Are Golden Retrievers Aggressive Dogs? (The Truth!)

If you plan to welcome a new puppy into your family, the idea of getting a Golden Retriever likely crossed your mind once or twice. Aside from being beautiful dogs, Golden Retrievers have a reputation for being loving, kind, and caring, making them excellent family dogs, even around young children. But can they also be dangerous or aggressive?

Golden Retrievers can be dangerous and aggressive dogs if they have been neglected or abused. The generally loving and friendly Golden Retriever, can also show aggressive tendencies if not socialized properly. Golden’s, due to their size, can also cause damage or injuries if not well-trained or properly exercised.

The good news is that an aggressive Golden Retriever is extremely rare. Golden Retrievers are not known to be dangerous dogs as a whole, and are actually among the calmest and most loving breeds around, even with kids. Due to their large stores of energy and generally excitable personalities it’s not uncommon, however, for a Golden to accidentally knock over a young child, but this in and of itself is not usually considered aggressive or dangerous behavior.

Golden Retrievers are actually an excellent choice for any active household as they love socialization, exercise, and mental stimuli. However, it is also essential to learn about their personalities before bringing one home. By the end of this article, you will know whether Golden Retrievers can be aggressive and dangerous dogs or are, in fact, the perfect pet dog for your household.

Snarling and aggressive Golden Retriever

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Golden Retrievers’ Personality: All You Need To Know

To understand why Golden Retrievers might show aggressive behaviors, you need to learn more about their personalities. Golden Retrievers are among the most loving and nurturing dog breeds around, and they often make the perfect companion for children and families.

According to a 2008 study by the Academic Journal of Canine Science, Golden Retrievers displayed some of the least aggressive traits out of 22 dog breeds considered. Nonetheless, studies have linked punishment and negative reinforcement to a higher level of canine aggression. Therefore, as an owner, it is your responsibility to raise healthy and serene Golden Retrievers.

You can find out more about how to take care of your Golden Retriever puppy from day one here:

Otherwise, read on to learn about the personality of a Golden Retriever dog and what could affect it.

Golden Retrievers Have a Loving and Caring Nature

If you have ever met a Golden Retriever—or watched a video of them romping around—you know that they are among the most loving breeds out there. They are eager to please their owners and love socialization, activities, and the traditional family lifestyle. Golden Retrievers can also be protective of their family with intruders or in dangerous situations.

Golden Retrievers Are Great Family Dogs

One of the reasons why Golden Retrievers are so popular is their love for kids. These gentle giants are safe around most children—with the proper supervision and dog training. Of course, training your children how to play safely with a Retriever is just as important as training your dog to do the same! Luckily, Golden Retrievers make this process easy.

Golden Retrievers Are Extremely Intelligent

In his book “The Intelligence of Dogs,” (Amazon) professor of canine psychology Stanley Coren ranked the most intelligent breeds of dogs based on several factors, including instinct and obedience. Golden Retrievers ranked as the 4th most intelligent dog breed. This is one of the reasons that they make an excellent guide dog for the disabled. They are both smart and caring.

The Intelligence of Dogs: A Guide to the Thoughts, Emotions, and Inner Lives of Our Canine Companions

Discover how to train your Golden Retriever by playing games: 21 games to play with your Golden that will make them smarter and better behaved!

The Intelligence of Dogs by Stanley Coren (Amazon)

Golden Retrievers Are Highly Trainable

Thanks to their intelligence, character, and eagerness to please, Golden Retrievers are highly trainable and receptive dogs. When training your Golden Retriever, you should start from the eighth week onwards—some breeders even start socialization training while still in the litter!

Thanks to their excellent ability to learn quickly, you can teach them to be obedient and trust you, building mutual respect with your dog. However, you should always keep in mind that a dog’s behavior mostly depends on the level of training they’ve received.

A Golden Retriever that’s relatively untrained can be dangerous because it doesn’t know better.

Can Golden Retrievers Be Aggressive?

Golden Retrievers are a trustworthy breed in nearly any circumstance. When welcoming them into your household, you can expect them to be a part of the families life and create a strong bond with every single family member.

However, just like any other dog, Golden Retrievers might show aggressive behavior in certain situations. While these are rare exceptions and not the rule, it’s important to know they’re not completely unheard of.

It is possible for a Golden Retriever to be a dangerous and aggressive dog. Fortunately it’s also possible to rehabilitate them with the proper training and positive reinforcement.

Just by watching the video above you can see that individual Golden Retrievers CAN become a dangerous dog. If this vicious dog wasn’t muzzled, he would most certainly be giving his trainer a nasty dog bite. By the time a neglected or abused puppy becomes an adult dog, an aggressive temperament is possible, regardless of the particular dog breed.

But as any dog lover or responsible dog owner knows, Golden Retriever aggression is very rare and is only likely in the most extreme circumstances. Golden’s are not typically a dangerous breed.

Let’s take a look at some of the things a Golden needs to avoid becoming a dangerous or overly aggressive dog.

Golden Retrievers Need a Lot of Exercise

Golden Retrievers are highly active animals that require between one and two hours of exercise a day. Aside from physical activity, they also need mental stimulation and playtime. If you are a Golden Retriever owner-to-be, be prepared to take your dog out for regular walks or playtime at the park.

Ideally, you should have a garden or nearby park where your dog can run free for as long as they like. This type of physical stimulation is crucial to keep their body fit and reduce the risk of joint and bone problems—common in the breed. Daily exercise can also lower the chances of your dog becoming obese or suffering from weight problems.

At the same time, exercise is crucial for their mental health. Golden Retrievers are boisterous and playful dogs that don’t often reach emotional maturity until they are 2 to 4 years old. Therefore, it is crucial to channel this energy into physical exercise and divert it from your furniture!

If your Golden Retriever becomes bored or lacks exercise, you might start noticing signs of aggressive or destructive behavior.

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Exercise and mental stimulation is crucial for the well-being of a Golden Retriever. Puzzle toys like these interactive treat balls (Amazon) will keep your Golden Retriever mentally active when you’re not able to play with them, and helps them avoid separation anxiety when you’re away from home.

Golden Retrievers Are a Medium-to-Large Breed

Golden Retrievers are genuinely gentle giants who love socialization and being in the company of others. However, remember, they are a medium-to-large breed, and their personality is energetic.

Golden Retrievers love cuddling and the human touch, and it is not uncommon for them to jump and try to catch the attention of their family members in whatever way possible. While this is not a display of aggressive behavior, it can be dangerous for children and adults with reduced mobility.

Indeed, their weight alone can lead an adult or child to fall over or trip. To prevent these situations, dedicate time to train your dog and supervise interactions between your little ones and your Golden Retriever.

Neglect and Abuse Can Affect a Golden Retrievers Personality

Factors such as neglect and abuse are among the leading causes behind aggressive behavior in Golden Retrievers. Some different types of aggressive behavior in dogs include:

  • Territorial
  • Protective
  • Possessive
  • Fear
  • Defensive
  • Social
  • Frustration-elicited
  • Pain-elicited
  • Predatory

If a previous owner has abused your dog, he or she might be suffering from fears and anxieties that make them occasionally aggressive, such as in the case of food aggression. If you adopt a Golden Retriever, learn as much as possible about the dog’s history, previous owner, medical history, and track record.

Indeed, with adopted pets, you might find it challenging to trace back to their breeder because shelters don’t always receive this paperwork. While re-education is possible, it is much more complicated than training a puppy for the first time.

Socialization Is Extremely Important For A Golden Retriever

Socialization is crucial for Golden Retrievers. Through these activities, they express themselves, create essential bonds, and use up their energy. However, socialization should start as young as possible.

If you skip this step, your Golden Retriever can show some signs of aggression because he doesn’t know otherwise (ex: roughhousing with other dogs to an extreme). Without the necessary steps, they might not understand how to interact with others and what is acceptable—towards humans and other dogs alike.

Ultimately, if you are buying a puppy, you should make sure that he stays with his mother and litter for as long as needed. Once he comes home, keep him as much company as possible and expose him to other dogs early on.

Use these tips to properly socialize your new Golden Retriever.


Golden Retrievers are among the calmest, happiest, and most loving dog breeds. They love spending time with their family and other dogs. Thanks to their high trainability and intelligence, Golden Retrievers are often trained as therapy dogs.

Of course, they are great with kids!

However, if neglected or abused, Golden Retrievers can become scared and anxious, which might trigger aggressive behavior. When they’re bored, they’re also known for being destructive with furniture. Lastly, being a medium-to-large breed and having a boisterous personality, they can accidentally knock over children or adults with limited stability.


Bryan Mullennix

Bryan's a freelance travel photographer and happy dog dad. He currently lives in Las Vegas with his wife, his son, and two dogs Nom Nom & Speck.

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