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Golden Retriever

Our guide to the breed

My ideal owner | Exercise | Temperament | Health | Appearance | Cost | History

Key facts

Height: 51cm – 61cm

Weight: 27 – 36kg

Life Expectancy: 12 – 13 years

Exercise Needs: High

About Golden Retrievers

Hey there! I’m a Golden Retriever. I’m renowned for being an excellent family dog. I’m gentle and loving with children, incredibly loyal and intelligent to boot. Though I was originally bred to retrieve game for hunters, my skills have also been put to work in therapy, assistance and as a sniffer dog. My owner will find training me a doddle because I love to please. Just make sure I get enough exercise and that I’m not left alone for long periods of time and I’ll be your very best friend.

My ideal owner

I’ll fit into all sorts of families, but there’s a few owners that I’ll be pawfect for. Thanks to my gentle nature, I’ll slot in well with active families. That said, I’ll need a home with a garden – I’m a large breed of dog so I need space to explore, relax and play. Finally, I’ve got lots of energy to burn, so my family will need to be active sorts who make sure I get all the exercise I need, every day.

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Active lifestyle

First time dog owners

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A home with a garden

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Families with kids

Temperament

Each one of us is different – our personalities are affected by our upbringing in a big way. On the whole though, we’re known for being loyal, calm, and intelligent companions who thrive with the right care and attention. With plenty of exercise and time spent together, I’ll be a dog you’re proud to call your best friend.

Golden Retriever Temperament Scales

Health

Whilst most of us live healthy lives, years of breeding us to look a certain way has resulted in some inherited issues. As a result, the Kennel Club in the UK have listed us as a ‘Category Two’ breed. This means they have concerns about some of our physical features that could cause health and welfare concerns. For us, this is to do with our legs being short in proportion to our body and being prone to obesity.

What is hip dysplasia?

Hip dysplasia is an inherited condition affecting many different dog breeds, including Golden Retrievers. It’s described as a genetic malformation and occurs when a dog’s thigh bone doesn’t fit into a hip socket.

In mild cases hip dysplasia can cause inflammation, eventually leading to arthritis. In the most severe cases, a dog could lose all use of their rear legs.

How is it diagnosed?

Hip dysplasia cannot be evaluated by a vet until a dog is two years of age. Even then, the dog will need x rays to determine whether they have inherited the condition. If you buy a Golden Retriever puppy, check that the breeder has had both parents tested, which should reduce the risk of the condition.

What are the treatments for hip dysplasia?

The only absolute treatment for hip dysplasia is a total hip replacement. This would usually only be used in the most serious of cases. Otherwise, vets may recommend a range of treatments to give relief, including physiotherapy, hydrotherapy, weight management, painkillers, supplements and brace supports.

*This information should not be considered to be veterinary advice. Please always consult your vet if you have any concerns about your dog’s health.

What is elbow dysplasia?

Elbow dysplasia is an inherited condition that commonly affects medium to large breeds. It causes a dog’s elbows to develop abnormally, causing pain and leading to swelling, instability and eventually, arthritis.

How is it diagnosed?

A vet will be able to diagnose elbow dysplasia based on some physical and behavioural signs, including:

  • Limping or stiffness, particularly after exercise
  • Front paws pointing outwards or elbows held at a strange angle
  • Swollen elbows
  • Less enthusiasm for exercise or play
  • X ray showing abnormalities in the elbow

What are the treatments for elbow dysplasia?

There are a variety of treatments for elbow dysplasia that your vet may recommend, based on the severity of the issue. These include painkillers, rest, or surgery in the most severe cases.

Symptoms are usually worse if your dog is overweight. Additionally, elbow dysplasia can limit their levels of activity. As a result, your vet will usually recommend a controlled weight and exercise plan to ensure your dog stays slim whilst being conscious of their reduced mobility. This can include using an activity tracker to monitor your dog, feeding a calorie-controlled diet, and physical therapies, such as hydrotherapy.

*This information should not be considered to be veterinary advice. Please always consult your vet if you have any concerns about your dog’s health.

What is progressive retinal atrophy?

Progressive retinal atrophy (PRA) is the term for a group of inherited diseases that affect your dog’s vision due to the deterioration of certain cells in their eyes. It can lead to night blindness, and eventually complete blindness.

How is it diagnosed?

It can be difficult to diagnose PRA in its early stages. If vision loss is suspected, your vet will look for sluggish responses to light from your dog’s pupils, and unusually dilated pupils. They will usually then refer you to a specialist to confirm the diagnosis using an ophthalmoscope or electroretinogram (ERG). Genetic testing for PRA is also available to identify carriers of the disease.

What are the treatments for PRA?

There are currently no effective treatments for PRA. In some rare circumstances your vet may recommend surgery to prevent the retina from detaching.

If you find out your dog has PRA, the most important thing you can do is to help them transition into blindness confidently and comfortably. Consider the arrangement of furniture and other hazards in your household and keep them on a lead when outside the home in an unsecured environment.

*This information should not be considered to be veterinary advice. Please always consult your vet if you have any concerns about your dog’s health.

What are cataracts?

Similarly to humans, cataracts occur when part of the eye becomes cloudy. This can cause your dog to have blurry vision. They can become thicker and denser over time, potentially leading to blindness if left untreated.

How are they diagnosed?

If your dog’s eye starts to look cloudy, you should consult a vet. They will conduct a full examination of the eye and be able to confirm the diagnosis and treatment plan.

What are the treatments for cataracts?

For many dogs, treatment won’t be required, or recommended by your vet. They will be able to recommend strategies for helping your dog adapt to their differing vision and monitor them closely to ensure they do not develop glaucoma.

Surgery is an option for some dogs with cataracts. This will be carried out by a specialist ophthalmic surgeon who will usually remove the lens.

*This information should not be considered to be veterinary advice. Please always consult your vet if you have any concerns about your dog’s health.

What is ichthyosis?

Ichthyosis is a rare skin condition that affects the normal development of your dog’s skin. The result is that the skin is rough, flaky and their fur will become greasy.

Some dogs will experience more severe symptoms with the condition worsening with age.

How is it diagnosed?

If your dog’s fur feels greasy to the touch, they have thick flakes of skin sticking to their coat or their paw pads feel stiff and hard, then you should consult a vet. 

Your vet may take a skin biopsy to confirm a diagnosis and treatment plan.

What are the treatments for ichthyosis?

Ichthyosis itself is not curable but the symptoms can be alleviated using medicated shampoos and creams. 

Dogs with ichthyosis should not be bred, as it is an inherited condition.

*This information should not be considered to be veterinary advice. Please always consult your vet if you have any concerns about your dog’s health.

Exercise needs

High

I’ve got lots of energy so my people will need to make sure I get out plenty of exercise every day. If you don’t, I’ll not only become a bit of a handful, but I could put on weight quickly. Whilst I’m young and fit canine sports are a great way to help me burn off that excess energy and provide the mental stimulation I need as well.

Get your dog’s tailored exercise goal by downloading the free PitPat app

Appearance

The clue is in the name – I’ve got long, golden coloured, double coat that is designed to keep me warm and dry throughout the year. However, this does mean that I shed year-round, with two particularly big blow outs twice a year.

If you don’t want hair all over your house, you’ll want to brush me regularly and use a de-shedding tool during my big sheds.

I have a broad head and athletic body designed for romping through undergrowth and water to retrieve game. My ears and eyes give me a friendly appearance and I love to wag my furry tail.

Colours

Golden

Cream

Grooming needs

Brush daily

Bath when necessary

Hypoallergenic?

No. I shed my coat year-round.

Costs

One off costs

£2191

This includes the average cost of a puppy, and all the gear they will need, like their collar, bed and grooming tools.

Ongoing costs

£25 per week | £110 per month | £1320 per year

This includes your ongoing costs such as insurance, food, toys, and standard veterinary care, but not dog sitting, training or veterinary costs not covered by insurance.

History

Us Golden Retrievers originated in Scotland in the mid 19th century. We were bred to retrieve downed gamebirds and bring them back to our handlers. As weapons technology increased, so did the need for dogs like us, who could traverse rough terrain and water and carry back the game in our mouths without biting down hard.

We were bred by crossing existing retrievers with water spaniels, creating the muscular, golden-coated retriever that you know and love today.

We were registered in the Kennel Club in 1903, and into other international organisations not long after.

Since then, we’ve become popular around the world, featuring in films, as pets of world leaders and in vital roles as assistance, therapy and search and rescue dogs.

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