Golden Retriever

AKC Sporting Group


Photo copyright © Cook PhoDOGraphy. All rights reserved.

Photo copyright © Cook PhoDOGraphy. All rights reserved.

The Golden Retriever was first developed in the British Isles, probably from crosses between a yellow Flat-Coat Retriever, light-coated Tweed Water Spaniels, other spaniels, setters, and even the Newfoundland. In fact, the breed was first shown as a golden Flat-Coat. It was recognized as a separate breed in England in 1912, and in America in 1927. It gained popularity as a hunting dog, and gradually became one of the world’s foremost family companion dogs. Many of the top obedience competition dogs in the country are Golden Retrievers. The Golden is also a fine bird dog on both land and in the water. He has an excellent nose and has been used not only for hunting and tracking, but also for narcotics detection. Because of his great desire to please and capacity for love and learning, the Golden Retriever is also used as a guide for the blind, as a therapy dog, and as a service dog for the disabled.


The Golden Retriever is a beautiful, sturdy, athletic dog with a feathered, medium-length cream to deep golden colored coat. It is slightly longer than tall. The outer coat is water-repellent, and the undercoat is dense. The head is broad and rather rounded, with a well-defined stop and tapering, but wide muzzle. The nose is black, and the kindly eyes are brown with dark rims. The ears are rather short and pendant. The tail is thick, carried near the horizontal. Feet are round.

Key Facts

  • Height:  23 to 24 in. (male); 21-1/2 to 22-1/2 in. (female)
  • Size:  Large
  • Weight:  65 to 75 lbs. (male); 55 to 65 lbs. (female)
  • Availability:  Very popular
  • Talents:  Hunting, tracking, retrieving, narcotics detection, agility, competitive obedience, and performing tricks


Beware of hip dysplasia and congenital eye defects. OFA, PennHIP, or another national hip dysplasia clearance and current CERF or OFA eye clearance are important for both parents. Parents should also be checked for von Willebrand’s disease and heart problems. Needs daily exercise, but likes to retrieve balls and sticks, so exercising is fairly easy. Be sure to exercise well and don’t overfeed this dog as he tends to put on weight. Buy a Golden Retriever only from a reputable breeder. Because the breed is so popular, many animals with poor temperaments are being sold.


Gentle, stable family dog. Loyal and confident. Sweet and eager to please. Active. Loving and lovable. Excels in obedience competition. Outstanding family dog. Patient and kind even with very small children. Friendly with everyone. Golden Retrievers enjoy pleasing their masters, so obedience training can be fun. Can be over-exuberant and distractible. Needs people a lot. If isolated from human contact, or left alone for long periods of time, the Golden Retriever may become mischievous.


  • Children:  Excellent with children
  • Friendliness:  Loves everyone
  • Trainability:  Very easy to train
  • Independence:  Needs people a lot
  • Dominance:  Moderate
  • Other Pets:  Generally good with other pets
  • Combativeness:  Friendly with other dogs
  • Noise:  Average barker
  • Indoors:  Moderately active indoors
  • Owner:  Good for novice owners


  • Grooming:  Regular grooming needed
  • Trimming and Stripping:  Some trimming or stripping (little skill required)
  • Coat:  Feathered coat
  • Shedding:  Average shedder
  • Exercise:  Needs lots of exercise
  • Jogging:  An excellent jogging companion
  • Apartments:  Will be OK in an apartment if sufficiently exercised
  • Outdoor Space:  Best with a large yard
  • Climate:  Does well in most climates
  • Longevity:  Average (10 to 12 years)

Useful Links

AKC® Golden Retriever Breed Standard

Golden Retriever Breed Club

Search for a Breeder

Rescue Organizations

Books about the Golden Retriever

Golden Retriever Gifts