Why Golden Retrievers Are Good Protective Dogs (And Why They’re Not)

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Do you want to know if golden retrievers can protect you if they need to?

Whether you want protection for yourself or your family, or protection from animals or other people, in this article, we’re going to dive into how the golden retriever breed ranks as a protection dog.

In this article, you’ll learn:

  • What attributes make golden retrievers good protective dogs
  • What attributes make golden retrievers not so good protective dogs
  • Whether or not you can train a golden retriever to be protective
  • And much more

Before you trade in your alarm system or pepper spray for the sole protection of your golden retriever, let’s find out how protective they are.

Golden Retrievers Can Be Protective (Sometimes!)

Although golden retrievers aren’t typically the first breed you think of when you think of a protective dog, golden retrievers can be protective.

Because of their loyalty, intelligence, and their size, yes, golden retrievers can protect you.

But their friendly and gentle nature may not make them the best candidates for when it comes to defending you.

If protection is one of the top attributes you’re looking for in a dog, then you might be better off going with a doberman or German shepherd.

However, if you want a family dog that’s big and loud enough to scare most threats off and has the potential to protect you, then a golden retriever might be for you!

Let’s look a little more at what actually makes a good protective dog.

5 Attributes That Make A Good Protective Dog

Here are five qualities that make a good protective dog:

  1. Big
  2. Obedient
  3. Smart
  4. Loyal
  5. Aggressive (or at least, the capability to be aggressive)

So how do golden retrievers rate on these qualities?

Keep on reading.

Sadie The Golden Protects Her Mom [VIDEO]

What a sweet little hero!

Why Golden Retrievers Make Good Protective Dogs

are golden retrievers protective dogs

Golden Retrievers Are Big

Full-grown golden retrievers can weigh 55-75 pounds or more.

Their size can be intimidating to a person or critter that may pose a threat.

They’re also athletic, so they can chase would-be predators away.

Golden Retrievers Are Obedient

In 2018, Streak the golden retriever was the AKC National Obedience Champion.

Also, the first three dogs to achieve the AKC Obedience Champion title were all golden retrievers.

They’re one of the best breeds to be trained as service dogs because of their ability to be obedient.

Golden Retrievers Are Smart

According to Dr. Stanley Coren’s book, The Intelligence of Dogs, golden retrievers are the fourth smartest dog breed.

This means that they are often smart enough to sense when something is not right and are very capable of being trained.

In fact, when my golden retriever, Oliver, was a puppy, a family friend came over to tell us she was pregnant with her first child.

Sure enough, it seemed as if Oliver knew because he sat at her feet the entire time looking out at the rest of us as if he was protecting her.

Golden Retrievers Are Loyal

Golden retrievers love nothing more than spending time with their families and are known for being very loyal.

Golden Retrievers Have Scary Barks

According to the Guinness Book of World Records, Charlie, a golden retriever from Australia, owns the record for world’s loudest bark.

So if your golden hears a noise outside the house, they might not even need to protect you because their impressive bark may scare away potential burglars.

I’m always amused at how Oliver can go from being a goofy golden laying on his back getting belly rubs one moment, to letting off a string of terrifying barks when he hears the mailman outside the next moment.

Although I don’t love it when he barks, it’s comforting knowing that if a burglar was outside, Oliver’s barking would probably make him think twice before coming in.

Golden Retrievers Have Strong Prey Drive

Because golden retrievers were originally bred as hunting dogs, they have decently strong prey drive.

While this may not be helpful for them protecting you against humans, it could be helpful when it comes to protecting you against critters.

Check out this amazing story of Todd the golden protecting his mom from a rattlesnake!

Golden Retriever Protects Mom From Rattlesnake [VIDEO]

Isn’t that awesome?!

This is definitely one of those “we don’t deserve dogs” moments…

Why Goldens May Not Be Good Protective Dogs

So we just talked about why golden retrievers could make good protective dogs, but there are always two sides to every story.

Goldens may not be the most protective dogs for two main reasons:

  1. They’re typically not aggressive
  2. They’re very friendly

If you ask nearly any golden retriever owner to describe their golden, aggressive would probably be one of the last words that they would choose.

Goldens are way more playful and goofy than aggressive, and because of this, they may not be great at protecting you.

However, that’s not to say that they can’t be aggressive toward an attacker, it’s just that they’re not usually aggressive.

And this leads us to the next reason why golden retrievers may not be very protective…

They’re super friendly!

If an intruder were to break into your home, some goldens would rather bring them a toy than try to attack them (although not Sadie!).

Can You Train A Golden Retriever To Be Protective?

golden retriever schutzhund

Image source: RadicalK9.com

Schutzhund (which is German for “protection dog”) is a sport that tests a dog’s obedience, tracking, and protection skills.

You’ve probably seen pictures like the one above of dogs latching onto a padded arm.

But what you probably haven’t seen is a golden retriever in one of those pictures…

That’s doesn’t mean golden retrievers can’t be trained to be decent at Schutzhund, or be trained to be good at protecting you, but it just doesn’t come as natural to them as some others.

Like we talked about earlier, golden retrievers are very trainable, but they just don’t have the natural aggression of some other breeds.

If you want to train your dog to be more protective, I would definitely advise getting professional help.


Golden retrievers can be protective.

They’re obedience, intelligence, loyalty, size, loud bark, and prey drive can be helpful when it comes to protecting their humans.

However, because they’re very friendly and not typically aggressive, they’re probably not the breed for you if protectiveness is an attribute that’s high on your list of what to look for in a breed.

Have any questions about golden retrievers being protective?

Or do you have any stories about your golden retriever protecting you?

Let us know down in the comments.

And if you know someone who’s considering a golden retriever, please share this with them!

P.S. If you liked this article, you’ll love our Complete Guide To Golden Retrievers.

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8 thoughts on “Why Golden Retrievers Are Good Protective Dogs (And Why They’re Not)”

  1. We had a 9 year old super friendly golden that one night was anxious to go out side in the middle of the night he ran out the door barking and so we went out and followed to see what he was doing he was chasing a burglar off. Another golden is very protective of me. The thing is my golden now he centers himself of my emotions so I was scared he jumped in and barked and lunged and made this guy who scared me give me space. And that wasn’t a serious situation. He sensed, it smelled it, felt it, whatever happened I don’t know. But I was startled and he flipped a switched and he protected me.

  2. When I walked on the beach and I went out in the water my golden retriever ran out and sat in front of me and wouldn’t let me move and he is only 5 months old

  3. Completely false. I’ve been training military and protection dogs for 30. 23 in the Army. Deployed on three combat tours in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria.
    In order for a dog to take on and stop motives or crazy attacker they have to be started very. From the right bloodlines. Malinois, pits. A very few steps now that AKC has destroyed the breed with their sill show stands. Some other abstract breeds.

    I’ve watched dogs take down and destroy terrorist before we ended the guy with our weapons.

    We evaluated ten breeds. A golden would not make it five minutes.
    If a motivated attacker comes at you. A swift kick in even bravest fur balls head will take home out of the fight.

    Presa dogs, Dogos a few more passed.

    SH one two and three are German dog sport not reality.

    Only straight controlled tactical work will make a warrior.

    My CZ shep can be left to play in a school yard then when we go to work. Rip a man to death with one command.

    We charge over 25000 for a dog like this. All commands. On and off leash tracking all obstacles.
    A golden is service dog of great merit.
    But to tell the bubbleheads who read this. He will protect them.
    And pepper spray. Who uses that. Everyone I know has a gun in their house.
    This is all false.

    • This is a ridiculous comment. If you actually read the article, it never says goldens should be used for armed forces or any such situation. Clearly they were bred for a different purpose. But there is nothing false about the article. A golden can be quite protective. That doesn’t mean they will necessarily win the fight. I have two and my female is fearless. She held her ground, barking at a fully horned buck that was twice her size and would have shredded her to pieces. She’s also gotten into scuffles with American bulldogs that can take down hogs, and have had run-ins with snakes. She is extremely possessive of our child and I am convinced if something like a cougar came at him, she’d probably die protecting him. But like the article says, they also have drawbacks. If an intruder came with a friendly demeanor, it is very possible my goldens would befriend them even as they rob the house. But if we feel uncomfortable about someone, my female will detect it and bark at them. And anything the female barks at, the male joins in with a much deeper boom of a bark. I have no delusions of my goldens being an attack dogs, but the article has great points for and against them being protective.

      I hope never to find out what my goldens would do if I was fighting for my life against another human. However, from everything I’ve observed with mine I have a suspicion they would join the fray, whatever the result.


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