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10 Facts about Golden Retrievers

Facts about Golden Retrievers
(Image credit: Jessica Peterson)

The name ‘retriever’ originates from the fact that this breed was used to retrieve waterfowl during hunting parties. Today, the Golden Retriever still has these hunting instincts and loves to play fetch. They make great family pets as they have a pack mentality so they like being around people and are loving and playful. Young at heart, this dog matures slowly and loves to be silly, which makes them great with kids. This is one breed that needs lots of time and attention from its owners. Known for their temperament, a study of over 30 dogs showed that Golden Retrievers show the least aggression. They should make great watchdogs as they will bark when they see someone, but they warm to people too easily and would probably make friends with a burglar. 

1. They originated in Scotland

It’s believed that the first Golden Retriever was bred in Scotland in 1864 when Lord Tweedmouth bought a yellow Retriever named Nous and bred him with a liver-coloured Tweed Water Spaniel named Belle. The Golden Retriever is thought to have descended from Nous and Belle as a hunting companion. The dogs were used to retrieve game at shooting parties. The Golden Retriever was first recognised by the American Kennel Club in 1925 and has grown in popularity ever since thanks to its friendly temperament. 

2. They are sports stars

The first three American Kennel Club obedience champions were Golden Retrievers. This breed excels in competitor dog sports such as obedience and agility. They are part of a group called sporting dogs, which includes Spaniels, Pointers and Setters. These dogs love to run, they’re fast in the water and they are hard workers. But because they’re natural athletes they are very active and need lots of exercise. Your pet will love to play fetch, especially with tennis balls. In fact, one Golden Retriever named Finley holds the Guinness World Record for being able to hold six tennis balls in his mouth. Now that’s a talent!

3. Golden Retrievers are hero dogs

This breed is used for tracking and rescue work in the police force and the military because of its natural hunting instincts and skills. They learn quickly, have lots of energy and are obedient as they like to please their owners – all essential requirements in the job specification for working animals. Golden Retrievers have a keen sense of smell and a high pain threshold so if they suffer injuries they won’t be as affected as other breeds. 

4. They are man’s best friend

The Golden Retriever is not only a great rescue dog, but they have the perfect skills for a service dog too. This breed makes a great therapy dog because of its gentle nature and empathy. It will give its owner unconditional love. They also make great assistance dogs, whether that’s as a guide dog for the visually impaired or a hearing dog. Again, this is because they are intelligent and easy to train, but also because they are good with people. 

Facts about Golden Retrievers

(Image credit: Lysandra Cook)

5. They’re a mouthy breed

It’s not only tennis balls that Golden Retrievers like to carry in their mouths. They’ll carry anything from the best dog toys to a newspaper to your slippers, but most of the time they’re just trying to be helpful. Luckily, Golden Retrievers have soft mouths so they can carry things without damaging them - even a raw egg! As puppies they will chew on everything so it’s important to train them properly and as they grow older make sure they’re not bored and kept busy to break this habit. 

6. They are great swimmers

Golden Retrievers are skilled swimmers. They not only have a thick water-repellent coat of fur, but they also have long, powerful legs and webbed toes, which help them swim faster. These active dogs love to swim and have lots of energy. Their floppy ears keep the water out of their ears but they can still get swimmer’s ear so it’s important to clean their ears after time spent in the water (try the VetWELL EarWELL Otic Cleansing Solution).

Facts about Golden Retrievers

(Image credit: Konstantin Trubavin)

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7. They shed a lot

If you own a Golden Retriever, you’ll need to be prepared to have a lot of hair on your clothes, carpets and furniture as these dogs do shed their luscious coats quite heavily. We’d recommend buying one of the best vacuum cleaners for pet hair. They’ll shed a moderate amount in winter and summer and quite heavily in the spring and autumn. You should brush them once a day if possible or twice a week at a minimum and they’ll need a bath at least once a month. Their beautiful coat comes in a number of shades from white, to cream to dark golden brown and even red gold, and these shades darken with age. 

8. They’re super smart

Golden Retrievers are the fourth most intelligent dog after the Border Collie, German Shepherd and Poodle. They’re about as smart as a 2.5-year-old child and can learn over 165 words. They may be goofy, but they are clever, which makes them easy to train. Golden Retrievers are motivated by food and games so this is the best way to train them, using positive reinforcement. Just be aware that while this breed is also emotionally intelligent, this also means they are sensitive and can get separation anxiety if left alone. 

9. They’re presidential dogs

Both Gerald Ford and Ronald Reagan owned Golden Retrievers as First Dogs during their time in the White House. Ford’s Golden Retriever Liberty had a puppy called Misty and Reagan’s dog was called Victory – apt names for presidential dogs. Other famous Golden Retriever owners include Golden Girl herself Betty White, Jackie Chan and Oprah. We can see why anyone would want to own a Golden Retriever, but it seems like they are particularly well suited to the celebrity lifestyle, many of whom have the time and the space that this breed needs.

10. They have the loudest bark

The Guinness World Record for the loudest bark is held by a Golden Retriever named Charlie. His bark reaches 113.1 decibels – that’s ten times as loud as a jackhammer. While they do bark occasionally (probably out of excitement) Golden Retrievers are generally a quiet breed. As with most dogs you’ll need to train them to understand the word “quiet” early, but if trained properly they’ll generally only bark if they want attention. 

Heart of gold

The first ever image uploaded to Instagram was of a Golden Retriever. It’s no surprise that these dogs make great Instagram stars as they’re very charismatic and wear their heart on their sleeve. The breed has also been in many a movie, including AirBud, Homeward Bound and You’ve Got Mail. Their gentle and trainable nature means they’re born stars. Why wouldn’t you want a star as a pet?

Zara Gaspar

Former editor of World of Animals magazine, Zara is a freelance writer with a passion for wildlife. Born in South Africa, she developed a love of animals from an early age. She is currently looking for a bigger house just so she can get a cat and a dog.