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Golden Retriever: One Of The Most Popular Family Dogs


Last Updated: June 12, 2024 | 9 min read | 5 Comments

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Golden Retriever (caption: Golden Retriever guide)

The Golden Retriever is known for being one of the most popular family dog breeds, but what puts this breed in such high demand? Our experts look at what distinguishes this breed from others, including their intelligence level and trainability. Learn more about this lovable dog and what it takes to have one in your home.

Golden Retriever History

Golden Retriever black and white image from AKC
Photo credit: AKC

The origin of the Golden Retriever began in the 1800s when Lord Tweedmouth developed it. In the Scottish Highlands, Lord Tweedmouth crossed a Yellow Flat-Coated Retriever with the Tweed Water Spaniel. The Tweed Water Spaniel is now extinct, but it played a significant role in contributing to the Golden Retriever breed.

The dog that resulted from the retriever spaniel cross-breeding was then crossed with the Bloodhound and Irish Setter and later with the Tweed Water Spaniel once more. The resulting dog was the Golden Retriever; however, at the time of its development, it was referred to as the Golden Flat-Coat. The American Kennel Club recognized this well-loved breed for the first time in 1925.

The following organizations currently recognize the Golden Retriever: Continental Kennel Club, World Canine Organization, American Kennel Club, United Kennel Club, Kennel Club of Great Britain, Australian National Kennel Club, National Kennel Club, Dogs New Zealand, America’s Pet Registry, American Canine Registry, Dog Registry of America, and North American Purebreed Registry.

Are There Different Varieties?

English Cream Golden Retriever on grass
English Cream Golden Retriever

There are many Golden Retriever varieties distinguished by physical appearance alone: golden, light golden, and dark golden. There are also three different varieties based on origin: English, American and Canadian.

English Golden Retriever

The English Golden Retriever is more prevalent in Australia and Europe. Their muzzle is shorter and wider, and they have a blockier build. The legs and tail of the English are shorter, and the chest is deeper than the American. English are generally heavier dogs and have rounder eyes as opposed to triangular-shaped eyes.

American Golden Retriever

American Golden Retriever in grass
American Golden Retriever

The American Golden Retriever isn’t as blocky in build as the English and often appears lankier. The skull is slimmer than the English’s broad skull, and the legs and tail are longer.

Canadian Golden Retriever

Some people also distinguish between the American and Canadian Golden Retrievers; however, most combine Canadians with the Americans as one group. The Canadian Golden Retrievers, when distinguished separately, are done so by the different density of their coat and their darker color. Canadian Goldens are also thinner than the Americans.

What Do They Look Like?


The Golden Retriever stands between 20 and 24 inches tall. Females are generally smaller than males standing between 20 and 22 inches, where males stand between 22 and 24 inches tall. Female golden retrievers are also commonly lighter than males weighing between 55 and 65 pounds, whereas males weigh between 65 and 75 pounds. Most Goldens stop growing by around two years old.

What Size Crate Will They Need?

Most Golden Retrievers will need a 36” to 42″ crate. Not sure which crate to get? Our experts have done the research to help you determine which crate is right for your dog.


Golden Retriever sitting with tongue out

The Golden Retriever is almost always golden in color, but the gold shades vary from light cream to deep gold. As they age, it’s not unusual for them to lighten in color, becoming almost white around the eyes and muzzle as well as the feet and underbelly.

The English Cream Golden Retriever is also known as the “white golden” as their color is the lightest of the breed — so light it appears white. You also may come across what some may call a “black golden.” However, this is a distinctive breed of its own known as a Flat-Coated Retriever.


This breed’s double coat is water-resistant and thick. The undercoat repels water from the skin and helps hold body heat even when it’s quite cold.

Most Goldens have long hair, but you can find a short-haired Golden Retriever. This coat’s variation may be related to genetic mutations in the line or may be a sign that the dog is not purebred.

Another recognizable feature of this breed’s coat is the thick and feathered tail. Feathering is also present on the back of the legs, under the belly, and the neck’s front.


The eyes of this breed are deep brown and relatively large in relation to the skull.


The ears of this breed hang low and close to the face.

Do Golden Retrievers Shed A Lot?

Dog sitting next to vacuum (caption: Best Vacuums For Pet Hair)

The Golden Retriever’s coat tends to shed a lot, and they shed year-round but most notably in the spring. If you have this breed in your home, you’ll need to get used to dealing with hair. You may want to check out our article on the best dog vacuums to help you keep your house as clean as possible.

Are Golden Retrievers Hypoallergenic?

If you’re looking for an allergy or asthma-friendly dog, then the golden retriever is not your best choice. While no dogs are genuinely hypoallergenic, some breeds are less likely to cause allergic reactions in family members.

How Do You Groom A Golden Retriever?

Dog being brushed (Caption: A Guide To The Best Dog Shedding Brush)

Grooming will be an essential part of your life with a Golden Retriever. Brushing and bathing are the main grooming concerns.

You can maintain a healthy coat with regular grooming. The coat should be combed and brushed with a brush with firm bristles at least weekly, if not daily. Our experts have recommendations for the best shedding brush for your Golden. Minimize bathing to when your pup is visibly dirty or has an odor to avoid stripping the coat of oils necessary to maintain skin health. Dry shampoo can be used on the dog’s coat as needed.

Goldens will require nail trimming every three to four weeks.  Also, brush their teeth at least several times a week but daily if possible.


The golden retriever is an intelligent breed; in fact, it ranks high on the list of the top ten most intelligent breeds according to obedience trial judges. With proper training and enough exercise, this is a devoted and gentle dog that is patient with family members, children, and other animals. This breed is self-assured when raised by a healthy household and provided with consistent leadership, socialization, and obedience training.

Golden Retriever fetching ball

Recognized as a sporting breed, this retriever is a gun dog. Still, it also excels in other activities, including tracking, hunting, narcotics detection, competitive obedience, agility work, and any activity that involves swimming. Another important and frequent use for the Golden Retriever is as a service dog in all aspects of the service industry, including guide dogs for the blind and therapy dog work.

A strong work ethic comes naturally to the Golden Retriever. So much so that it will work until it collapses. It’s essential to monitor this dog’s activity, and any signs of fatigue as this breed is not one to stop in the middle of a job even if it is tired. Overheating may also become a concern for the Golden Retriever that over-exerts itself on the job.


Dog trainer with dogs (Caption: Doggy Dan's Online Dog Trainer Review)

Training a Golden Retriever is often reasonably easy because of their intelligence level; however, it is crucial to begin training early. The sooner training begins for any dog, the more solid a foundation you can build for more advanced training in the future.

If you need a little guidance on training, our experts can help you with tips for finding the right trainer or by reviewing online options like Doggy Dan.

Health Concerns

Unfortunately, the Golden Retriever breed is prone to several health conditions, many of which result from over-breeding by irresponsible breeders. Some of their most common health conditions include cancer (particularly mast cell tumors), hip dysplasia, heart conditions, skin allergies, Von Willebrand’s disease, congenital eye defects, and obesity. Many of these conditions lead to a shortened lifespan, so it’s crucial to understand the impact of not researching a dog’s genetic lines.

Best Pet Insurance For Golden Retrievers

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Fortunately for you, if you sign up for pet insurance before your Golden Retriever is diagnosed with a health condition or suffers from an accident (post-waiting periods), it can help you cover the expenses.

Choosing the best pet insurance for your Golden Retriever is a personal decision, but we recommend selecting a company based on coverage, customer service and reputation, claim repayment timeline, price, and available plan customizations.

We’ve evaluated and selected the best pet insurance companies. Our article includes our top three picks and the most popular pet insurance companies in the marketplace.

Pet Insurance Testimonial

I was very skeptical about purchasing insurance, but after what I spent on my first dog I thought I’d give it a try. A couple of weeks ago my two-year-old Golden Retriever was not feeling well. I took him to the vet and after subsequent testing and X-rays, it was determined that he had swallowed a rock, was obstructed and needed emergency surgery. I downloaded the Fetch app on my phone, took pictures of the receipts, hit send, and less than two weeks later I had full reimbursement per my policy. I was beyond impressed. In the future, all my dogs will be covered by Fetch.

How Much Exercise Do They Need?

Golden Retriever in field with wheat

Golden Retrievers love to run. In fact, in short sprints, they can reach top speeds of 35 mph. Combine that with their nature as a sporting breed, and you’ll understand the need to meet their daily exercise requirements. This breed won’t be satisfied with just a short walk; they need at a minimum a long walk or a run daily to expend pent-up energy.

Adequate exercise isn’t only important to maintain physical health but is crucial to maintain a healthy psychological state. If you’re rarely home, then the Golden Retriever is not a breed that you should consider without being able to provide doggy daycare-type activities where the dog can socialize and exercise.

Bowl of fresh dog food with dog and box (caption: Best Dog Food Delivery)

What Is The Best Dog Food For A Golden Retriever?

Goldens require a healthy diet to keep them strong and fuel their energetic nature. It’s important to check with your vet when you’re considering the right food for your pet. There are many options and our experts can help you find the right fresh food, raw food, or dog food delivery service to meet your dog’s needs.

What Is Their Life Expectancy?

The average life expectancy of a Golden Retriever is about 11 years. However, the oldest Golden Retriever turned 20 on April 24, 2020. His name is Augie, and he lives in Oakland, TN.

Golden Retriever playing with a stick in water with woman

Golden Retrievers have become increasingly common as part of “designer” mixed breed dogs. Some of the most popular hybrids include:

  • German Shepherd Golden Retriever mix (Golden Shepherd)
  • Husky Golden Retriever mix (Goberian)
  • Corgi Golden Retriever mix (Golden Corgi, Corgi Retriever, or Corgi Golden Retriever)
  • Border Collie Golden Retriever mix (Gollie)
  • Poodle Golden Retriever mix (Goldendoodle)
  • Dachshund Golden Retriever mix (Golden Dox)
  • Cocker Spaniel Golden Retriever mix (Golden Cocker)
  • Boxer Golden Retriever mix (Golden Boxer)

Golden Retriever vs Lab vs Goldendoodle

Gary The Goldendoodle laying on dog bed

Many people who are considering a Golden Retriever as their furry companion may also look at Labrador Retrievers or Goldendoodles (Golden-Poodle mix) as well. Here are some of the main differences when comparing Goldens to these other breeds.

Golden Retriever vs Lab

These purebred breeds are alike and different in several ways. Labs and Goldens are very similar in size. However, Labs are slightly larger. Their coats are also similar, and both shed more than an average dog, but Goldens require a bit more grooming than labs. Goldens are golden in color, but Labs come in three coat shades yellow, black, and chocolate. While both are energetic, intelligent, and loyal, Goldens tend to be more gentle and sensitive than Labs.

Golden Retriever vs Goldendoodle

There are lots of similarities and differences when it comes to Golden Retrievers and Goldendoodles. The pure breed Golden is very standard in size. In contrast, with the designer breed Goldendoodle, you’ll notice various size options as there can be Miniature Goldendoodles. Since it is part poodle, the Goldendoodles’ coat has a curl to it and requires more maintenance. However, they shed less than Golden Retrievers and are more hypoallergenic. Their temperaments are generally similar, and both need companionship, socialization, and daily exercise.

How Much Do They Cost?

Golden Retrievers range in cost from around $500 to $3,000 depending on the location and breeder. It’s essential to find a reputable breeder to protect yourself from a scam and make sure the puppy has been cared for properly.

You may be able to adopt a Golden Retriever from a rescue organization, which would likely be less expensive but may take more time.

5 Things You’ll Learn About Your Golden Retriever

This adorable three-minute video from The Dodo shows you five things you will learn when you make a Golden Retriever a part of your family.

Is A Golden Retriever Right For Your Home?

If you’re looking for a social, energetic, loving companion to make your family complete, a Golden Retriever might be just the right pup for you. If your family struggles with allergies and can’t provide an active lifestyle, then you may want to reconsider. If you want to learn more about this special breed before committing, check out The Complete Guide To Golden Retriever Handbook.

Choosing the right breed is a very important decision. Our experts give you the secrets to picking the right dog breed to help you make the best choice for your next pet.

The information provided through this website should not be used to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease; it is not intended to offer any legal opinion or advice or a substitute for professional safety advice or professional care. Please consult your health care provider, attorney, or product manual for professional advice. Products and services reviewed are provided by third parties; we are not responsible in any way for them, nor do we guarantee their functionality, utility, safety, or reliability. Our content is for educational purposes only.

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