Are Golden Retrievers Good Dogs? 7 Reasons They’re Good (And Bad)

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Considering getting a golden retriever, but want to know if they’re good dogs, first?

That’s great you’re doing your homework beforehand, because although we love golden retrievers, they definitely aren’t for everybody.

But with a little research (that we’ve already done for you here), you’ll be able to tell whether or not a golden retriever is a good dog for you.

In this post, you’ll learn:

  • Why golden retrievers are such good dogs
  • 7 reasons why a golden retriever might not be the right dog for you
  • 3 facts about goldens that can be good or bad (depending on what you’re looking for)
  • And much more

Plus, at the end, you’ll find a quiz to help determine if a golden is the right dog for you.

Let’s dive in!

7 Reasons Why Golden Retrievers Are Good Dogs

Golden retrievers are America’s 3rd most popular dog breed (according to the AKC).

Here’s why:

Reason #1: Golden retrievers have wonderful personalities

Sweet, loving, goofy, loyal, playful, joyful…

These are all words that accurately describe golden retrievers’ delightful personality.

This is probably the biggest reason why they’re so popular.

It’s impossible to not be happy when that tail starts wagging when they see you and they flash that famous Golden Retriever smile.

And it’s these wonderful characteristics that makes them good therapy and service dogs.

Can you imagine having your own personal therapy dog?

It’s amazing!

They’re also soft and warm, and are great cuddlers.

Reason #2: They’re good with kids

golden retrievers are good dogs because good with kids

Their great personality and gentle demeanor makes them one of the best dogs for families with kids.

They’re big and fluffy, so they make great pillows, they’re gentle, calm, and are excellent secret keepers.

Reason #3: They’re good with dogs and other animals

Golden retrievers don’t just love people, they also love other animals.

They’re good with other dogs and even cats.

So if you have (or want) a multi-dog or multi-species house, a golden retriever would be a great addition.

Reason #4: Golden retrievers are moderate barkers

Here’s a fun fact you probably didn’t know: a golden retriever holds the world record for loudest bark.

Although that sounds like it can be off-putting, don’t worry — they don’t bark all that much.

Golden retrievers were bred to retrieve gunned down birds, so it’s in their blood to use their mouths to retrieve things, not bark.

Plus, they wouldn’t make a great bird-hunting companion if they were barking and scaring the birds away!

This is the opposite of some dogs, like beagles, that were bred to bark while they hunted, and still have that trait today.

And even more good news about golden retrievers and barking — there are things you can do to get them to bark less, like giving them lots exercise and training them.

Which brings us to the next point…

Reason #5: Golden retrievers are smart & easy to train

golden retrievers are good dogs because they're easy to train

This is kind of a two-in-one benefit of golden retrievers, but they go hand in hand.

Although they can be goofy, golden retrievers are the fourth smartest dog breed, which makes them relatively easy to train.

They also like pleasing their humans and love treats, which are two other factors that make them easy to train.

And speaking of being easy to train…

Reason #6: Golden retrievers are excellent workers

Golden retrievers are some of the most popular dogs for jobs like:

  • Service dogs
  • Therapy dogs
  • Search & rescue dogs
  • Hunting dogs

There were golden retrievers at the scene of 9/11 looking for survivors in the wreckage, golden retrievers make great companions for veterans suffering from PTSD, and they make good guide dogs for people who are blind.

Sure, your golden retriever might not have a job outside of being your pet, but they provide a lot of value to you, and you can be proud to own a golden because of how valuable the breed is to our society.

Reason #7: Golden retrievers are beautiful

As puppies, golden retrievers are absolutely adorable.

Then, as they grow up and their golden coats fill out, they’re beautiful.

Almost every day somebody stops me while I’m walking my golden just to tell me, “Your dog is beautiful!”

And it’s literally those exact words every time.

It makes me feel good to hear these compliments, and Oliver seems to walk with a little more pep in his step after them.

P.S. Getting a golden retriever puppy? Check out the Golden Retriever Puppy Handbook!

7 Reasons Why Golden Retrievers Are The Worst

why golden retrievers are the worst

This might sound a little harsh, but if a golden retriever isn’t the right breed for you, then it’s better you realized that before you brought them home!

Reason #1: Golden retrievers shed a lot

Their beautiful golden coats come with a price — you’ll find little bits of it all over the house!

You’ll find fur on the floor, furniture, your clothes… and sometimes even in your food!

(I just picked out a single golden hair from my lunch today.)

But when it comes to golden retrievers and shedding, here are two things to remember:

First, if you want a dog, you’re going to have to deal with shedding.

Sure, some breeds, like goldendoodles, shed a little less, but they all shed to some degree.

And second, although goldens shed a lot, their fur clumps up like little golden tumbleweeds, which makes it easier to clean up.

This is in contrast to some dogs, like labs, that shed short little hairs all over the place.

Reason #2: They need a lot of grooming

Another price to pay for their beautiful golden coat is that it needs lots of grooming.

Goldens need to be brushed several times per week to keep their coat healthy and soft.

And it’s not just taking care of their coat.

They also need their ears and teeth cleaned and nails trimmed.

One thing about golden retrievers, in particular, is that they have floppy ears, so it’s important to keep their ears clean because they’re prone to ear infections.

But just like all dogs shed, all dogs need lots of grooming.

Reason #3: They have several common health problems

golden retriever health problems

Golden retrievers are not exactly the healthiest breed.

Some common health problems for them include:

  • Hip and elbow dysplasia
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Sub-aortic stenosis (SAS)
  • Eye disorders
  • Mast cell tumors
  • Seizures
  • Lymphoma
  • Osteosarcoma
  • Hemangiosarcoma
  • Skin problems (like hot spots and allergies)

You’ll notice that there are several cancers listed above (all the words ending in “oma”).

60% of golden retrievers are affected by cancer, which is more than double the average for all dogs.

Doctors and scientists are working to solve this issue (see the Morris Animal Foundation’s Golden Retriever Life Study), but it is a sad truth about golden retrievers.

Reason #4: Golden retrievers are expensive

Because golden retrievers are so popular, they can also be pretty expensive.

They can cost between $500 to $3,000 or more.

This variability in price is due to the location, breeders, and what the dogs are bred for.

For instance, an experienced breeder who produces one or two litters per year, sleeps next to the puppies to make sure they’re ok, socializes them very intentionally, and takes great care of the parents may charge more.

A breeder who is cranking out as many puppies as they can and not taking as great care of them may charge less.

Also, a breeder who breeds dogs specifically bred for the show ring and has produced champions may charge more than a breeder who’s just breeding companion dogs.

One thing to keep in mind is that with dogs, you often get what you pay for.

Choosing a dog from a great breeder that breeds healthy, happy puppies may end up saving you a lot of money in vet bills in the long run (even if it means you have to pay more upfront).

If you don’t want to get a dog from a breeder, you can also rescue a golden retriever.

This will likely cost you $200-500, which is significantly cheaper than buying a puppy.

However, since golden retrievers are so popular, it can be pretty tough to find a rescue golden retriever.

And finally, the cost of golden retrievers is much more than just the price tag on the puppy.

You’ll need to feed them, get them toys and supplies, take them to the vet, and occasionally the groomer or doggy daycare.

All of those things add up to about $1,506 to $2,464 per year (see this article for a breakdown on how much golden retrievers cost).

Of course, those yearly bills will be there for any dog, so keep that in mind before you decide to get one.

Reason #5: Golden retrievers have lots of energy

golden retrievers can be mischevious

Golden retrievers were bred to hunt in the fields all day, so they naturally have tons of energy — especially puppies.

Earlier in this post, when talking about why golden retrievers are good with kids, we talked about how one of those reasons is that they’re calm.

But that calmness doesn’t really settle in until they’re adults.

They can be quite the handful when they’re rambunctious puppies, and they mature slowly, so they may stay in this “puppy stage” until they’re three or four years old!

It might seem overwhelming to deal with a high-energy dog, but here are four ways to use up some of that energy:

  1. Train them. Mental challenges are exhausting for dogs.
  2. Give them puzzle toys, which also mentally wear them out.
  3. Play games like fetch and tug to physically wear them out.
  4. Take them on puppy playdates to let them romp around with other dogs.

Reason #6: They can be mischievous

The downside of having such a smart dog is that they can be mischievous.

They need lots of mental stimulation, and if they don’t get it, or if they don’t get enough attention, they may start to act out.

Take this adorable thief, Archie, for example:

Archie The Golden Retriever Steals Everything [VIDEO]

Very mischievous… but very cute!

Reason #7: Golden retrievers are mouthy

Like we talked about earlier, golden retrievers were bred to retrieve gunned down birds with their mouths.

Because of this, they can be pretty mouthy puppies, and even mouthy into their later years.

To stop puppy biting, make sure to give them plenty of mental and physical exercise and always have toys around for them to put in their mouths (instead of your fingers).

Neutral Facts About Golden Retrievers

Below are three other things to consider when getting a getting a golden retriever.

They may be good or bad, depending on what you’re looking for in a dog.

Golden retrievers are big dogs

Golden retreivers aren’t exactly lap dogs.

Males are usually bigger, weighing 65-75 pounds and standing 22-24 inches tall at the withers (the top of their shoulder blades).

Females usually weigh 55-65 pounds and stand 21.5-22.5 inches tall.

Do you want a bigger dog that will take up half the couch and is great at giving hugs?

Then get a golden!

But if you want a little lap dog, then a golden isn’t the right breed for you.

Golden retrievers aren’t the best guard dogs

While golden retrievers can be protective, they certainly don’t make as good of guard dogs as some other breeds, like German shepherds.

So if you’re just looking for a family pet, a golden might be a good option.

But if you’re looking for some serious protection, then you might want to look elsewhere.

Golden retrievers live 10-12 years

golden retrievers are good dogs when they're old

Smaller dogs, like Yorkies, live an average of 11-15 years, while larger dogs, like Great Danes, live an average of 7-10 years.

As you can see, golden retrievers are roughly in the middle of the pack when it comes to lifespan.

This is important to keep in mind because goldens aren’t just pets you might find fun for a few years — it’s a decade-long (or more) commitment.

Is A Golden Retriever Right For You? Take This Quiz!

Getting a golden retriever is a big commitment, and it’s best to know whether or not you’re a good match before you bring them home.

To help you make this decision, we put this quiz together to help you understand what you want in a dog and see whether or not a golden retriever will fit those needs.

Take the golden retriever quiz here.


golden retrievers are good dogs because of their personalities

Golden retrievers are wonderful dogs, but they’re certainly not for everyone.

If you’re looking for a big, cuddly, fluffy, energetic ball of joy, then get a golden retriever.

But if you’re looking for a low-maintenance lap dog, then a golden retriever probably isn’t the breed for you.

Have any questions about golden retrievers?

Have you had a golden retriever before?

Let us know down in the comments!

And if you liked this article, then you’ll love our complete guide to raising a golden retriever puppy.

P.S. Getting a golden retriever puppy? Check out the Golden Retriever Puppy Handbook!

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