The benefits of owning a golden retriever are endless. Besides being gorgeous dogs, they’re gentle, intelligent and friendly. They’re fantastic family pets, as they’re great with children. These are among the reasons the golden is consistently one of the top five most popular dog breeds in the United States.
Though they share these wonderful traits, all golden retrievers are not created equal. Petite goldens can weigh as little as 50 pounds, while sturdier goldens can weigh 75 pounds or more. Also, they’re all not golden in color. Their hair can range from shades of deep red to light cream, though they’re most commonly honey-colored. They can be soft and fluffy, but they can also have flatter coats. Show dogs generally feature the flowing flaxen coat, while field dogs have the more streamlined, redder coat. This breed of dog can shed quite a bit. This is due in part to the fact that they have two coats: the top coat of soft hair that we can see and feel, and the undercoat, which is the thick, dense hair goldens grow to keep them warm in the winter. The undercoat is the source of most of the shedding. Regular grooming can reduce this dramatically. Though these dogs may look different from one another, they all have the unmistakable golden characteristics.
Golden retrievers are known as extremely social dogs. They’ll make fast friends with anyone who walks through the door. Therefore, they don’t make good watchdogs. They love company, and want to be around people at all times, even if it means following their masters from room to room. When they’re left alone for long periods of them, they are likely to get bored or anxious, and chew on inappropriate items. They’re very tolerant and patient with children, making them an unbeatable choice for anyone looking for a new four-legged family member.
As wonderful as they are, they do need gentle guidance and clear boundaries. They’re quick learners, and in many cases, will work for ample praise. Beginning obedience training immediately can help establish a solid basis for learning later on. It can also help them learn their place in the home. It’s much easier to train a dog as soon as it comes into the family, rather than try to undo bad habits down the road.
They need regular exercise, and are happiest when they have a job to do. They were originally bred for hunting, and through many generations, they have maintained their curious nature. They’ll retrieve for hours, and you’ll probably be tired of playing fetch long before they will. They love to swim, and won’t hesitate to jump into the nearest body of water for a quick dip. They’re very athletic and excel at agility competitions. Not only is competing fun for the dog, it’s a great form of exercise, and a wonderful bonding opportunity for dog and trainer. If you’re thinking about owning a golden retriever, be sure you’re ready and able to provide it with a means of regular daily exercise.
A popular job for goldens is that of guide dog. They’re perfect candidates for this job thanks to their gentle temperament, their intelligence, and their eagerness to please. They can be trained relatively easily to lead the blind and assist the handicapped. Because of their agreeable nature, they’re also well-suited to become therapy dogs. It’s not uncommon to see golden retrievers walking the halls of hospitals and retirement homes, bringing smiles to the patients and staff. Though they never seem to tire of belly rubs and toys, when it’s time for them to work, they’re calm and focused.
As they get older, many goldens show their age on their faces. The hair on their muzzle and around their eyes slowly turns white. Though their face may indicate their age, they generally remain as playful as puppies throughout their lives. Their average life expectancy is approximately eleven years. During that time, the majority of goldens are perfectly healthy, but they are predisposed to certain diseases. Cancer is the number one cause of death in goldens. Due to the popularity of this breed, puppy mills have helped add to the pool of available goldens. However, irresponsible breeding practices of these volume-driven outfits have led to a disproportionate number of goldens being born with hip dysplasia, allergies and other afflictions.
By owning a golden retriever, many dog owners learn the true meaning of loyalty. In general, these dogs are all-around great family pets. Their strong sense of duty and their desire for companionship ensure that you’ll have a devoted friend for life.