Golden Retriever FAQ

Golden retriever faq - a cute close up of puppys face

What could you possibly want to know about me?

This article collects the most frequently asked questions about the Golden Retriever into one easy to search and use article.

The aim is not to give extensive, detail rich and comprehensive answers. It’s to give ‘quick and dirty answers’ to the most common questions a person may ask when researching the breed.

For more comprehensive coverage of the questions asked, please search the rest of the site where subjects are covered in great detail.

This article will grow and be constantly added to as new questions are asked of me on Facebook and via this site.

How Long on Average Does a Golden Retriever Live?

The average life span of your typical Golden Retriever is between 10 and 12 years, though a good number do survive until 14 and the oldest recorded Golden Retriever I could find was 19 1/2 years old!

Are Golden Retrievers Good With Children?

They are very good with children. Gentle, kind and very patient while loving the high energy and play that children can offer them.

You should be careful with a Golden Retriever puppy or adolescent though as they are a very large breed and at these stages in life they can be very boisterous and knock small children over with ease.

How Big do Golden Retrievers Get and How Much Can They Weigh?

Male dogs are 56-61cms (22-24 ins) and bitches 51-56cms (20-22 ins) at the withers.

A healthy Golden weighs between 60 and 75 pounds, with some of the very smallest and largest ‘outliers’ ranging as low as 55 pounds right up to 90 pounds (not including overweight and obese dogs.)

How Much Exercise Does a Golden Retriever Need?

The Golden Retriever is a sporting breed and as such they need a lot of exercise to keep them healthy and mentally stimulated. They benefit from lots of regular high intensity exercise when fully grown.

Caution should be taken with Golden Retriever puppies though and you shouldn’t force high intensity exercise on them until they’re 18 months old or you can damage their growing joints.

Is it True That Golden Retrievers Love to Swim?

It’s certainly true that as a breed overall, Goldens love to swim and the majority will seek out even the smallest puddles to get a little wet when possible. But it’s not true of each one because they are individual with their own unique likes and dislikes.

If a golden has a bad experience with water as a puppy or isn’t socialized to it they may grow up to dislike it.

Swimming is a great exercise for Goldens, particularly in very hot weather or for elderly dogs, so it’s worth getting them used to it when young and letting them enjoy the pursuit of swimming.

Do Golden Retrievers Need a Lot of Grooming?

As a long-haired breed Goldens do need a fair amount of grooming, otherwise their coats can become matted and tangled.

You need to regularly groom their whole bodies including their ears, armpits, legs and tail…everywhere. You can brush the main part of their coat but use a comb in the more sensitive areas.

You should brush them thoroughly at minimum at least once per week, though twice per week is far better. Most owners will brush their Golden every day when possible and there’s no such thing as over brushing so you can do so if you wish.

You will certainly need to give them a brush every day during shedding season, the first 3 weeks of spring and the first 3 weeks of autumn / fall.

Do Golden Retrievers Shed a Lot of Hair?

I’m afraid they do. They shed hair all year round in small quantities but twice per year at the start of spring and autumn they shed in what can only be described as ‘massive amounts’ when their undercoats change over for the changing seasons.

Is it OK to Have a Golden Retriever in a Hot Climate?

It certainly is. They just need constant access to a shaded and aerated area, lots of water and they will do just fine.

The one thing to be conscious of is to not over exercise them in the heat. You will want to do all high intensity exercise during the mornings and late evenings before the sun gets high and it gets really hot.

Is it OK to Shave a Golden Retriever?

You absolutely should not shave a Golden Retriever!

They are a double-coated breed with a top-coat and under-coat that work together to keep them warm in winter and cool in summer. Shaving them upsets the balance that mother nature created for the function of their double coat.

In winter the undercoat grows thick as insulation and in spring they begin to shed this coat and you should regularly rake out the dead hair to remove it.

A little trim here and there when being groomed is OK but you should never shave your Golden.

Are all Golden Retrievers ‘Golden’? Or Can They be Other Colors?

There is only one color of Golden Retriever but the shade can vary quite dramatically from dog to dog.

You can find some Goldens that are a very deep fox red, all the way through to an almost pale white. But they are all known as the one color.

(This is similar to Yellow Labradors who come in a similar range of shades but are also just one color.)

Do Golden Retrievers Bark a Lot?

Generally speaking they don’t bark much at all but they can develop problem barking behaviors, particularly if they aren’t mentally stimulated and get bored.

Do Golden Retrievers Make Good Guard Dogs?

I’m afraid not. Actually, strike that, I mean I can happily say they don’t.

Goldens are a truly loving and gentle breed and that’s a big part of what people adore so much about them. Some might bark if a stranger approaches the door, but if they get in a Golden will lick them to death then show them your jewellery box.

What Age Can I Bring a Golden Retriever Puppy Home?

The earliest you should take a puppy from their mother and siblings is 8 weeks old.

Up until this time they are getting important socialization and learning important skills and social etiquette from their mother and siblings that it’s very hard for humans to replace if they are taken any younger.

What Are the Main Differences Between Males and Females?

Leaving out the obvious, there are differences in size and some supposed small differences in personality that have led to generalizations, but really there isn’t much difference at all.

Males are a little taller and a little heavier, this is easy to see.

But neither are aggressive, both are intelligent, keen to please, eager to work and good with children.

It’s often said that males are more affectionate than females, and females need more attention, but this could swing either way depending on individual personality and isn’t something you should rely on.

Should Golden Retrievers Live Inside? Are They OK to be ‘Outside’ Dogs?

Golden Retrievers are a very social breed that long for and love to be near their family so if you’re inside they will want to be in there with you.

Also, without sufficient social interaction they will easily become bored and likely develop behavior problems and destructive habits (barking, digging) due to the stress of being under stimulated and unsatisfied.

About Wendy

Wendy
Wendy is a self-employed beauty therapist, mother of two, life-long pet parent and lover of dogs who somehow manages to squeeze in the time to satisfy another of her loves - writing. Wendy is the founder, main contributor to and editor of TotallyGoldens.

27 comments

  1. You’ve said all Goldens are one color and it varies, but I see adverts for white golden retrievers all the time. Is it not an actual colour?

    • Wendy

      Hi Stephen,

      Goldens can range in color from a surprisingly deep red, to an almost completely white. Some breeders will describe them as ‘white’ Golden Retrievers merely to indicate the ‘shade’ of their puppies coat. But it’s a shade, not a color. Although it must be said that some breeders might also indicate a ‘white’ golden in order to try and claim rarity and jack up the prices a bit.

  2. Kansas City Mo Hi my golden has bin the joy to come home to for 9 1/2 years .. Recently he passed and I miss him so much.. We hiked to go swimming .. We had a relationship that I have never experienced before..He loved to come along when I was painting my landscapes he would put his head against me when I needed support .. I am hurting not loving him and his memory is so alive..I’m hoping I can find his spirit in another golden that would be loved as much as I loved MAX/PUPPY ..yearning for a healthy male standard but no history of parents having cancer or hip problems.. Low cost please I am semi retired ..loving artist living in an award winning pet friendly area…

    • All good thoughts about Max he never would run away or stray perfect pet.. Unconditional love !

    • Wendy

      Hi Mo,

      I’m not sure you’ll get many breeders viewing this page, not enough to find one in your area. Have you tried a Google search for Golden Retriever breeders in and around your area?

    • Hi Marlene – have you contacted a Golden Retriever Rescue? I’m part of GRREAT the Golden Retriever Rescue Education and Training here in Maryland. There are some years we take in over a dog a day and are always looking to place our angels in a loving forever home. According to a Google search, there is a Golden Retriever rescue organization in your area. Dogs are given up for a variety of reasons (allergies, new family, owner passing away etc.) that have nothing to do with behavior. The foster family for each dog will be able to advise you on the details for their foster. PLEASE consider a rescue before a breeder!

    • My husband and I adopted a Golden puppy from just south of Jeff City. When the litter is ready they bring the pups up to Kansas City and you meet them for pick up. Our Golden costed $600, which is the cheapest we found of all the places we looked. She is absolutely the SWEETEST puppy ever! Such a great temperment, stays close when we go on walks, and wants to be by your side everywhere. She came with a 3 generation pedigree and the parents were healthy. The website to contact them is: http://www.ggkpups.com/Upcoming-Litters.html. They have a golden litter expecting sometime this month so maybe they still have some left!

    • Hi! I am hurting too due to the loss of my special girl
      Riley who passed away on December 30 2015. It has been the hardest time of my life! I just wanted to share with you some info that has helped me a great deal since she passed. Feel free to e-mail me at
      Your convenience so I can share some of my thoughts with you!
      Thank you!
      Tina Vandergry

  3. Hi. I have a 3 and half year old golden who I adore so much and the love and loyalty this precious dog gives back is amazing. I am thinking of getting another golden bc the breed is so wonderful but I have been noticing some sellers are advertising some of the puppies as English cream and the price is allot more,1200 and up compared to 300 and up for a golden retriever. The English cream are gorgeous almost white in color but just wondering if the English cream is in fact a true breed or is it a way to get more money for the puppy? Either way I love the golden retriever and my Harlie is not just a pet but indeed a family member.. 🙂

    • Wendy

      Hi Misty,

      Yes, the ‘English cream’ is a bit of a ruse to charge more for their puppies I’m afraid. A Golden Retriever is a Golden Retriever and they naturally come in different shades, from almost red to almost pure brilliant white, but they are all the same dog, same genes, same color, just different shades.

      As ‘white’ is more desirable to some, and there are less of this shade (just this shade, they are still the same dog!) then it’s a supply and demand thing and some breeders try to charge more.

      Is it worth it? Only you can decide. Some breeders hate the way others advertise these ‘made up names and colors’, whereas others think ‘supply and demand – if they’ll pay, then why not charge it.’ Only you can decide really.

      • Wendelin Asbury

        My understanding is that saying the difference between an English and American Golden Retriever is simply a matter of color and marketing is not completely correct. The differences between English and American Goldens are a little more complex, and given the health differences between the two, might justify their increased cost a little more. From centerforcanines.com, with links included:

        The health differences between the European
        Golden and the American Golden are wide
        apart. The cost over time, not including
        heartache, is far higher if an individual
        purchases an American Golden over a
        European one. The incidence of cancer
        among European bloodlines is significantly
        lower than in the American lines. The British
        Kennel Club did an extensive study and
        found that cancer was the cause of death of
        38.8% of European Goldens. See study here
        (NOTE FROM EDITOR: Link removed as resource linked to no longer there.)

        The median age of an English Golden is 12
        years and 3 months according to the study,
        but the median age of an American Golden is
        only 10 years and 8 months.

        Hip Dysplasia and Elbow Dysplasia are also
        much more common in American Golden
        Retrievers than in European Golden
        Retrievers. The reasons are not completely
        understood, but it seems the health standards
        in Europe are far higher and the American
        gene pool is more closed with fewer stud dogs
        being used as compared to the many great
        stud dogs of Europe.

        • Wendy

          Hi Wendelin,

          That’s very interesting, thank you. The link to the Kennel Club is broken sadly, the resource cannot be found, so unfortunately I’m unable to read it. I don’t suppose you have the correct link?

          Anyway, although what you say is certainly interesting, they also say at the start of the article: “The English cream Golden Retriever which is really just a Golden retriever from many parts of Europe…” as well as “Once the American kennel Club set the breed standard for the American Golden, the cream color variation and some other standards found in Europe were excluded leaving Americans with a more limited gene pool.”

          So they agree there is only one Golden Retriever, just that the American gene pool is in some cases slightly limited and of course, genetic diversity is a large part of a breeds overall general health.

          I’m sure very light colored (cream?) Goldens still appear in American litters and they will be indiscernible from ‘English’ ones looks-wise. It just sounds that the English ones have a wider genetic diversity and hence less prone to certain disease.

          It’s analogous to the human race. Compare different pockets of our populations. We’re all the same, just some of us look slightly different to others. However, some populations, from different countries, have very different health profiles and mortality rates. However, there is only one human race. The same is found for the same breed of dog from different countries.

          • Oh yes, Wendy, you are absolutely right that from cream to red, they are all Goldens, and I love them all!

            It took a little sleuthing (the Kennel Club website is not especially easy to navigate!) but I finally found the link to the KC study regarding the cancer eprate and average lifespan of “English” Goldens. I’m hoping this one works, as I took it directly from their website!

            http://www.thekennelclub.org.uk/media/16486/golden%20retriever.pdf

            This can then easily be compared to the rates for “American” Goldens, which are widely available on the Internet.

            Hope this helps!

            Wendelin

          • Wendy

            Hi Wendelin,

            Sorry, I somehow missed your reply! yes, that link works, thank you. That’s very data heavy…But certainly interesting reading. Thank you!

            Wendy.

  4. My Golden retriver is 9 month year old but he hair is not long enough .Short coat?? how many kind of golden retriver ? He is may be a short coat Golden retriver??

    • Wendy

      Hi Holica,

      His coat will continue to grow, change, fill in and get longer until he is an adult, about 2 yrs old. Although there is quite a difference between individual dogs when it comes to coat length, with some lines having hair much shorter than others. You’ll just have to give it time to see how he matures.

  5. Hello,

    I am married to my japanese wife and we are and will be living in Japan, so we want to get a dog. We have a house with a garden, enough space and time and money, but…
    It is hard to explain the reality of Japan to someone who has not experienced it for him/herself.
    Let me oversimplify: Basically pets to them are things, commodities, with a pet about THEM, not about the animal. They take care of them, they love them, but they have a different culture than Europeans and Americans. Cats or dogs are sold in supermarkets and department stores from $1000 upwards, Goldens cost $3000. It is a huge business…

    My basic question is about problems with the climate. Japan is very hot and very humid in summer, so, under what circumstances is it necessary to keep a Golden in a/c rooms?
    Japanese houses basically have no energy intelligence at all, they leak cool in summer and warm in winter, which again is unknown in western cultures. In summer we have weeks, where the temp falls never (=not for one minute) below 25 degrees C… and very high humidity.

    Anything I should understand?

    Thanks, RD

    • Wendy

      Hi Ross,

      Most people say their goldens do OK in the heat, but not in very hot AND humid climates. The humidity really gets to them because then like most animals they struggle to cool down. Having said this though, as long as they can always find shade, have free-moving air, plentiful supply of water and are not exercised AT ALL during hot days, then they will do OK. They will slow down, be less energetic, eat less (as they exercise less) but can still be happy. AC will be a massive benefit to them of course.

      The advice in hot climates is to make sure they always have lots of water, that you walk them late at night and very early in the morning before the heat of the day and the sun combine to be extremely uncomfortable. If you can, take them to ponds, lakes and beaches where they can walk, run, and most importantly swim to cool down. Take care not to walk them on hot asphalt or tarmac as the pads on their feet can get horribly burnt and sore…very painful indeed!

      If I were in your position, I would join some golden retriever forums, 2 or 3, and ask the same question there that you have above, I’m sure people in similar climates will be able to give you their advice also.

      All the best,
      Wendy.

      • Thank you, but the problem here is worse… in summer (now beginning) the temparature can remain above 25 Celsius for several weeks, I am talking 24 hours… and that combined with a humidity around 90%…

        I am already tending towards not getting one…. because I love animals

  6. I have a lovely golden retriever that next month will be 17 years old 🙂 I have been spending more than half of my life with her <3
    Warm.greetings from Italy!
    Alexia

    • Alexia, trust me on this, like all Europeans you have no idea of what Japan is really like. Even after living here for many years, I still sometimes do not know if I should actually believe what I see. 😉

      Japan has basically nothing to do with what we in Europe believe about the country.

  7. Ross, I know absolutely nothing about Japan, however I do know how my Golden ‘ s react to continuous heat and humidity. I am sure that my situation is not even close to what you are describing, but for 5 to 6 months a year it is so hot and humid where I live, that I can barely take my Golden ‘ s outside.

    I have to take them out for 5 minutes at a time. I feel horrible that they aren’t getting the exercise that they need. It’s very obvious that they are bored.

    My home has central air and it’s always very cool inside. After taking them outside for 5 or 10 minutes, they come in and pant and are worn out for hours. They were both born in this climate , but don’t seem to like it very much.

    I have had Golden ‘ s in the past and they’re absolutely the greatest dogs. I lived in a very different climate at the time. I had approximately 2 months of hot weather each year and it was nothing like this heat. I did move to this climate with a Golden. She was about 7 and you could certainly tell the difference in her energy level and desire to play. I feel that she aged faster, also. She was diagnosed with cancer and after 2 years of treatments had to be put down. She was my best friend in the world! I don’t think that the heat had anything to do with the cancer, since they are so predisposed to getting cancer.

    If you really love dogs, I wouldn’t recommend a Golden. The dog will be unhappy and so will you.

  8. Hi
    Its Dianne here
    I have just had to put my beautiful boy GOLDEN OLDY down an i am gutted they are so with you all the time he loved the beach swimming an laying beside me while i am on the computer he was 12YRS an 7MTHS . Maceo was his name. If you are considering buying one be prepared to have heaps of out door fun an most of all give then the love an devotion they give you. I have lost the best mate I have ever had.
    Regards HEART BROKEN

  9. I am so sorry for your loss. I lost my soul mate best buddy Golden last April. He was 2 months short of 10 years. I was devastated and still miss him dearly. However, I am now the proud mom of a very special 12 week old Golden boy. He is awesome and so precious. I am sure my Jake guided to him. I know he will be a great buddy and maybe even soul mate golden #2. May you be as lucky as me in finding your new buddy when you are ready. It does get easier.

  10. My 9yo Golden has lymphosarcoma and not much longer to be the most loving golden I have ever had. I looked at a 2yo white golden from a breeder. Dog is on the smaller side which I love but……she is extremely submissive. Can this behavior be modified? I did not even see her body until she went outside and ran around. Also, the breeder is asking $1000 which I sense is too much. I live in MA. Can anyone help me on this matter?

  11. On the question do Goldens make good guard dogs?? It’s totally they are horrible guard dogs! Lol.

    My golden will be 20 years old December 15, 2016 and we artificially keep her alive. My husband is a neurologist and once a year she gets a steroid shot and that keeps her joints feeling better.

    Also, I’ve been able to convince vets for several years now that Sandy is elderly and really can’t handle vaccines. So she hasn’t had a rabies shot or any other shot other than her steroid shot for over 10 years.

    As far as shaving we lived in Palm Springs and because it was insanely hot we would shave her and she seemed happier. Her hair always grew back beautifully. When it’s 120 degrees in August a 30 second potty break outside feels like your in an oven for an hour.

    I honestly think what keeps her kicking is the fact that she gets a lot of people food. She only eats her food when she absolutely has to.

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