The Golden Retriever is one of the most popular dog breeds across the US and the world at large. Owing to their popularity is their adaptability to various circumstances and duties. If you are looking to acquire a Golden Retriever,this guide covers everything that you need to know about the dog and its qualities.
History and Origin
The Golden Retriever first came into existence in the 1800s when Dudley Marjoribanks bred a Tweed Water Spaniel with a rare yellow dog that came from black retrievers. With time, people recognized the flexibility of the Golden Retriever and so trained them to achieve higher functionality. Their intelligent and quick nature made them excellent hunting dogs.
The Joys of Owning a Golden Retriever
Owning a Golden Retriever comes with several benefits. Here are the top three reasons why you should get yourself a retriever.
They are Easy to Train
A trained dog is pleasant and easy to handle. Golden Retrievers are among the easiest dog breeds to train. This is because of their high intelligence and ability to learn quickly. However, the initial training stages will be challenging as the dog adapts. Fortunately, once the dog picks the routine, it becomes easy.
They are Excellent with Kids
These furballs possess qualities that make them child-friendly. Some of these features include gentleness, kindness, love, and patience. Their disposition can assure you that your children will be safe around the dog.
They are an Excellent Choice for First-time Dog Owners
Owning a dog for the first time can be challenging because of the lack of experience. Fortunately, golden retriever dogs, whether grown or puppies, are easy to handle and maintain. They’re smart and good listeners, making them the perfect first dog.
Features of Golden Retrievers
Golden retrievers are strong, medium-length dogs with a feathered, water-resistant double coat that comes in different shades of gold. These come in three standard colors which are lightly golden, gold, and dark golden.
When it comes to size and weight, full-grown Golden Retrievers are considered to be large dogs. Males can weigh up to 75 pounds while measuring up to 24 inches in height, where females weigh between 55 to 65 pounds and measure up to 22.5 inches in height.
Golden Retrievers are friendly and patient dogs. They are energetic, loyal and playful making them an excellent family companion. Additionally, they are well-mannered as well as pleasant to strangers and other dogs. However, while they make excellent watchdogs, they make poor guards since they can be too friendly to strangers.
Their fine sense of smell and ability to work alongside people makes them a priority among bird-hunters, while their social nature makes them suitable for large and active families.
Though Golden Retrievers are known to be well-behaved, they need to be raised and trained properly to make the most out of their behavior. As a result, it is crucial to look for a reputable breeder when buying a grown Golden Retriever to ensure it has had the correct crate training to avoid separation anxiety, potty training, benefitted from a well-balanced diet, and so on.
Care and Maintenance
Golden retrievers are very sensitive dogs. Therefore, they require the best treatment possible.
Feeding a Puppy
Food is essential for a growing puppy.
During the initial weeks,one of the most important puppy care tips is to avoid feeding the puppy any puppy, dog or human food. Only feed it with its mother’s milk until it is ready for weaning. This is important in developing their immune system because it helps them get adequate antibodies from the mother.
During weaning,the mother will reduce the number of feeds. At this point, you will need to make up for the missed feeds. You can start by introducing weaning feeds for your pup such as Esbilac Puppy Weaning food.
After weaning,you will need to slowly transition from weaning foods to dog food to avoid causing disruptions to the puppy’s stomach. Start by feeding small amounts per serving as you work your way up. At the age of 4 to 7 months, the puppies grow very fast. Administer a high-quality, low-calorie diet to prevent growth spurts which could lead to bone disorders.
Feeding for Fully Grown Dogs
Feeding your dog with high-quality dog food is an important part of your dog’s growth. The feeding needs of the Golden Retriever vary from dog to dog depending on age, build, metabolism, size, and activity level. Retrievers are known to add weight quickly which may make them overweight if not properly maintained.
To keep your retriever in good shape, avoid leaving out food for him all day but rather measure the food and give him twice daily. For better results, discuss with your vet about a suitable feeding plan for your dog.
The fact that the retriever has a thick coat implies that there is a need for a lot of grooming. Besides, they shed a lot—mainly during spring and fall—meaning a lot of hair all over your home.
Your Golden Retriever will need daily brushing to remove fallen fur from their coat as well as prevent tangling. Also, it is recommended to bathe them regularly as to keep them sanitary and to avoid that dirty dog smell.
A dog’s teeth require brushing on a regular basis. This benefits the dog by getting rid of tartar build up and mouth bacteria. Besides, it helps prevent gum diseases and bad breath—especially if practiced daily.
Golden Retrievers tend to have long toenails which can cause unintended harm while playing. It is, therefore, recommended to trim down the nails at least once or twice a month depending on their growth rate. However, you will need to be very careful to avoid over-trimming which can lead to bleeding due to the presence of blood vessels in the nails. Besides, improper trimming will scare away your pup next time, and it will not cooperate. Therefore, it is advisable to have a vet do it if you are unsure.
The Golden Retrievers have fold-over ears which reduce ventilation. This createsa favorable environment for bacteria to thrive in. Additionally, this leads to wax build-up. To prevent infections, wipe the ears with a cotton ball dipped in an ear cleaner while trying to avoid inserting objects into the inner ear. Do weekly checks for signs of infections such as redness.
Practice grooming from an early age to make it easier when they grow up. A weekly examination of the skin, eyes, legs, ears and other parts will help diagnose a potential problem early while keeping your dog healthy.
Golden Retrievers have a lifespan of between 10 and 12 years. In general, they are a healthy breed. However, they are prone to certain health conditions. While they are vulnerable to these issues, it does not mean that they will suffer from them during their lifetime. Here are some of the medical problem to which Golden Retrievers are prone to:
- Hip dysplasia.This is a heritable condition that makes the thigh bone disconnected from the hip bone. Consequently, some dogs exhibit pain or lameness while walking while others don’t show any sign. In later stages of life, such dogs are likely to develop arthritis.
Dogs with this condition should not be bred to prevent spreading the disease. Ask the breeder for evidence that the dog is free from the illness before buying.
- Cataracts – Both dogs and people who suffer from this issue have a cloudy spot over the eye lens that is prone to grow over time. In some cases, it may not impair visibility at all, while in others, it may lead to severe vision problems. Luckily, cataracts can be successfully removed with surgery. This condition is hereditary; hence, such dogs should not be bred.
- Progressive Retinal Atrophy – This issue affects the retina by making it slowly deteriorate. In the early stages, the dog develops night blindness and over time loses daytime vision too. Provided the surroundings are maintained, many dogs that lose sight this way adapt well.
- Subvalvular Aortic Stenosis – This problem affects the heart. It may cause fainting and in severe cases, sudden death. Fortunately, it is easily detectable and treatable by a vet.
- OsteochondrosisDissecans (OCD) – This condition occurs in the shoulders and elbows as a result of abnormal cartilage growth in the joints. It causes pain in the elbow making the dog unable to bend it. Some contributive practices to this disease include overfeeding of puppy growth formula and excessive protein.
- Allergies – The golden retriever can be allergic to a variety of substances ranging from food to pollen. If you note signs of rubbing, check in to your vet and have your dog tested for allergies.
- Von Willebrand’s Disease – This condition hinders blood from clotting properly. It identifies excessive bleeding following an injury, nosebleeds, and bleeding gums. This hereditary condition has no treatment yet apart from a blood transfusion.
- Gastric Dilatation-Volvulus – This bloating condition affects large and deep-chested dogs if they do not feed correctly. It is a life-threatening condition caused by one large meal a day, eating, and/or drinking rapidly causing air to be trapped. This impairs blood flow, and without immediate attention, the dog can die.
The Golden Retriever is built to be very active. For this reason, ensure your dog gets daily exercise to avoid behavioral problems. If you are the type who likes to stay indoors, you will experience problems with this type of dog. On the other hand, your dog will be more than willing to join you on a hike or a ball play in your backyard. Since these dogs are retrievers, activities that involve them in fetching items will keep them happy.
Golden Retrievers love and enjoy learning. Training them from an early age will help mold their adult behavior. It is also beneficial for leash training to be done early and patiently. This kind of dog is likely to pull on the leash thus giving you a hard time.
The prices of a golden retriever vary greatly depending on a range of factors like the breeder and the bloodline. On the average, the price ranges between $500–$2000. In addition to this initial price, there are other costs that you should bear in mind. These include food, vaccination, medical expenses, veterinary cost, and insurance. This makes the golden retriever one of the costly dog breeds on the market.
There are other alternatives to owning retrievers apart from purchasing them. One of these alternatives is adopting or fostering. There are rescue groups for these dogs, and the rescued dogs also need a home. One such group is the Golden Retriever Club of America.
Factors to Consider
Since this kind of dog is very playful, large, and adventurous, it needs plenty of room. In addition to adequate space indoors, outdoor space is equally necessary.
Level of Commitment to the Dog
This type of dog loves attention and likes to socialize. This dog will appreciate spending hours playing by your side. The Golden Retriever should not be left alone for more than three hours, as it will make the dog to be stressed and anxious. If you are a busy person, then this dog might not be fit for you unless you have a family that will attend to it.
Your Activity Level
The retriever is an active and playful dog. This requires you to be active as well so as to keep up with the pace of the dog. This breed of dog is not right for people who are couch potatoes. It’s the perfect dog for those who love going outside, socializing and taking their dogs on fun trips with them.
Dog Insurance Policies
Acquiring this dog will make it part of the family. However, accidents or emergencies are prone to happen which besides putting your dog in danger, will cost you a fortune. Golden Retrievers are already expensive. Therefore, having an insurance plan in place will come in handy.
Your Dog Needs
While Golden Retrievers are flexible and multifunctional, they are not suitable for some activities. They are good at keeping company, hunting and watching but very poor at being guards. If you need a security dog, then this will not be the right fit since it is friendly even with strangers. It can only bark to alert you of the presence of a stranger but will not attack.
How to Select a Healthy Golden Retriever?
Check the Credibility of the Breeder
The popularity of the Golden Retriever has increased its demand hence the rise of deceptive breeders offering poor quality dogs. Before you buy any breed, ensure that they are a right fit for you and your family by first researching about them. You can also ask for reviews from people who have experience with the breed.
Check Their Health
As seen above, the Golden Retriever is prone to a variety of diseases. As a result, it is critical to ensure that the dog is healthy before purchasing. To achieve this, ask for health clearance for both parents of the dog.
Some of the health clearances you should look out for including the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) for hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia, and hypothyroidism, etc.; thrombopathiafrom Auburn University; and normal eye certification from the Canine Eye Registry Foundation (CERF). Also, for other certifications, you can easily find them online on the OFA website.
Preparations for Bringing Your Dog Home
If you decide to bring a new dog home, you will need to make adjustments before you bring the new family member home.
While there is a whole load of things you can do in preparation, here are the topmost.
Items You Need to Buy
You will need to purchase items associated with dog usage. Some of these items include but not limited to dog feed, feeding bowl, leash and harness/collar, ID tags, bedding, crate, brushes, shampoo, tooth accessories, treats, and toys.
Dog-proofing Your Home
Your new puppy will be in a new environment, and it needs to be friendly. Keeping away items will not only keep your dog safe but will also prevent the destruction of the object in question.
Some of the things you can do include moving chewable items, securing your garden, moving electrical cords, securing medicines and garbage bins.
Have Routines in Place
Your new furryfriend will need to fit into a daily cycle. Have that in place before buying one. This includes toilet training sessions, meal times, and daily walks. This way, it will be easier for both of you to adapt.
Learn Dog Training Skills
Dog training is not as easy as it may sound;therefore, waiting for your dog to get home then you start training might produce frustrating results. Prepare beforehand, especially if it is your first dog. Learning about positive reinforcement methods will be beneficial to your dogsince it will learn faster in addition to looking forward to training sessions.
There is plenty of training information online, hence making it easier for you. Using videos or dog training classes will also help.
Preparing Your Car
Bringing a new dog to your car might be their first encounter in a car. Therefore, it is possible for the dog to get scared and frightened. For a better riding experience, get your car ready by installing a car seat. Most harnesses come with a car seat leash making it easy to control your dog while on the drive.
The Pros and Cons of Golden Retrievers
- Not barky or harsh.
- Friendly and playful with a lot of energy.
- They are intelligent and easy to train.
- They are sociable hence, love large families and friends.
- They are great at hunting and retrieving things hence make great service dogs.
- Nice and easy to manage.
- Big and hungry. These dogs consume a lot of food, and they also get very large if fed excessively.
- They need an intense exercise of about one hour daily without which they will not perform optimally. Therefore, if this does not suit your lifestyle, it will be difficult to accommodate them.
- Excessive shedding may be a problem. This breed of dogs shed tones of fur every year. This means having to tolerate hair all the time alongside the willingness to keep cleaning.
- Cannot stay alone for part of the day. This dog cannot stand being left alone for more than four hours a day.
- Prone to certain health conditions as mentioned above. This makes them a sensitive breed of dogs that requires a lot of careful handling.
The Golden Retriever is an amazing breed of dogs that bring a lot of joy into a home. Every dog has a downside hence the necessity to be sure of what you expect from your dream dog. Knowing exactly what you want from a dog will help you gauge if the golden retriever will suit your needs.
I grew up in a household that was filled with animals. I believe that my fate as a dog-loving person was sealed in early childhood since my parents owned several dogs of varying sizes and breeds. There was no choice but to take care of and learn about dog habits and the best animal care practices — otherwise, I’d be clueless about how to go about the creatures I was surrounded by day and night.
As a life-long puppy lover, I know a thing or two about dogs and how to go about caring for them in the best way possible. Although I’m not a professionally trained dog behaviorist, trainer, or veterinarian, all of my knowledge and experience with canines comes from a place of love and a deep-rooted passion for dogs and animals in general.
Seeing as dogs kept me company throughout every stage of my life, I decided to follow a different path in my academic life and obtained a Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Marketing Management and Digital Advertising, which ultimately allowed me to combine my professional training and personal experience by creating the ultimate dog lover’s resource website! Along with my husband, Dave, I run MySweetPuppy for like-minded dog lovers who want to have a single, clear, and reliable information source about anything and everything related to dogs and their well-being.