Golden Retrievers: Pros and Cons (An Owner’s Guide)

If you have ever pictured the ideal puppy, it would probably be a Golden Retriever! These dogs are perfect for anybody who wishes to find a loving and caring four-legged friend. However, just as with any other dog breed, there are some downsides of Golden Retrievers to keep in mind. What are the pros and cons of owning a Golden Retriever?

Pros: Golden Retrievers are loving; make great therapy and family dogs, are playful and love people. They are also intelligent and easy to train. Cons: Golden Retrievers are not great guard dogs, can be mischievous, do not like being left alone, and are prone to health issues that can shorten their life.

Golden Retrievers are special dogs that are bound to make you fall in love at first sight. If you’re wondering whether they’re the right breed for you, check out all of the Golden Retriever pros and cons listed below.

The pros and cons of owning a Golden Retriever.

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Unlock your goldens natural intelligence and see just how quickly problem behaviors disappear.This is the best at home dog training I've ever used!

Golden Retrievers: A Quick Overview

Before diving into the advantages and disadvantages of being a Golden Retriever dog owner, let’s take a look at some basic facts about the breed.

The Facts

  • Golden retrievers are considered a medium-to-large breed. They can be between 21 and 24in (53-60cm) tall, and can weigh between 55 and 74lbs (25-34kg) depending on gender and age.
  • Their temperament remains playful for longer than other breeds. Most Golden Retrievers don’t lose their puppy-like attitude until they are around 2-4 years old.
  • They descend from a Tweed Water Spaniel mix. They are called “retrievers” because of their ability to return game to hunters intact, thanks to their soft mouth and delicate bite.
  • They are naturally sweet, calm, and loving. This characteristic makes them the perfect dog breed for a family or being trained to be a therapy dog.  

In the video below, you can find a quick overview of the must-know facts about Golden retrievers.

Facts about Golden Retrievers.

The Advantages (Pros) of Golden Retrievers

Now that you are more familiar with Goldens, let’s look into the advantages of being a Golden Retriever owner.

Golden Retrievers Are Among the Smartest Dogs

Because of their happy-go-lucky personality and easy going nature, Golden Retrievers lead people to think that they’re maybe not so bright. However, according to the studies conducted by neuropsychologist Stanley Coren, Ph.D. and published in his book The Intelligence Of Dogs (Amazon), Golden Retrievers rank fourth among the ten most intelligent dog breeds.

Other studies have shown that the Golden Retriever’s ability to learn goes far beyond their training. They can learn up to 165 words, and their intelligence can be compared to that of a 2-year-old child. You can find out more about the smarts of a Golden Retriever is in my post: Are Golden Retrievers Smarter Than Other Dogs? (Explained!)

Golden Retrievers Are Easy To Train

Thanks to their intelligence and friendly personality, Golden Retrievers are among the easiest dogs to train. Their training should start when they are eight weeks old and should continue throughout their life.

If you are buying a Golden Retriever puppy, you can start the training (Brain Training For Dogs) as soon as your furry friend comes home. However, breeders tend to begin their socialization training when they are still with their mom.

To see how far your dog’s training can go, take a look at the results obtained with Golden Retriever therapy dogs. And don’t forget that your Golden Retriever will love to train – this is a moment for you to bond and build a strong relationship!

They Are Excellent Family Dogs and Great With Kids

If children are part of your household, a Golden Retriever might be the perfect dog for you. Golden Retrievers are naturally caring and protective, making them an ideal family dog.

However, it is essential to keep in mind that Golden Retrievers are a larger dog, and their playfulness might have some downsides: it is easy for them to knock over or hurt a child accidentally.

This isn’t too much of a concern, though. With supervision and proper training, Golden Retrievers make perfect dogs for your little ones.

They Have Loving Personalities

Golden Retrievers are goofy and playful, but they are also kind, loving, and incredibly caring.

Whether you wish to introduce them in a household with children or to accompany older adults, Golden Retrievers are not short of affection!

They Are Excellent Therapy Dogs

If you have ever looked into canines who become therapy dogs or guide dogs, Golden Retrievers are always at the top of the list. These dogs make great pets to hug, cuddle and give comfort (aka comfort retriever). They are excellent companions for kids and adults who are ssufferingfrom stress or anxiety regardless of the reason.

Even if your Golden Retriever is not on the path to becoming a therapy dog, you can still enjoy all the love your puppy has to give!

Watch Zest the therapy dog in action.

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!

Golden Retrievers Don’t Bark a Lot

If you live in an apartment or a residential area, it’s essential that your dog is quiet enough for you to avoid problems with your neighbors. While they have other ways to communicate their emotions, a Golden Retriever dog is excellent for this, as they don’t bark often.

Golden Retrievers Are Social Animals

Whether it is with other people or with other animals, Golden Retrievers love socialization.

They don’t just love people; they also love the company of other dogs. They must receive the correct supervision when meeting others, but you are not likely to experience many socialization problems with Golden Retrievers.

The Drawbacks (Cons) of Golden Retrievers

Undoubtedly, the advantages of owning a Golden Retriever outweigh the disadvantages. However, before buying a Golden Retriever puppy, you should know what challenges you’ll be facing.

Golden Retrievers Are Prone to Health Issues

Golden Retrievers are a beautiful breed, but they are undeniably more prone than others to deal with certain chronic conditions. Among the most common health issues that you will find affecting the Golden Retriever breed are hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia, and certain eye conditions.

Golden Retrievers Can Be Expensive

Golden Retrievers are a pure breed, and they are among the most expensive ones out there.

If you want to be assured of a purebred Golden Retriever, you must find a respectable breeder. In that case, the cost of buying a Golden Retriever puppy is between $500 and $3,000. Additionally, you will be looking at spending around $2000 to $3000 in the first year. This amount only drops to $1500-2000 in the years after the first.

For more information about the cost of buying and owning a Golden Retriever purebred dog, check out my post: Are Golden Retrievers Expensive to Get and Care For? (Costs) where I break down the costs of owning a Golden.

Here’s why a Golden Retriever might not be the right dog for you.

Golden Retrievers Are Not Good Guard Dogs

While Golden Retrievers can be protective of their families in certain ways, they do not make good guard dogs. A key personality trait of a guard dog is some level of aggressiveness. Golden Retrievers, in most cases, are lacking this trait entirely and would be more likely to lick an intruder than to chase them off.

Golden Retrievers Can’t Live Outdoors

While Golden Retrievers were bred specifically to be great in the outdoors for hunting, hiking and exploration, they are not the type of dog that can or should live outside full-time. They need to live indoors with their people. If you’re wanting a dog as an outside pet, then a Golden Retriever isn’t the dog for you.

Golden Retrievers Shed Frequently

Golden Retrievers are not one of the pure breeds with the longest hair, but they shed much more than fellow medium-length fur dogs. The long golden hair of their coats will get everywhere, and you’ll need to invest in buying a good brush and shampoo to keep your dog’s coat clean and healthy. You can find out what is required to care for a Golden Retriever’s coat here.

Golden Retrievers Are Extremely Active Dogs

Golden Retrievers need an average of 1-2 hours of active exercise a day. Whether that’s running, walking, or playing, make sure they are moving their body! Without this amount of activity, Golden Retrievers can quickly become overweight and frustrated. And, since they are highly energetic dogs, this can turn into destructive behavior.

Golden Retrievers Can Get Lonely

As we have seen above, Golden Retrievers are incredibly social animals. While this makes them one of the best breeds for families and kids, there is a downside to this personality trait; it is not uncommon for Golden Retrievers to suffer from loneliness and seperation anxiety- even when you are just at work! That’s why they are great dogs for an active household where there is always someone around!

Golden Retrievers Have a Shorter Life Expectancy Than Other Dogs

Compared to smaller dogs, Golden Retrievers have a shorter life expectancy, usually around 11 years. Studies have found that the larger breed of bigger dogs can affect their life expectancy. Additionally, Golden Retrievers are more prone to several health issues that can be life-threatening in most cases.


The upside is that Golden Retrievers are great dogs for families with children. They love socialization with other animals and humans, and are incredibly loving and caring. Their personality makes them the best choice for therapy dogs and one of the most loved breeds in households around the world.

The downside is that while Golden Retrievers are highly intelligent and trainable, they also need a lot of exercise, attention from their owner, and they shed a great amount. They are also prone to several threatening health conditions, high maintenance, and costly.


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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