This is where you can find the answers to all your questions about Golden Retrievers. Can’t find what you’re looking for? Try searching the site.

What are hot spots?

They look like open, oozing sores about the size of a quarter or larger on the dog. Treatment involves keeping the sore clean and dry until it heals. Shaving the area promotes air circulation; both Sulfodene and witch hazel have been recommended as astringent cleaners. You should avoid ointments and other topical applications which would keep the area moist.
Hot spots are often caused by allergies. This can be allergies to fleas (most common), allergies to food, or hormonal (including thyroid, adrenal, and even testosterone levels) imbalances. Goldens, especially those with allergies, seem to be susceptible to hot spots. A book that is often recommended in helping to deal with allergies is Dr. Plechner’s Pet Allergies.
(Cindy Moore, [email protected])

When do Goldens “grow up”?

Physically, Goldens are completely mature by 2 years of age. Mentally, well, that depends on the individual, but usually not before 3 years of age. Even though Goldens are physically mature by 2, you may notice changes in them well past that time. Remember, by nature Goldens are fun-loving and happy-go-lucky, so their perceived maturity may be less because of it.
(Cindy Moore, [email protected])

Why do some Goldens look so different?

The Golden is supposed to be a mid-to-large size dog, suitable for sitting in a duck blind all day with, as well as small enough to be able to haul over the side of a boat all wet (after a retrieve). The standard has a range of acceptable sizes, for females it is 21 1/2-22 1/2 inches at the shoulder, for males it is 23-24 inches at the shoulder, with an inch allowance either way. So, just in size, if you have a small female (which could be 20 1/2 inches, about 45 pounds) and a large male (which could be 25 inches, about 95 pounds) there is a BIG difference. Now, if you add variations in coat, which may come from the “type” of breeding, you can get quite a physical difference. Through the years, breeders have bred for different qualities. Some breeders are interested purely in physical appearance for show purposes. Since “big and hairy” looks stunning in the show ring and wins, these breeders have bred for those characteristics. Other breeders have bred only for field ability. Since the smaller (and often darker colored) dogs have been the ones that are faster and flashier in the field, these breeders have tended to breed for those characteristics. There are other types, as well, but these are the most common. Just because a dog is of the “conformation” type does NOT mean that it cannot work in the field, just as being of the “field” type does NOT mean that that dog cannot win in the show ring.
(Cindy Moore, [email protected])

What genetic screenings should you look for when puppy hunting?

What genetic screenings should you look for when puppy hunting?

The “big three” in Goldens are OFA, CERF, and SAS. The parents of the puppies you are considering should be cleared for at least these three. (For further information on these and other problems, see the Medical Problems section.)
Other things breeders should or may take into consideration in their breeding stock include: Von Willebrand’s, epilepsy, allergies, skin disorders. You should ask your breeder about these.
(Cindy Moore, [email protected])

Do males or females make better pets (what are the differences)?

Besides the physical differences, personal preference is probably the only big one here. Many people think that the males are slightly more “teddy-bear like” than the females. Neither should show any type of aggression (including dog aggression). If left unaltered, females will sometimes show a change in personality when they are coming into heat and when they are in heat. Most often, they seem to become a bit more clingy. During this time, they may not tolerate males sniffing around them or they may be extremely interested in males. If a male is left intact and used for breeding purposes and there is another intact male and a bitch in heat, the males might show some competitive aggression. However, neutered males and females will mostly differ in size (the females will be smaller) and their individual personalities. Both males and females are good with children. For your best predictor of personality, be sure to ask about and try to meet and interact with the puppy’s sire and dam. There are tests that can be done to help determine the puppy’s dominance, independence, and abilities. Be sure to ask your breeder about these. Also, socializing the puppy and general obedience training are always important.
(Cindy Moore, [email protected])

Is there a split in hunting and show lines? What should I look for?

There is something of a split between show, field, and even obedience lines. As with any sport that becomes highly competitive, the specialization intensifies. With Goldens, that means the show dogs will have more coat and bone and be more laid back. The field dogs generally have less coat, more drive and be intensely “birdy” (interested in birds) with good noses. The obedience dogs often have less coat and a high drive but may or may not be birdy. You should consider carefully the differences between the different lines when picking your own dog out so that there are no surprises. Looking at the parents and any of their previous offspring is a good approach.

But no matter which lines you are interested in, you should try to find the puppies that are well balanced with correct structure and conformation as the base. Whether you are interested in pet, show, hunting, etc., will determine other characteristics that you want. But an unsound dog does not make a good show dog, hunting dog, obedience dog, or pet!
(Cindy Moore, [email protected])

Are Goldens any good as hunting dogs? In field trials?

Goldens do not do as well as Labradors in the field trials which are, in all fairness, biased toward the sort of work the Labrador was bred to do. But many Goldens make excellent hunters in real hunting situations.
(Cindy Moore, [email protected])

Goldens are supposed to be good in the obedience ring, aren’t they?

Goldens are typically very eager to please their owners. This translates into their being both relatively easy to train for obedience and to having a good attitude in the ring. While not all Goldens make good competitive obedience dogs, you will see many of them in the obedience ring.
(Cindy Moore, [email protected])

How do Goldens do in hot weather?

As long as they have access to shade, free moving air, and water, they will do just fine in the heat. Don’t exercise them in the heat of the day, and be sure you have water with you when you do exercise them later.
(Cindy Moore, [email protected])

Do Goldens bark a lot?

Not typically, but they can if they are bored.
(Cindy Moore, [email protected])

How about swimming?

Most Goldens love to swim, and it’s excellent exercise for them, even when young. Introduce them to water and let them explore on their own. If they are unsure about the water, you might get in and swim out a bit to encourage them, but let them take their own time. Younger puppies might be more standoffish to water than they would be in another month or two; that’s normal. Never toss a dog into water that doesn’t want to go in! Sometimes a water crazy older dog is perfect to have along to help teach your dog to appreciate swimming. You might also try tossing in a toy for him to get, but be prepared to go out and retrieve it yourself if he doesn’t!

If you have a swimming pool, just remember that the dog hair in the pool will mean you need to clean the pool more frequently if you dog goes in it a lot. Be sure that your dog knows how to get out of the swimming pool; it’s not a good idea to leave him unattended with access to the pool.
(Cindy Moore, [email protected])

How much exercise do they need?

They are a sporting breed and as such need plenty of exercise. They will benefit best from regular periods of high intensity activity once they are fully grown. This includes a quick session of fetching, romping with other dogs, running along the beach and so on. You do need to be careful with puppies under 18 months or so; while they need exercise, it must not be forced or sustained. For example, you cannot take them jogging or biking with you until they are fully grown, or you will damage their joints.
(Cindy Moore, [email protected])

Aren’t Goldens the perfect family pet?

Most Goldens are wonderful with kids, especially when they have been regularly exposed to well-behaved children as puppies. However, they are large and excitable and may easily knock children over if they jump up to lick their faces or propel a toddler along with a solid whack of their tails. Never leave very young children and dogs together unattended. Just as the dog could easily accidentally hurt the children, so could they hurt him by poking him in the eyes or ears or pulling his tail.
(Cindy Moore, [email protected])

How much do Goldens shed?

Goldens shed a lot. They have an abundance of coat as well as feathering and they will produce a more or less constant amount of hair in your house. Some of this can be alleviated with regular and thorough brushing, but if you have an aversion to dog hair in your house, a Golden will not be a good choice. (Cindy Moore, [email protected])

Isn’t it cruel to put your dog in a crate?

Dogs are by nature den animals. When properly introduced to a crate, most dogs love it, and they will often go into their crates on their own to sleep. Of course, no dog should be left in the crate so long that it must soil the crate. It’s a wonderful tool to use for house training, but puppies are not physically equipped to go for more than three or four hours without going to the bathroom. And all use of a crate should be done with an eye toward eventually weaning the dog off of it. There are only a few dogs that must always use a crate while you are gone. Afterwards, it is a very useful thing to have — for example if at all possible your dog should always ride in the car in his crate.

Crating a dog works to prevent the dog from doing many of the behaviors you don’t want it to. What your dog does not do does not develop into a habit and thus requires no correction. Second, it means that when your dog does have an opportunity to engage in the unwanted behavior, you are around (because you’re home to let it out) to give a proper and timely correction.

As the behavioral aspects pointed out above, reducing the territory to protect and keeping it in the den are also positive things from the dog’s point of view, reducing the overall stress that it experiences.
(Cindy Moore, [email protected])

Does my Golden feel guilty when he gets into trouble?

No. He’s reacting to your body language and emotions. When you come in and see the toilet paper all over the floor, you get mad. The dog can tell that you are upset and the only thing he knows how to do is to try and placate you, as the alpha. So they try and get you out of your bad mood by crouching, crawling, rolling over on their backs, or avoiding eye contact. You interpret the dog as acting “guilty” when in fact the dog hasn’t the faintest idea of what is wrong and is simply hoping you will return to a better mood. The important thing to remember is that if your dog finds that it cannot consistently predict your anger or the reasons for it, it will begin to distrust you — just as you would someone who unpredictably flew into rages.

This is why it’s so important to catch dogs “in the act.” That way you can communicate clearly just what it is they shouldn’t do. Screaming and yelling at the dog, or punishing it well after the fact does not tell your dog what is wrong. You may in fact wind up teaching it to fear you, or consider you unreliable. You must get your dog to understand you, and you have to work on the communication gap, as you are more intelligent than your dog.

Preventing your dog from unwanted behaviors coupled with properly timed corrections will go much further in eliminating the behavior from your pet than yelling at it.

In fact, you should not yell at, scream at, or hit your dog, ever. There are much more effective ways to get your point across. Try instead to understand the situation from your dog’s point of view and act accordingly. The techniques in this chapter approach problems with this in mind.
(Cindy Moore, [email protected])

Why does my Golden misbehave when he gets mad at me?

First remember that “undesireable behavior” is in the eye of the beholder. To the dog, it’s perfectly alright to dig, to bark, to chase after other dogs, etc. This doesn’t mean you can’t control these behaviors, of course, but it does mean that the dog isn’t doing them “to spite you.” The dog hasn’t a clue that it’s not to do these things unless you train it not to. And it has to understand what you want from it!

When dogs start undesirable (to humans) behavior, its best to try to understand the source of this behavior. Often it stems from the frustration of being left alone. Dogs are very social animals. One positive solution is to make sure your dog is properly exercised. Exercise is a wonderful cure to many behavioral problems and dogs just love it. Do check with your vet for the proper amount of exercise for both the age and breed of any dog. Another solution is obedience training. The point is, your dog needs your attention, whether it is by taking it out on a walk, training it, or both.
(Cindy Moore, [email protected])

I live in the country. Can I let my dog run free?

It is an absolute myth that living in the country confers greater latitude in the dictum “thou shall keep thy dog constrained to the immediate environs of the pack.” Country dogs allowed to run free get shot by hunters or farmers protecting their livestock. They get into fights with other dogs over territory. They can kill livestock, fight and tassle and get disease from wild animals, and be hit by cars on the highway. They become increasingly aggressive as they vye for larger and larger perimeter boundaries to their territory, and they no longer relate to YOU as the leader of their pack. Also, don’t forget that intact animals will breed and add to the overpopulation problem.

This same misconception leads people to dump unwanted dogs “in the countryside.” Most such dogs die a painful death, either by slow starvation, injuries from being hit by a car or in a fight with another animal, or they are shot by farmers protecting their livestock. The countryside is not some sort of romantic haven for stray dogs.
(Cindy Moore, [email protected])

Does a Golden require a lot of grooming?

Like all long-coated breeds there is a fair amount of work needed to maintain your Golden in top condition. Frequent brushing with a pin brush will help to reduce shedding. Toenails need to be done every week.
(Cindy Moore, [email protected])