21 Golden Retriever Pros and Cons – Are They the Right Dogs for you?

Golden retrievers have been a breed of choice for many years. I have even had experience with these golden sunset clouds.

In my opinion, these are the perfect teddy bears (they are definitely big enough to cuddle!), but just in case you’re not already sold (sadly they won’t be a perfect fit for everyone) let me enlighten you about the breed.

A Little About the Breed

The Golden Retriever is a proud Scottish gundog, developed by Dudley Marjoribanks, Lord Tweedmouth from 1840.

He was a organised man and we have some of the best kept records of how this breed was formed, which is unlike many other pedigree breeds.

Lord Tweedmouth, designed a perfectly well-rounded breed.

These dogs stand up to 24 inches tall, weighing in at 75 pounds. Which makes them perfect for running through wetlands, to (clues in the name!) retrieve the owners waterfowl quickly and gently.

Not even a feather out of place on their pretty little heads! 

Golden Retrievers really popped into popularity in 1970s because of President Gerald Ford’s Golden Retriever, of course named liberty and are now ranked 3rd out of 193 most popular breeds by the American Kennel club.

Now lets looks at Golden Retriever pros and cons.

Golden Retriever Pros

A smiling dog1) They make the perfect companion, whatever the species

Not that there can ever be too many pet videos on YouTube… but so many of them are Golden Retrievers being amazing babysitters.

They will tolerate being sat on, poked, you name it; your retriever can be the perfect mom to pretty much anything.

Yet just a word of caution, they would never mean any harm but a bit of bounce to a (large) retriever and a small pet is a little different…

2) They are excellent in show

Their good nature, desire to please and a large helping of intelligence make them excellent at a wide range of skills.

Agility, obedience and tracking in particular, are made to look easy by this breed. 

3) They are family orientated dogs

They love multiple people to please. There is never enough affection for your Golden Retriever.

These big teddy bears are especially good with children. You couldn’t desire a better nanny, kind eyes, patient and caring are all traits in excess in this breed.

Just note, of course their big size can mean some accidental games of dominoes being played with the little ones.

4) They will always be your puppy

Golden Retrievers stop growing when they approximately a year old but they won’t ‘grow up’ until they reach about 4.

This doesn’t mean badly behaved just lots of playful energy just like a happy child. 

5) They are very easy to train

These dogs are very intelligent and love to please, a match made in heaven for an obedient dog.

You can start teaching basic obedience as soon as your puppy has settled in and they should be making good progress with the basics by the time they are 12 weeks old.

A good training relationship, and lots of positive rewards should mean your Golden Retriever will be exemplary in the good old fashion sit but also blow other dog owners socks off should you choose to expand the trick repertoire.

6) They have an amazing temperament

They just love to love. Intelligent, caring, eager to please. You will really struggle to find a more well-mannered breed. Golden Retrievers have long made amazing assistant dogs.

Devotion, an ability to learn, an excellent work ethic, and upmost concern for the well-being of his human companion is all in the mix. There are no compromises here.

It takes a excellent dog to make the cut as a guide dog. Selective disobedience is an triumph of doggy intelligence.

A dog that loves you enough to sulk if you ever tell him old but also to be brave enough to (when trained) to deliberately break a command for ‘the greater good’.

For example, a Golden can be trained to pull an owner back to the pavement if it is unsafe to cross even though the owner has told the dog the cross. How amazing is that!

The potential to have the perfect dog is very high in this breed!

7) They are not fazed by getting mucky

Splash around in the sea? A muddy puddle? They just love it, so make sure you have a towel ready and full waterproofs when they shake!

Wetlands are there nature home so this is what people stereotypical call  a ‘proper’ dog. One that will be willing to do anything without worrying about a bad fur day.

They also won’t care if it’s raining or not. If it’s time for walkies then expect to be expected out in all weathers.

This is perfect for those who love hiking, water-sports, or are not just a fair-weather runner (like me!). 

8) Their unconditional loyalty

A light brown coloured puppy

These dogs were bred to return with their owners prized waterfowl. They will always return, with a whole bird unharmed.

Maybe, you wont want them returning with an unlucky duck from your local pond but recall should be in these Golden Retriever’s blood. 

Fortunately, there is little hunting instinct in this breed as they only return with the prizes which owners have already shot.

Your local ducks can rest easy as running off an eating them himself would never do. They are entirely devoted to you and want to make you happy no matter what. 

9) There grooming requirements are easy

There coat may be long and double layered to ensure some water resistance but maintenance is pretty simple.

A biweekly brush, and occasional bath when they are mucky is enough to help maintain this coat.

When the hair gets more than tolerable, more frequent brushing, up to daily in the shedding seasons; spring and autumn can be expected to try and keep housework to a minimum. 

To help wash your Golden Retriever check out this article on best shampoo choices for Golden Retrievers.

10) They are real water babies

Love your watersports? Golden Retrievers love to swim. They even have a double layer, water repellent coat making them probably more at home than you are in the water.

Not a massive fan of water… well remember to keep a towel in your car or next to your door just in case! 

11) They are so very gentle

 Born to retrieve waterfowl without any damage, now usually demonstrated with eggs shows that a retriever can’t even hurt a fly.

There gentle nature partnered with a excellent temperament and a willingness to learn just simple makes them amazing teddy bears to cuddle with no worries of any grumbles.

12) They are pretty healthy dogs

Of course, individual dogs lucks are different and just because a breed is healthy doesn’t mean you won’t need to make a trip to the vet but this is good news if you want about as simple as they get in terms of health concerns.

There are a few pre-disposed conditions shown below but you should have a long and healthy relationship with your Golden Retriever.

Cons of the Golden Retriever

These dogs are simple amazing but here are the few of the downsides.

1) Expect hair everywhere

Long hair and a double coat means an awful lot of hair seemingly everywhere but the dog.

This makes them almost unbearable to those who have allergies.

It is important to note that some people find some hairs are worse than others so always best to try and spend some time with someone who has the breed just in case this time of hair sets any allergies off.

I personally found that the long hair just collected dirt. A nice dry day, she had not been rolling in anything but I would always come home to layers upon layers of red dust.

This must be from the soil around where I live. Red soil, red dust. Makes sense.

No dog equals a nice clean house without upping the frequency of cleans so make sure you are committed to this.

2) You can’t leave them

Loving, loyal and devoted makes a dog who loves companionship.

This means, if you family works all day then this isn’t the breed for you as it is unfair on the dog. They will end up feeling anxious and possibly acting up such as chewing the dining room chairs.

To get round this, should you really feel a retriever is for you, then you should factor in a dog sitter or friend who will always be able to be there.

The frequency of abandonment as your dog will see it and whether you go professional will determine how wallet friendly dog-sitting will be for you. This will get costly even at mates rates.

3) Lots and lots of energy

If you enjoy two long walks a day, endless games of fetch and a healthy dose of swimming then this dog will be a lot of fun, however, busy and rather chill on the sofa?

Then this breed may not be for you. Without at least an hour of proper high intensity exercise this dog can became restless and a restless dog tends to resort back to a naughty puppy regardless of how many hours of training you put in.

4) They like to chew

An old looking dogGolden Retrievers love to pick up things in their mouths. It’s what has made their owners proud for so many years.

The best way to combat this. especially when your puppy is teething make sure everything you actually would like in one piece is up high out of reach.

These dogs can usually reach tables and counter-tops before being trained to not jump up so think higher!

Once trained, if your dog still likes a good chew and a good toy bone isn’t enough, maybe up the exercise your dog is receiving or try mental stimulation such as a game for these intelligent dogs.

5) They eat like kings

A big dog always requires a lot of food and this breed does have a health appetite.

On average, two to three cups of good quality dry food across two meals a day is recommended but of course this all depends on your Golden Retriever.

A smaller dog, or one who is a little porky and needs to cut the pounds will need less than a larger dog.

Always check the specific brand amounts for the weight of your dog and always follow vet recommendations.

6) There are some health concerns to consider

The rumor that these sort of breeds suffer from back leg problems does have some truth to it.

The American kennel club say that his breed is prone to elbow and hip dysplasia (a condition affecting the ‘fit’ of the ball and socket joints), some eye conditions including some which affect young dogs and some kidney and heart conditions.

It is common for many breeds to have some more frequently seen conditions due to the way dog breeds are created, but compared to other breeds this is relatively few.

Whatever breed you get its important to be prepared for vet bills, you may get lucky and have a long happy life or you could be unlucky and get some rare complications.

I have had dogs who only need to see a vet for vaccines and general check ups until they started reaching old age and ones who have had to have multiple surgeries even as a young dog due to development issues.

It is all a big lottery and it is always best to have a comprehensive vet insurance, from the day you get them.

It is also always worth checking the breeders history and if they have done any screening tests.

This not only helps to reduce to risk of these more prevalent diseases but also demonstrate a good breeder who has researched the breed. 

7) Don’t expect a scary watchdog

Golden’s will be well aware of everybody around and some may bark to let you know that they are but they simple aren’t scary.

They don’t tend to be protective so they may assume your ‘unexpected’ visitor is a welcomed guest. 

The only help you may get is an over excited puppy trying to take the intruder down with a wagging tail and cuddles!

8) They aren’t suitable for flats

They are simply too big and too energy demanding. The need a reasonably sized house and they simply need a garden.

Not to mention, a big dog will take a fair bit of the sofa up so space for a large one or more than one sofa might be preferable!

9) They aren’t self motivated

A Golden Retriever loves to play, but they will only really play with their owners. Don’t expect him to run around the garden to tire himself out.

He will save all his energy for the best part of the day; walkies with you!

Final Thoughts

A smiling dogOur final thoughts for Golden Retriever pros and cons. Golden Retrievers are, in my opinion one of the best all-rounded dog breeds.

They have some many good characteristics which is why most guide dogs are a cross between Golden Retrievers and Labradors in an adorable fluffy form. The ‘perfect’ breed. 

They sadly have some downsides, but these are mainly whether they fit into your lifestyle.

It is really unlikely that you will change your lifestyle in order to meet the demands of a dog so match the breed to you not the other way round.

Simply, if you don’t like long walks through the mud now, chances are you won’t like them for the next 12 years.

If you would like to read more about Golden Retrievers check out this article on Golden Retrievers vs Goldendoodles.

We hope this helps your decision whether this breed is for you or that you simply enjoyed learning about them.