Is a Golden Retriever Right for You?

Golden Retrievers have a high-profile status in the media, but they aren't for everyone. This is a sporting breed, and these high-energy dogs require training. Golden Retrievers, however, are easily trained and love to learn, so training could and should be a fun but very busy experience.

Following are some reasons that may make you think twice about life with a Golden Retriever:

  • Hair, hair, everywhere. The Golden Retriever has what's called a double coat, which means that he has a soft downy undercoat to insulate him from the cold and heat and a longer outer coat of guard hairs. These hairy critters shed their downy undercoat in huge quantities every spring and drip a little dog hair all over the house all year long. The resulting clouds of dog down all over the house can make you tear out your hair as well.
    Brushing will help keep that nuisance dog hair to a minimum. Daily brushing is best — twice weekly is a must. If you use a professional groomer, expect to pay $15 to $25 per grooming session. Being pretty has a price.
  • Goldens need space, and lots of it, both in-house and out. A yard is a must, and good fencing is preferred. If you want to live with a Golden Retriever, make sure that you have room for one. These big sprawling fellows easily occupy at least one couch cushion or easy chair. Everything's big, including their muddy paw prints on your kitchen floor and their nose prints on the window. That happy Golden tail can easily clear your coffee table.
  • Daily dose of exercise. A normal Golden usually creates a little happy chaos, which is part of its irresistible appeal. These spirited dogs have a great sense of humor and love to retrieve, play, chase, and chew. They need exercise to expend all that sporting energy, or they will entertain themselves in typical canine fashion. (Think destruction!)
    The typical Golden Retriever household usually has few ragged chew marks on the chair legs, dog toys strewn about the living room, piles of shredded sticks in the backyard, and one or two large sticks at the front or back door, the ones he delivered to you as his special prize.
    Your Golden will not exercise without you. You are his incentive to romp and play. Daily walks and jogs, Frisbee games, and bumper chasing (those large, hot-dog shaped canvas or plastic retrieving objects sold in pet stores for retrieve-a-holic dogs) can help keep your Golden tired and content.
  • Wherever you go, I go: If you're on the go and never home and he's alone most of the day, your Golden will be stressed and most unhappy. That's not fair to the dog and may be disastrous for you. Goldens need to be with people, and an isolated and lonely Golden can easily suffer from separation anxiety, which will lead to destructive behavior. It's a natural canine stress reliever.
    If you're an active family who loves the outdoor life and plan to take your Golden to soccer practice and baseball games, then the two of you are probably a good match
  • On guard . . . not! If you're looking for a guard dog, investigate another breed. Most Goldens are complete love sponges who would happily lick the boots of an intruder. You can encourage them to bark at people who approach your house, but you can't — and shouldn't — teach them to intimidate or bite. Their very size may deter a home invader, but anyone familiar with a Golden's love-'em-all attitude knows that a scratch behind Golden ears means instant friendship.
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