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[UPDATED DECEMBER 2020]
Are you thinking of adding a Golden Retriever to your family? Before you decide on this breed, you need to learn what Golden Retrievers need, and then determine if you are able to meet those needs.
You’re probably thinking that it’s just a dog, what more could a dog need besides food, shelter and exercise? Well, every dog has basic needs that need to be met, but every breed will be different in what they require from you to live their happiest and healthiest life possible.
Golden Retrievers are one of the most popular dogs around, and with good reason. They have beauty, brains, and a loving personality, and for some people, they are the perfect dog, but that doesn’t mean they are suitable for everyone.
The characteristics of this breed are seen as wonderful qualities to those who love goldens, but to others, they might be negative features.
Many people decide to get a Golden Retriever puppy because they are cute and adorable, which is absolutely true, they are some of the cutest puppies, however when the puppy gets older many people realize that they cannot meet the dog’s needs.
It happens all the time, owners fail to do their research on a breed and buy a dog based on looks, it is so sad that many goldens end up in shelters simply because their owners do not realize the time and commitment it takes to own this beautiful breed.
I am hoping that this article will give some perspective to what it takes to own a Golden Retriever. If you have examined your own lifestyle, needs and wants, and decided that this breed is right for you, that’s great, but you also need to determine if you can meet the needs of a golden.
Let’s take a look at what this breed needs from you.
They Need Unconditional Love And Constant Attention
This is first on the list of what Golden Retrievers need and should be a no brainer. All dogs need to be loved, but I really believe this breed needs constant love and attention.
Goldens are super sweet and gentle and love spending time with people, they are social dogs who crave human interaction. Most goldens will eagerly greet any human with a wagging tail and smile, even strangers.
These dogs will follow you around everywhere, and they do not do well when left alone. Leaving a golden alone for a long period of time could cause depression, separation anxiety, and destructive behaviour.
If you plan on getting a golden, you must have time every day to spend with your dog. If you are away from home most of the day, you could hire a dog walker, or take your dog to doggy daycare. These are good ways to keep your dog active and entertained throughout the day, but these solutions do not replace the most important thing in your dog’s life, you!
Golden Retrievers are very loyal to their owners and can be very needy for attention. They always need to be near you to be happy, and they love to be petted, for hours on end.
If you are looking for a faithful companion that is always by your side, a golden is for you. But, if you can’t handle that much togetherness, and need your own space, you should look at a different breed.
They Need Room, Be Prepared To Share Your Furniture
Golden Retrievers do not make great outside dogs, meaning if you are thinking of keeping your dog outside all the time, this breed is not for you. Goldens prefer to be inside with their family, so you will need to have enough space to accommodate their size.
These dogs are considered medium to large size, with males standing 22-24 inches, weighing 65-75 pounds, and females standing 20-22 inches, weighing 55-65 pounds. These sizes and weights are standard, and they definitely vary.
A golden will need enough room to freely move around, and be comfortable, and don’t forget that their wagging tail can easily knock over prized possessions sitting on your coffee table.
Having a large-sized yard is certainly an advantage, but when a golden is given enough exercise they can adapt well to living in an apartment.
A fenced yard is a must for this breed, as they are easily distracted by anything that moves. They will chase after birds, small animals, and moving objects.
A golden will quickly realize just how comfortable it is to lay on the couch next to you, or to share your bed, so be prepared to share your furniture. These dogs really think they are lap dogs.
Once a golden has grown accustomed to a comfortable lifestyle, like taking up half of your couch, they will continue to lounge on your furniture. Good luck changing this behaviour once it has started, LOL!
They Need At Least 2 Hours Of Exercise Daily
If you plan on owning a golden, you need to be prepared to provide them with plenty of exercise. Golden Retrievers are highly active, especially when they are puppies, so putting aside 2 hours a day for exercise is a must.
You will find that the younger the golden, the more effort it will take from you to tire them out. Don’t think that you can just let your golden outside to play by himself either, he will be waiting by the door for you to join him. Did I mention that goldens love being with their humans?
Golden Retrievers belong to the sporting group of dogs and were developed as hunting dogs. These dogs were bred to work, and they need to keep active in order to stay happy.
If you enjoy the outdoors, then this breed is for you. Golden Retrievers will be happy to be your jogging partner, go hiking with you, enjoy nature walks with you, and they love swimming.
Meeting the exercise needs of a golden is extremely important. A golden that does not get enough exercise daily will have pent-up energy, and that energy will be released in other ways, such as destructive behaviour.
Keeping your golden well exercised every day will make them happier and calmer, and not to mention keep them healthy.
They Need To Be Mentally Stimulated
Golden Retrievers are very intelligent, in fact, they are the fourth most intelligent dog, after the Border Collie, Poodle, and German Shepherd, according to Stanley Coren’s The Intelligence of Dogs.
With all that intelligence going on, their brain needs to be stimulated on a daily basis, or else they will develop bad habits like digging and chewing.
Golden Retrievers are eager to please, and that along with their intelligence makes them easy to train. Some great ways to stimulate your dog’s brain are, teaching your dog new tricks, taking your dog on a new walk with new smells, providing puzzle toys and interactive toys, taking your dog to obedience classes, and agility training.
Providing your dog with mental stimulation is an easy thing to do, and doesn’t have to cost any money.
They Need A Little Patience And Sense Of Humour From You
What makes Golden Retrievers so great is their easygoing and playful personality. These dogs are not choosy about who they play with either, they get along great with other dogs, and animals in the household.
Golden Retrievers are slow to mature compared to other breeds, and they remain puppy-like for many years. This breed is very playful and tends to have a goofy nature. You will need to have patience with this breed, especially when they are puppies.
They love carrying things in their mouths, picking up anything they can find, and that means your dirty socks and underwear from the laundry hamper too. When this happens you will likely chase your golden around the house to get your socks back, but your golden will think it’s a game. This is why you need to have a sense of humour, and expect the unexpected.
Some Golden Retrievers can be very stubborn if they don’t want to do something they will not do it. For instance, if you want to walk down a different street, and your golden disapproves, then your golden will just sit there and refuse to move. This happens all the time to me! What do I do? Well, usually I try to wait it out until my dog decides to go my way, sometimes I win, and sometimes I end up going her way.
When training a golden, you need to have patience and handle them in a gentle loving manner. If you get angry or scold your golden, they will end up pouting, as they are very sensitive.
They Need You To Accept All That Hair
It’s no secret that Golden Retrievers shed, and if you are allergic to dog hair, or are extremely meticulous about keeping a clean house, then this breed is not for you.
Owning a golden means you’ll have to accept all that shedding. Goldens shed heavily twice a year, during spring and fall, and moderately throughout the rest of the year. If you have a puppy, you can expect their very first shedding or “blowing the coat” to be the worst, it will almost be a shock to you to see all that hair lying around.
Feeding a high-quality diet, one that is non-processed, is a great way to reduce the amount of shedding. Also, brushing your golden daily for 10 minutes is a great way to help reduce the amount of hair that ends up on your floor.
There is no way to stop a golden from shedding, and you will have to accept the fact that there will be dog hair everywhere. If you want to keep a clean house, but don’t want to vacuum dog hair up every day, you may wish to invest in a powerful robot vacuum to do the work for you.
They Need A Job To Do
We’ve already established that goldens are smart and eager to please, so why not take advantage of those characteristics and give your golden a job to do. Not only will your dog benefit from having his brain exercised, but you will benefit from a calmer and happier dog.
They are called a retriever for a reason, they were born to fetch and retrieve, so why not let your golden fetch the newspaper for you, put away his own toys, or fetch things around the house for you like pieces of dirty laundry.
Golden Retrievers can easily be trained to do pretty much anything if you take the time to show them how. They love to please you and will work for treats and praise.
Golden Retrievers are happiest when they have a job to do, and when they know they are doing it well. Have you ever noticed a golden carrying a stick? You also would have noticed the big grin on his face, because he had a job to do. Carrying that stick and bringing it home was his job.
Goldens are hard workers, and natural people-pleasers, which makes them popular working dogs. Golden Retrievers are used as therapy dogs, assistance dogs, hunting, tracking, bomb-sniffing, drug-sniffing, and they are used in television and movies.
I am not saying that you need to employ your dog in a real job, but if you give your dog some simple tasks to do around the house, you will notice a happier dog.
They Need To Be Cared For
Caring for a Golden Retriever is a big commitment, this breed has an average lifespan of 10-12 years, and like other purebred dogs, this breed is prone to some health problems that you need to be aware of.
Some issues that can affect goldens are cancer, hip and elbow dysplasia, various eye problems, heart disease, allergies and hypothyroidism. While these issues are common among this breed, it is not to say that all goldens will suffer from any or all of them.
Golden Retrievers are also prone to obesity, and are very food motivated and will eat pretty much anything. If you decide to own this breed you will need to watch their food intake and avoid overfeeding.
Owning a golden can be very expensive, and you should be prepared for all the costs associated with this breed. You will need to factor in the cost of regular vet visits for routine check-ups, as well as any emergency situations you may encounter.
Other costs to factor in include grooming, food, treats, toys, bedding, collars, leashes, and training.
The health and well-being of your Golden Retriever is in your hands, and in order for your dog to live a happy and healthy life, you must take the steps needed to provide daily care. A balanced and nutritious diet, regular exercise, regular vet check-ups, grooming, playtime, and love are all essentials in maintaining good health.
Final Thoughts On What Golden Retrievers Need
I hope that this article has not scared you off of owning a Golden Retriever, but instead made you think carefully about examining your own lifestyle and if you are able to meet the needs of a golden.
This breed is rather needy when it comes to attention and love, the more the better. They are wonderful companions and will follow you from room to room, just to be near you. They crave human interaction, and you cannot leave them alone for long periods of time.
If you are okay with sharing your furniture, having a large lap dog, and are accepting of all that dog hair, then you will be happy with a golden.
It also helps to have a sense of humour, and patience, because this breed is very playful and loves to act goofy. Remember, they are slower to mature than other breeds and remain puppy-like for many years.
Meeting the needs of a golden takes time, commitment, and effort on your part, but it is a rewarding experience.
If you enjoyed this article, please like and share. If you own a Golden Retriever or are thinking of owning one, please share your comments below. I would love to hear from you.