I love my golden retriever, and I recently had a friend ask, “Is a golden retriever a good first dog?”
Considering it wasn’t the breed I started with, I couldn’t answer for sure, but was going off my own experience of owning them.
So instead I decided to do a bit of research to see how retrievers rated as a first-time pet.
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“So is a golden retriever a good first dog?”
There are plenty of factors you need to consider when choosing a dog, but as a general rule,
the answer is YES.
They’re friendly, easily trained, and good with children.
I’ve always found golden retrievers to be very laid back, and this is a great starting point for a new dog owner.
Goldens are outgoing, trustworthy, and eager-to-please family dogs, and relatively easy to train.
– American Kennel Club
As I said though, there are plenty of things you need to consider when choosing whether a particular breed is right for your home life.
RELATED ARTICLE: Golden Retrievers Pros and Cons
Things such as exercise, how long they can be left alone, and the dog’s health are all things you should think about, and this post is designed to give you a bit more background information on golden retrievers as a breed.
I always feel it’s better to know too much than too little, so hopefully, this article will help you make a more informed decision.
The Best First Dog To Have
If I could go back and choose to have a golden retriever as my first dog, I definitely would.
From my experience of owning them, I feel there are few breeds better suited to introducing you to the world of dog ownership.
The pros of the breed massively outweigh the cons, and they’re so easy going that they make it incredibly easy to learn how to care for an animal.
You should always research whether a particular breed will fit into your home life though, and this is no different for golden retrievers.
One of the most important things to consider is that they’re quite an active breed.
This is because they were bred as working dogs, and so have a lot of energy.
I take my golden retriever on at least one long walk a day, if not two.
Granted, much of that is because I love being outdoors, but consider that you will need to walk it every day.
And unlike smaller breeds, you won’t be able to get away with too many short walks around the block.
Golden retrievers are very easily trained, and respond well to obedience training of any level.
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I would recommend taking them for at least basic training so they respond to the sound of your voice, but you shouldn’t have any problem teaching them more advanced commands.
Considering you probably don’t have much experience training a dog, this is another reason why they’re one of the best dogs for first-time owners.
Another important thing to consider is that golden retrievers are prone to some health conditions.
This is something you’ll find with any breed, but one of the easiest ways to avoid it is to research your breeder.
Ethical breeders won’t use dogs with known health conditions, so make sure you’re asking.
The breed is prone to issues such as hip and elbow dysplasia, and an eye condition called pigmentary uveitis.
Don’t let this information put you off, because these are all manageable conditions, and most likely won’t manifest until the dog is older.
Should I Get A Golden Retriever If I Have Kids?
I don’t have any kids of my own, but I know from experience that golden retrievers are really good with children.
They’re very patient and friendly dogs, and almost never get angry (although this is just from my experience).
This makes them good to have around children, but the children need to make sure they’re respectful of the dog too.
As a general rule, golden retrievers are laid back enough that they make a good first dog for having around children.
They can take a bit more “energy” than some other good first dog breeds, so will be a good way of teaching your kids how to behave around dogs generally.
However, if you’re considering getting an adult dog, take your children to meet it before you commit to taking it home.
Golden Retriever Puppy Or Adult?
Golden retrievers are popular dogs, so there’s unlikely to be a shortage of breeders in your area.
That said, their popularity has also given rise to a number of “backyard breeders” who are more interested in making money than breeding nice dogs.
All I can say is do plenty of research first, and look at online reviews or customer comments. If in doubt, use your common sense, and err on the side of caution.
In my experience though, I’ve always thought adult dogs to be a better choice for first-time owners.
There’s significantly less hassle involved with an adult dog, and it gives you a chance to rehome or rescue a dog.
Some dogs might have been given up due to bad circumstances in the home, so never assume there’s something wrong with the dog.
I haven’t bought a puppy in many years, and some of the best dogs I’ve ever owned have been rescued.
How Much Exercise Does A Golden Retriever Need?
The short answer to this question is that they’ll take as much exercise as you’re willing to give them.
I recently wrote an article on whether a golden retriever can run a marathon, which expands on the topic in a bit more detail.
This again goes back to what they were bred for, so they’re used to spending the day working and so don’t get tired very easily.
As a general rule, I take my golden retriever out for a minimum of 30 minutes a day, but usually aim for at least an hour.
But we’ve also gone on walks that have taken all day, and I know they also make great hiking companions.
If you’re reading this and don’t like the idea of that much exercise, you might want to consider looking for a different breed.
Golden Retriever vs. Labrador?
These are both very similar breeds, but one of the biggest differences is their coat length.
Generally, retrievers have longer coats, and Labradors have shorter ones.
However, both dogs shed quite a bit, but retrievers do require more grooming.
They have very similar temperaments, are similar sizes, and require similar amounts of exercise.
In fact, there are few noticeable and noteworthy differences between the two breeds, and realistically both make great first dogs.
However, my opinion is biased, and I would always say to go with a Golden.
I’ve always found golden retrievers to be an excellent breed to own, and are particularly good with families.
They’re definitely one of the best first dogs to have, mainly because they’re so laid back and easy to train.
They’re the perfect breed for learning how to look after a pet, which is why they’re so popular.
However, as I’ve mentioned several times, this doesn’t mean they’ll be perfect for everyone.
Make sure you do research first to see if the breed fits in with your lifestyle.
After all, what good is having a dog if you never get to spend any time with it?
Is it OK to keep a golden retriever outside? My answer to this would be no, but I don’t like the idea of having a dog and keeping it outside all year round anyway.
After all, if you don’t want a dog to be indoors, don’t get a dog.
Golden retrievers can be affected by the climate, and they can suffer from separation anxiety, so I would avoid keeping yours outside.
Do golden retrievers bark a lot? Realistically, all dogs bark, but ones that were bred as guard dogs are more inclined to do so.
As a rule, golden retrievers are quite a quiet breed and so bark less than say a Rottweiler.
If you’re looking for a guard dog, don’t choose a golden.
Golden retrievers are not good guard dogs because they’re far too friendly.
Are golden retrievers smart? Yes, very. They’re considered one of the smartest breeds, hence why they’re regularly used as companion dogs for people with disabilities.
They’re very easy to train and pick up new tricks quickly.
Can golden retrievers be left alone? You should always be careful about how long you leave a dog alone, but if you work, it sometimes can’t be avoided.
Golden retrievers can be left alone for up to 8 hours, which should realistically cover most working days, but avoid this while they’re young.
Aside from any house training issues, there’s more chance of them getting bored.
Are golden retrievers protective of their owners? To some extent yes, mainly because they’re such loyal dogs, but their friendliness will generally counteract any desire they have to snap at people.
My dog has never barked at anyone for coming too near me, but you can easily avoid these issues by making sure people are respectful of both you and the dog.