The 5 Ways Golden Retrievers Protect Their Owners (Explained)

When bonded, dogs will naturally go into protective mode when they feel their owner is in danger. Many will bark, show teeth, and put themselves at risk to save you. But what about the friendly Golden retriever? Are Golden retrievers protective of their owners?

Golden retrievers are not known as aggressive or intimidating dogs, but they will protect their owners in certain situations. Even though Golden retrievers are generally very friendly, they will protect their owners and families by bearing their teeth, barking, and putting themselves between you and a threat. 

In this article, I’ll discuss why dogs often protect their owners and go through the ways your Golden retriever will show its protective side.

Are Golden retrievers protective of their homes and owners?

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Will My Golden Retriever Protect Me?

Being loving and friendly is an excellent trait for a family dog and a Golden Retriever has these qualities in spades! But Golden retrievers also have some traits that they’ll use to protect their owner or family if threatened.

While Goldens are more likely to rush an intruder for pets than to attack, they instinctively know when something or someone presents a danger, and they use the following traits in order to protect you or deter a possible threat.

Golden Retrievers Deter With Their Size

Just by being a large breed dog, Golden retrievers act as a deterrent in many situations. 

When walking alone at night, having a Golden retriever by your side will keep you safer than walking alone. Similarly, having a big dog in your house can help to prevent break-ins, just by their presence alone. 

Burglars or intruders look for easy pickings, and a person or household with a large dog tends to make the bad guys nervous, so they look elsewhere.

Goldens Have a Large Powerful Bark

Goldens retrievers are not the most vocal of dogs under normal circumstances. However, if they feel threatened or believe that you are in danger, it’s not uncommon for them to bark. In most situations involving a would-be burglar or intruder, a big, booming bark can make a criminal change their minds quickly. 

For example, if someone were to break into your home at night and hear the sound of a large breed dog barking, chances are they would move on for fear of being attacked. 

Since Goldens are so smart, it’s actually possible to train them to bark on command. This can be effective if you feel threatened and need your dog to show their strength without actually behaving aggressively. 

Golden Retrievers Growl To Warn of Danger

When really threatened, Goldens will bear down and growl. This will be their way of alerting you to the danger, as well as making their stand against it. If you have a Golden retriever, then you know that it takes a lot for them to growl. So if your Golden is growling it’s time to sit up and pay attention to what’s going on around you.

Growling is a sure sign that something is amiss. It may be a smell or something they’ve seen, but a Golden retriever’s growl helps alert you so that you can avoid whatever is making them nervous.

Golden Retrievers Will Put Themselves in Harms Way

Goldens were bred as hunting dogs and are usually quite fearless, especially when the danger comes in the form of another animal. When faced with the threat of a wild animal or aggressive dog, don’t be surprised if they jump in front of you, placing themselves in harm’s way to protect you.

They do this to create a barrier between you and the threat, and it is very instinctive. As their pack leader, it’s a Golden retrievers duty to protect you.

Here’s an example where a person out for a hike with their Golden retriever was about to step on a rattlesnake when their dog jumped in front of their legs to prevent the owner from getting bit. I’d say that Golden retriever saved the day for their owner.

Todd, a six-month-old Golden Retriever saved his owner from a rattlesnake.

Golden Retrievers Can Bring Help

It may sound like a movie cliché, but if you’re injured or suffer a medical incident a Golden can bring help by alerting others nearby and even by leading them to your location.

This famously happened in China where a man passed out and an ambulance was called but couldn’t find its way through the crowded neighborhood. The man’s Golden retriever led the ambulance through the maze of streets and alleyways to his owner.

Do Golden Retrievers Make Good Guard Dogs?

We’ve seen the ways in which Golden retrievers love and protect their owners but can they ever be true guard dogs? Let’s compare the qualities of a good guard dog to the basic attributes of the Golden retriever.

The Top Characteristics of Guard Dogs

A good guard dog, who’s main purpose is to protect their owner and home, needs to have several characteristics in order to be good at their jobs. The top protective traits for a good guard dog are:

  • Large Size – The bigger the dog, the scarier they are to the bad guys.
  • Intelligence – They need to be smart in order to function as a guard dog.
  • Obedient – They need to be well trained and obedient.
  • Loyalty – A loyal dog will be more inclined to protect you.
  • Aggressiveness – A true guard dog will need to be aggressive when called for.

Let’s see which of these traits Golden retrievers have.

Typical Characteristics of Golden Retrievers

Goldens are one of the most popular domestic pets in the world. Loyal, friendly, and kind-hearted, they make excellent companions and family dogs. They’re happy, easy going and very intelligent. 

All of these traits are the reason they’re often trained to be service dogs. Being gentle and eager to please, they quickly pick up on training and love to make their owners happy. Knowing all of this, here are the primary traits of a Golden retriever.

A Golden’s traits include:

  • Good with kids
  • They love people
  • Fun
  • Energetic
  • Smart
  • Easy to train
  • Great workers
  • Rarely aggressive
  • Not big barkers
  • Good with other dogs
  • Loyal

With all this in mind, it’s not surprising to learn that Goldens do not make good guard dogs. Although a Golden retriever meets most of the requirements of a good guard dog (big, intelligent, obedient and loyal) they are missing the aggressive trait almost completely which one could argue is one of the most important attributes when it comes to being a guard dog.

Even though a Golden retriever will not make a good guard dog, we have seen that there are still many ways a loving Golden can protect their owners.

Are Golden Retrievers Good Watch Dogs?

Golden retrievers make excellent watch dogs due to their intelligence, alertness and loyalty. As a watch dog, a Golden retriever will alert its owner to any suspicious activity nearby. While they are not aggressive, it is in a Goldens nature to be protective of their owners and property.

So the difference between a “watch dog” and a “guard dog” is the level of aggressiveness and the overall intimidation factor. A good guard dog needs to be both aggressive and intimidating to intruders, while a good watch dog just needs to alert you to any potential danger around your person or property.

I would say that based on their inherent characteristics, a Golden retriever makes for a pretty good “watch dog” as opposed to a “guard dog” as they are always watching and will alert you when something is amiss, all while still being able to trust them around your friends and family.

Do Golden Retrievers make good guard dogs?

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!

Why Dogs Protect Their People

When you bring a Golden Retriever or any dog into your home, they become part of your family. As you bond over time, they will usually become very loyal and protective of you. This bond usually extends to the entire family, and many dogs will take it upon themselves to protect their pack.

A loving and bonded family dog will naturally become protective over their pack. In some situations, it can be seen through their suspicion of strangers and other dogs. Even a properly socialized dog will often be cautious around certain people. 

Still, even the friendliest of dogs is likely to step up when someone they love is in distress. Golden retrievers have people-pleasing tendencies and a pack mentality that urges them to act. Just don’t expect your Golden to be an aggressive guard dog. It’s just not in their nature.


Golden retrievers are one of the most popular dogs in the world. This popularity is due to the Goldens friendly and outgoing personality. While their personalities are not suited to being guard dogs, a Golden retriever will still be protective of their owners in certain situations.

Golden retrievers will use their size, growl and loud bark to act as a deterrent or warning in threatening situations. In many cases, these factors alone are enough to change the dynamic of a dangerous or threatening situation.

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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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