5 Things to Know About Golden Retrievers

Golden Retrievers are reliable and energetic dogs who make great service animals.

breed profile golden retrievers
Golden Retrievers are friendly and energetic. Photo: iStock.com/Leoba

1. Key Characteristics

  • AKC Group: Sporting
  • Height: 23–34 inches for males; 21.5–22.5 inches for females
  • Weight: 65–75 pounds for males; 55–65 pounds for females
  • Life Expectancy: 10–12 years

Golden Retrievers are active and friendly dogs who have a water-repellant double coat.

Their signature gold color varies from light to dark, and they are one of the most popular breeds in the United States.

2. Where They Came From

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 produced a dog who would do well at retrieval on land or water.

Some notable events detail the Golden Retriever’s rise in popularity:

  • The dogs were 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 (AKC) recognized the dogs in 1925.
  • The first 3 dogs of any breed to win the AKC obedience champion title were all Golden Retrievers.
Golden Retrievers are often employed as service as well as search-and-rescue dogs. Photo: iStock.com/sssss1gmel

3. How Friendly Are They?

Golden Retrievers are friendly dogs who get along with everyone.

They are often trained to become excellent service dogs and search-and-rescue heroes.

They rarely show hostility or aggression toward other dogs or people. They are reliable, trustworthy, active, energetic and always eager to please.

4. Is This the Right Dog for You?

Exercise Needs


HIGH: Goldens can be prone to obesity, so yours will need rigorous daily exercise.

The dogs are active and energetic, and they need this regular physical activity to stay healthy. A lack of exercise can also lead to chewing or behavioral difficulties.

Grooming Needs


MEDIUM: The Golden’s water-repellant double coat sheds seasonally, so you’ll need to brush yours regularly. Experts recommend brushing these dogs at least twice a week, or more often as needed in the warmer months.

Goldens’ long fur shows dirt pretty easily, so bathe yours as needed. Check and clean the ears weekly and trim the nails too.

Health Problems


HIGH: Goldens are prone to experiencing a long list of health problems, but there’s no guarantee your dog will suffer 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

This video shows Scout in training as an assistance dog:

5. How to Adopt One

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 pet adoption page. (You can filter your search results by breed and ZIP code.)

If you are buying from a breeder, ask if health 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).

Additional Resources

Kristine Lacoste

View posts by Kristine Lacoste
Kristine Lacoste, editor in chief of Petful, has been researching dog and cat breeds for nearly a decade and has observed the animals up close at dog shows in both the United States and the United Kingdom. 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 researched and written about pet behaviors and care for many years. She holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology, another bachelor’s degree in English and a Master of Business Administration degree.

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