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Do Golden Retrievers Make Good Pets? Bill Knell

The Golden Retriever is a medium sized breed of dog which originated in Scotland and tends to weigh sixty to seventy pounds when fully grown. Like most dogs bred over the past few hundred years, they were bred for working rather than to be kept as pets. The actual origin of the breeds which were cross bred to create the Golden Retriever are in dispute and still mostly unknown, but there is no doubt that this breed is one of the most specialized and popular of all purebred dog breeds in the world.

Golden Retrievers were bred to be used as duck and small game hunting dogs in areas with a lot of water, marshes and wetlands. Their breeding for that purpose has certainly succeeded because not only do they have an instinctive love of water, but Golden Retrievers have coats which are resistant to moisture. They also have an inner coat which keeps their bodies warm in cold weather and even icy water situations. Although they tend to make great pets, a lot of diehard hunters still use them for the job they were originally bred to do.

There are some issues that prospective Golden Retriever owners should know about. First and foremost, they require a lot of room and exercise. You should not own a Retriever if you plan on keeping it in an apartment or a house with a small yard. If you do, a failure to receive proper daily exercise will probably end up creating weight, health and behavior issues for your pet. Another problem is that because Golden Retrievers have been bred to hunt, they have a tendency to bolt and roam.

Most dogs will bolt or escape given the opportunity to do so and Golden Retrievers are no different. Owners should be sure that their Retrievers are kept in fenced in areas with locked gates. Fences must be at least six feet high and extend well into the ground to keep dogs from tunneling. Animals do most of what they do by instinct, and the instinct for Golden Retrievers to escape, roam, hunt and breed can be overwhelming and defeat any loyalties they might feel towards their owners.

Purebred American, Canadian and British Golden Retrievers differ in terms of their size and appearance. Most of the Retrievers available without papers in the USA are actually mixed breed animals and that might create a problem for the owner. Whether purebred or mixed, it is always a good idea to know as much about the parents and lineage of any puppy or dog you plan to adopt before you take that step. A dog’s potential size, health and overall suitability for adoption can best be judged from what you know about its background.

Purebred American Golden Retrievers are known to have excellent overall temperaments. Owners often describe them as intelligent, friendly and confident. If you begin training when they are puppies, these dogs will learn fast and respond well to commands in most instances. They are good watch dogs, but will respond well to strangers if they are trained to do so. Most will not try and bite people who they do not know if those people act in a non-threatening way to pet them. However, all dogs are still animals that can react violently without prior warning if they feel threatened or dominated in any way.

Golden Retrievers live to be about eleven years old. Their quality of life after the age of eight or nine depends on how well they were cared for during their earlier years. I recommend yearly Veterinarian check ups, daily exercise and high quality dog food for your pet. Using high quality dog food with lots of premium proteins and no cheap fillers will help to optimize your dog’s health and limit shedding. High quality natural supplements are also a good idea to provide the extra nutrients your dog needs, especially if it has a very active lifestyle.

Most of the diseases that afflict Golden Retrievers are the same ones that many other dog breeds have genetic predispositions for and will probably not appear until old age sets in. These can include hip dysplasia, eye infections and obesity. Carefully examining a dog’s pedigree can help avoid adopting a puppy with hip problems in its lineage. Any vet or knowledgeable breeder can help you with that. Good grooming is essential to keep your dogs coat clean, healthy and pest free. I recommend outdoor brushing a couple of times a week, but consult a vet about your dog’s individual grooming needs and ask about brush types. Frequent baths are not needed unless recommended by a veterinary health or dog grooming professional and may actually cause damage to your dog’s coat by removing the natural oil that is present.

Golden Retrievers make good overall personal or family pets as long as prospective owners understand their breed specific needs and are willing to provide for them. Most experts agree that a dog is only as good a pet as their owner is at caring for them. You cannot just adopt a Golden Retriever and tie it to a tree in the back yard. You should also never use a chain to limit its access to your property. Good training always equals good behavior and considering their intelligence, training your Retriever to be the best pet if can be is a no brainer.


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