Golden Retriever facts for owners from puppies to seniors. Golden Retrievers are the third most popular dog in the USA. In the UK they ranked number 24 in 2018. It seems the population of the UK prefers smaller dogs because the small dog breeds hold many of the top 10 spots year over year. Labradors made the top 10.
This is our Golden Retriever Facts section with as much information and facts we can provide. Drawn from our knowledge and experiences. We suggest checking with your veterinarian for all medical issues and questions.
The History of Golden Retrievers
The origins of this popular gun dog is Scotland. They were bred to retrieve shot water fowl during hunting sessions from land and water. Their skill is to retrieve a bird and not damage it because they have very soft mouths. Their long coats help regulate heat and cold, making them ideal to jump into cold waters to retrieve.
Golden Retrievers were bred by crossing yellow labradors with the Tweed water spaniel. There was additional cross breeding with four other breeds. The goal was to perfect hunting dogs.
While bred for retrieving game, the Golden Retriever also became a dog breed used in therapy, disability assistance, search and rescue, and detection. They are easy to train and their temperament is their hallmark trait.
Golden Retriever Puppy Facts
A litter of Golden Retriever puppies from a healthy Mother will average about 10. Up to 12 is common. Smaller litters also common. If the litter is very small it’s possibly because the Dam is being overbred. Backyard breeding can be a cause of this or breeding every heat cycle the dam has. None of this is good for Mom or the puppies. With a female Golden Retriever having a heat cycle every 6-8 months, if she is bred every cycle, her body does not have enough time to recover from the prior litter. Aging dams will likely produce less puppies per litter as well.
Puppy Coat Colors
Golden Retriever puppies have fluffy fur but it’s not long and flowing like the full coat. That grows slowly over time and should be fully grown by age one. You can tell the difference between a Labrador puppy and a Golden Retriever puppy. The Labrador puppy’s coat is very short and a little more coarse.
Golden Retriever puppies have coats that come in three colors. Pale gold, gold and dark gold. These are the three color designations recognized by the American Kennel Club. You’ll hear red golden and creams. These are not recognized colors. I have two golden’s and one pale golden.
Brushing & Shedding
Puppies need to get used to being brushed. As a puppy the shedding will be minimal if at all. You will need to get puppy used to brushing as once that coat is grown it becomes a regular event. A pin brush is perfect to start with or bristle. A two sided brush as all you need to start. You can use a comb on the head ears as your puppy grows. The ears have a nasty habit of getting knotted underneath.
Potty Training Your Pup
When you collect a Golden Retriever puppy from the breeder he will not be potty trained. While the puppy may be used to going outside, they do not yet know that potty breaks must only be outside. Their bladders are undeveloped and small. They’ll pee about every 30 minutes or so. They hold it longer when sleeping but the minute they wake up, it’s potty time whether you are ready or not!
The idea is for every month of age your puppy can hold it for that many hours. Based on my experience I would half it! Once fully grown your dogs can hold it all for a lot longer. Once they get to 6 months of age, holding it for 4-5 hours should not be an issue.
Your crate can also be used to help the training process. Making them wait is good but don’t overdo it! While puppies will not like to soil their crate (den), the bladder is young and if they got to go they will. It’s up to you to make sure this does not happen.
Night Time Potty Breaks
If you get an untrained older puppy or new puppy, they will not be able to go all night to start with. Although their systems slow down, the bladder will need a midnight break. She might whimper in her crate that she wants to go. Miss it and she’ll have to soil the crate. So be prepared to get up. Start about 4 hours after her last potty break. Slowly extend the time she waits until you end up at your getting up time. It takes a couple of months.
Girls v boys. – Speaking from experience my two boys were so much faster at learning, faster at going through the night and faster at holding it longer. As adults it’s still the same. The boys whine if they need to go out, she comes and physically pushes me and runs around. Learn your dogs signals.
How much should I feed a puppy? This is a question that cannot be answered with a definitive answer. Why? Because puppies are all different sizes, ages and activity levels. The foods all have different compositions. The best advice is to chat with your vet, or the breeder, use common sense and follow the guide on your puppy food package based on the age and weight. Puppies have ravenous appetites!
As puppies progress from milk to solids they’ll likely need to eat 4 times a day. You should get a new puppy no younger than 8 weeks old. You can reduce this down to 3 times a day once they reach about 8-10 weeks old. Then it’s three times a day until 6 months of age. The recommendation is to keep them on puppy food brands until age one.
For treats I love Charlee Bears!
Exercise Your Scoundrel!
If you’ve invested in adding a puppy to your home be prepared for chaos. You don’t want to over exercise the puppy, just 5-10 minutes walking a day to start. Add another 5 minutes for every month. Allow indoor play as much as he wants. Also give your puppy a place to rest, whether it’s a playpen or his crate. Puppies find it hard to stop!
Your puppy will be a puppy for 3 entire years! All that exuberant puppy behavior lasts longer in Golden Retrievers than other breeds. They ‘ll be downright silly into adulthood and even beyond.
How much do Golden Retrievers Cost
If you are buying a new puppy the cost is going to be somewhere between $1,000 and $3,000 in the USA. The cost varies based on each breeder, the breed lines and whether there are any champions in the parents, grandparents. In general the hunting lines are not as costly as the show-lines.
You can find Golden retrievers in shelters. There are rescue groups all over the USA and UK. Register if you wish to foster or adopt. Understand the rules of each group. Generally they adopt in area only and because they never have many you don’t get a choice, just the next dog available once approved.
Older dogs are not as difficult to care for, those puppy days are passed and an adult is going to be less active.
Golden Retriever Facts and Info – From Puppies to Adult
Now we’ll explore more fun facts about Golden Retrievers, Golden Retriever behavior traits and Golden Retriever old age.
10 Facts About Golden Retrievers
- They appear a lot in TV ads!
- They want to eat all the time and can easily get overweight.
- Can exhibit aggression. Look for nervous aggression rather than dominant aggression.
- Love their cuddle almost as much as food.
- Never shave fur off unless for medical reasons, it helps keep them warm and cool.
- You’ll need to clean those ears regularly and watch for hot spots.
- Excellent athletes in running, jumping, swimming, fly ball, frisbee, ball retrieving.
- One of the brightest dogs ranked by obedience-command trainability.
- Love water, swimming, playing with water hose, puddles, muddy puddles.
- Their coats are super easy to clean. Literally let them dry and the mud and muck just falls off or can be easily brushed out.
10 More Interesting Facts about Golden Retrievers
- Love to sleep upside down!
- Golden Retrievers love being in a pack of more Golden Retrievers.
- Their best dog friends are Golden Retrievers.
- They chase helicopters just as if they were real birds.
- Their prey drive is strong, watch them chase bunnies, squirrels, birds and balls!
- Golden Retrievers love to help. Give them a job and watch them love to do it.
- They all smile. But they are also mouthy.
- Goldens may or destroy all toys! Be careful what you give them and watch for behavior. (Eating everything!)
- They need a lot of exercise, 30 minutes walking is not enough! Think 2 hours minimum a day or don’t get one. This is one of the Golden Retriever facts I think is often overlooked by owners to be.
- There are Golden Retrievers with black patches or all black. (Not AKC Acceptable).
General Golden Retriever Facts
The age of Golden Retrievers from newborn to puppy goes like this. Age 0-6 months, crazy puppies. 6-12 months, older more energy crazy puppies. Age 1-2 still crazy, they just have long hair now. Age 2-3 start to see some calming down as they reach adult hood. Age 3-10, keep them fit and they’ll be active for years. Sadly many owners allow them to cram on the pounds and this can slow them down big time.
How long do Golden Retrievers live? The average is 10-12 years. Golden Retriever medical problems can include cancer and this can shorten their lifespan a lot. It has become an ever increasing problem with Goldens and research is being done to find out why they are so susceptible. Other Golden Retriever aging problems include arthritis.
Golden Retriever old age would be considered age eight and onwards. Your dog will slow down a little but is still able to run, play, retrieve, swim. Keeping your dog at the ideal weight seems to be the hardest thing for owners to manage. Be sure you keep up with your annual vet checkups and weight monitoring. Feeding table scraps is the biggest culprit.
How much do Golden Retrievers Shed? This will vary from dog to dog. Those long flowing coats from the show lines seem to shed more than the hunting lines. Their fur is a little softer and straighter. Invest in a good battery stick type vacuum and be prepared for a daily round up of the dust bunnies.
What does it cost to keep a dog? For an adult dog with pet insurance, food, toys and treats, normal vet visits for vaccinations I suggest an allowance of $100 a month. If you invest in professional training or an invisible fence these items are usually a one time payment and can surely add a few thousand.
Standard Heights & Weights
Golden Retrievers that are in the UK or come from there do have some distinct differences. British Golden tends to be less leggy than USA Goldens. The bones on a British Goldens legs are much chunkier. They are also shorter in stature by about an inch.
Common Health Problems
Sadly very common among Golden Retrievers and a leading cause of death. The two most common types of cancer in this breed are hemangiosarcoma and lymphoma. This nasty disease can strike at any age. With up to 60% of deaths being caused by cancer, researchers are trying to identify the reasons. The research is intended to last 10-14 years with over 2,000 vets contributing. Cancer spiked from 1990, whereas before it was no worse than any other breed.
None of us can prevent cancer but it is wise to keep your dog at an ideal weight, have regular vet check ups. Try adding anti-inflammatory foods to the diet. This should include Omega’s. Anti Oxidants may help too. Greens are a great way to do this and most Goldens will eat them. Broccoli is my dogs favorite green food.
More advice suggests delaying neutering and spaying until a little later. The average here in the USA is aged 6 months. It has been suggested to leave it until age 12-18 months.
More US Goldens get Cancer than UK Goldens.
Ear Hot Spots
Dogs with floppy ears can get very hot in the summer. This causes hot spots which look like pimples or pustules; they are painful which become an irritant to the dog. The goal is to keep your dog’s ears clean and watch for hot spots in the summer. The ear will look red and inflamed inside the folds. There are medications your vet can give you that will help clear it up. There are over the counter remedies too, although I have never used one, I have heard good things. Some dogs seem prone to getting hot spots in the ears.
Also known as swimmer tail, the most common cause is being in cold water. I have recently had one of my dogs experience this after having a summer bath in a tub of cold but not freezing water.
The thought is it makes the vessels constrict and then get inflamed. The tail is not broken or fractured but it hangs down, is not as mobile as normal. Limber trail is a condition that will self heal although an anti-inflammatory medicine can help promote healing.
Hip & Elbow Dysplasia
When the hip and socket are in misalignment they grind and can cause horrible pain. It is characterized by excessive laxity in the joint (the ball moves too much within its socket) or excessive shallowness of the hip socket joint. Development is in the puppy years. It leads to abnormal stresses and strains on the joint and then to inflammation and degeneration of the joint tissues. Ultimately, permanent osteoarthritis develops in the joints. This is the main reason to buy your puppy from breeders whose dogs are OFA certified. Making sure Mom and Dad do not have these issues can give a certain level of comfort.
Elbow dysplasia is not quite the same. Cartilage of the growing elbow joint fails to develop normally and becomes abnormally thickened and damaged. This leads to chronic arthritis of the joint that may be apparent before 6 months of age. It can cause mild to severe chronic pain throughout life.
For both hip and elbow dysplasia, X-Rays are needed for the definitive diagnosis.
Bloat happens when a dog’s stomach fills with gas, food or fluid making it rapidly expand.This puts pressure on internal organs including lungs. The stomach can flip upside down, known as GDV (gastric dilatation volvulus). This restricts blood flow and sends a dog into shock. Worst case scenario is death.
To prevent this the recommendation is not to exercise your deep chested dog before or after eating. Slowing down the intake of a meal can also help. Feed more than once a day. Gulping down food means gulping down air!
A Golden Temperament
For the most part Goldens have a well mannered temperament. However there’s always the question, can Golden Retrievers be aggressive? The answer is yes. All dogs have the capability of being aggressive, while not common in this breed, it happens. Aggressiveness can be within the dog or created by a human. Some may argue with me but our first dog was aggressive.
Finlay started acting up as a puppy and before long he was trying to dominate us with his mouth. There was not a day before his 4 month birthday, in the 8 weeks we had him, that I did not get nipped. We talked to the vet who said he had left the litter too early and had not learned. We tried several ways to prevent the nipping but nothing worked. As his teeth changed from puppy to adult that razor sharp nip turned into a more powerful bite. I honestly had no clue what to do. All of our previous dogs had been well mannered and had never bitten.
I sought to find a behaviorist near to me and found Mark. Mark explained that Finlay, who by the way, was the runt of the litter, wanted to be pack leader and was making sure he was in control. He likened his brain to a plate of spaghetti that needed unravelling. Finlay spent 3 weeks with Mark and was a changed puppy. Yes we have to keep up with his training, it’s easy to be lazy. We say that Finlay has a complex mind, we can see the thoughts go across his face! As long is we keep up with dominating him, we all lead a wonderful life together.
Finlay is classed as dominant, nervous, aggressive. When he is nervous about anything, like nail trims, or eye drops, he bares his shiny shark teeth to let you know to back off. He also guards his food which is an ongoing process to stop the behavior. Finlay is also the most loving of our pack of three! We would not change him for the world!
Training Your Dogs
Goldens are very trainable puppies and dogs. They are extremely smart and learn a lot of words just by repetition as well as instruction. Every dog should have basic training. You need to have your puppy and dog do what you wish them to do for their own safety as well as your desire.
All of our dogs were trained by Mark. He is a behaviorist and dog trainer. Our dogs where taught the basic commands of Sit, Down, Come, Heel and Place. We re-inforce these on a daily basis. They were not taught stay because it is implied until they are released by the word okay.
They also know, mostly from repetition; wait, out, in, ball, find, drop, get, and a lot more.
I paid for the best trainer I could afford. I certainly am glad Mark trained all my dogs and they love working during our training sessions. Try these dog training books if you want to have a go at training your own dog.
Our Golden Retriever facts cannot include any information about seniors other than what’s already been mentioned here. At the time of writing my eldest is 3 years old, so I have no experience yet to draw on.
If I had to identify the one thing owners can do to help senior dogs is not to over feed these beautiful dustbins. Given the opportunity they’ll eat anything and everything, which is bad for their longevity. Golden Retriever old age problems often include arthritis and weight is the biggest reason.
We hope you enjoyed our Golden Retriever Facts page.