Golden Retrievers are one of the most popular family dogs in the United States. They are kind, patient, and intelligent, and are very sociable with both strangers and familiar people. Golden Retrievers were originally bred in Scotland in the mid-1800s as, well, retrievers. They would retrieve waterfowl and game from both the land and the water, since Scottish hunting grounds were marshy or close to rivers.
About Golden Retrievers
As the name implies, Golden Retrievers have light to dark golden coats, with a water-resistant top coat and a soft undercoat. Their fur requires regular grooming and will shed profusely twice a year. They are considered large dogs, with males weighing 65-75 pounds and females weighing 55-65 pounds. The males are about 22-24 inches tall at the shoulder, while females are a little shorter at 20-22 inches.
The Golden Retriever is very intelligent and full of energy, so your dog needs plenty of play and exercise, including work, walks, or even swimming. Adult Golden Retrievers love working and will happily hunt with you for hours or do other tasks. Their focus, sociability, and willingness to learn make them excellent guide dogs, search and rescue dogs, and mobility assistance dogs. Golden Retrievers can also be very competitive, excelling in obedience trials and other performance events like agility and dock jumping.
Golden Retriever Food and Health
Your dog’s diet is critical for their health, and they’ll need different nutrients and ingredients depending on their age, whether they have health issues, and their activity levels.
Golden Retriever Puppy Food
Golden Retriever puppies need high levels of protein to maintain their energy, and a great food choice for your Golden Retriever puppy is Wellness CORE Natural Grain Free Dry Dog Food. This food contains no grains, gluten, or wheat and is sure to be a favorite. Your dog can even eat this food throughout their life, and it comes in plenty of different formulas. Another great option for Golden Retriever puppies is Only Natural raw dog food. Another grain-free option, this dry dog food contains free-range turkey for an extra protein boost.
Best Food Options for Adult Goldens
As your dog gets older, their diet may need to transition a bit. For adolescent and adult dogs, we recommend Blue Buffalo Life Protection food, which comes in different flavors, is grain-free, and always has the source of protein as the first ingredient. Taste of the Wild is another option that the Dog Gear team recommends, since it contains fresh protein and has no fillers or grain.
Obesity is common in Golden Retrievers because they love to eat. Be sure to only feed your puppy about 3 cups of food a day, and your adult Golden Retriever 3-5 cups a day. The amount they need will depend on the food and their activity level.
Golden Retriever Bowls
When it comes to bowls, we recommend the a no-tip stainless steel bowl. This option is great for both food and water, especially if your dog has a tendency to play with their bowl. If your Golden Retriever eats quickly and needs to slow down, try a puzzle bowl like the Outward Hound Fun Feeder. You might also need a portable dog water bowl if you take your Golden Retriever on trips with you, especially if you will be outside in the heat.
Golden Health Concerns and Dog Insurance
Even when your Golden Retriever has the proper food and water, there are still chances that he or she could get sick. This is why it’s important to take your dog to visit the vet. They will ensure your Golden Retriever is up-to-date on vaccines and check for any other health issues. Golden Retrievers are not just prone to obesity. The breed also commonly gets cancers like hemangiosarcoma or osteosarcoma, or hip and elbow dysplasia. Golden Retrievers also can have eye diseases like cataracts or corneal dystrophy. Additionally, Golden Retrievers can suffer from heart and joint diseases. Reputable breeders will screen puppies for these disorders before selling the puppies, but that doesn’t mean that disease won’t affect your dog. This is why it’s important to find a good veterinarian and also why we recommend pet insurance. Nationwide is a great option as the leader in pet insurance, and the ASPCA also offers pet insurance plans.
Leashes and Collars for your Golden Retriever
Walking your Golden Retriever is great exercise and will help them release some of their high energy. Using the right leash from the beginning ensures that your dog will have good on-leash etiquette. When you are training your dog, we recommend a longer leash like the Max and Neo Double Handle leash. It comes in several colors. When your Golden Retriever has grown up a bit, or if you want to keep your puppy safe on the leash, we recommend transitioning to a shorter leash like the BAAPET rope leash or the Fairwin Braided Leather leash. If you want a hands-free option so you can run with your Golden Retriever, try a bungee waist leash or other hands-free leash.
Best Collar Options for Your Golden Retriever
When it comes to collars, your grown Retriever should wear one that is about one to one and a half inches wide. This might be too wide for a puppy (and collars made for large dogs are often too long for the circumference of a puppy’s neck), so you may need to get a smaller collar when you get your Golden Retriever puppy. As your dog grows up, Golden Retrievers respond very well to positive training methods, so shock collars might not be the best way to train your dog. We recommend a Martingale collar, which fits fairly loosely but will tighten when your dog tries to pull, or a regular buckle collar. For dogs who need a bit of extra guidance or who pull a lot, you might want to try a prong collar. Since Golden Retrievers are larger dogs, you might need to buy a few extra links for a prong collar. You can also try a harness if your Golden tends to get out of hand.
Best Crates, Beds, and Houses for Golden Retrievers
Active dogs need their rest! For puppies and adult Golden Retrievers, try the plush MidWest Homes bed Deluxe Micro Terry Bed. This bed is super soft and can not only be used as a dog bed, but also can be used as a crate cushion. Another option for Golden Retrievers with arthritis, hip dysplasia, or orthopedic issues is the orthopedic Big Barker. This is a memory foam mattress that you might end up stealing for yourself!
Crate training is a critical developmental element for Golden Retrievers. Our experts agree that crates provide dogs with a much-needed den feel and a spot they can make their own. For Golden Retriever puppies getting started with crate training, we recommend the Amazon Basics folding crate.
As your Golden grows, a quality crate is the MidWest Homes iCrate. It is spacious and sure to provide a comfortable place for your dog to relax while you are away. Another great option, especially if you travel a lot or are in a warmer area of the country, is the foldable Noz2Noz indoor and outdoor crate. This crate is very airy, and the ability to easily collapse it or set it up is an added bonus. Each of these crates can be used outside, but if you’re looking for a more permanent outdoor place for your dog, the DogGear team recommends the Petmate Indigo igloo dog house. It’s durable, easy to assemble, and has vents to provide air circulation. For those who live in colder climates and are looking for a way to keep their dog warm when staying outside, we suggest the ASL Solutions insulated dog house, which also features a floor heater.
Golden Retriever Toys
Golden Retrievers are active dogs, and they love toys. Many Golden Retrievers will rip the fuzz off a tennis ball in minutes, so the best toys for them are ones that you can use with them or that are long-lasting. If you want a fun toy for interacting with your Golden, try the KONG Jumbler Football. It has handles so that you can play with your dog if you want, and it also has a squeaker and ball on the inside so that it’s enticing for your dog to play with on their own. For teething puppies, try a teething stick. For Golden puppies and adults alike, a great option is the Zogoflex Hurley chew toy, especially for heavy chewers.
If you are looking for an easy way to keep your dog occupied and work his or her brain a bit, try a puzzle toy. Not only will it help your Golden stay active, it also dispenses treats!
Grooming Insights for Golden Retriever owners
Goldens have two parts to their coats: a long, smooth outer coat, and the soft, fuzzy undercoat. The layers of Golden Retriever fur help your dog stay warm in winter, cool in summer, and protects their skin from moisture and dirt. Because of this, you should never shave your Golden. You may need to trim their fur with grooming scissors or thinning shears like the ones in the Alfheim Professional pet grooming kit.
You should brush your Retriever at least once a week to keep his or her fur from matting and to clean out debris that’s built up. Use a slicker or pin brush to work through your Golden’s fur. You can also use a comb or an undercoat rake.
You should bathe your Golden about every six weeks at most, and no more than once a week. Bathing your dog too often can dry their skin out. Be sure to get as much loose fur out of their coat as possible first, then use a natural shampoo that will not irritate your dog’s skin—remember Goldens are prone to skin allergies! You can also use a conditioner like Earthbath oatmeal and aloe conditioner, especially since Golden Retriever fur is longer. Once the bath is over, use a blow dryer to dry out your dog’s fur. Make sure to dry the fur in the direction it should lay, then brush it out. Another important grooming aspect for Goldens is their ears: you might need to trim the fur on the ears, and be sure to check your Golden’s ears and clean them weekly with a cleansing solution.
Golden Retriever puppies should be groomed with about the same process as adults, but with a different intent. Focus on getting the puppy used to the grooming process and making sure that it is enjoyable for them. Especially important is handling their paws, as the fur there often needs trimmed, plus Goldens need their nails trimmed regularly. You can use nail clippers like the GoPets nail clippers for dogs.
Another thing to think about in terms of grooming is teeth. Golden Retriever puppies will begin losing their puppy teeth between four and six months old. Once their adult teeth are in, you can begin using a gentle toothbrush. Dogs don’t need toothpaste, but there are plenty of options out there should you want to use it for your Golden Retriever.
Finally, you will probably need to invest in some sort of flea and tick protection. Flea and tick collars are an easy way to do this, but you can also use a product like Bayer K9 Advantix, which soaks into your dog’s oil glands to protect them from fleas and ticks.
Golden Retriever Accessories
If you hike with your Golden or take them with you on errands, you might want a dog backpack so they can carry a collapsible bowl, some water, or even your keys! For places with rough terrain or cold climates, it might be a good idea to get your Golden some booties to protect their paws. Also, Golden Retrievers love water and are great at swimming, but for the extra peace of mind, consider getting a life jacket. The Outward Hound Dog Life Jacket has easy-grab handles so if your dog is struggling, you can easily help him or her out.
When you and your Golden Retriever puppy need to travel longer distances, walking is not always the best option, so the DogGear Experts recommend considering thePet Gear dog stroller due it its ease of use and refined engineering. Older Golden Retrievers might be in pain, and one way to help is by giving your Retriever a supplement of some kind. Of course, be sure to consult with your veterinarian before giving your Golden medicine. Also for older Golden Retrievers, the K9 Carts Dog Wheelchair can be helpful for dogs with hip dysplasia, degenerative myelopathy, and other health issues that make getting around hard for them.
A Golden Retriever is a friendly, energetic family dog that is sure to fit right in with any group of people or dogs. We hope this article helps you choose the best products for you and your Golden Retriever. If there is something you’d like more information about or if you have a product recommendation, please feel free to contact us!