Is the Golden Retriever the Dog for You?
A soft golden coat, liquid brown eyes and a merry tail are the attributes of the Golden Retriever. From search and rescue and guide dog work to household pet and hunting partner, the Golden Retriever does it all, well. It’s shouldn’t be a surprise they are among the top ten most popular breeds in Australia, with many making this loveable beauty part of their family. But is the Golden Retriever the dog for you?
Compared to some breeds, the Golden Retriever is relatively new. The breed was developed by Lord Tweedmouth, a Scottish Lord, in the 1860s. He created the breed by mating an unregistered yellow Flat Coat Retriever with a Tweed Water Spaniel (now extinct). Future outcrossing included Tweed Water Spaniels and black Flat Coated Retrievers. Some also say that he used Irish Setters and Bloodhounds in the mix.
By 1908, the breed had come under the public eye and started to gain popularity when a Lord Harcourt showed his Golden Retrievers at the Kennel Club Show in the United Kingdom. From there, popularity spread, with the breed taking off in the United States in the 1970s, when President Gerald Ford brought his First Dog, a Golden Retriever named Liberty, to the White House.
The breeds popularity in Australia has resulted in six state breed clubs, as well as the National Golden Retriever Council. A larger breed of dog, the modern Golden Retriever stands 51-56cm (females) and 56-61cm (males) and weighs 24-30kg and 30-35kg, respectively.
A “kindly expression” is part of the standard of this lovely breed, who has a golden personality to go along with that golden coat. The Golden Retriever is known for a kind, pleasing temperament that makes him the perfect choice for therapy and guide dog work. Although a larger breed, they do well with children as long as they have been taught manners (remember, a big dog can accidentally knock over a small child, with no malice involved).
Though it may be easy to forget based on appearance, the Golden Retriever IS a hunting breed. They were bred for a job – to retrieve game from the moors of Scotland – and to do that job well. Although decades have passed, the breed still retains a strong work ethic and retrieving instinct. This is great if you are looking for a hunting partner. If you are looking for a family pet, it’s something to keep in mind. Their drive and instinct need an outlet. They are a high energy breed! To be a good house mate, Goldens need DAILY exercise, whether it’s a jog, a good game of fetch, agility, etc. Many a bored Golden have become destructive chewers, barkers, and diggers!
Being a large breed, give it some thought if you think your flat has enough room for a Golden Retriever to move around without issue. That long tail can cause a lot of destruction as it waves exuberantly!
More than that, having a backyard with room to make sure your Golden is getting his daily exercise can make your life easy, but is not necessary if you commit to exercising him outside the house each day. Goldens are definitely family-orientated and love to snuggle up on the couch after a day’s run or agility practice.
Common Health Problems
A fairly healthy breed, the Golden Retriever does have some genetic disorders you should be aware of when selecting a puppy. Any respectable breeder should do health testing and screening, to help ensure your dog has a long and healthy life. Hip and elbow dysplasia are two of the biggest concerns in the breed. Any breeding animals should be tested for both. Also, due to this, owners should take care that their young, growing puppies do not do anything to strenuous, that could cause undue stress on these joints before they are fully developed. Also keeping them nice and lean while growing helps growing joints stay nice and tight.
Golden Retrievers can also suffer from several genetic eye problems, including Progressive Retinal Atrophy and Hereditary Cataracts, which affect eye sight, and Multifocal Retinal Dysplasia and Post Polar Cataract, which do not. Breeders in Australia are expected to screen their dogs annually for these conditions.
Hereditary heart disease is another concern, and again, it’s the responsibility of the breeders to not breed any dog with a heart condition that could be passed on the offspring. Golden Retrievers have more cases of canine dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) than most other breeds – this may be due to their being predisposed to taurine deficiency, research has not been conclusive on this.
They also are known to have epilepsy and it is strongly thought to be hereditary in Goldens, so ask any potential breeder if their lines have it. Ichthyosis, excessive flaking skin, is also a hereditary condition that can be avoided by not getting a puppy from a breeder that has dogs with it.
Ectopic Ureters (wet puppy syndrome), where the ureter does not enter the bladder in the correct position, is also something that Golden Retrievers can have. Unfortunately, as of now, they have not identified if this is hereditary or how to screen for it.
Like many other breeds, cancer is a concern. In fact, according to the National Golden Retriever Council Australia, a study showed that 60 percent of American Golden Retrievers were lost to it. However, research has showed that this may be due to a fairly recent gene mutation in their lines. While you can’t completely safeguard against cancer, ensuring your puppy is coming from healthy, tested stock may reduce the chance.
Golden Retrievers are biddable and easy to train. Being bred for a job, they enjoy working with people and training is fun for them! They excel at almost any sport – from agility and dock diving to hunting and obedience. Even if you just want a well-mannered family dog, putting in the work to socialize and train your young Golden will reward with you many golden years of good behavior. While they are generally a friendly breed, you will still want to socialize them with people of all types, especially children due to their size, and any animals you want them to live with. Remember, they are a hunting breed and may have the instinct to chase or bark at small animals.
We recommend feeding your Golden Retriever puppy Stay Loyal Large Breed Puppy through nine months of age, for slow steady growth. And keeping them nice and lean. After that, switch to Stay Loyal Adult Chicken, Lamb, & Fish.
The Golden Retriever is a friendly, sweet-natured and intelligent dog that loves to be part of the family. Given the right amount of exercise and some training, they can make a splendid addition to any home. Ask yourself if you have the time and energy for daily exercise (it’s good for you too!) and enough time to train. If so, adding a Golden Retriever to your home might be just the right fit.