Golden Retriever Breed Information Guide: Photos, Traits, & Care

Written by: Paige Towers

May 11, 2022

Interested in a gentle sporting dog who’s as sweet as a ray of sunshine? A golden retriever can brighten up a room with their sunny disposition and easy-going affection. Known for their iconic blondish, feathered coats, board snouts, and floppy ears, goldens are an ever-popular dog breed. Plus, their even-tempered attitudes make them easy to love and a whole lot of fun. 

Golden retrievers excel at nearly everything. They make tremendous hunting dogs, award-winning show dogs, and even highly-capable guide dogs (just like a German shepherd). Most of all, golden retrievers are adoring companions, ready to greet you when you walk in the door and follow you whenever you leave. Perhaps that’s why goldens have been the ideal family dog for decades!

Breed Overview

  • Height: 20–24 inches
  • Weight: 55–75 lbs
  • Lifespan: 10–12 years
  • Breed Size: Medium–Large
  • Colors: Yellow, cream, or gold
  • Good With: Kids, other dogs, cats
  • Temperament: Happy, fearless, affectionate

Also Known As…

Flat-coated retriever. Golden yellow, or just plain golden. Air Bud, best bud, “who’s a good boy?!”

What Is The History Of The Golden Retriever?

The golden retriever has regal roots. In the late 1800s, one Dudley Marjoribanks, who would come to be known as Lord Tweedmouth, purchased a yellow puppy named Nous. Tweedmouth was a Scottish nobleman who kept a kennel of sporting dogs at his estate. Interested in breeding a quality hunting dog for the Scottish highlands, he bred Nous with a tweed water spaniel, resulting in a litter of yellow puppies.

This litter would become the first generation of golden retrievers. These original retrievers sported coats ranging from cream to reddish-gold, and many of these dogs were given to family members and friends to assist with their hunting and sporting. Others remained at the Tweedmouth estate and were bred for numerous generations, bringing increased recognition to the breed. By 1911, the first retrievers were recognized by the American Kennel Club, and nine years later, an official entry was made for the golden retriever dog. 

Throughout the 1930s, the popularity of the golden extended across the world, and these pups found homes in France, Germany, and even Australia. In the U.S., goldens remain an all-time favorite breed for dog lovers. Perhaps it’s their aristocratic history or their hardworking spirit, but there’s an undeniable spark of kindness and connection in this breed. Take one look at a golden retriever puppy and you’ll know exactly what we’re talking about.

How Big Do Golden Retrievers Get?

Not too big, not too small, goldens are the Goldilocks of dog breeds. You’ll find that their playful nature as puppies carries on into adulthood as well. Some adult dogs still consider themselves lap dogs and jump at any opportunity to snuggle. 

Height: 20–24 inches tall

Weight: 55–75 pounds

How Long Do Golden Retrievers (Generally) Live?

Expect to spend around a decade with your golden companion. Retrievers have lifespans of about 10 to 12 years.

What Is A Golden Retriever’s Temperament & Personality Like?

Talk about easy-going—golden retrievers are calm and level-headed dogs that still maintain an energetic temperament. Expect an absolute sweetheart of a dog. That means a typical happy attitude, however, this social dog breed is susceptible to separation anxiety because they love companionship.

Goldens are mostly content to snuggle up with their favorite human, play a jaunty game of fetch (they’re named for it, after all), or go for a long walk to their favorite park. Goldens can become hyperactive on occasion, most likely when excited over dog sports. Let your pup romp around for a while, and they’ll soon be back to their standard, even-keeled selves.

Since they were originally bred as hunting dogs, goldens can also have a fearless streak, similar to a beagle. They’re rarely intimidated by larger dogs, and will happily stand their ground, especially if they feel that they’re protecting their family. Fortunately, these situations rarely arise, and most of the time, goldens are content as the fun-loving, people-pleasing pups they were born to be.

Good With Kids? Cats? Dogs?

Looking for a babysitter? Consider a golden retriever. Sure, they’re not equipped to feed, bathe, or change any diapers, but they are exceptionally sweet to children—particularly young ones. Goldens are natural family dogs, which might be one of the reasons they sit so high on the list of most popular dog breeds. For decades, they’ve graced family photo albums, holiday cards, and screensavers, squeezing in next to kids, adults, and anyone interested in sharing the moment with this beloved breed.

The affection doesn’t end with humans, though. Golden retrievers are also known to get along swimmingly with other dogs, cats, and just about anything and anyone else. So long as you introduce your pets safely in a friendly environment and ensure that everyone involved is well-trained, there’s no reason you can’t all get along like one big, happy family.

Are Golden Retrievers High Energy? 

Golden retrievers can stay cool, calm, and collected so long as they get their daily exercise. For this breed, the minimum requirement is 90 minutes of simulating daily exercise. Throw a few tennis balls around in the park or go for a relaxing jog, and your pup will be happy to keep up.

Don’t forget that retrievers need mental stimulation, as well. Try out food puzzles and games to keep your golden retriever’s attention, and try to spend as much time as possible with them—not that this is a big ask, since most owners enjoy cuddle time just as much as, if not more than, their golden angels.

Are Golden Retrievers Hard To Train?

While some dogs turn training sessions into a battle of wills, golden retrievers are more likely to make every session feel like a breeze. The combination of sweetness and intelligence means that you should be able to teach your golden commands in record time. Not only that, but these dogs are also naturally well-behaved. They rarely jump up on newcomers and bark only mildly—mostly out of excitement.

Do Golden Retrievers Have Health Issues?

All dogs can exhibit a variety of health issues, but there are a few problems you might want to pay special attention to, including:

  • Elbow and hip dysplasia
  • Certain types of cancer, especially later in adult dog life
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Seizures
  • Eye problems
  • Ear infection

Throughout your pup’s life, it’s important to keep a close eye on their health. Watch for limping or mobility issues as this could be a sign of hip dysplasia or loose knees, also known as luxating patella. These issues are fairly common in golden retrievers and French bulldogs that may be exacerbated by lack of exercise or improper nutrition. 

Do Golden Retrievers Need To Be Groomed? 

To keep their coats shiny, soft, and perfectly golden, this breed appreciates a little help. Golden retrievers are known to shed, and you can certainly give them a hand with all that excess fur with daily brushing, doggy baths, nail trimmings, and health supplements.

You could also hire a professional groomer and give your dog a relaxing day at the canine spa every two or three months. A groomer can also perform a thorough cleaning and coat blow-out to remove any excess undercoat, giving your dog a fresh, clean look for the season.

How Much Does It Cost To Care For A Golden Retriever?

Price points will vary, but on average, golden retriever owners can expect to spend about $1000 per year. That doesn’t factor in the initial cost for adoptions or any health emergencies, but it should be enough to keep your pup housed, happy, and healthy.


Depending on your golden’s size, you may be looking at 2 to 3 cups of dog food per day. That could mean a few bags a month, amounting to $50–$80 in monthly food spending. Naturally, it’s up to you when it comes to food choice, but natural, high-protein ingredients are usually the best options for goldens.

BARK makes food specifically for goldens and golden mixes! Get 25% off with code 25FOOD and free shipping!

Routine Vet Care (Healthy Dog)

Stop in at least once a year for your annual vet check-up. So long as your pup doesn’t need any additional screenings for ailments like heart disease, tests, or panels, a standard visit should cost around $50–$100.

Preventative Medications

You’ll likely need to purchase monthly heartworm, flea, and tick medication. These medicines usually cost between $100 and $200 per year and may be available at a discount when bought in bulk.

Your first year will likely be more costly because of vaccinations and extra testing, adding another $100+ to your bill. Fortunately, after the first year, you can expect to pay less, so long as everything continues down a smooth trajectory.


A standard professional grooming session can range from $25–$100, depending on the groomer’s expertise and experience. 

For more DIY-style grooming, you may only need to spend $30 to purchase all the supplies necessary to treat your golden to a quick cleanup. Shampoo, nail clippers, and brushes are all relatively inexpensive.

Toys, Treats, Beds, & Accessories

From chew toys to leashes, your choice of puppy accessories is about discovering what your golden loves. While some retrievers prefer the classic yellow tennis ball, others might be more excited by a food puzzle. The perfect toy and treat routine can involve some trial and error, but most basic accessories cost between $5 and $20 per item.

If you’re up for trying something new, explore BarkBox: a premium monthly service that delivers toys, treats, and chews straight to your door. Try the standard box for $23/month or opt for the Super Chewer subscription for $29/month to give your golden something extra to gnaw on. And now, double your first box free!

Unless you’re planning on sharing your bed with your golden retriever (no shame in that), we recommend picking up a large-sized doggy bed. This may cost $50 to $100, so try to choose a brand that will last for a few years.

Finally, goldens don’t love their alone time, so consider hiring some help if you’re going to be away for several hours at a time:

  • Dog walker ($15–$25 per walk)
  • Daycare ($25–$50 per day)
  • Kenneling ($30–$50 per night)
  • Training classes ($30–$100 per session)


Golden Retriever Club of America. Brief History of the Golden Retriever. 

PetMD. Golden Retriever. 

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Written by: Paige Towers

May 11, 2022


A themed collection of BARK-designed toys, treats, and chews.


A themed collection of BARK-designed toys, treats, and chews.