Updated: June 8th, 2022
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The Golden Retriever is a high-profile breed, regularly seen in the media and consistently making top 10 lists of popular breeds for many countries.
They are working retrievers and assistance dogs as well as popular family pets. So they’re seen everywhere and are well-known and loved by many.
But is a Golden Retriever the right dog for you? And are you and your family the right people for a Golden Retriever?
Some Common Reasons For Wanting A Golden Retriever
There are some very good reasons for wanting a Golden Retriever:
- First of all, they’re exceptionally good-looking dogs. Just take a look at the photo above and I’m sure you’ll agree 🙂
- They’re fantastic with children, other dogs, and other animals.
- They’re loyal, biddable, and will do their utmost to please their owners.
- They have wonderful, mischievous personalities. They love to play and seem to always be happy.
- They’re highly intelligent and can be trained to a very high degree, excelling in agility and obedience disciplines as well as being used as assistance dogs.
What is there about a Golden Retriever not to like?
But as with any major life-changing decision, you have to know the whole story. There are things you have to consider, a few realities about the breed you should be aware of and need to plan for before knowing if you and a Golden are a good match.
So let’s ask a few questions that you have to answer honestly to see if a Golden Retriever is the right dog for you.
Do You Have Enough Space For A Golden Retriever?
A Golden Retriever is a large breed of dog. Some are as tall as 25 inches, and some Golden Retrievers weigh as much as 40KG And with that happy, swishing tail meeting with your ornaments and coffee table, they can seem so much bigger!
Do You Have Room In Your Home?
I would say if you don’t have ample space in your home…and if you’re asking yourself the question then you probably don’t…then getting a Golden isn’t a good idea.
You’ll need space for a dog bed, or possibly a large crate, as well as a space to set their food and water.
They crave to be with their family always and this means following you around the home, forever trying to be by your side which also means they’ll be under your feet and ‘in the way’ if you only have a small home. And this could become a pain.
So ample room in your home is a must!
Do You Have A Big Enough Yard?
There are many people without a garden or yard whatsoever that are some of the best Golden owners. Conversely, there are others with huge yards and Goldens that don’t get nearly enough exercise. So please don’t think that a large yard is essential. It’s nice to have for a Golden, but it’s not essential.
What is essential is that your Golden gets a good 1.5hrs or more of exercise over the course of a day. And a Golden will not exercise itself! You need to be out there with them, throwing for fetch, running, playing tug, not just letting them loose in a yard on their own. They’ll just sit by the door begging to get back in with their family.
An ideal situation would be a nice big fenced-off yard where you and your Golden can play and they go to the toilet. But if this isn’t available, as long as you take your Golden out 2 or 3 times per day and exercise them well, don’t be put off if you don’t have a large yard.
Check out the best wireless dog fences.
Do You Have Enough Time To Exercise A Golden Retriever Sufficiently?
That 1.5 hours of exercise I mentioned above? Yes, that’s every day. Goldens are a sporting breed and high activity. So come rain or shine or after a bad day at work, your Golden will still need their 1.5 hours per day to be happy.
This is quite a commitment and is something you need to be aware of and commit to fully.
If you have a big yard, you can get away with 45 minutes per day with a good couple of 2 hour exercise sessions per week consisting of swimming, hiking, running or whatever.
But if you don’t do this, your golden will become bored and full of pent-up energy, leading to them bouncing around the house and likely destructively chewing. This is not a golden being naughty, chewing is a completely natural release for bored dogs with no other outlet for their energy.
It’s Not All About Time, Do You Have Enough Energy?
Even if you do have enough time to sufficiently exercise a Golden, do you have enough energy?
If you’re an outdoor type, who loves swimming, walking, hiking, getting out in nature and exploring with your dog every day with no exceptions, a Golden Retriever and you are a perfect fit.
But if you’re the stay at home type, who’d rather kick their feet up in front of the TV five days a week, or won’t venture out in the cold winter months, it’s probably best you go for a lower energy breed.
Goldens have energy-a-plenty and need an owner with energy levels that match. Somebody who will always cater to their needs for training, exercise and play.
Locked up indoors for any length of time they will become bored and hyperactive which is unfair on a Golden and will likely end in being just as unkind to your chair legs, shoes and any other belongings within reach of their bored mouths and minds.
Can You Financially Afford To Care For A Golden Retriever?
Forgetting the initial investment made for a Golden Retriever with good health and pedigree from a good, responsible breeder, the ongoing costs to keep a Golden fit and healthy for the 12+ years of its life is considerable.
You should be prepared and budget to pay out for:
- Licensing and a microchip
- Leashes and collars
- A good crate or dog bed
- Quality and nutritious food
- Grooming equipment and products
- Toys and chews
- Possibly professional trainers or behaviorists
- Vets bills or ongoing pet insurance.
I couldn’t possibly calculate an accurate total cost per year, but a conservative estimate would be somewhere in the range of £1300 GBP or $2200 USD per year, likely more.
So if money’s tight and you’re already struggling to pay your bills it wouldn’t be wise to get a Golden Retriever, or in fact any breed of dog. Either you, your dog or both may have to suffer by giving up on essentials occasionally. You shouldn’t put yourself or a dog in this position.
Do You Mind A Bit Of Mess In Your Home?
As with most dogs, Golden Retrievers have a smell about them. A distinctive unmistakable smell, that many people learn to love or at least accept, but it’s something you should be aware of.
You can bathe a Golden now and then which will help to lessen the odor temporarily but you shouldn’t bathe them often as they have natural oils in their coat that keeps it healthy and waterproof. Stripping these oils is strongly discouraged.
Also, Golden Retrievers are a long-haired and double-coated breed that shed their undercoat in huge clumps and high volume every spring and fall. And they also shed hair in smaller amounts the whole year round. So you will always be finding Golden hair on your carpets, chairs…and in your tomato soup 😉
But regular grooming can keep this down and really, it isn’t that bad once you’re used to it.
Goldens being such outdoor and active breeds, you will also on occasion have to endure dirty, wet and muddy paw prints through your house.
So all in all, if you like to keep a squeaky clean home, you’ll have your work cut out for you and this is something to keep in mind.
So to answer your question: Is a Golden Retriever the right dog for me?
Well, Golden Retrievers are consistently one of the most popular dog breeds in the Western world, but they really aren’t suited to everyone.
Don’t get a Golden if you have a small home, simply must keep your home immaculately clean, prefer a sedentary lifestyle or are short on time or short on money.
It’s important to remember that they shed a lot of hair, require a lot of time for exercise and are a 10 to 15 year commitment of this time and your money.
The aim of this article was not to talk you out of getting a Golden Retriever, but is a reality check for some who may have only considered the good side of Golden ownership.
Goldens are adorable in their looks, temperament and personalities. They really are the perfect family pet, life companions and friends. But you need to be prepared to handle the rough with the smooth.