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Golden Retriever: Training, Care & Nutrition

Golden Retriever Dog Breed

  • Breed: Retrievers
  • Origin: Scotland
  • Weight: 27 to 34 kg
  • Height at the withers: 51 to 61 cm
  • Life expectancy: 10 to 12 years
  • Fur: medium length, smooth or wavy topcoat with a dense, water-repellent undercoat
  • Colour: cream to dark gold
  • Temperament: Lively, happy, adaptable, likes to move, playful, obedient, affectionate, intelligent

Golden retrievers: history

It can be assumed that the origin of all retriever breeds lies in Newfoundland. At the beginning of the 19th century, there was a brisk fish trade between England and Newfoundland. The working dogs living there retrieved boat lines from the water and brought them to shore or retrieved fish that had fallen out of the nets. Enthusiastic about the work of the water-loving and weatherproof retrievers, the British sailors brought representatives of this breed back to England. From crossings of the now extinct “Small Newfoundland” or “St. John’s dogs” with English hunting dogs, such as. B. the red Irish setter, “Wavy-Coated Retriever” emerged in many different colors.

In the late 1800s, Lord Tweedmouth of Scotland crossed a yellow retriever with a Tweed Water Spaniel, an ancient breed of dog from Ireland that is now extinct. Other breeds such as the Irish Setter and the Bloodhound were then crossed in until the Golden Retriever was finally officially recognized as a separate breed in 1913 by the British Kennel Club, the umbrella organization of British dog breeders.

In Germany, the Golden Retriever enjoyed increasing popularity from the 1980s and established itself as a television and film dog in the 1990s.

Today it is used as a guide dog as well as a drug dog or explosives sniffer dog.

The Golden Retriever is assigned to FCI Group 8, Section 1.

Golden retrievers: breed characteristics

Essence and temperament

The Golden Retriever is lively, cheerful, and adapts calmly and fearlessly to all everyday situations. He has a balanced temperament, neither hectic nor nervous but at the same time not too calm or lethargic. He is enthusiastic about activities and can be characterized as active and playful. The Golden Retriever is characterized by a pronounced will to obedience and its easy handling. He is very affectionate and happily takes part in all the activities of his “human pack”. The four-legged friend arranges himself without any problems.

He is always open and warm towards people. This dog breed is therefore very suitable for families with children. Compared to other breeds, its protective instinct is only rudimentarily developed. Thus, Golden Retrievers are not ideal guards and protection dogs.

The breed is characterized by high intelligence and willingness to learn. Golden Retrievers are easily charmed, but should still be trained consistently and strictly. The dog needs a lot of activity and as much exercise as possible. A private garden and a large apartment are advantageous for care and keeping.

The Golden Retriever is considered a dog that even wet, cold, and extreme weather conditions do not harm. However, it has a pronounced sensitivity to high temperatures.

So that the lively four-legged friend is well protected, the dog health insurance of the DFV provides up to 100% reimbursement of costs for outpatient and inpatient treatments including surgeries. If you want to be on the safe side, rely on DFV dog liability insurance. The DFV dog liability protection offers you worldwide reimbursement of costs for personal injury, property damage, and financial loss caused by your four-legged friend.


The Golden Retriever is a medium-sized dog breed with strong bones. The well-formed skull with a pronounced stop (transition from the bridge of the nose to the skullcap, approximately at eye level) and the dark eyes give it its typical, lovable, gentle expression. Eyelids and nose are well pigmented.

Its fur is of medium length, with a smooth or wavy topcoat and a dense, water-repellent undercoat. Color ranges from cream to dark gold, with Golden Retriever puppies starting out more white. The golden or cream-colored fur becomes apparent from about the 2nd year of life.

Adult bitches weigh between 30 and 36 kg with a shoulder height of 51 to 56 cm. Adult males weigh between 34 and 40 kg with a shoulder height of 56 to 61 cm.

Difference working line and show line

When breeding Golden Retrievers, a distinction is made between two breeding lines, each of which places value on different external and internal characteristics: the working line and the show line.

The working lineage of the Golden Retriever has a more athletic build, being leaner and more muscular. The coat color is reddish-golden to light golden. The character is much more original than that of the working line. They are spirited, have a high willingness to learn, and have a strong hunting instinct. Representatives of the working line are ideal as hunting companion dogs, rescue dogs, and also as family dogs. Demanding dog sport and appropriate workload are essential for Golden Retrievers of the working line.

The breeding of the show line focuses on the appearance of the dogs. These Golden Retrievers have a compact build with a massive head and rather short legs. The color varies from almost white to cream to light gold. The coat is in most cases a little more luxuriant or longer than that of the working line. Representatives of the show line are calmer and more relaxed. They are particularly good with families, although they also enjoy playing fetch, water activities, and moderate dog sports.

Education of Golden Retriever puppies

Golden Retriever puppies have a very strong will to obey and can be trained accordingly. However, it should not be forgotten that these dogs were bred for retrieving, including game, and the innate hunting instinct must be channeled. Puppies’ education also includes fetching games and commands such as “off” and “here”. Golden Retrievers learn very quickly, including undesirable actions. So absolute consistency is required when training puppies.

Golden Retriever Puppy Training Tips:

  • No matter how cute they are, no exceptions should be made when it comes to training puppies.
  • Do not allow the puppy anything that will later be forbidden.
  • Since Golden Retrievers are very gluttonous, training them with rewards and treats is particularly easy.
  • Like all dog breeds, they should never be trained with punishment. Pushing puppies into their droppings with their snouts is an absolute no-go and upsets the little ones.
  • Golden Retrievers can also be trained to be companion dogs and therapy dogs.

Activities with the Golden Retriever

Due to its diverse characteristics, the Golden Retriever is suitable for many activities.

When hunting, it is used for tracking down and retrieving games. He is also a reliable and loyal guide dog. He serves as a sniffer dog for the police and customs. The Golden Retriever is also used in mountain rescue as an avalanche search dog and to rescue earthquake and disaster victims.

The four-legged friend feels particularly comfortable with activities in the water. But it also searches for its prey patiently, with concentration and perseverance in the woods, fields, and meadows, and retrieves it with pinpoint accuracy.

He is generally suitable for all tasks as a companion dog, especially for people with disabilities. He supervises and leads attentively and quickly learns to take on complex tasks reliably. If he doesn’t have a fixed task, he can be kept very fit through retrieval games, dummy training, and dog sports.

Sports for the Golden Retriever

Fly ball

Flyball is a course exercise and competitive sport. It comes from California and was developed there in the 70s as a pure ball catching game, to which jumps were later added. Nowadays, flyball is played with two teams of four dogs each, from which the dogs compete for one after the other on a multi-lane course. The course includes four obstacles. Once the dog has overcome this, it triggers a ball throwing machine and has to catch the ball thrown up out of the air. The dog handlers guide their dogs from outside, but cannot actively intervene in the competition.

Flyball trains condition, endurance, disciplined work, and the dog’s retrieval ability. The joint sport also promotes the social behavior of the animal, strengthens its self-confidence, and gives it joy in movement. The four-legged friend is not only challenged physically but also mentally.


Agility was developed in England in the 1970s based on horse shows. The term “agility” in English means maneuverability, nimbleness, or flexibility and thus expresses the demands on the dog in the sport. In the meantime, regular competitions at the club level, as well as regional and national championships, are also held in Germany.

In agility, the four-legged friends have to complete a fixed course as error-free as possible and in a given time. They are guided by their human partners using body language and voice commands.

The challenge lies in making quick turns precisely and at high speed. The prescribed sequence and direction must also be observed when walking the course.

The obstacles mostly consist of 12-20 easy jumps, contact zone devices, a tunnel, and a slalom section. The obstacles are set up differently in each competition so that both the dog and the handler have to act quickly and with foresight.


Obedience comes from England and means “obedience”, which plays an important role in this quieter canine sport. The four-legged friend must carry out the dog handler’s commands as quickly, elegantly, and flawlessly as possible and at the same time demonstrate his social compatibility with other dogs and people. Among other things, the following exercises are carried out, both on a leash and in free heeling:

  • Remaining exercises (even without visual contact with the dog handler)
  • Change of position at a great distance from the holder (seat, place, etc.)
  • Distinguishing smells
  • Walking at heel
  • Strength of character
  • Obedience is also suitable for older dogs since they are hardly physically stressed. What counts is good communication between dog and owner.

Dummy work

In the dummy work, the dog has to retrieve a hunting dummy, the dummy, in a wide variety of terrain. The sport is divided into the following stages:

Marking: The dog sees the trajectory of the hunted prey, must correctly estimate the distance to the point of fall, track down the dummy and bring it back.
Search: The place of the fall is unknown and the dog has to search for the dummy on its own.
Introduce: The handler sends the four-legged friend into the dummy’s fall area and uses commands and signals to guide him as close as possible to the object. The dog then searches on its own.
The dummy work demands a lot of attention, thinking, independence, good eyes, and a fine nose from the dog. This activity is particularly varied and stresses the dog both physically and mentally.

Swimmable dummies make the Golden Retriever particularly happy because this breed is very fond of water.

Rules for the sporting team Golden Retriever and human:

To ensure that your four-legged friend can really let off steam, there are a few rules to follow:

  • Motivation: Let your voice show enthusiasm when you ask the dog to exercise. Have treats on hand to increase the excitement for what’s to come. However, make sure you eat low-calorie snacks.
  • Timing: The Golden Retriever should not train with a full stomach and even better not after a long walk. The best time is after naps, before feeding times, or just between meals.
  • No compulsion: If you or the dog don’t feel like doing sports, it’s better to postpone the training. If your four-legged friend generally does not enjoy the new task, you should look for another job.
  • Never unsupervised: Never leave the dog alone when working with new objects. He could accidentally destroy them and injure himself. Only proven items are given to the Golden Retriever even without supervision.
  • Something new from time to time: Offer variety and try out new activities. Find out what your four-legged friend likes.
  • Gradually increase the level of difficulty: If you overwhelm your dog, you will rob him of his enthusiasm for the game. Complex tasks should therefore be broken down into small individual steps. Small partial successes keep the motivation and the Golden Retriever understands what you want from him.

Golden retrievers: grooming

The coat of the Golden Retriever does not require extensive care. Brush the dog once a week and daily during shedding. Regular brushing ensures good blood circulation in the skin and the removal of dead skin particles. If he got dirty outside, drying is the first thing to do. Then you can detangle the fur with a comb and brush. If the dirt is very stubborn, only a bath with warm water and dog shampoo will help.

Check your four-legged friend’s eyes and ears regularly for cleanliness and a healthy appearance. If necessary, you can clean the eye area with a lint-free cloth dampened with warm water. Coarse dirt on the ears can also be gently cleaned with a cloth. Do not use a cotton swab for this purpose! A veterinarian should always be consulted if there are changes or sensitivity to pain in the eyes, ears, or teeth.

Dog claws and paws should also be checked regularly and the fur between the balls of the feet should be trimmed a little so that too much dirt does not collect there. In snow and ice, it is advisable to grease your paws a little to protect them from the cold and road salt.

Golden retrievers: nutrition

A healthy and balanced diet is essential for the Golden Retriever, as this breed tends to be overweight. The food portions must always be kept in check and dog owners should also be as economical as possible with treats.

Obesity almost always leads to joint damage and puts excessive strain on the organism. The consequence of this is a reduced life expectancy. Most dog owners feed twice a day, in the morning and late afternoon. A treat is also allowed in between.

If you notice that the bodyweight of your four-legged friend exceeds the normal level, this may be due to insufficient exercise. In this case, reduced-calorie food can help.

Golden Retriever: Typical diseases and breed-related problems

The Golden Retriever is considered to be quite robust. With the right diet and care, life expectancy is over 14 years. However, hereditary diseases cannot be completely ruled out, especially if breeders do not adhere to certain standards.

In such rare cases, hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia, or hereditary cataracts can occur. Furthermore, the dog can suffer from progressive retinal atrophy.

Is the Golden Retriever right for me?

As long as the Golden Retriever gets enough exercise and is exercised appropriately, it can feel comfortable in both a house and an apartment. Due to his adaptability and love for people, he gets along well in the city, but of course, he is enthusiastic about regular trips into nature and especially swimming.

If you decide to get a Golden Retriever, you should attach great importance to good training. If there are children in the household, they should adhere to certain rules that are conducive to their upbringing.

In addition, the four-legged friend must be sufficiently utilized so that he can get rid of his enthusiasm and energy. Shoes and furniture are also spared. Owners should therefore have enough time for activities in nature and like to be active in sports, even in the colder seasons.

Dirt, burrs, and other plant matter can easily get caught in the golden retriever’s long hair. For this reason, regular brushing and trimming is important. The ears should also be checked and cleaned regularly, as many Golden Retrievers tend to have dirty and inflamed ears. Accordingly, maintenance also takes time.

Is the Golden Retriever a family pet?

The Golden Retriever is clearly one of the family dogs, as it is characterized by a very friendly, patient, and adaptable nature. Small children don’t bother him, he shows neither shyness, nervousness nor aggression. He is therefore not suitable as a guard dog, even if he would defend masters and mistresses in an emergency. However, he usually treats strangers with kindness.

The active breed likes to be on the go with its human pack and likes to be everywhere. For this, the Golden Retriever should be brought up well. Due to his great will to please his people and to work together with them (“will to please”), the upbringing is quite easy.

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