at fetch.

4. Their Strong Prey Drive Makes Them Good At Fetch

A Golden Retriever running towards you with a ball in its mouth.

Having a strong desire to chase after and search for objects makes a Golden Retriever good at fetch.

Even though a tennis ball or other object that you throw for your Golden Retriever to fetch is not real prey, your Golden still has a strong desire to chase after the moving object.

So in essence, a game of fetch satisfies a Golden Retriever’s prey drive.

After all, they are chasing after their prey, which is a tennis ball or other object, with the purpose of catching it.

5. They Are Sweet Tempered And Want To Please You

Golden Retrievers were developed to work closely with humans.

Hunters required a dog that would be friendly and gentle, but also have a desire to please you.

Thanks to their breeding background, Golden Retrievers love working with people and love to please you.

This makes them good at fetch.

After all, fetch is a game that is played with humans.

6. They Are Intelligent And Can Easily Be Trained To Fetch

Most Golden Retrievers will naturally fetch or retrieve an object that you throw or drop because they already have a strong desire to carry things in their mouths.

Many Goldens will chase after the object and bring it back to you in order to engage in play, while others may chase after the object and run away with it or lay down and chew it.

So, Golden Retrievers already have the first part of fetch understood.

It’s getting your Golden Retriever to bring back the object and drop it that requires some training.

This shouldn’t be too difficult at all, given the fact that Golden Retrievers are highly intelligent.

We’ll get into how to train your Golden to fetch further in the article below.

Reasons Why Your Golden Retriever Doesn’t Fetch

A Golden Retriever laying on the grass with a tennis ball in its mouth.

Many people falsely believe that Golden Retrievers are born with the ability to fetch, simply because they are Retrievers.

So when their Golden Retriever doesn’t fetch, they assume that there’s something wrong!

I’m sure this sounds familiar to you, you throw a ball in hopes that your Golden will fetch it and bring it back to you, but instead, your Golden Retriever sits there looking at you dumbfounded.

Why won’t your Golden Retriever fetch?

Fetch Needs To Be Taught

Golden Retrievers aren’t born knowing how to play fetch.

Sure, they may possess the instinct to carry objects in their mouths, but fetch is something that needs to be taught.

You may find that your Golden Retriever naturally wants to chase a ball, and may even bring it back to you, but, he likely won’t drop it naturally for you to throw again.

Your Golden Retriever needs a little training to understand what you want him to do.

This is where the “drop it” or “let go” command needs to be taught.

They Are Bored With Fetch

A Golden Retriever sitting on the grass looking up at you.

If you played fetch too often with your Golden Retriever, he simply may have lost interest in the game.

Fetch can become too repetitive for many Goldens, and they just get bored with it.

Try mixing it up by playing other games with your Golden, that way when you reintroduce fetch, your Golden may have interest again.

If you typically play fetch in your backyard, try changing locations. You could go to the park, or take your game of fetch to the water.

RELATED ===> Best Canine Water Toys.

They Don’t Like The Item Being Fetched

If you’re tossing the same boring tennis ball, chances are your Golden has lost interest in it and won’t bother fetching it.

The item you are throwing could also be too hard or too big for your Golden to carry. It could hurt his mouth, and he simply doesn’t want to fetch it.

Keep the game of fetch interesting for your Golden Retriever by changing up his toys.

Try a different type of ball or a frisbee. Most Golden’s prefer soft plush toys that they can easily carry in their mouths. Plus, if it squeaks, it entices them even more!

RELATED ===> Best Toys For Golden Retrievers.

They Have A Health Issue

If your Golden Retriever used to fetch and has suddenly stopped, it could be due to a health issue.

Sudden changes in behaviour usually indicate that your Golden Retriever is feeling sick or in pain.

Your Golden Retriever can’t tell you what’s going on, so it’s up to you to monitor any changes in behaviour and consult your vet.

Training Your Golden Retriever To Fetch

Golden Retrievers are fast learners when it comes to teaching them how to fetch.

They already have the instinct to carry objects, they love to play, they’re super smart, and they love to please you.

Their traits, along with a little bit of training will make them excel at fetch!

Be sure to choose a toy that your Golden is already interested in and likes. Keep the training fun and positive, be patient and reward and praise your pup.

The most common way to teach your dog how to fetch is by using the two-toy method.

Two-Toy Method

Step 1: Choose 2 toys or balls that your Golden loves.

Step 2: Throw 1 toy while keeping the other in your hand. When your Golden runs after the toy, praise him, using an upbeat happy voice.

Step 3: Once your Golden has the toy in his mouth, call him back to you by showing him the other toy in your hand. Your Golden will run back to you with the toy in his mouth and drop it, in hopes of getting the toy in your hand.

Step 4: Once the first toy is dropped, throw the second toy.

Step 5: Repeat this process a few times, until your Golden has mastered it.

The video below shows the two-toy method in real life, plus offers some helpful safety tips when it comes to playing fetch.

Final Thoughts

Golden Retrievers are generally very good at fetch, however, fetch does require some training.

This shouldn’t be too difficult at all, considering that Golden Retrievers already possess the traits that make fetch so easy to learn, and enjoyable for them.

Their natural instinct to carry things in their mouths, their eagerness to please you, athleticism, strong prey drive and intelligence, make fetch almost seem natural to them.

Most Golden Retrievers love to play fetch, but, there are always a few that prefer other games, and that’s okay!

Perhaps the best part of playing fetch for your Golden is the time spent with you!

Is your Golden Retriever good at fetch? Does your Golden Retriever enjoy playing fetch, or does he prefer something else?

Leave your thoughts and comments below! I would love to hear from you!

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2 thoughts on “Are Golden Retrievers Good At Fetch? [Revealed!]”

  1. I didn’t think about it that a golden retriever needed to be taught to fetch and to be taught to “drop it” makes perfect sense. If he got something, he might not want to “just let go” of it. Golden Retrievers are beautiful dogs, and it sounds like they would be high-energy dogs that would not like to lie around the house. Do they need other forms of exercise, like being taken on long walks? Or is playing in the backyard sufficient?

    • Hi Carolyn,

      Teaching a Golden Retriever the “drop it” or “leave it” command is very important, not only when it comes to playing fetch, but in general!

      Golden Retrievers are notorious for picking things up that they shouldn’t, and many of them ingest the items they pick up.  I have on many occasions (too many to count!), removed stuff from my Golden Retriever’s mouth that she really shouldn’t be eating.  Rocks, garbage, food items, and other questionable things!

      Drop it and leave it are really important skills for any dog to learn.

      To answer your question, yes Golden Retrievers are high-energy dogs especially when they are young.  They do require plenty of physical activity, which includes playtime.  Long walks, swimming, playing fetch, etc.. are all things these dogs enjoy.  Many owners take their Golden hiking, boating, and even paddle boarding!  Goldens really do love being around their families and enjoy many activities.  Playing in the backyard should not be their only form of exercise!

      I appreciate you taking the time to share your thoughts.



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