Golden Retriever: Color, Lifespan, Characteristics & Facts

Golden retrievers are one of the most iconic dog breeds on Earth. Their yellow coat and floppy ears are known throughout the world, and for good reason. The canines make great pets thanks to their lovable demeanor, affectionate personality, and laid-back mentality.

All of the classic Golden Retriever traits show why the dog has become so popular. The breed does not mind lounging around the house or sleeping on the bed, but it also loves to be outside and will play for hours.

The energetic nature reflects the dogs’ hunting roots, while the relaxed mentality shows how they’ve changed over time. It is rare to find a pet that can go between two modes so easily, but that is what you get here.

Many people also value Goldens because of how easy they are to train. Few dogs mold to a family faster, and few are so ready to please their owner.

Though many people try to have the golden lab vs. golden retriever debate when analyzing retrievers, both breeds are quite different. It is easy for the appearance to fool you, especially in dogs like the Golden Retriever colors cream, but goldens truly stand on their own.

Breed Overview

Origin: United Kingdom

Height: 20 to 24 inches

Weight: 55 to 75 pounds

Life Span: 10 to 12 years

Colors: Dark Golden, Golden, Light Golden, Cream

1. Personality & Temperament

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Golden retrievers make incredible pets. Part of that is a result of their loyalty, and part of that is a result of their incredibly friendly demeanor. The breed is quite affectionate, which makes them perfect for families of all sizes.

The dogs have a lot of natural energy and never really grow up. Some breeds tend to slow down as time goes on, but that is not the case here. Goldens keep their playful personality for their entire lives.

They are eager to please as well. The breed loves to listen, a trait that makes them perfect companions. If you want a breed that is easy to train, this is the way to go.

Do note that the dogs do need quite a bit of attention. Unlike similar large breeds that can do well on their own, goldens need to interact with people each and every day.

Being by themselves for too long can make them anxious or destructive. A good dog bed in your room or by the couch can help stem such issues.

2. How to Care for a Golden Retriever


Many ask “how big do Golden Retrievers get?” and the answer is around 60 to 70 pounds. While they start out small, the dogs grow quite quickly.

A small golden retriever should get about two half-cup meals a day. That can then go up to one cup two or three times a day for full grown dogs.

The breed can have any type of food as long as it’s high quality. The best Golden Retriever food tends to be packed full of protein, nutrients, and all-natural ingredients. Premium kibble is one route, as is any “complete and balanced” dog food.

If you so wish, you can also consult with your vet to build a fully homemade diet. Some of the best large dog food, as outlined here, come from that strategy.


All types of Golden Retrievers, including the long haired Golden Retriever and short haired Golden Retriever, require regular grooming to keep their coat vibrant.

“Do Golden Retrievers shed?” Big time. The double-coated breed, while more manageable during the winter, loses a lot of its coat during the warmer months of the year. Weekly brushings will keep that in check and prevent hair from getting all over your house.

It is best to bathe your golden when they get too dirty. Though a set schedule, such as giving them a dip once a month, works well, there is no set plan here. As long as you use high-quality products you will not damage your dog’s coat or skin.

A bit of regular trimming around your dog’s feet and ears goes a long way toward promoting health. However, never shave your golden. Their coat is made to grow in a unique way and getting rid of their undercoat will ruin that.


Every single type of retriever, from the American Golden Retriever to the Canadian Golden Retriever, requires a lot of exercise. The dogs love to run and will take advantage of any space.

You want to give your dog about an hour of exercise each day. Walks are key, but be sure to run them around when they are outside. Simply trotting back and forth through the neighborhood won’t cut it here.

Goldens also love to take part in friendly games. The dogs are inherently playful, and will actively chase, run, or fetch no matter where you take them. If you can get them out to a park, even better.


Perhaps the best part of owning a Golden Retriever is how easy they are to train. The dogs can be a bit wild when young, but they are eager to please. All it takes is a bit of firmness and consistency to get them to fall in line.

The breed does extremely well with all training types, especially if you start them out as puppies. Positive reinforcement goes a long way and you should work to add in a bit of fun here and there.

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3. Common Health Issues of the Golden Retriever

“How long do Golden Retrievers live?” is an important question to ask when considering your dog’s health. The average life span of Golden Retrievers ranges from 10 to 12 years as long as they stay in good health. Watching for the following issues will keep them going strong.

Skin Conditions

Due to their dense undercoat and thick outer coat, Golden Retrievers are prone to a wide range of skin conditions. Bacteria often gets caught in their fur, which can lead to more serious issues if left untreated.

The breed suffers from general inflammation, Lick Granuloma, Sebaceous Adenitis, Lipomas, and Sebaceous cysts. Allergies, typically manifesting as itchy or red skin, are also quite common.

Though many skin problems are nothing more than irritants, you should always take your golden in to get checked when they arise. You never want them to develop into something more serious.

Ear Infections

Skin is a problem area for Golden Retrievers, but so are their ears. The breed’s large, floppy ears are natural breeding grounds for bacteria.

Regular cleaning is a great way to prevent this issue, but sometimes that isn’t enough. Always monitor your dog’s ears, and watch for classic symptoms like itching. If your dog scratches a lot, or if they spend a lot of time shaking their head, make an appointment with your vet.


The largest threat to the Golden Retriever life expectancy is cancer. The dogs are not only susceptible to the disease, but they get it more often than any other breed.

Though the canines can contract all forms, hemangiosarcoma is the most common. The fast-growing cancer comes from blood vessel lining, which then quickly spreads it throughout the body. Lymphosarcoma, mastocytoma, and osteosarcoma are prevalent as well.

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4. Children & Other Pets

Goldens are widely considered to be excellent family pets. Part of that comes from their personality, and part of that comes from how well they get along with kids.

The breed does great with children of all ages. They love to play, are quite protective, and have little natural aggression. That being said, they also get excited quite easily. Be sure to watch them around toddlers or small kids to avoid any unfortunate accidents.

Golden Retrievers do well with other dogs, especially ones they’ve known their whole lives. The breed enjoys having companions to play with, and will openly welcome another fun presence in the house.

They do well with cats too, but can be a bit aggressive when it comes to smaller pets they may hunt or chase.

5. The History of the Golden Retriever

There are many interesting Golden Retriever facts that come up when breaking down the breed’s storied history. The canines first came about in 19th century Scotland when breeders mixed Spaniels and classic retrievers to create a dog that could serve as both a house pet and hunting companion.

Though it took time, that process eventually created both the Dark Golden Retriever and Light Golden Retriever.The working class dogs were a huge success. They had a great sense of smell, could aid in the hunt, and also did well with the family.

That combination created a pet people wanted in their homes. So much so that it did not take them to spread out to other parts of the world. The UK quickly recognized the breed in 1903. America followed suit in 1925.

Though modern goldens are not quite as active as their ancestors, the dogs still have all of the classic Golden Retriever characteristics. Even miniature Golden Retrievers love to run and play everywhere they can.

6. The Regular Expenses of Owning a Golden Retriever

Golden Retriever breeders typically sell a purebred Golden Retriever puppy for between $500 and $2000. However, shelters tend to be cheaper.

7. Golden Retriever Rescue Groups

No matter how loved a dog breed is, there will be some without owners. As such, there are many groups that work hard to find Golden Retriever proper homes.

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