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So you want a Golden Retriever

Updated on November 6, 2013

Golden Retrievers are sweet, sensitive companions. Always happy and willing to play or lie down for some petting, they are great for brightening up your day or just kick back and relax. This beautiful yellow dog is always eager for company and hates being alone – so if you have long working hours it is probably not the best dog for you.

Unlike Labradors, Golden Retrievers have submissive personalities which makes them easy to train. They also need much less excersise than Labradors so if you don’t fancy a run your dog will be just as happy with a short walk around the park.

Retrievers need a lot of love and attention, they are not solitary or independent dogs. In fact they will always be by your side even if you are busy with something. From my experience they are quite nosy too, always sniffing anything you bring home.

They are also extremely loveable and they make you feel loved. The excitement of your arrival at home is almost too much and their tail moves so quickly their hind legs move with it.

I have a Golden Retriever called Luna who is well-trained and incredible sweet and trustful. People often ask me how she became so well-behaved and loving, amongst other doubts they have about the breed. So here are some questions and answers I have gathered from four years of owning Luna.

How can your dog be so well-behaved and obedient?

Sometimes my friends and I eat on the floor and Luna is so big that she could easily reach the food on the dining table. But she doesn’t steal a thing and she never has. People ask me how this is possible as if the food is so close she shouldn’t be able to resist the temptation.

For starters Golden Retrievers are extremely submissive dogs so they recognize who the boss of the house is very easily. And they are very, very eager to please so Luna doesn’t want to get in trouble – but earn affection and treats.

We have also trained her to only eat food when we allow her to do so. This is done by giving the command ‘Okay’, giving her full permission and approval to eat the treat or human food we offer her. She knows that if she behaves she will get more rewards, so she refrains from even stealing food from the floor until we say it’s alright.

Obedience is something that has to be enforced from an early age. Some dogs are harder to break because they are born with the idea they are the leaders. If that isn’t reversed when the dog is a puppy it is much more difficult to do so once they are adults.

What’s the difference between Labradors and Golden Retrievers?

Golden Retrievers have more fur and need less exercise. Labradors have shorter fur and tend to be more playful and daring. Both breeds love water and swimming.

But as I said before Labradors are a bit more naughty than Golden Retrievers and less submissive so they will be harder to train.

Golden Retriever Facts

Males 22 - 24 inches (56 - 61cm)
Females 20 - 22 inches (51 - 56 cm)

Males 60 - 80 pounds (27 - 36 kg)
Females 55 - 70 pounds (25 – 32 kg)

Health Risks:
Prone to cancer including mast cell tumors. Also prone to hip dysplasia, Von Willebrand's disease, heart problems and congenital eye defects. Skin allergies are common in Golden Retrievers and often require veterinary attention. Gains weight easily; do not overfeed.

Life Expectancy:
10-12 years

Scottish Highlands


Why did you decide to get one?

To be honest, I had been in love with Golden Retrievers since always. Then I started doing some research about the breed and I liked what I saw. If you have space for one, I fully recommend that you go for a Retriever because I have never regretted getting mine for a second, even when she is pleading with me to get some food.

One thing that is almost irresistible about Retrievers is their begging face. They look at you as if they are sad and starving even though they are probably incredibly spoiled and have their own food bowls completely full.

Are there any downsides to this breed?

Yes. But they don’t bother me too much. They shed a lot and I recommend getting a Roomba robot hoover to keep the situation under control. And brushing your dog from time to time also helps and keeps their fur beautiful and healthy – and they love it because they get a full body petting! You also have to accept that you will swallow a lot of dog hair and that wearing black clothes means you can’t cuddle your Retriever.

They also drool at times. It’s not as bad as bulldogs as they only drool when they want food or when they are stressed out. This is easily dealt with by separating a few old towels using them to dry the dog when it drools – but sometimes it is unavoidable that they will get you wet so it’s a good idea to get used to it.

Are they needy?

Yes, definitely. If you want an independent animal who isn’t needy I suggest you get a cat or just don’t get a Retriever. Luna is constantly looking for attention! And if she doesn’t get it she gets depressed and starts self-harming (she licks her pawns which results in extreme shedding). But they’re also incredibly perceptive and considerate of human feelings so it’s a very mutual relationship!

So should I get one?

If you can take care of it properly, yes you should! But you should consider this carefully because animals are completely dependent on you and if you don't take care of them as you should they suffer incredible heartbreak and stress. So before you decide to get a dog, please really think about it and if you get to the conclusion that you can and want to adopt a puppy, do it!


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    • tirelesstraveler profile image

      Judy Specht 

      6 years ago from California

      Nicely presented information about Retrievers and Labs. I must admit to confusing the two breeds , after today there is no more confusion.

    • Nicole Froio profile imageAUTHOR

      Nicole Froio 

      6 years ago from Rio de Janeiro

      You're very welcome. I think it's important to notify possible dog owners that not all is perfect with owning a dog. This is something that worries me and I pray that Luna won't develop that.

    • Nicole Froio profile imageAUTHOR

      Nicole Froio 

      6 years ago from Rio de Janeiro

      You're very welcome. I think it's important to notify possible dog owners that not all is perfect with owning a dog. This is something that worries me and I pray that Luna won't develop that.

    • AliciaC profile image

      Linda Crampton 

      6 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      I enjoyed reading about Luna. I had a wonderful golden retriever boy not long ago whom I loved very much. Thanks for describing this lovely dog breed. Thank you also for pointing out the potential health problems that may develop in golden retrievers.

    • Nicole Froio profile imageAUTHOR

      Nicole Froio 

      6 years ago from Rio de Janeiro

      No problem, I felt like i had to share my experiences. she is a lovely, lovely dog!

    • Marcy Goodfleisch profile image

      Marcy Goodfleisch 

      6 years ago from Planet Earth

      That looks like one sweet dog! I've heard so many good things about this beautiful breed - thanks for sharing your information here.


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