The general aspect of the Golden Retriever must be symmetrical, balanced, active, powerful, well aligned in its gait. The expression is that of a thoughtful and gentle dog. The head is proportionate and well chiselled. The skull is broad but not coarse. The muzzle is powerful, broad and deep, equal in length to the skull, with a well defined stop. The eyes should be dark brown, set wide apart, with dark eyelid margins. The ears, of moderate size, are set approximately at eye level. The legs are straight and well boned, well positioned under the trunk. The tail is set on and carried at the height of the back: it reaches to the hock, without ever curving at the tip.
Hair: flat or wavy, with beautiful bangs. Thick and waterproof undercoat.
Color: all shades from gold to cream are allowed, but not red or mahogany.
Size: 56 to 61 cm for the male and 51 to 56 cm for the female.
Weight: approx. 30 kg
Origins and history
The recognition of the breed is quite recent since it dates back to 1931, but almost nothing is known about its history. Only legends are known about it: the most famous one tells that in 1858 Lord Tweedmouth bought a couple of Caucasian Shepherds with light-colored coats that he had seen working in a circus. At each of their litter, he would have kept only the “golden” puppies to fix the recessive character of the coat. Another theory suggests that the breed was born from the cross between a sand-colored Bloodhound and a now extinct water Spaniel. Other authors maintain that the ancestor of the breed was Nous, a yellow dog born from the cross between this water Spaniel and a Flat-Coated Retriever.
Character and aptitudes
The Golden Retriever has a very exceptional character: it is perfect with children, gentle and peaceful with the elderly. Robust and resistant, it is a walking companion for the young and of course a precious helper for the hunter. It is a dog to which a lot of time must be devoted because it has a great need of human company: it feels part of the family, that is to say, of the “gang” in which it lives and wants to play a full part in it by making itself useful and participating in all possible activities. When hunting, he is a very skilled retriever, especially in the water.
This dog does not only have a creamy coat, he also has a golden character! Very close to his social group, he will have at heart to please them and to give them all the love they need.
This dog is very playful and active, so he will be a perfect companion to play with children. He will delight young and old alike with a variety of mischief just to amuse, distract and attract everyone’s attention.
Playful and educational games will be favored to reinforce the obedience of this dog but also and especially to strengthen the relationship between him and his master.
If his needs are respected and met and he is sufficiently well trained, he will be a calm and quiet dog at home.
However, this depends very much on the kennel in which he grew up. Indeed, the strong success of this breed has sometimes led to some deviations and has even succeeded in endangering the primary quality of this dog, namely its “good leg” side.
Be careful therefore with certain Golden Retriever breeders who privilege the yield rather than the quality of the litters.
Versatile, this dog excels in many disciplines, which reflects its great intelligence and adaptability. The abilities and character of the Golden Retriever have even pushed him to become an excellent assistance dog for the blind and handicapped.
The intelligence of the Golden is recognized by the greatest scientists, specialists in cognitive ethology. In fact, a ranking, highlighting instinctive intelligence, adaptive intelligence and intelligence at work, has put this dog on the third step of the podium. This shows just how real his intelligence is.
Naturally made to accompany hunters in the field, a subtle learning and training is still necessary to be able to use this dog effectively in hunting.
The Golden retriever dog will be particularly gifted for game retrieval, especially in water, an environment in which he evolves with pleasure and dexterity.
Fearful / distrustful with strangers :
Not at all aggressive or reserved towards strangers, this golden retriever is sociable, friendly and very much in demand for contact, whether they are familiar or new.
Particularly close to its masters and in need of attention, this dog will nevertheless be able to return to its apartments and evolve with a certain autonomy within its environment.
Supports solitude :
It is not a dog made to stay alone for long hours. He needs to be surrounded and stimulated regularly to be well in his paws.
Living outside or in a kennel is not a good idea for him, this dog needs to live in the family home.
Easy to train / obedient :
The Golden dog is very easy to train since he will want and need to please his master. Naturally docile, he will be eager to learn, provided that the learning methods are respectful of the principles of positive education.
Education should be initiated from the youngest age of the Golden Retriever puppy. Until his first 20 weeks of life, his brain is in a state of turmoil, he will need to learn and be stimulated to develop his natural abilities.
Instinctively, the Golden puppy will look for a referent on whom to rely on, so this is the role that his new master will have to take on and assume to guarantee the beautiful balance specific to this breed.
This dog will not be an excessive barker, however, he may raise his voice in excitement or frustration. A good education and a respectful response to his needs will help control this aspect.
This adorable companion is not a runaway dog because he greatly prefers to stay with his family.
Beware of dogs that are rarely, if ever, outdoors every day, they may find the time long and take the powder to get away to air out their paws and mind.
The maturity of the adult Golden dog being relatively late, destructions could be persistent. Nevertheless, a good physical and mental expenditure of the dog, coupled with a firm and coherent education makes it possible to control this aspect.
Greedy / glutton :
Very greedy, the Golden retriever dog is not the last to ask for food and treats. This is an asset for education, but vigilance must still be taken to avoid being overweight.
To avoid the gluttonous behavior of the dog during the meal, the ration can be proposed in two times and/or in an anti-glutton bowl.
Additional tip: for dogs that tend to eat very quickly, their daily ration can be scattered in the garden for example. This allows the dog both to eat less quickly and to stimulate his sense of smell!
Absolutely not guard dog, this dog will welcome with pleasure and joviality the guests, but also the intruders. This can be an asset as well as a disadvantage, depending on the expectations of the dog’s masters.
First dog :
This Retriever is particularly adapted for a first adoption. Docile, affectionate, playful, loyal and sociable, he is the perfect companion dog. It adapts wonderfully to all lifestyles and various family situations.
You will of course have to be well informed about the conditions of the chosen breeding to be sure to have a balanced Golden Retriever puppy that conforms to the official standard of the breed.
Indoors or outdoors.
The Golden Retriever will be happier living in a bungalow with a garden, but he will be happy to live in an apartment if he has been out very often.
Golden retriever in an apartment :
Sporty and active by nature, this dog will need space to develop fully. A life in the countryside with a garden and a water point nearby will be the ideal living conditions for this great swimmer.
However, his adaptive intelligence allows him to adapt to a city life, in an apartment, if his physical needs are met.
Need for exercise / sports :
The Golden Retriever dog needs daily outings and expenses to be perfectly balanced physically and psychologically.
Long walks with the possibility of wading or even swimming should be offered as regularly as possible.
This dog excels in many disciplines: hunting, agility, obedience, tracking, obedience, cani-courses, etc… So many activities that his masters will be able to offer him as a leisure activity.
Travel / Ease of transport :
The size of this dog may hinder its accessibility in certain forms of transportation, but its need to be near its master and its adaptability allow it to travel without too many constraints.
The Golden retriever and the Cats :
The very sociable character of this dog makes him a dog perfectly able to live with a cat. This agreement will be accentuated especially if the two animals grow up together.
However, beware of possible aggressive reactions from cats that could injure the dog, especially in the eyes and nose area.
The Golden retriever and other dogs :
Not a fighter for a penny, this dog will often get along very well with his fellow dogs with whom he will like to spend time and release his great energy.
A socialization will nevertheless have to be proposed in an early way to the Golden retriever puppy to allow him to acquire and reinforce his canine codes.
The Golden retriever and children :
Gentle, attentive, friendly and jovial, this dog is made to live with children.
Be careful that children respect the peace and quiet and the nature of this dog. Rules of life will have to be put in place to guarantee the safety of all and to make the interspecific cohabitation harmonious.
The Golden retriever and the elderly :
All the qualities and the good character of this exceptional dog give him the possibility to evolve with elderly people.
However, the latter will have to be sufficiently dynamic and ready to provide for the numerous needs of this dog.
It is a very robust dog. Although Golden Retriever was born to work in water and has a perfectly waterproof coat, it must be dried at the base of the tail when it comes out of the water: otherwise, he may suffer from “broken tail”, a painful contraction of the adductor muscles that leads the dog to wear his tail incorrectly, precisely as if he had broken it.
Learn more about the main diseases and health of the Golden Retriever
Life expectancy :
The life span of this dog can be up to 12 years.
Resistant / robust :
The Golden retriever is a sportive dog with a robust health and a good life expectancy. According to several surveys, few dogs do not reach the age of 10 years. These dogs are therefore strong and resistant.
Withstands the heat:
Rather enduring, it will still be necessary to provide the dog with fresh and regularly renewed water during the strong heat as well as the possibility of wading to cool down.
Withstands the cold:
This dog’s thick undercoat and the waterproofing provided by its coat allow it to resist bad weather, but be careful with freezing temperatures.
Tendency to grow:
So friendly and cheerful, we often tend to want to please this dog by giving him a few treats or bones here and there. Nevertheless, one must be vigilant because the Golden Retriever is particularly sensitive to being overweight and could quickly suffer from obesity.
Contrary to popular belief, “coated” dogs are not healthy dogs. Adjusting the daily rations and offering the dog a good physical expenditure will be necessary to avoid excess.
Frequent illnesses :
Predisposition to cancer (hemangiosarcoma, lymphoma, osteosarcoma, mastocytoma).
Hip and elbow dysplasia
Atrophy / retinal degeneration
Dermatological diseases (dermatitis, vitiligo, furunculosis, folliculitis, ichthyosis)
Hepatitis by copper overload
Risk of “Broken tail” if the tail is not well dried at the exit of the water.
Grooming and maintenance
The maintenance of the hair of this dog is not difficult or constraining but still requires a regular brushing, in particular for the subjects with wavy and fringed hairs.
His coat can easily get tangled, depending on his regular activities, a daily brushing will sometimes be necessary, weekly at least.
In addition, special attention must be paid to his drooping ears to avoid and/or prevent infections.
Hair loss :
This dog’s hair loss is regular and all the more important during moulting periods, especially in spring.
The price of a Golden Retriever varies according to its origins, age and sex. On average, it is 900€ for a dog registered in the LOF. The lines of some Golden Retriever breeders can be sold up to 2180€.
Average life expectancy: about 12 years
Remarks and advice
“Golden” does not mean “dog with a golden coat”, but “golden dog”, “golden retriever”, in the metaphorical sense of the term. By the way, not all Golden dogs have a golden coat, but they are often cream-colored (which is also very beautiful)…
In addition to being an excellent hunting dog, companion dog and guide dog for the blind, the Golden Retriever is also used by search and rescue teams or police units to detect drugs and explosives thanks to its incredible flair and tracking abilities.