The Golden Retriever is a sporting dog; the attributes which make this breed an excellent hunting companion are the same attributes which make it an outstanding family companion, obedience dog and guide dog.

The Golden is eager to please, energetic, friendly, easy to train and pleasant to look at.  These are all the positive traits, but they can have their drawbacks.  That energy must be channeled into positive outlets or your Golden may spend his time digging holes in your yard, chewing up your prized possessions, jumping on people, shedding that beautiful coat everywhere, and just being a general nuisance.

Each dog has the potential to be a good dog, but the owner must have the time and energy to see to it that the dog is properly trained and cared for. The Golden Retriever is not for everyone…it requires time, attention (a sense of humor helps) plus a proper understanding of the breed.

The personality of the Golden Retriever is of the utmost importance.  A typical Golden should be friendly, easy-going, relaxed after an initial greeting, tolerant, and obedient.  They make very poor watch dogs (they are just too friendly) but will usually bark if something is amiss.

The general conformation is very important for the Golden Retriever to function properly in all of its capacities.  An adult male should stand between 23 and 24 inches at the shoulder and weigh between 65 and 75 pounds.  Females should be 21 ½ to 22 ½ inches and weigh 55 to 65 pounds.  The coat should be dense and water repellent with a good undercoat.  The outer coat should be firm and resilient, being neither course or silky.  Coat color varies from a cream/gold to a red/gold and may be wavy or straight. The bone structure should be sturdy with a broad head, straight legs and a nearly level back.

There are certain genetic problems that Golden owners need to be aware of.  Golden Retrievers are particularly prone to develop hip dysphasia (most simply described as a malformation of the ball and socket joint of the dog’s hip).  It is thought to be primarily an inherited condition, although certain environmental factors, such as excessive weight gain as a young dog can contribute to its development. Reputable breeders screen their dogs with hip x-rays and obtain reports back from PennHIP and/or OFA before breeding them. 

Other health problems include cataracts, which are diagnosed with an annual eye exam by a certified veterinary ophthalmologist, and heart disease (sub-aortic stenosis), which a dog can be checked for by a certified veterinary cardiologist after one year of age.  These conditions have become more widespread with the increasing popularity of Goldens and the large number of poorly bred animals being produced.

It is very important to be knowledgeable about these problems before buying or breeding your dog.  Take time to learn about the breed.  Attend dog shows and field trials, Golden Retriever Club meetings.  Talk with and question Golden owners; they are proud of their dogs and are happy to share their enthusiasm.

Look around before you buy.  It is much easier to find a “puppymill” or “backyard breeder” that knows and/or cares little about the welfare of the breed than it is to find a reputable breeder.  Have patience and never buy impulsively…all puppies are cute. 

“Hobby Breeders” should have health clearances on the sire and dam including Hips (PennHIP/OFA,) Eyes (annual report or CERF report) heart clearance after the age of 1. Generally they only breed a few times a year, so do not expect to be able to find a puppy as soon as you are ready.  Often times it will require waiting for the right litter to be born.  Also, all Goldens, even of good quality are not created equal.  Different litters will have different energy levels, quantity of coat/color and retrieve drive.  Ask breeders what they expect from a particular litter and make sure it correlates with your expectations. 

Remember you are choosing a companion for the next 10-15 years.