Golden Retriever Breed Characteristics & Traits

Alongside the Labrador, Golden Retrievers are considered to be the family dog par excellence. Their loving, affectionate and likable nature is the result of years of breeding efforts to create the No. 1 family dog. In our Golden Retriever profile, you will find the most important information about the character and its behavior. And the little darling gets involved in everything else too. Whether as a sniffer dog or explosives search dog for the police and customs a guide dog for the blind or as a companion when hunting. The Golden Retriever has its paws almost everywhere. We also take a look at the history of this popular dog breed and dispel the myths about the need for exercise and activity.

History & Origin

If you try to reconstruct the origin and history of the older dog breeds, you will encounter myths, half-truths, assumptions, and hopes. The only thing that can be said with certainty about the Golden Retriever is that it originated in Newfoundland.

Numbers, Data, Facts

  • Country of origin: Newfoundland
  • Life expectancy: 10 – 15 years
  • Weight males: 34-40 kg
  • Bitch weight: 30 – 36 kg
  • Males 56-61 cm
  • Bitches: 51-56 cm
  • FCI Breed Standard No. 111

Timeline Highlights

  • In 1864, Dudley Marjoribanks mated a yellow retriever with a Tweed Water Spaniel and soon began breeding
  • In 1913 the Flat-coated Retriever was registered as a breed in the Stud Book and was also recognized as a breed by the British Kennel Club
  • In 1920 the Club for Golden Retrievers was founded
  • In 1980 the breed also became popular in Europe
  • In 1990 the breed experienced another boom, triggered by numerous media reports


Originally, the Golden Retriever was bred for hunting. It is no coincidence that its name, which already contains a reference to its use, comes from this. While the golden only typifies the color, “to retrieve” translated into German means: to fetch or bring something back.

However, word of its numerous positive qualities quickly got around outside of the hunting community. The Golden Retriever may not be the largest and certainly not the fastest dog, but when it comes to eventing, it has its very well-functioning nose far ahead.

So it is that today – despite having a hunting dog in the past – it is one of the most popular dog breeds in Germany, if not worldwide. Its extraordinary versatility in use becomes clear when you look at the other areas of application of the Golden Retriever.

  • It is often used as a guide dog, assistance dog, deaf dog, or companion dog for the disabled.
  • The criminal police and customs use the extraordinarily well-functioning nose as a drug-sniffing dog or explosives-sniffing dog.
  • Rescue dog handlers also know about the advantages of the Golden Retriever and therefore often train them as rescue dogs for surface, debris, water, and avalanche searches.
  • He also earns his living as a therapy dog ​​and is used in all imaginable facilities. From homes for the elderly, people with disabilities, children’s homes, schools, hospitals, and families (with e.g. social problems) to prisons (in the USA)
  • Family dog ​​– like no other dog in Germany, the Golden is the epitome of the family dog. He absolutely lacks sharpness and his unconditional will to please his people makes him number 1 almost naturally.

Classification, breed standard & breed standard

  • Group 8: Retriever dogs – scavenger dogs – water dogs
  • Section 1: Retrievers
  • With work test

The Character & Essence of the Golden Retriever

The character of the Golden Retriever is characterized by absolute philanthropy. His balanced, firm nature and willingness to please make him one of the most popular dog breeds. His valued character traits make him a popular dog for families with children, the elderly, or people in need of help. Retrievers are very affectionate dogs that can enrich the life of every family with loving training.

Dealing with family & children

The designation of the family dog ​​applies particularly to him because he immediately takes all families to heart with the same intensity. In the family circle, his greatest endeavor seems to be to provide good entertainment. He shows extremely sensitive antennae and empathetic reactions to people who are perhaps not doing particularly well and comforts them with his closeness.

Of course, none of this hides the fact that the Golden Retriever is a dog. The fully-grown animals will try, at least with children, to improve their position and rank in the family pack. Therefore, despite all family friendliness, dogs and small children should never be left alone in the room. Neither the West Highland Terrier, the Great Dane nor the Golden Retriever. But those who start their education early and show their children in particular how to deal with the creatures correctly can look forward to a relaxed togetherness without complications.

In dealing with strangers

He is only suitable as a watch and protection dog to a limited extent, as he wants to take the hearts of all people by storm. Therefore, it is not uncommon for the tail to be vigorously wagged when an unknown visitor enters the house. He presents his loving and good-natured manner to guests and strangers in a carefree manner, which makes dealing with them at home enormously easier if you expect a lot and frequent visitors.

When dealing with other dogs

Because of its past, the Golden Retriever has always had to get along with other dogs. Therefore, the foundation for a large pack is already embedded in genetics. In addition, he has lost all aggressive behavior through excellent breeding work, and his additional “will to please” also rubs off on dealing with other dogs.

When dealing with other pets

It is firmly anchored in the breed description of the retriever that any aggressive behavior towards people, conspecifics, and other animals is not tolerated. Paper is known to be patient, but the Golden Retriever generally gets along great with other pets.

Urge to move

The Golden Retriever is not a couch dog. He wants to be moved and is a real competitive athlete. The element in which he feels particularly at home is water. Regular walks do not do justice to this wonderful animal and you expose it to continuous physical under-exertion.

Since his strong character makes him an absolutely agreeable dog, dog sports such as agility, obedience, and dummy training are ideal for spending pleasant hours with the dog in a friendly atmosphere. But it’s also made for jogging and cycling. And if you yourself are keen on experimenting, the dog rescue team or tracking are also viable ways of active leisure activities for your retriever.

Water has an almost magical effect on most of its kind. The retriever literally throws itself into the floods or rather into lakes, rivers, and everything that brings a cool refreshment with it. The sports factor should not be underestimated for this breed. The retriever needs to be exercised or behavioral problems may occur.

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