2 golden retrievers lying on grass


Golden Retriever

A Complete Breed Guide for Golden Retriever Dogs

Last Updated November 2023

This article is written by Pet Circle veterinarian, Dr Elise Barry, BVSc (Hons), BSc (Hons)

The Golden Retriever has long been a most beloved and ever popular breed. It is believed they were bred in the United Kingdom almost 200 years ago. They originated as a gundog, renowned for their tracking and retrieving ability. They are known for their intelligence and easy-going nature. They are easily trained, patient and gentle, making them wonderful family and companion dogs. Golden Retrievers are incredibly charming and loveable dogs, so it's easy to see why they are one of the most popular dog breeds throughout the world.


Golden Retriever Facts



Health Concerns


Related Breeds

Further reading

Facts about the Golden Retriever


Breed size:

Place of origin:

Other names:


United Kingdom


Breed group:

Energy level:

Weight range:



Female 25-32kg, Male 27-36kg

Life expectancy:

Tendency to bark:

Height range:

11-12 years


Female: 51-56cm, Male: 56-61cm at shoulder

Drool factor:

Social needs:

Coat length:




Shedding factor:

Overall grooming needs:



Regular brushing

4 colours (cream, dark & light golden, golden)

How big do Golden Retrievers get?

The average adult weight of a Golden Retriever is from 25-36kg. Males tend to weigh 27-36kg and females tend to weigh 25-32kg. Their height ranges from 50-61cm at shoulder (again, males tend to be a little taller). The best way to estimate your dog's expected adult weight is to have a look at their mother and father.

How much does a Golden Retriever cost?

Golden Retriever pups in Australia generally cost from $500-$3000. The pandemic has significantly increased demand for Golden Retriever puppies and the price of a pure bred pup can even exceed this. Of course, as with any breed, it is cheaper to adopt an adult dog from a rescue.

Do Golden Retrievers shed hair?

Golden Retrievers are generally considered a fairly heavy shedding breed. Light shedding occurs throughout the year, and the undercoat is shed in large quantities twice per year. Shedding fur can be controlled with regular brushing (once a day ) with a general plastic bristle brush or a grooming glove. Many Golden owners choose to use a deshedding comb like the Paws for Life Deshedding Tool or Furminator to take the 'fur' out of their 'fur-niture'!

Are Golden Retrievers good pets?

Golden Retrievers are just about the best pets there are! They are endlessly affectionate, playful, full of love, and their goofy antics will keep your family entertained every day. They are affectionate, intelligent, and sociable dogs. Possibly the only downside to keeping a Golden Retriever as a pet - apart from their notorious heavy hair shedding - is their tendency to eat things they really shouldn't. Pet Insurance is highly recommended!

How much exercise do Golden Retrievers need?

Golden Retrievers are quite active and benefit from at least an hour per day of exercise. They are particularly keen swimmers and a daily game of water fetch will keep them happy and smiling for hours on end. They are quite social and enjoy running around with dog friends at the dog park as much as a good brisk walk or game of fetch with their owner. Due to their insatiable appetite, lots of exercise is often required to help keep them trim and healthy - but be careful not to overdo it if your Golden has hip or elbow dysplasia.

How long do Golden Retrievers live?

The Golden Retriever lifespan is 10-12 years on average. As with any breed, they will live much longer if you take good care of them, never let them become overweight, and keep their teeth in top condition!

How do I choose a Golden Retriever breeder?

When looking for a Golden Retriever, your options are to: a) adopt from a rescue (this is our top recommendation!) b) buy from an or online marketplace or pet store (NOT recommended!), or c) Research a reputable breeder. Never purchase a puppy without inspecting the breeder's premises and asking the 10 Breeder Checklist Questions first. Good breeders socialise their animals, house them humanely, allow you to inspect their premises, and select for healthy traits and good temperaments. Read our Guide to Finding a Good Breeder for more tips.

Do Golden Retrievers bark much?

Usually, Golden Retrievers do not bark a lot. The breed is not known for excessive or pointless barking. Instead, Golden Retrievers might bark when necessary, such as when they are excited, playful, or anxious, or to get their owner's attention. As with any dog, they can be trained not to bark incessantly with proper training and exercise. To reduce your Golden Retriever's barking, ensure you train with positive reinforcement from a young age and reduce problem behaviours before they begin!

Golden Retriever History

Left: Noranby Campfire, b. 1912. First champion Golden Retriever. Right: 1926, Noranby Curfew and Winifred Charlesworth, the person credited most with establishing the golden retriever as a distinct breed. Source: Retrieverman.net

The first record of the breed is sited as 1835 in the Inverness-shire of Scotland. The breed was developed in the mid nineteenth century by Lord Tweedmouth, an enthusiast for hunting and sporting dogs. He crossed a Wavy-coated Retriever with a Tweed Water Spaniel to create a foundation litter of Golden Retriever puppies. The Golden Retriever has been considered an official breed since 1911. They are still renowned for their hunting and retrieving ability. They also make wonderful family pets and service dogs, because of their trainability, intelligence and devotion.

Golden Retriever Personality

Golden Retrievers are known for being exuberant, affectionate and gentle. They're well-mannered and can possess great charm. They are very sociable with both people and other dogs. With their bounding barks they make great watchdogs, however they are unlikely to be aggressive. Their large, strong, muscular frames mean they're very powerful and energetic. This makes them wonderful working dogs that can endure lots of outdoor play, like fetching.

Golden Retrievers are notorious water lovers. They absolutely adore swimming and have a thick double coat which repels water. Regular grooming with a bristle brush is recommended to reduce shedding and help with bonding. A Golden Retriever will adapt to any lifestyle, as long as they're given lots of love, attention and exercise.

Best toys for Golden Retrievers

Golden Retrievers are intelligent, playful, and love to play fetch due to their retriever instincts. They adore playing in water and fetching floating water toys. Goldens are known to retrieve objects such as soft toys from around the house and bring them to their owners for praise. As such, Golden Retrievers should have a few soft toys and fetch toys - particularly those that can be used in the water.

Yours Droolly Entertaineze Treat Ball

Fill the this bouncy ball with some of your Golden's kibble to slow their eating or to keep them occupied and out of mischief.

KONG Wet Wubba

Made with highly visible, fast drying neoprene, this special Wet Wubba is ideal for games of fetch in and out of water.

Chuck It Classic Long

An extra long ball thrower to help you launch your Golden's ball further than ever before to satisfy those intense fetch cravings!

Kong Cozie Elephant

Golden Retrievers love holding soft teddies in their mouth. Luxuriously cuddly, this soft toy is ideal for snuggling and provides comfort to dogs of all ages.

Golden Retriever Grooming

Golden Retrievers are widely known for their luscious, silky golden coat which comes in a number of different shades - from deep honey to light cream. To keep your Golden's coat healthy, it is recommended to bathe them no more than once every 2 weeks and consider a leave-in conditioner.

Regular grooming with a bristle brush or grooming glove is recommended to reduce shedding and help with bonding. Many Golden owners choose to use a deshedding comb like the Paws for Life Deshedding Tool or Furminator to take the 'fur' out of their 'fur-niture'!


The design of the edge allows the tool to push through the topcoat to easily and gently remove the undercoat and loose hair without cutting or damaging the delicate skin.

Kazoo Double Sided Brush

The Kazoo Double-Sided Combo Brush has a side with black nylon bristles which is excellent at cleaning the dust and burrs in the coat, and another side with ball tip steel pins to help penetrate the coat and remove built up grime and dirt

Serotoninkc Golden Retriever Shampoo

Custom formulated for your Golden Retriever, this SerotoninKc shampoo is designed to be hypoallergenic and ultra-gentle for sensitive skin.

Aloveen Leave In Conditioner

Containing colloidal oatmeal, Aloveen is an intensive conditioner designed to restore the skin's natural moisture and leave a soft,glossy coat.

Golden Retriever Health Problems

Golden Retrievers are considered a pretty stoic breed that have an average probability of inheriting disease. Skin allergies can be common and they're also prone to hip dysplasia and genetic eye conditions. Common health conditions in Golden Retrievers include:

Hip dysplasia

Hip dysplasia is a condition where the femur and hip joint do not fit together properly, causing pain and lameness. Less severe cases can be treated with anti-inflammatory medication, however surgery may be required for serious cases.

Elbow dysplasia

Elbow dysplasia is common amongst large breed dogs. This heritable condition occurs due to differing rates of bone development in the elbow. It leads to joint mobility, pain and lameness. Less severe cases can be treated with anti-inflammatory medication, however surgery may be required for serious cases.

Osteochondrosis dissecans

Osteochondrosis dissecans is a condition involving abnormal development of the cartilage on the end of a bone in the joint. This leads to inflammation, causing pain and lameness. Depending on the severity of the disease, surgery may be necessary.


Allergies to fleas, grass, or food can be common in Goldens. Rigorous flea prevention and specific diets may be needed after consulting with your veterinarian.


Cataracts occur when eyes have a cloudy appearance due to changes to the lens. Cataracts can lead to vision loss however they can be removed surgically.


Cancer can be commonly seen in Golden Retrievers. Tumours deriving from the lining of blood vessels (hemangiosarcoma), white blood cells (lymphosarcoma), bone (osteosarcoma) and mast cells (mast cell tumours).

Subvalvular aortic stenosis

This condition occurs when the connection between the aorta and the left ventricle of the heart is narrowed. Clinical signs include fainting and sudden death. If detected early, the condition is treatable.

Gastric dilatation volvulus (GDV/bloat)

GDV, or bloat, is caused by twisting or distension of the stomach. This causes acute pain and can be life-threatening. Immediate veterinary intervention is required.

Top Joint Supplements for Golden Retrievers

Due to their likelihood of developing joint conditions, joint supplements are highly beneficial for any Golden Retriever - even if they aren't showing signs of arthritis. Most joint supplements usually incorporate omega fatty acids, glucosamine and chondroitin, and many are made with proven ingredients such as green-lipped mussel. Golden Retriever supplements for healthy joints are available in the form of powder, capsules, or tasty treats.

4cyte Joint Support

A premium quality, vet recommended joint supplement containing green lipped mussel and epitalis to help support joint health and ease the symptoms of arthritis.

Sasha's Blend

Sasha's Blend powder and chews contain green lipped mussel, abalone and marine cartilage which are rich in omega 3 fatty acids and glycosaminoglycans to support joint health.

Glyde For Dogs

Available as powder or tasty chews, Glyde contains glucosamine, chondroitin and green lipped mussel to support joint health and mobility.

PAW Osteosupport

These capsules contain green lipped mussel powder, a potent source of anti inflammatory omega fatty acids and may be given whole or broken open and sprinkled over food.

Golden Retriever Diet and Nutrition


Golden Retriever Puppies

Although there are no specific feeding requirements for an adult Golden Retriever, it is very important that you feed your Golden a suitable diet that is age appropriate and meets all their daily nutritional and energy needs. A premium, balanced Large Breed Adult Dog Food from reputable pet food brands should provide tailored nutrition that your Golden needs. Premium large breed formulas contain balanced levels of protein, fat and carbohydrate plus vitamins, minerals and antioxidants for health and wellbeing. Find out more information in our vet guide of the best dog food for Golden Retrievers.

Adult Golden Retriever Foods

As some conditions are specific to Golden Retrievers, it is important to select a premium diet that caters to their needs. There are breed specific diets that can help reduce the likelihood of disease. Royal Canin Golden Retriever Adult contains taurine and omega 3 to support healthy cardiac function. It is also rich in omega fatty acids to protect the skin, and has adapted calorie content to reduce obesity. Plus, this diet has a tailored kibble shape to encourage chewing.

Advance Adult Retrievers

This Australian made formula tailored for adult retriever breeds contains functional nutrients including green lipped mussel powder to support joint health and an adapted calorie content to aid weight control.

Royal Canin Adult Golden Retriever

With kibble specially designed to slow your dog's rate of eating, this premium quality food contains nutrition tailored the the specific requirements of adult Golden Retrievers.

Wellness Core Grain Free Large Breed

This grain free, protein-rich dry dog food is packed with premium proteins, nutrient-rich superfoods and supplements to nuture your dogs inner wellbeing.

Hills Healthy Mobility Large Breed

This specially formulated dry food uses the anti-inflammatory properties of omega-3 fatty acids to improve your dogs mobility.

Recommendations for Golden Retriever Puppies

Black Hawk Large Breed Puppy

Natural diet high in meat content, complete and balanced for the requirements of large breed puppies like Golden Retrievers.

Pro Plan Puppy Large Breed

Very high quality diet fortified with colostrum for enhanced immunity and protection from common intestinal upsets, as well as a combination of key nutrients to support healthy joints.

Royal Canin Golden Retriever Puppy

TThis premium dry food is specifically formulated to support the health and wellbeing of Golden Retriever puppies.

Ivory Coat Large Breed Puppy

A wholesome, Australian made natural food designed specifically for large breed puppies like the Golden Retriever.

Related Breeds

The Golden Retriever is classified in the 'Gundog' breed group (also called the Sporting Dog Group) - this group consists of dogs bred to accompany hunting parties and retrieve killed prey. The gun dog family includes Retrievers, Spaniels, Pointers, and Setters.

Labrador Retriever

The Labrador is closely related to the Golden Retriever. The main difference between a Labrador and a Golden Retriever is the length and colour of their coat - labradors sport a shorter coat and may be golden, white, black, or chocolate brown.


A spaniel is a type of gun dog which were originally bred to seek and flush game out of bushes and scrubs. By the late 17th century, spaniels had been specialised into water and land breeds. Typically, Spaniels have a long silky coat and drooping ears and include breeds such as the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, the Cocker Spaniel, the English Springer Spaniel, and the Papillon.


The Pointer group includes the English Pointer, the German Shorthaired Pointer, the Vizsla, and the Weimaraner. Bred for several hundred years to accompany hunters and 'point' to birds and small animals, the Pointer is a versatile field dog and wonderful family dog breed. They are energetic and fun-loving and well suited to active homes where they can receive plenty of exercise.


Setter breeds include the Irish, Gordeon, English, and Irish Setters. They gained their name and popularity as hunting dogs due to their instinctive tendency to crouch, or "set," when they find their quarry. Typically, a setter will take a low stance with their body nearly touching the ground. As pets, they are excellent family dogs and mellow housemates, with a high requirement for exercise.

Further Reading

For more information have a look at these recommended articles:

What Is The Best Dog Food?

Breed Diets: Are They Worth The Hype?

Complete Beginner's Guide To Puppy Care

Best Dog Food For Skin Allergies

Which Flea and Worming Product Does YOUR Dog Need?