Golden Retrievers As Pets: Characteristics, Behavior, Diet, Health Issues & More

Charming, goofy and loyal. The Golden Retriever, explored in detail.
Golden Retrievers as Pets

Before you decide to keep Golden Retrievers as pets, you need to understand what this dog breed is all about, their care requirements, and more. As with any pet, knowledge is the key to providing them with a happy and healthy home environment.

Dog Species About This Specie

Family: Canidae

Class: Mammalia

Length: 22 to 24 inches (Male) and 20 to 22 inches (female)

Lifespan: Average of 10 years, can live up to 12

Weight: 65-75 pounds (Male) and 55-65 pounds (female)

Energy Level: Average

History of Golden Retrievers

The rich history of Golden Retrievers begins in the lush landscapes of the Scottish Highlands in the mid-19th century. Dudley Marjoribanks, later known as Lord Tweedmouth, sought to breed a superior gundog suitable for the rainy climate and rugged terrain of his estate.

He wanted a dog with a keen sense of smell, good at retrieving, and inclined to water, yet gentle and trainable. After careful selection, he crossed a yellow Wavy-Coated Retriever (known as “Nous”) with a Tweed Water Spaniel named “Belle,” a breed now extinct but known for its excellent retrieving abilities.

Over generations and selective breeding with the St. John’s Water Dog, the Irish Setter, and more Tweed Water Spaniels, the result was the Golden Retriever we know and love today.

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Golden Retrievers were first recognized by The Kennel Club of England in 1903, as ‘Flat Coats – Golden.’ It wasn’t until 1925 that the American Kennel Club recognized the breed.

Characteristics of Golden Retrievers

From their golden coats to their friendly nature, here are the characteristics that make golden retrievers unique:

Size and Weight

Golden Retrievers are classified as a large breed. Males typically stand between 23 and 24 inches tall at the shoulder and weigh between 65 to 75 pounds. Females, on the other hand, usually stand 21.5 to 22.5 inches tall at the shoulder and weigh between 55 to 65 pounds.

The Golden Coat

A Golden’s coat is perhaps its most iconic feature. These dogs get their name from their beautiful golden coats. This dense, water-resistant coat can be either straight or wavy and requires regular brushing to reduce shedding.

Distinctive Features

In addition to their beautiful coats, Golden Retrievers have several distinctive features. They have a broad head with friendly eyes, short ears, a powerful and muscular body, and a strong tail which is often wagging energetically.

Behavior and Temperament

Given their cheerful disposition, Golden Retrievers are exceptional family pets and reliable working dogs. Their temperament make them well suited for a wide range of roles from search-and-rescue dogs to therapy dogs.

Intelligence

Golden Retrievers are known for their superb intelligence which contributes to their high trainability. This intelligence, combined with their eagerness to please, makes them excel in obedience training.

Friendliness and Sociability

Golden Retrievers are known for their friendly and tolerant attitudes. They love people, making them poor guard dogs but excellent family pets! They get along well with strangers and other animals, extending their friendly tail wags to almost everyone they meet.

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Dependability

Golden Retrievers are reliable pets, making them the choice breed for various roles, including guide dogs for the blind and emotional support animals — making them one of the most dependable dogs in the world.

Learning Skills

Due to their intelligent nature, Golden Retrievers are quick to learn and grasp new commands or tricks. This makes them one of the top breeds when it comes to trainability.

Problem-Solving Abilities

Golden Retrievers have exceptional problem-solving skills. For instance, they’re adept at figuring out how to retrieve a ball that’s rolled under a couch or how to open a gate in the backyard.

Training Techniques

Golden Retrievers respond well to positive reinforcement training techniques. Given their sharp intellect and desire to please their owners, they can be trained to follow complex commands and even assist humans in tasks like search and rescue operations or acting as service dogs.

Play and Exercise

Given their playful nature and energy, Golden Retrievers require ample exercise. This breed thrives on physical and mental stimulation, which can be achieved through a mix of activities like games of fetch, swimming, or interactive puzzle toys.

The Golden Retriever Diet

Golden Retrievers As Pets: Characteristics, Behavior, Diet, Health Issues & More
Learn about the best diet for your Golden Retriever to keep them healthy and energized.

Like all dogs, Golden Retrievers have specific dietary needs. The exact amount of food a Golden Retriever requires will depend on their age, metabolism, and activity level.

Protein

Protein should make up the bulk of a Golden Retriever’s diet. High-quality protein sources such as chicken, turkey, fish, and beef can fulfill this need. A diet rich in muscle meats helps them maintain lean body mass and supports their active lifestyle.

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Fats

Healthy fats, like those found in fish and flax-seed, should also be included in the diet. Fats aren’t just a concentrated source of energy – they also provide essential fatty acids and help absorb fat-soluble vitamins.

Carbohydrates

While not as crucial as protein and fats, carbohydrates can provide a good energy source and dietary fiber. Brown rice, sweet potatoes, and vegetables are excellent sources.

Feeding Schedule & Portion Sizes

Feeding schedules and portion sizes can differ based on the dog’s age, weight, and energy level.

  • Puppies: Golden Retriever puppies are rapidly growing, and thus require more frequent meals. Puppies should be fed 3-4 times per day.
  • Adults: Adult Golden Retrievers, however, can be fed twice a day. Typically, an adult Golden Retriever will require about 2 to 3 cups of good-quality dry dog food daily, given in two feedings.

Obesity, Food Allergies and Other Concerns

While Golden Retrievers love to munch on their food, overfeeding is quite common and can lead to obesity. Obesity can set the stage for other health problems like diabetes, heart disease and joint problems. Therefore, controlling portion sizes and ensuring your pup gets plenty of exercise can help prevent obesity.

Some Golden Retrievers can also develop allergies to certain types of food ingredients like wheat, soy, or corn. Signs of food allergies include itchiness, poor skin and coat, ear infections or gastrointestinal upset. If you suspect your Golden Retriever has a food allergy, your vet may suggest an elimination diet to identify the offending ingredient.

Health Issues in Golden Retrievers

Health Issues in Golden Retrievers
Golden Retrievers are a healthy breed overall, but like any other breed, they are prone to certain health conditions.

Understanding these health issues and providing appropriate care will ensure that our loving companions enjoy a long, healthy life.

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Hip and Elbow Dysplasia

Hip and elbow dysplasia are common skeletal conditions seen in large breed dogs like Golden Retrievers. These conditions can lead to discomfort, pain, and lack of mobility in later life.

Causes and Diagnosis

Both are typically caused by a malformation of the respective joint and can be exacerbated by rapid weight gain or injury. Veterinary examinations, including physical check ups and X-rays, are necessary to confirm diagnosis.

Treatment Options

Treatment often involves weight management and anti-inflammatory medications. More severe cases might require surgery. Providing balanced nutrition during puppyhood can help reduce the likelihood of your dog developing these conditions.

Cancer

Golden Retrievers are unfortunately prone to various types of cancer, with one in three affected by this disease. The most common cancers include hemangiosarcoma, osteosarcoma, lymphosarcoma, and mast cell tumors. Swift acknowledgement and diagnosis of any abnormal growth or decrease in bodily function can aid in early detection.

Treatment and Prevention

Cancer treatment depends on the type and stage of cancer. It may involve chemotherapy, radiation therapy, surgery, or combinations of these. Regular vet check-ups and keeping an eye out for unusual signs can aid in early detection and better prognosis.

Eye Problems

Golden Retrievers are susceptible to several eye conditions, like cataracts, progressive retinal atrophy (PRA), and retinal dysplasia.

Symptoms and Diagnosis

Symptoms vary from cloudiness in the eye (cataracts) to gradual vision loss (PRA). Diagnoses are made via an examination from a veterinary ophthalmologist.

Treatments

Treatments can range from surgery for cataracts to assisted living conditions for vision loss. Regular ophthalmic exams can help identify these conditions early and slow their progression.

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Heart Diseases

Just like humans, Golden Retrievers can suffer from various heart diseases like subvalvular aortic stenosis (SAS) and cardiomyopathy.

Identification and Treatment

Signs can be subtle, going unnoticed until the disease is advanced. Symptoms often include fatigue, weight loss, and trouble breathing. Cardiology testing is necessary for diagnosis. Treatment options depend on the severity and type of heart disease.

Fun Facts

1. An Olympic Swimmer: Golden Retrievers have webbed feet, which makes them excellent swimmers.

2. Golden Movie Stars: Golden Retrievers have starred in many movies and TV shows, including the “Air Bud” and “Homeward Bound” series.

3. Presidential Pets: U.S presidents Gerald Ford and Ronald Reagan both had Golden Retrievers while in office.

4. A Mouthful of Eggs: Golden Retrievers have such soft and gentle mouths, they can carry raw eggs without breaking them. This is a testament to their breeding history as retrievers.

5. Multitalented Breed: Apart from being great companion dogs, Golden Retrievers have been employed as guide dogs for the blind, hearing dogs for the deaf, detection dogs, and search and rescue participants due to their keen sense of smell and tracking abilities.

6. Forever Young: Golden Retrievers are considered ‘Peter Pan’ dogs because they mature later than other breeds and retain their playful and energetic nature well into their older years.

7. Hair Everywhere: Golden Retrievers shed year-round, but even more so during the change of seasons.

8. Bond with Kids: These dogs are known for their patience, which makes them excellent pets for households with children.

9. They Adore Fetching: They weren’t named Retrievers for nothing. This breed loves games of fetch, staying true to their roots as hunting companions tasked with retrieving game.

10. World Record Holders: A Golden Retriever named Charlie holds the Guinness world record for the loudest bark, recorded at 113.1 decibels! Another Golden named Augie holds the record for the most tennis balls held in the mouth by a dog – a whopping five tennis balls.

Final Thoughts

Golden Retrievers are wonderful pets that make great companions for families and individuals alike. Their friendly and outgoing nature, combined with their intelligence and trainability, make them a popular choice among dog owners. They do require regular exercise and attention to keep them happy and healthy, but their loyalty and affection make it all worth it.

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