What Golden Retrievers Need-Find Out Before Owning One

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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 dogs 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 behavior.

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 a 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 behavior once it has started, LOL!

Golden retriever on couch.

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 behavior.

Keeping your golden well exercised every day will make them happier and calmer, and not to mention keep them healthy.

Golden Retriever Swimming with stick in mouth.

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 dogs 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 Humor 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 humor, 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.

Golden Retriever with large stick in mouth.

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 displasia, 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 humor, 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.

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I am the proud owner of a Golden Retriever named Ellie. She keeps me busy, and when she is resting, you can find me working on my blog. She is always close by though. I live in Peterborough, ON Canada with my husband, and we both enjoy the never a dull moment life with our Ellie.

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18 thoughts on “What Golden Retrievers Need-Find Out Before Owning One”

  1. I have had dogs my entire life, 3 of them were Labrador’s who all lived to 14 years old. While they were great family dogs, none of them were like “the best dog ever” our Golden Retriever, Wylie. He was everything you mentioned in your article and the easiest to train of any dog I ever had. To stop him on a dime, all we needed to do was call his name, even while going after a deer in the yard. He was the happiest dog ever, always a smile on his face. The one thing we could never stop him from doing was barking at visitors at the door, all the while wagging his tail and immediately running to find a toy to bring back as a gift. We lost him a month ago to very aggressive bone cancer. Miss him every day, looking for a new puppy to fill the space but never take his place. He was almost 9 years old.

    • Hi Cynthia,
      Thank you so much for sharing your experience. The way you speak of your beloved dog Wylie is so touching. I am so sorry and so saddened to hear of your loss, your Golden Wylie was so young. It is so heartbreaking to lose a dog to cancer at such an early age. It sounds like he truly had an amazing life with you, and for you to say he was the best dog ever is what all Golden Retriever owners know to be the case with their Goldens as well. Golden Retrievers are the best dogs and are always happy with a smile on their face! The joy they bring to our lives is something special, they are like no other breed! I hope you are able to find joy again with a new puppy.

      I wish you all the best during this tough time. Thanks again for taking the time to comment.


  2. I’m glad that you mentioned that they are not outside dogs. My 6-year-old daughter has always wanted a Golden Retriever and I have never taken care of one, so I was wanting to know what to expect before getting one. Thank you for helping me learn more about how you take care of Golden Retrievers!

    • Hi Kate,
      Golden Retrievers love to be near their humans at all times. You will notice that they seem to take over your furniture and your lap, needing constant attention and affection. They are bundles of joy! They are not outside dogs, and only go outside if you go outside too. They are happiest with their family. I’m glad this article has given you some perspective on Golden Retrievers.

      Thank you for taking the time to comment.


  3. Thank you for your great article. I have a 10 month old Golden puppy and the breeder told me to start training her as soon as we got home. I started with Zac George’s, you tube videos and now we take obedience class. I’m so happy that I took this advice because Golden’s are such a powerful breed. I really love our puppy and feel so lucky to have her as part of our family. I would just caution families with younger children to make sure that they have the time and dedication because while Golden’s love children they need to be taught manners so that they don’t accidentally injure a child.

    • Hi Mindy,
      Your breeder has given you some great advice, training your puppy should start on the day you bring your puppy home. Boundaries and rules need to be set, and everyone in your household must be on the same page. For instance, if you don’t want your puppy on the furniture, but another member of your household allows the puppy on the furniture, your puppy will be confused and not know who to listen to.

      I completely agree with you about cautioning families with younger children, to make sure they have the time and dedication for training a golden puppy. Golden Retrievers are great with children, however when they are puppies they can be very rambunctious, and can easily knock over a small child. They certainly need to be taught how to play and be around children, and as you say they need to be taught manners. Close supervision is a must with younger children.

      I am so glad you enjoyed my article, and wish you all the best with your golden puppy. Thank you for taking the time to leave a comment.


  4. Hello Jenny 

    Thank You for a great article. I’m a big-time dog lover myself. I do have two best friends in my home – two mini poodles. Love golden retrievers. Golden Retrievers are magnificent creatures and people really need to realize that before taking one home. There is nothing in this world I hate more than seeing someone buying the dog and short time after bringing him to the shelter because of failure to do research first. We are responsible for them, people need to realize they are not toys they have feelings too and much stronger than humans. The dog will never betray you! 

    Thanks for your in-depth analysis. Hope everyone reads this article before making such an important decision.

    • Hi David,

      Thank you for your comment.  I am glad you enjoyed my article, and I also hate when people fail to research the dog breed, and only buy based on looks.  Owning a dog is a huge responsibility, and it should be for the life of the dog.  That is why I wrote this article, to give people an inside look at what it takes to own this breed.


  5. Jenny,

    You are spot on with your article, thank you for some great information. My wife and I had yellow labs which are very similar to Goldens. They require a lot of attention, exercise, and stimulation. Like the Golden, labs love to eat!

    I think the key point to your article is to really know the dog you are interested in bringing into the family. The hunting dogs have a lot of energy and, if bored, will chew up anything and everything. Retrieving is their thing so get ready to throw balls, frisbees, sticks, etc. If water is nearby, Goldens love to get wet.

    Goldens and Labs are just great dogs and love being around people.

    Thanks again for a great article.

  6. I got a dog once, too bad I didn’t know what it meant having a pet back then, and I lost the dog. I do go out a lot and most times I chained it up and I felt bad about it. I couldn’t afford to get someone to help look after it because it’s not a job people do, or considered, where I come from. Even my neighbours couldn’t help because they don’t like dogs, I like my dog, but I hardly had time for it. I lost it 6months after I bought it and never saw it again. 

    • Hi Ayodeji,

      Thanks for your comment.  This is exactly why I wrote this article, to make people aware of the time and commitment that it takes to own a dog.  So many people fail to really understand how much work it is to own a dog and how much money it costs.  


  7. Great post and good info.

    We have Sammy for a year now, he is a Golden Retriever, and really, he needs all the attention in the world. 

    He is also the sweetest dog in the world, but we call him a big giant puppy. He is 4 years old now, but he acts like he is only months old. 

    However, we couldn’t miss him anymore, since he is our child. 

    Goldens are really the best, but you need to have time for them. 

    Thanks for sharing it. 

    • Hi Emmanuel,

      Golden Retrievers just have a way of stealing your heart, they are big teddy bears.  They truly are the best, and you really need to have the time and attention to give them.

      Thanks for commenting.


  8. Thank you for this article! I thought the part where you talked about how a golden retriever is happiest, when they have a job to do was pretty interesting. I don’t have much experience training dogs, but feel like if I decided to get a golden retriever, I would have to learn a lot. Do you have any suggestions on jobs to do around the house for the dog, that I could easily teach them to do?

    • Hi Kathrin,

      Thank you for your comment.  Golden Retrievers love to carry things in their mouths, so you could easily train a golden to bring you your slippers, or bring you the newspaper, carry the mail for you, put dirty clothes in the laundry basket, or put their toys away in a basket.  There are so many things that a golden can do if you take the time to teach them, and yes they will be happy to do it.


  9. I have to tell you. This looks really pro and if I would want to get a Golden Retriever in the future I’ll definitely know where to look for help and advice. Keep up the honest work you do here!


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