An Expert Interview About Breeding Golden Retrievers

Pet Health


May 27, 2020

Golden retrievers are an amazing breed of dogs, and breeding them can be fun and exciting. It can also be somewhat intimidating if you have never set out to breed a dog before. Where do you start? What do you need to prepare for? And more importantly, how can you ensure success?

While some chemistry between the dogs has to exist, there are also some things you can do to encourage a pairing. We will go over some tips, tricks, and general advice for successfully breeding Golden retrievers.

Best Practices for Breeding Golden Retrievers

As with most things, it’s best to start at the beginning. This mostly deals with preparation, and understanding what’s involved with breeding Golden retrievers – or any breed, for that matter.   

  • It’s better to be prepared than surprised

Dog breeding can be a wonderful experience, but it can also be a long and costly experience. Before you begin on the breeding journey, you need to consider some important factors. The first one being the time requirement. We aren’t only talking about the breeding process itself, but also nursing and care for the resulting puppies. Even if you plan to sell the pups later, they still require care before the sale.

Monetarily, budget for things such as extra care, feeding, and veterinary visits for both the mother and pups should be prepared. Many first-time dog breeders are surprised by how much goes into breeding from a financial standpoint.

Now granted, every situation is unique. The total expense will depend upon the size of the litter, and if there are any unforeseen medical needs. Still, adequate preparation is always better than starting the breeding and getting caught off-guard in the middle.   

  • Keep a close watch on the female!

Once you have all your preparations in place, you may be ready, but that doesn’t mean that the female is! Female Golden retrievers generally only go into heat twice a year. This means that you may have some waiting to do before she is ready to mate. When the female is ready, there will be noticeable signs indicating that she is willing to mate with a male dog. This is the only time that a female dog can typically become pregnant, so it’s a very important time to watch for when breeding.

The exact time that the female’s heat cycle will last is different for each individual dog. This is why it’s a good idea to keep a close watch on particularly the female. There may be only a short period of a couple of weeks where she is fertile. It is also recommended that you not allow her to become pregnant during her very first heat cycle. This is because her eggs are still developing, and her hormones are not completely regulated at this stage.   

  • Don’t forget the male!

While paying all of this attention to the female, the male can sometimes be forgotten. While it’s true that the female requires most of the prep-work, there are a few things that need to happen on the male’s side of things.

The main one is bathing. Much like human guys getting ready for a date, the male Golden retriever could benefit from a bath. Golden retrievers especially being a hunting breed have a tremendous sense of smell. You don’t want the female to be put-off by any foul odors from an unkempt or smelly male.

One other note of caution regarding the male is that you may not want to feed him, especially right before his first mating. Often the male especially can become extremely excited and worked-up – and as you might guess, this can cause some unwanted eruptions. 

Arrange the “Meet-Up”

The male is looking dapper, preparations are complete, and your female is giving you the green light for mating. Now what? Well, as you might imagine, the next step is to proceed with the fateful meeting of the male and the female.

The male and female will first examine each other. This can be somewhat of a process, and it is at this point that a mutual decision will be made on whether they are compatible. Don’t interrupt this behavior or become impatient. There may be a lot of playful action, sniffing and running around while they decide if they like one another. If they do, you’ll know it, because mating will begin. 

It’s Almost a Sure Thing  

After mating begins, you may want to breathe a sigh of relief. And you can, sort of! As we mentioned, the male can become super-excited during this time, and as humorous as it sounds, this can cause him to “miss his mark”.

During the mating adventure, you may witness the male mounting the female several times. This isn’t because he has awe-inspiring stamina, it’s more than likely an indication that his ship missed the docking bay, if you know what we mean. This is fairly common and not a sign that something is wrong. If this is a continual issue, most breeders will separate the dogs for a few minutes to allow the male to calm down a bit before the next attempt.

There’s a Tie, but Not on the Door

One part of the mating process that worries a lot of first-time breeders is what’s called the tie. During this “tie”, your two Goldens will essentially be locked together for several minutes or longer. This is where some people will panic and think that something is wrong. You might even feel the need to try and “help” your dogs by forcibly separating them. Don’t! You will almost certainly injure them severely if you try to pull them apart during this tie.

This is just a normal part of their mating process, and they will uncouple themselves when it is complete. In some cases, the dogs will be so exhausted at this point they may even fall asleep. Just wait it out.

If this has gone on for many hours and you are truly worried, then consult your veterinarian. But again, we stress the importance of not trying to manually separate the dogs unless instructed to do so by your vet. 

Watch for Any Abnormalities

This waiting period is not a time to let your attention slip, because if the dogs are new to breeding (or younger), one of them may become frightened or excited and suddenly try to uncouple. This can be just as harmful as if you tried to pull them apart yourself. So you need to be there during this time to comfort them if necessary. 

Now, Test for Success!

Once the mating process is complete, start looking for signs of pregnancy in the female retriever. Most signs show up at three weeks or so, and there is a number of things to look for. Much like humans, a pregnant Golden retriever will start to show an enlarged abdomen, require more food, and be less active during the day.

The most immediate way to tell, though, is an ultrasound or a pregnancy test. Your veterinarian will be able to administer such tests and guide you through the specifics of care for your pregnant dog. 

Care for the New Mommy

With a confirmed pregnancy, now it’s time to care for the mommy Golden. She will need an adjusted diet with typically more fats and nutrients to help feed her young. She will not be nearly as playful or active during this time, and will generally be much more guarded about her surroundings.

Generally, a Golden retriever delivers full-term in about two months, though this can vary. Again, you will need regular veterinary checkups during this time to ensure the pups are gestating as expected.


If everything went well, you should have a fresh litter. Congratulations on a successful Golden Retriever breeding! While it is a big responsibility to breed Golden retrievers, it’s also an amazingly rewarding opportunity. With the proper steps outlined in this guide, you can enjoy success in growing a Golden family.