Golden retrievers have always been one of the most popular dog breeds in the world due to their happy personality and beautiful appearance. They’re good with children, and not typically known to be aggressive. But are they an easy dog to care for, or are Golden Retrievers high maintenance?
Golden Retrievers are a high maintenance dog breed. While their personalities are easy going, a Golden Retriever is a high energy dog that requires regular daily exercise to keep them happy and healthy. In addition, Golden retrievers shed a lot, and have a coat that needs regular grooming.
This article will examine the personality traits of Golden retrievers and explore their energy levels in relation to how much daily exercise they require. We will also look into how much they shed and how often grooming will be necessary as a Golden retriever dog owner.
By the end of this post, you’ll know whether this breed is perfect for you, or if a Golden retriever requires too much maintenance for your lifestyle.
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Golden Retriever Daily Needs & Personality Traits
As with any dog, Golden retrievers have plenty of daily needs in order to keep them happy and healthy:
- Dog food and water
- A safe place to sleep
- Health care, such as flea and tick medication
- Grooming needs to prevent matting in their coat
- Daily exercise to keep them healthy
- Mental stimulation
- Lots of attention and affection
It is our responsibility as dog owners to thoroughly research a specific breed before getting a new dog. For example, English Bulldogs are known to have many health issues, such as problems breathing when they over-exert themselves. A new dog owner that hasn’t done any prior research may look at their new bulldog as relatively high maintenance, where those who know what to expect from the breed simply see it as breed-specific obligations.
Golden retrievers have a few personality traits that may or may not be considered high maintenance, depending on your past experience with dogs:
- Golden retrievers are extremely loyal and great family pets. But don’t expect them to act as guard dogs.
- Goldens love to run around and play. But they require extensive exercise to keep them calm.
- Goldens will eat any food you give them. But they will begin to chew on other things if not adequately exercised.
- Goldens are active and fun dogs to have around. But their puppy energy can last for several years before they begin to mellow.
- Goldens are very sweet-natured. But often don’t know their own size and strength.
In general, goldens are sweet, mild-mannered, loyal dogs and will be a joy to have around. However, it is in their nature to be a little clingy towards their people, and they need a lot of attention. Neglecting your golden can result in destructive behavior, as with most dog breeds.
Much of their so-called negative behavior can be trained away, and provided they get enough exercise; they should be calm throughout the day.
Exercising a Golden Retriever (High Maintenance Task #1)
Golden retrievers are a very active breed and need plenty of time to spend running around. Like a Labrador retriever, Golden’s have a tendency to become overweight, and not getting enough exercise is a key factor in their weight gain.
Given their size, fully grown Goldens require more than just a walk around the block twice a day. They were bred as a working dog and have the energy to run around all day long. With that in mind, they will need more than an hour on a regular walk to get ample cardiovascular benefits.
To ensure your Golden is getting enough exercise, be sure to take them out at least twice per day. A great way to exercise your Golden is to run with them or cycle with them at your side.
Though it may seem high maintenance, daily exercise is a basic need of the Golden retriever breed. If you are unable to provide enough daily activity, consider getting a smaller, less active dog.
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Goldens don’t just require physical stimulation. They are very intelligent dogs and should also be given as much mental stimulation as possible. Plenty of mental stimuli will help to keep them focussed and calm, it will also help to tire them out.
Some excellent ways to provide your dog with mental stimulation include:
- Always have your golden wait for their food and practice some training before allowing them to eat.
- Give them their food in a slow feeder to make them work for it.
- Allow them to sniff on their walks.
- Purchase some puzzle toys (Amazon) for your dog and fill them with their food.
- Try teaching some new tricks or doing some agility training.
- Play doggy games by hiding treats and having them search the house for them.
Outward Hound Interactive Treat Puzzle Toy
Grooming a Golden Retriever (High Maintenance Task #2)
Golden retrievers have what is known as a double coat. This thick, shiny coat has a layer near the skin that insulates the dog and regulates its body temperature. This layer is fluffy and known to shed a great deal. In addition, the topcoat is typically longer and needs plenty of brushing to prevent mats.
One key thing to remember with this kind of double coat is that it should never be shaved off. In shaving the undercoat, you may find that it does not grow back fully, and your dog will not be provided with adequate protection from the elements.
The topcoat of your golden is very dense and water repellent, where the undercoat is thick and will grow fuller in colder weather. This dense under layer will then shed as the weather warms back up.
Goldens require at least once-per-week brushing to maintain their coats. To prevent too much fur from collecting inside the house, this is best done outside. To keep your Golden retriever’s coat shiny and healthy, follow these steps:
- Use a slicker/pin brush (Amazon) to clean the topcoat and remove loose hairs and small knots working from their head to their tail once a week.
- Occasionally use a special undercoat rake (Amazon) to carefully and gently brush the undercoat to remove any mats or knots.
- Wash with dog-friendly shampoo (Amazon) that includes detangling properties.
- Dry your dog’s coat and trim any fur that has grown too long around the ears and feet.
As mentioned above, you should never shave your golden retriever. If you are unsure of cutting their hair, it is best left to a professional groomer handle the grooming. Regardless, they should be brushed at home at least once a week.
For a complete step-by-step guide on how to take care of a Golden retrievers coat, see my post here.
Golden Retriever: High Maintenance Considerations
As with any large dog, Golden retrievers have a few additional needs that may be considered high maintenance. Without daily activity, it is not uncommon to see your dog becoming destructive in the house, including chewing on furniture. Some dogs may even chew clothes and begin to bark and whine.
However, the same can be said for most dog breeds, especially larger breeds. Before getting a Golden, consider if you have enough room for them in the house, and the time to spend walking and playing with them. Golden retriever dogs can be quite clingy and require a lot of love and attention. Without it, they may become depressed or suffer from separation anxiety. Golden retrievers are not the ideal dog if:
- You work long hours.
- You don’t have access to an outdoor area.
- You don’t have the time to walk twice per day.
- You won’t be able to brush their coats weekly.
- You can’t afford the food they require.
- You are expecting a guard dog for the house.
If any of these sounds like your situation, you may be better off with a smaller, low maintenance dog such as a Dachshund, Chihuahua or Basset Hound. (If you want a large breed dog for protection, try a Bullmastiff as they are protective but otherwise pretty low energy.)
Another critical thing to consider is their health. Goldens are known to have some unfortunate health issues later in life, such as arthritis, eye diseases, and even cancer. As with many large breeds, Goldens are often prone to hip dysplasia, which can be costly and sometimes irreversible.
Golden retrievers are no more high maintenance than a German Shepherd or Border Collie. All bigger breeds need to be exercised and challenged mentally to stay healthy. They have big appetites but are incredibly loyal and loveable. Goldens are the perfect family dog, provided you have the time to devote to them.
Their most high maintenance aspect is their grooming needs. With their thick double coats, they will shed a lot year round. Twice per year, they will have a more significant shed as they get rid of their excess winter coat, and they may need to be professionally groomed once every six to eight weeks.