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Breed profile: All about Golden Retrievers

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Traditionally bred as gundogs and waterfowl retrievers, Golden Retrievers are known for their athleticism and love of water. They are incredibly social and affectionate and make friends wherever they go. If you are considering bringing a Golden into your family, it is important to understand their unique personalities, potential health concerns, and grooming and exercise needs.  

Table of contents  


Golden Retrievers are appropriately named for their gold-colored coat and their skill for retrieving waterfowl. The breed originated in the Highlands of Scotland, where Lord Tweedmouth, an outdoorsy hunting fanatic, began breeding them as gun dogs in the mid-1800s. Tweedmouth wanted a talented retriever with a strong nose and an attentive attitude. Goldens were also bred to be a loyal, even-tempered companion.  

The Golden Retriever was officially recognized by the Kennel Club in England in 1911, and by the American Kennel Club in 1925. In the United States, Golden Retrievers really gained popularity in the 1970s when President Gerald Ford’s Golden, named Liberty, lived with the first family at the White House and had eight puppies! These dogs are now one of the most popular dog breeds in the U.S.  

Size and appearance  

Golden Retrievers are considered medium-to-large-sized dogs. They are sturdy and muscular, famous for their beautiful and dense coat of gold.  

The three types of Goldens—American, English, and Canadian Golden Retrievers—have only subtle differences in their physical appearance. American Goldens are slightly more petite and are usually a darker red or copper color, while English Goldens are often a very light cream color. Canadian Golden Retrievers, in comparison, are typically taller in stature. 

  • Male Goldens typically stand about 23 to 24 inches tall and weigh between 65 and 75 pounds.   
  • Females are slightly smaller, about 21.5 to 22.5 inches tall and between 55 to 65 pounds in weight.  


The Golden’s thick, water-repellant double coat sheds moderately throughout the year and heavily once or twice a year. Weekly brushing may need to be increased to daily brushing during periods of heavy shedding. This will minimize mess and keep your dog looking and feeling their best.  

Goldens only need occasional baths to stay clean, more often if they swim frequently or like getting muddy. Make sure to completely dry your Golden’s coat when they do get wet, as moisture can lead to skin irritations like hot spots. Use a hair dryer to speed up the process. 

Activity level  

This energetic sporting breed needs regular exercise to stay mentally and physically fit. They require a minimum of one hour of moderately vigorous exercise each day. Tapping into their breed instincts, most Golden Retrievers love swimming and playing fetch and any other retrieving activities. Without enough stimulation, these dogs can become bored and destructive. 

Golden Retrievers are one of the most versatile athletes, excelling at obedience, agility, tracking, retriever field trials, and dock diving. They love to do whatever you’re doing, making them great adventure companions. In fact, Goldens do not tend to be self-exercisers, so walks around the neighborhood with their family are much more effective than alone time in the backyard. 


Golden Retrievers are generally healthy dogs, and responsible breeders screen for common health conditions in efforts to improve the breed’s overall health. According to AKC, the average lifespan for healthy Goldens is between 10 and 12 years. Some common health issues for the breed include:  

  • Cancer – Unfortunately, a couple types of cancer are common in the Golden Retriever breed. Research shows that hemangiosarcoma affects about one out of every five Goldens in the United States, and lymphoma affects about one out of eight.  
  • Stomach – According to AKC, all large breeds are susceptible to bloat, a sudden, serious stomach condition that can send the dog into shock and be fatal. Experts at Preventative Vet recommend feeding your dog smaller portions and using slow-feeder bowls to discourage your dog from scarfing down water and food.  
  • Heart – Subvalvular aortic stenosis (SAS) is the most common congenital heart disease in Golden Retrievers. The Golden Retriever Club of America warns that many dogs with SAS are asymptomatic until they collapse, seemingly for no reason and often at a young age. Make sure your veterinarian regularly checks your Golden for a heart murmur. 
  • Eyes – Eye conditions including cataracts and progressive retinal atrophy often affect Golden Retrievers. Owners should have their dog’s eyes checked by a canine ophthalmologist throughout their pet’s life.  
  • Ears – The Golden’s coated and floppy ears are particularly susceptible to ear infections. In addition to needing special attention for hot spots, Goldens who like to swim will also need more frequent ear checks. After swimming, thoroughly dry the inside of their ears with cotton balls.   
  • Joints – Like many large breeds, Golden Retrievers are particularly susceptible to developing joint discomfort from wear and tear on their bodies. Owners should pay special attention to their dog’s hips and elbows. Joint discomfort and obesity can be a dangerous combination for big dogs and often make the other issue worse. Regular exercise and a healthy diet are important considerations for this breed to stay fit and keep joints healthy.  

How can ElleVet’s CBD + CBDA help Goldens’ joint discomfort?   

CBD + CBDA is effective in helping Golden Retrievers find relief for the joint discomfort that often plagues larger breeds. ElleVet’s CBD + CBDA chews, soft gels, and oils can offer support for Goldens’ mobility issues and keep these dogs active well into their later years. This is a key component of helping your dog maintain a good quality of life.  


Golden Retrievers are known for their outgoing and loving nature. They tend to be energetic and playful, while also friendly and gentle, making them an ideal easy-going family dog. Accustomed to working and living closely with their people, Goldens are eager to please their humans and typically get along with the entire family, including children and other pets.   

If you are looking for a guard dog for your household, Golden Retrievers will not be the best match. While they may bark to alert you about a stranger approaching, these social dogs will make fast friends with strangers. 

Goldens are not especially prone to behavioral problems, but their energy and excitability can lead to barking out of sheer enthusiasm. Any behavior issues that may occur often take place when these family-oriented dogs are left alone for extended periods of time.  


Early socialization and obedience training are essential for larger dogs, including Golden Retrievers. These gentle dogs can be bigger and stronger than they realize, making leash pulling and jumping to greet people dangerous. Basic training will go a long way towards helping Goldens be the best companions possible for the people they love.  

Golden Retrievers are intelligent and eager to please their humans. They are also highly motivated by food and thrive when given a job to do, making them usually very easy to train and quick to learn new commands. They are known to make excellent therapy dogs, guides for the blind, and search-and-rescue pros.  

Bottom line on Goldens  

Overall, Golden Retrievers are wonderful family dogs full of love and energetic enthusiasm. Owners should keep their Goldens on a healthy diet and regular exercise regimen, as these dogs are prone to developing joint issues that are likely to lead to mobility challenges and discomfort.