Golden Retrievers are one of the best-known and most popular dogs not only in the UK but across the world. Intelligent, easy to train with an even temperament, they make wonderful companions.
They’re active dogs that enjoy being part of a family. They are considered one of the most intelligent dog breeds, which means they’re incredibly obedient and easy to train.
As well as being great family pets, many Golden Retrievers work as search and rescue dogs. They have an amazing sense of smell which makes them ideal for this role.
History of the breed
The breed was first created in the Scottish Highland village of Tomich in 1868 by landowner Dudley Marjoribanks, also known as Lord Tweedmouth.
The Golden Retriever emerged after Lord Tweedmouth crossed a yellow wavy-coated retriever called Nous with Belle, a Tweed Water Spaniel, on Guisachan Estate. He wanted a dog that was capable of swimming significant distances to retrieve wildfowl that had been shot.
Lord Tweedmouth’s breeding produced four yellow puppies. Later additions to the breeding stock included the Irish Setter and Bloodhound. The resultant yellow Retrievers became popular towards the end of the 19th Century in the Border counties of Scotland.
They’re a member of the Gun dog breed which tells you that they were developed to assist hunters in finding and retrieving games.
The breed was recognised by the Kennel Club in 1913 and the name Golden Retriever became official in 1920.
Temperament and characteristics
Golden Retrievers are friendly, intelligent and always eager to please. Their calm and good-natured temperament makes them great around children and other pets.
Golden Retrievers love being part of a family – it’s their ‘pack’. It’s one reason why they’re good around people.
Because they were originally bred to fetch game, they have a naturally gentle grip that’s called a 'soft mouth', this was ideal as they wouldn’t damage the birds they carried back in their mouths.
Golden Retrievers are very intelligent and it doesn’t take them long to learn new tricks or commands. They’re a great choice for any new dog owner as they rarely show aggression, love receiving praise and like to please their owner.
As their name suggests their instinct is to retrieve and this goes back to their hunting origins. They enjoy playing ball games like fetch and you can even train them to help you carry shopping bags or collect the post. They always want to make their owner happy!
When it comes to food, they have a big appetite and tend to gain weight if not exercised properly. This can be traced back to their breeding and the need to have lots of energy for their work as retrievers.
Golden Retrievers love to be active and are known to be great swimmers. They enjoy spending time in the water… and muddy puddles.
Their coat is dense and features a water-repellent outer coat with a thick undercoat, which insulates them against the cold. The upper layer is longer and lies flat, repelling water. This gives them a great advantage when it comes to swimming.
The Kennel Club have a contact list of Assured Breeders. Each breeder on the list has agreed to follow good breeding practices and are inspected by The Kennel Club.
There are also lots of reputable breeders outside the Kennel Club’s Assured Breeders list. Always do your research, and speak with family, friends, local vets, and breed clubs.
A breeder should be able to provide you with all the genuine paperwork and certificates for vaccinations, microchipping, worming and any other health test results.
Reputable breeds often have a long waiting list for adopting Golden Retrievers, so if you’ve set your heart on this breed, prepare to be patient.
Prices for Golden Retrievers can vary depending on which part of the UK you live in. Some of the most expensive Golden Retrievers can cost up £3,000 but on average you should expect to pay somewhere between £1,500-£2,500.
Golden Retriever insurance
In 2021, we insured over 5,000 Golden Retrievers at an average cost of £513.02. That’s fairly close to the average cost to insure all breeds of £474.77. For quite a large dog, it’s a pretty good average dog insurance price, reflecting that this is a healthy and popular breed with relatively few health issues.
Golden Retriever health problems
Although Goldens are quite a healthy breed, there are several hereditary conditions they’re prone to. The Kennel Club provides information for dog owners on breed-specific health concerns to be aware of.
They list Golden Retrievers as a ‘Category Two’ breed. This means they have visual points of concern that can cause pain or discomfort to the breed.
Golden Retrievers have short legs in proportion to the rest of their body and have a tendency to become overweight. Managing their diet appropriately and not overfeeding is important.
Golden Retrievers along with other larger breeds are prone to hip dysplasia.
Hip dysplasia is where the ball and socket don’t fit or develop properly. They rub and grind instead of sliding smoothly and the joint starts to deteriorate and lose function.
We paid 72 hip dysplasia claims for Golden Retrievers in 2021 at an average cost of £1,109.24. Hip dysplasia is sometimes treated with pain relief but can cost upwards of £5,000 per hip if surgery's needed.
The same condition can also affect the elbow joint and this is known as elbow dysplasia. Both hip and elbow dysplasia can lead to arthritis.
Other conditions affecting Golden Retrievers include certain eye and ear conditions and they are prone to particular digestive problems such as acute gastroenteritis.
Gastroenteritis, vomiting and diarrhoea were some of the most common claims we saw for Golden Retrievers in 2021. The average gastroenteritis claim cost £524.61.
Golden Retriever grooming
Golden Retrievers need a lot of grooming and their coats should be brushed or combed at least three times a week.
Speak to any Golden Retriever owner, and they’ll tell you the same thing. They shed a lot of hair! They shed all year round, especially in spring and autumn. You will need a good vacuum cleaner to keep your home clean of dog hair.
They’re known for their love of water, swimming and muddy puddles so using pet-friendly shampoo to keep their coats clean and healthy is advisable.
Frequently asked questions about Golden Retrievers
Like most dogs, Golden Retrievers will bark but not excessively so. How much barking you experience will depend on each individual dog and its personality
How big do Golden Retrievers get?
Golden Retrievers are medium to large sized dogs. Male Retrievers reach an adult height of 56-61cm (22-24in) for females it’s 51-56cm (20-22in).
Can Golden Retrievers be left alone?
Golden Retrievers can be left alone but as with all dogs they shouldn’t be left alone for long periods of time where possible. Golden Retrievers are a pack animal and naturally enjoy time amongst their family.
If you need to leave them for a period, make sure they have access to water and somewhere suitable where they can go to the toilet.
Training your dog to be left alone is an important part of their socialisation and helps prevent separation anxiety. Between three and five hours is a good amount of time.
How many puppies do Golden Retrievers have?
For Golden Retrievers a litter can be anything between four to 12 puppies but on average you can expect eight puppies.