Golden Retrievers are one of the best-known and most popular dog breeds in the US — and all across the world. They were the third-most-popular dog breed in the US in 2021, according to the American Kennel Club. And in 2022, they were ManyPets' most-insured purebred dog.
One of the most intelligent breeds, they’re extremely obedient, possess an even temperament, and are easy to train. They also have an incredible sense of smell and make amazing search and rescue dogs.
Perhaps most important, Goldens love being part of a family — and they make wonderful companions.
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 mixed a yellow wavy-coated retriever called Nous with Belle, a Tweed Water Spaniel, on Guisachan Estate. He wanted a dog 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 resulting yellow Retrievers became popular towards the end of the 19th Century in the Border counties of Scotland.
Golden Retrievers are gun dogs, which means they were developed to assist hunters in finding and retrieving game.
The breed was recognized by the UK’s Kennel Club in 1913 and by the American Kennel Club in 1925. 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 not only adults but also children and other pets.
Because of their intelligence, it doesn’t take Goldens very long to learn new tricks or commands. They’re a great choice for any new dog owner, as they rarely show aggression, they love receiving praise, and they always want to make their owner happy.
As their name suggests, their instinct is to retrieve. 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 mail.
And they’re unlikely to cause any damage! Since they were originally bred to fetch game, they have a naturally gentle grip called a “soft mouth.” This prevented them from damaging the birds they carried back in their mouths. (In fact, it’s said that Goldens have such soft mouths that they can carry a raw egg in their mouth without even cracking it.)
When it comes to food, Golden Retrievers have big appetites and tend to gain weight if they don’t get proper exercise. This can be traced back to their breeding — namely, their need to use lots of energy for their work as retrievers. Goldens love to be active.
Golden Retrievers are also known to be great swimmers. They love spending time in the water (not to mention 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.
How to Find Golden Retriever Puppies
You should find a reputable breeder when adopting a puppy. And you should always see your puppy with its mother and siblings before choosing.
The American Kennel Club is a decent place to start: The organization maintains a huge list of registered breeders that are required to follow health and wellness regulations and that are subject to routine inspections. You can search the AKC list by breed, gender, and location.
Any puppy you buy from a breeder should be at least eight weeks old. Responsible breeders always let puppies spend 8-10 weeks with their mothers and siblings, which results in proper socialization and development.
A breeder should be able to provide you with all the genuine paperwork and certificates for vaccinations, parasite prevention, and microchipping.
Just be aware: Reputable breeders often have a long waiting list for adopting Golden Retrievers. So if you’ve got your heart set on this breed, prepare to be patient.
Prices for Golden Retrievers can vary depending on where in the US you live. Some of the most expensive Golden Retrievers can cost up to $3,500. You should expect to pay at least $1,000 - $1,500.
Golden Retriever Insurance
The average annual premium for a Golden Retriever is $43 per month. By comparison, our average monthly premium across all dog breeds and ages was $37.
Golden Retrievers cost more to insure than mixed-breed dogs, so it's not terribly surprising that Golden Retriever policies cost more than the average. Mixed-breed dogs tend to suffer from fewer health conditions, so their policies tend to be a little less expensive. However, Golden Retrievers actually cost less to insure than many other purebred dogs — especially those of similar size. All things considered, they're a fairly healthy breed.
(Also, just keep in mind, these are just averages based on data from all customer premiums. Your pet's age and location will heavily affect your monthly price, and your pet's premium may differ from the average — get a quote here!)
In 2022, the average claim ManyPets received for Golden Retrievers was $460 — but we received Golden Retriever claims that ran as high as about $23,000!
Golden Retriever Health Problems
Although Goldens are a healthy breed, there are several hereditary conditions they’re prone to.
Hip dysplasia is one condition that commonly afflicts Golden Retrievers (along with other larger breeds). This is when the ball and socket don’t fit or develop properly, rubbing and grinding instead of sliding smoothly. The joint then starts to deteriorate and lose function.
The same condition can also affect the elbow joint, called elbow dysplasia. Both hip and elbow dysplasia can lead to arthritis. In 2022, ManyPets received claims for hip or elbow dysplasia that ran as high as about $5,400.
Obesityis another common issue in Goldens. Golden Retrievers have short legs in proportion to the rest of their bodies, and they can be voracious eaters, so they have a tendency to become overweight. In addition to giving them proper exercise, it’s important to manage their diet appropriately and refrain from overfeeding them.
Other conditions that commonly affect Golden Retrievers include certain eye and ear disorders. And Goldens are also prone to certain digestive problems, such as acute gastroenteritis.
Indeed, gastroenteritis, vomiting, and diarrhea are some of the most common claims we see for Golden Retrievers. In 2022, ManyPets received claims for gastroenteritis that ran as high as about $3,000.
Just remember: It’s a good idea to buy dog insurance when your Golden is still a puppy. That way, you're far less likely to run into any pre-existing condition exclusions, and they'll still be covered if these conditions develop later in their life.
Golden Retriever Grooming
Golden Retrievers need a lot of grooming, and their coats should be brushed or combed at least three times per week.
Speak to any Golden Retriever parent, and they’ll tell you the same thing: Goldens shed a lot of hair! They shed all year round, especially in spring and fall. You'll need a good vacuum cleaner to keep your home clean.
They’re known for their love of swimming and jumping in muddy puddles, so use pet-friendly shampoo to keep their coats clean and healthy!
Golden Retriever popularity
Frequently asked questions about Golden Retrievers
Are Golden Retrievers good with kids?
Golden Retriever make excellent family pets. They have a calm, good-natured temperament. They’re considered one of the most popular breeds for families and one of the best dogs for children.
Do Golden Retrievers bark a lot?
Like most dogs, Golden Retrievers will bark, but usually not excessively. The amount of barking you experience will depend on each individual dog, their personality, and their environment.
How big do Golden Retrievers get?
Golden Retrievers are medium-to-large-sized dogs. Female Retrievers reach an adult height of 22-23 inches. For males it's it’s 23-24 inches. Females weigh 55-65 pounds, while males weigh 65-75 pounds.
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 — no more than three to five hours at a time when it's possible to avoid it. Golden Retrievers are pack animals and naturally enjoy time amongst their family.
If you need to leave them at home for a lengthy period, make sure they have access to water and somewhere suitable where they can go potty.