Breed Profile: Golden Retriever

These are energetic dogs who make great service animals.

Golden retrievers are friendly and energetic. By: amylovesyah
Golden retrievers are friendly and energetic. By: amylovesyah


Golden retriever, a.k.a. Golden



Physical Description

Golden retrievers are active and friendly dogs that have a water-repellant double coat. Males weigh 65 to 75 pounds and are 23 to 24 inches tall. Females weigh 55 to 65 pounds and are 21 ½ to 22 ½ inches tall. Their signature gold color varies from light to dark, and they are one of the most popular breeds in the United States, per AKC’s registration statistics.


Goldens were created in 19th-century Scotland by Lord Tweedmouth by crossing a yellow retriever with a tweed water spaniel. The offspring was later crossed with Irish Setters, bloodhounds and more spaniels to become the breed we know today. The cross-breeding was done to produce a dog that would do well at retrieval on land or water. These dogs began appearing at dog shows and eventually in other countries. Some notable events detail the Golden Retriever’s rise to popularity:

  • First shown in England in 1908 at the Crystal Palace.
  • The Golden Retriever Club of England was formed in 1913.
  • These dogs appeared in the United States starting in the 1920s.
  • The American Kennel Club recognized the dog in 1925.
  • The first 3 dogs of any breed to win the AKC obedience champion title were all Golden Retrievers.


Originally excellent hunting companions and game retrievers, Goldens have evolved over the last century to many different jobs. They excel at being a guide dog and assistance animal, search and rescue, sight dog for the blind, competition show dog and companion animal.

This video shows Scout in training as an assistance dog:


Goldens are friendly dogs that do not normally show hostility or aggression to other dogs or people. They are reliable, trustworthy, active, energetic and always eager to please.

Exercise Needs

Goldens need daily exercise. They can be prone to obesity so this should not be ignored. The dogs are active and energetic and need this regular physical activity to stay healthy. A lack of exercise can also lead to chewing or behavioral difficulties.

Grooming Requirements

The Golden’s water-repellant double coat sheds seasonally and needs regular brushing. No less than twice per week is recommended with more brushing in the warmer months. Their long fur can get dirty depending on their outdoor excursions, and they can be bathed as needed. Check and clean the ears weekly and trim the nails as needed.

Common Health Problems

There is a long list of health problems Goldens are prone to experiencing, but there is no guarantee your dog will suffer one or any of these conditions. While the most common problems are obesity, hip dysplasia and cataracts, these other conditions have been noted for the breed:

  • Elbow dysplasia and patella (kneecap) problems
  • Eye abnormalities
  • Heart disease
  • Bleeding disorder
  • Cancer
  • Epilepsy
  • Kidney (renal) failure
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Allergies
  • Hernias
  • Muscular dystrophy

While this list may seem daunting, it is true for any dog that these are only possibilities. If you are buying from a breeder, ask if clearances were performed (clearances are tests and medical exams to look for issues in the parents of the offspring to determine if any conditions will be passed down to their pups).

Is the Golden Retriever the Right Dog for You?

Golden Retrievers are reliable and friendly dogs that get along with everyone. They can be trained and are excellent guide dogs, Seeing Eye dogs for the blind and search and rescue heroes. They need daily exercise and regular grooming and may not be best suited for small apartments. Whether you are looking for a hunting companion, another dog for search and rescue or just a fluffy friend to become the family pet, you will fall in love with the Golden Retriever.

Adopt, Don’t Buy

If you consider getting a Golden Retriever for your next pet, please check adoption resources — even purebred animals end up in shelters. Try Petful’s own pet adoption page. (You can filter your search results by breed and ZIP code.)

Additional Resources

Kristine Lacoste

View posts by Kristine Lacoste
Kristine Lacoste, editor in chief of Petful, is an author, poet and pet lover from Louisiana. She is the author of the book One Unforgettable Journey, which was nominated for a Maxwell Award from the Dog Writers Association of America, and was host of a weekly pet news segment on the National K-9 Academy Radio Show. In addition, she was the New Orleans coordinator for Dogs on Deployment, a nonprofit that helps military members and their pets, for 3 years. Kristine has been researching and writing about pet behaviors and care for many years, with her articles appearing in various publications. She is the CEO of a large mental health practice in Louisiana and holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology, a bachelor’s degree in English and a Master of Business Administration degree.

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