Is a Golden Retriever the right fit for me and my family?
Goldens are sweet, loving, loyal and generally make wonderful family pets. They are outgoing “people” dogs. We lovingly call them “Velcro dogs,” because they prefer to be close to their humans whenever possible. They are generally next to you, on top of you or lying at (or on) your feet. Most will follow you adoringly from room to room. Because they love to be with their people, Goldens generally do not make good outside dogs; they are indoor companions. Goldens left as outside dogs may become depressed, neurotic, and destructive. Consider your life-style and household schedule – If you travel frequently, work long hours, have no time to give love, attention and exercise to a Golden, you might be better off considering a different breed.
In addition, Goldens need regular daily exercise in order for them to be calm enough to be good citizens in the house. Dogs will not exercise by themselves. Their owners must interact with them. Goldens that do not get enough exercise can exhibit behavior problems such as excessive barking, inappropriate chewing, digging, and other destructive behavior. They need fenced areas for safe exercise. Even senior Goldens need daily walks and play time in order to stay healthy.
Goldens are big dogs. They are prone to skin problems, ear infections and, like many big dogs, hip problems. Before adopting a Golden, please make sure your budget can accommodate the expense of owning one. If you are on a tight budget, you might consider adopting a mixed breed from a local shelter. Mixed breeds often do not have as many health issues as a purebred.
Most Goldens are shedding machines. They have beautiful coats which shed constantly and require frequent grooming. You can expect to have dog hair on your carpet, your furniture, your clothes, and occasionally in your dinner. In addition, they have long (generally happy) tails that can easily sweep expensive items off coffee tables. Goldens are loving, loyal, gentle, fun-loving companions, but if you prefer a fastidiously neat house, they may not be the breed for you. However, the joy and love that a golden can bring to your home may well outweigh the minor inconvenience of vacuuming daily and investing in a ton of lint removers!
Youngster or Older Dog?
Because Goldens are slow to mature, you can expect puppy-like behavior for two to three years. So if you don’t have the time and a strong commitment to obedience training, don’t want your shoes chewed, your house rearranged and your baseboards chomped, you might choose an older dog instead of a youngster. If you have very young children, a young golden might not be a good choice for you, since an exuberant young golden can easily knock over your little ones. We generally suggest that families with young children stick with dogs that are past the jumping stage.
Some advantages of a senior Golden:
- Seniors are generally calmer and need less exercise than a young dog
- Many are well suited for condominiums and townhouses
- They are generally more tolerant, better socialized and easier to manage
- Seniors make excellent first dogs for young children
- Senior Goldens make excellent companion animals for anyone who wants a less active dog. (Less active does not mean lazy or boring; it just means calm and better behaved and less work!)
- Most senior Goldens want nothing more than to be safe and comfy and loved.
Yes, we occasionally get puppies!
Who doesn’t love the smell and feel of a puppy? They’re soft and cuddly, cute as a button, and so much fun. But do not be fooled by their cuteness! They’re actually like toddlers with really sharp teeth! Puppies require constant supervision in order to keep them and your household belongings safe.
Puppies pee in the house, have boundless energy, and chew everything in sight, including your shoes, your hands and feet, your kids, your carpet, and the legs of your dining room table. They snatch food off the table, surf the counters, and jump up on your kids and guests. They often don’t sleep through the night and when they are teething, the world is their chew toy. Puppies require constant supervision, endless patience and lots and lots of training.
Puppies love to dig and may happily rearrange your back yard, tear up your sprinkler system, and eat your begonias. They eat inappropriate (sometimes dangerous) things and because they have little puppy bladders, they can’t be left alone for long periods of time.
We all know that there are few things in this world cuter than a Golden Retriever puppy, but remember that the adorable little 10-pound bundle of fur will grow FAST. In six months he’ll be able to help himself to anything on the dining room table, and his happy, waggy tail could sound the death knell for your pretty doo-dads on the coffee table.
Little kids and young Goldens aren’t always a good match. A rambunctious puppy can easily inadvertently injure little people. Goldens are relatively slow to mature. They continue to have puppy-like behavior for two to three years. So without a strong commitment to obedience training, you’re likely to end up with a 60+ pound bundle of undisciplined energy. Shelters and rescue groups are full of dogs that are guilty only of growing from being a cute fluffy puppy into a full-grown dog with no training. They no longer look like puppies, but they still have annoying puppy behavior simply because no one ever taught them how to be a good citizen in the house.
If you have TONS of patience, lots of time, a strong commitment to training – and don’t mind having little muddy footprints on your floor, holes in your carpet, or teeth marks on your baseboards and furniture, a golden retriever puppy may well be a good fit for you.
However, if you prefer your home to be calm, peaceful and orderly; if you’re away from the house for long periods of time; and if you’re not an experienced dog parent, an older dog might fit better for your life. A dog past the puppy stage is often house trained, is less fragile than a puppy, is less destructive, and usually sleeps through the night. Contrary to what some people believe, adult dogs can be trained; in fact they’re often easier to train because they are calmer and have a longer attention span. Many adult dogs who come into rescue have never known the joys of feeling love and security. Showing an adult dog the joys of a happy dog’s life and things they may never have experienced before is so rewarding. Imagine the joy of giving your new adult dog her first toy, showing him his first comfy bed, or teaching him what it’s like to be a treasured member of the family. What could be more rewarding?