Golden Retriever Care and Training

The beautiful Golden Retriever is one of the best of all dogs for the family. They are intelligent, loyal, eager to please, and they love children. They are popular around the world for their happy, cheerful temperament and their devotion. The Golden is also an ideal therapy dog and they are one of the best breeds for assistance dog work and for guide dogs for the blind.

Photo of Golden Retriever

History of the Golden Retriever

The Golden Retriever is a sporting dog and he was developed in the Highlands of Scotland by Lord Tweedmouth who was trying to create an outstanding dog for hunting and retrieving. Lord Tweedmouth bred some hardy dogs known as Tweed Water Spaniels on his estate (which are now extinct) with some “yellow retrievers” and produced the first Golden Retrievers. Later he added more Tweed Water Spaniel breeding, Irish Setters, and some Bloodhound to produce the Golden Retriever we have today. The Tweed Water Spaniels were light-colored and were known for their intelligence and retrieving ability, as well as for their courage, so these early dogs had a huge impact on the Golden Retriever. The Golden Retriever first became popular in England in the late 1800s. The Golden Retriever Club was formed in England in 1913. The dogs first arrived in the U.S. in the 1920s and they were first registered by the AKC in 1925. At first they were most favored by hunters but they have since become most popular with pet owners and they excel in every kind of dog sport.


The Golden Retriever typically lives between 11 and 11.5 years, on average. As with many medium-large breeds, Golden Retrievers can have problems with hip and elbow dysplasia. If you are considering getting a Golden Retriever then you should talk to a breeder about health testing and find out the OFA or PennHip status of the parents and other relatives of the dog. Cancer is the leading cause of death in the breed. The most common form of cancer found in Goldens is hemangiosarcoma.

Goldens are susceptible to several eye problems including Progressive Retinal Atrophy, cataracts, glaucoma, corneal dystrophy, distichiasis, and retinal dysplasia. Cataracts is the most common eye problem in Golden Retrievers. Breeders of Golden Retrievers do CERF test their dogs to check for eye problems.

Golden Retrievers can also have heart problems such as subvalvular aortic stenosis and cardiomyopathy. Joint problems can also appear in the breed, including osteochondrosis, luxating patellas (slipped kneecap), panosteitis, and cruciate ligament rupture.

Goldens can experience skin problems such as allergies. Von Willebrand’s Disease, similar to hemophilia in humans, is known in the breed.

As with many breeds, this may seem like a daunting list of possible health problems, but most dogs live out long, healthy lives. Some of these health problems are relatively rare or they don’t appear until late in life if they appear at all.

Temperament and Training

The Golden Retriever temperament is usually what people love best about the breed. These dogs are friendly, confident, outgoing, and very kind. They are friendly to nearly everyone. They do not make a very good guard dog for this reason as they will probably wag their tail and invite strangers to your house. Goldens are generally calm dogs who enjoy pleasing the people in their family. They can be very active and playful when they are young, but they tend to become a little more mellow as they get older, though they are never really sedentary dogs. They also enjoy having fun and going on adventures with their families.

Goldens are wonderful dogs to train. They are extremely intelligent, being rated as one of the most intelligent of all dogs. They ranked fourth in intelligence in the book The Intelligence of Dogs by Dr. Stanley Coren. They are also very patient dogs which comes in handy both in training and in working with children. Patience is also helpful when these dogs work as therapy dogs, assistance dogs, or as guide dogs for the blind.

Goldens can learn just about anything. They excel at tracking, search and rescue, agility, rally, flyball, frisbee, hunting, and they are particularly good at water sports such as dock diving. And, of course, they make wonderful obedience dogs.

We provide Golden Retriever dog and puppy training in Beverly Hills and West LA. Learn more about our private dog training classes.


Grooming a Golden Retriever isn’t difficult. They require regular brushing a couple of times per week. They do have very dense coat and they shed a great deal on a seasonal basis. You may need to brush them more when they are shedding to keep the hair from piling up in your house. They don’t generally require any trimming or cutting, though you may want to use some scissors to tidy up any stray hairs that are sticking out. A good bath once or twice a month is all your Golden needs.

Since they do have long, feathered ears, you will need to clean your dog’s ears regularly to prevent ear infections. This is especially true if your dog goes swimming. Any moisture left inside the ear can be a breeding ground for bacteria.

Be sure to trim your Golden’s nails on a weekly basis to keep them from getting too long. By removing a small amount of nail each week you won’t cut the quick or hurt your dog.

Special Needs or Care

Goldens are generally very easy to care for and they are lots of fun to be around. Since this breed is particularly prone to cancer it’s a good idea to start taking your dog in for senior wellness checks at your vet when he’s relatively young (around six years old). Let your vet get some baseline blood work and other readings so you can be alert for any changes that may crop up. This is a good way to be proactive about your Golden’s health.

Dog care and behavior counselor with 15 years of experience. I hold a M.S. in Psychology with an emphasis in Animal Behavior.

Posted in Dog Breeds