When Does a Golden Retriever Get Long Hair (at What Age?)

Golden Retrievers are easy to pick out – their flowing, golden coats are strikingly beautiful. Golden puppies are not born with full hair, though. Instead, they have short, fluffy coats, which later grow into a long, shiny hair. So, at what age does a Golden Retriever get long hair?

A Golden Retriever starts growing long hair on its tail at three months of age. The feathers on its legs, chest, and stomach start showing at about one year. The exact time frame, hair length, and color shade vary depending on the puppy’s genes. Some dogs might sport longer or heavier coats than others.

This article will explore what determines the age at which your Golden Retriever gets long hair. Next, we will look at whether there’s anything you can do to hasten or improve the process. Finally, you will learn how to take care of your Golden Retriever to ensure his coat remains healthy and shiny.

Adult Golden Retriever with long feathered hair on chest.

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The Golden Retriever’s Long Coat

A purebred Golden Retriever boasts a flowing outer coat and a thick, protective undercoat. The outer coat of long hair extends to the tail and underbody but is longest in the areas where it feathers out away from the body. These areas include the tail, chest, legs, and stomach.

While there is no difference between a male and female Golden Retriever in terms of their overall coat or hair length, it’s important to note that some Goldens sport longer hair and more feathers than others. This comes down to the specific genes they received from their parents.

Note: In traditional Scotland, Golden Retrievers accompanied hunters on their hunting trips, and their work was to retrieve prey. The dogs sported long hair and thick undercoats, which protected them from the biting cold and heat.  

First Signs of Hair Growth On a Golden Retriever

While a Golden Retriever may be known for its beautiful flowing coat, Golden Retriever puppies are not initially born with this longer hair. It will take about 3 months before you begin to see the first signs of longer hair, usually on their tail.

From this stage on, a Golden puppy starts sprouting feathers (aka longer hair). This growth marks a departure from puppy fluff and the beginning of the long, full coat characteristic of a mature Golden Retriever. 

If your puppy’s parents took a longer time to grow their coat, your puppy would most likely follow his parents timeline. Under normal circumstances, the puppy’s short, fluffy coat lasts for three months, after which long hair begins to grow. However, the timing of this occurrence depends on your Golden puppy’s bloodline and heritage.

To get more information on your puppy’s lineage, contact the breeder, if possible. He will let you know how old your puppy’s parents were when they got their adult coats. This will help you estimate more accurately when your puppy might get his longer hair.

Golden Retriever Hair Growth Stages

As mentioned earlier, a Golden Retriever puppy starts growing adult hair at approximately three months old. However, this growth is subtle and may not be noticeable until he is closer to one year old. Your Golden Retriever can be considered to have a fully grown coat when he is two years of age. 

Long adult hair starts growing first at the tail. This feathering process then proceeds to the legs and stomach. With time, the entire body gets the adult coat, which tends to be darker than the former puppy fur. 

Feathered fur is usually light and soft and is useful for temperature regulation; it thickens during the cold season and thins during warmer months.

Interestingly, Golden puppies do not shed their puppy fur. Instead, once new hair starts growing, the puppy fur gets nudged aside by the newer and longer outer coat. 

Golden Retriever puppies are actually born with their undercoat. They grow their long hair out over the top as they get older.
Golden Retriever puppies are actually born with their undercoat. They grow their long hair out over the top as they get older.

This means that Golden Retrievers possess double coats; the puppy hair transforms into the Golden’s undercoat, forming a second layer to the fur. Eventually, the undercoat grows thicker as the longer outer coat begins to cover it. 

This transition takes almost 18 months, though, for most Retrievers, the full coat grows once the dog is more than a year old. 

How thick your Golden’s coat becomes depends on the surrounding environment. If he spends considerable time outdoors, he is bound to get a much thicker coat than if he were to stay indoors. Therefore, the dog’s body regulates the amount of coat he needs as per the prevailing temperatures.

Your Golden Retriever’s coat will undergo various changes during his lifetime – from puppy fluff to a coarse, water-resistant adult coat. The mature coat helps keep your dog both warm and dry, depending on the weather. The dog also sheds more during the summer months in order to keep cool.

It’s also worth noting that shaving your Golden Retriever for the summer is not advisable. The thing is, for double-coated dogs, the undercoat grows much faster than the outer coat. As such, when you shave your Golden, the hair that grows back tends to look dull and uneven. Furthermore, your dog needs his full coat to protect him from the sun.

How to Get a Full and Healthy Golden Retriever Coat

You can take several actions to hasten the transition from puppy fluff to a full, healthy coat:

Start Grooming Your Golden Puppy Early

Grooming your Golden pup can assist the hair to grow in fast and healthy. Besides, Golden Retrievers are heavy shedders, and frequent grooming reduces the amount of shed hair found around the house.

 Early grooming is also beneficial in other ways:

  • It allows your puppy to get used to grooming, thus making the activity easier and even enjoyable to him as he becomes an adult.
  • For Golden Retrievers with long hair, grooming helps keep the hair in check and reduces excessive shedding 
  • Brushing encourages blood circulation in the skin, which stimulates the hair follicles and promotes hair production.

Start by using a soft brush and always ensure that you brush parallel to the hair growth. Do this daily or once a week. You may add a pin brush and a rake (Amazon) to your grooming tools as your puppy matures. The rake is excellent for removing debris and detangling messy undercoat hair. 

First time bath for Golden puppy Kenzi!

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!

Remove any loose hair from your Golden Retriever’s coat. This will help make way for new growth and reduce the amount of fur that settles on your clothing. 

When washing your Golden retriever, try to use shampoos with the least amount of chemicals like this one at Amazon. This helps retain the hair better by reducing shedding.

If your dog has skin issues, consult your vet. The vet will determine the cause of the problem and advise on diet change or the appropriate mode of treatment.

For a detailed step-by-step guide to taking care of you Golden Retriever’s coat, visit our article here on proper grooming for Goldens.

Provide a Proper Diet For Hair Growth

For a healthy, glowing coat, add Omega -3 and Omega-6 fatty acids to your dogs food if not already included. These beneficial Omega acids can be in fish oil, coconut oil, and olive oil, or through additional vitamin supplements (Amazon) found to be good for Golden Retrievers. They help your dog’s coat to maintain length and a natural sheen. 

You may add a teaspoon of any of the above oils to your dog’s food or supplement with some fish. Also, beef bones containing bone marrow are excellent for healthy skin.

Remember to clear this with your vet if your dog has allergies that would prevent him from consuming any of the recommended foods and supplements. 

Watch Out for Unusual Shedding

Golden Retrievers shed their hair year-round but the shedding becomes especially heavy twice a year in the spring and fall seasons. However, if the shedding seems unusual or:

  • The shedding is excessive and out of season
  • Your dog is losing large patches of hair

You may need to visit your vet since this could be a medical issue. Your dog might be suffering from a fungal or bacterial infection, a food allergy, or external parasites such as fleas or mites.

If the hair loss is accompanied by a strong odor, see my article Smelly Golden Retrievers (What Stinks? Explained!)

How to Care for Your Golden Retriever’s Coat

Once your Golden Retriever acquires a full coat, you need to ensure that you maintain it well so it remains healthy. Here are some useful suggestions on how to accomplish this:

  • Keep your dog clean. Long hair coats can trap twigs and leaves, which could cause the hair to tangle and mat. Always remove such items before your dog takes a bath – every 6-8 weeks for adults but more often for puppies as they get dirtier.
  • Brush the coat often. Have a regular brushing routine. Brushing promotes new hair growth and eliminates dead skin cells, allowing skin oils to spread evenly throughout your pet’s hair. Brush your Golden Retriever more often during shedding season – like daily.
  • Provide high-quality nutrition. Healthy dog food is essential for your dog’s healthy skin and coat. This should contain the right nutritional balance and include minerals, vitamins, fiber, proteins, carbohydrates, and fats. 

Final Thoughts

Every Golden Retriever follows a unique timeline when it comes to growing long hair. Even their hair color appears in different shades of gold. The main driving force, though, is the dog’s genes. So, if your Golden puppy seems to be taking too long and you have no information regarding its parents, don’t despair.

Keep looking out for the initial feathery patches, and once these kick in, you will be sure that long hair is on the way. With time, your reward will be a coat full of lustrous, shiny golden hair. 

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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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