Dogs sleep at the foot of their owners’ beds. They wait patiently near the dinner table, hoping for a tasty treat to be tossed into their mouths. Even when no one else is, they’re always a part of the welcoming committee that waits at the front door. Dogs are companion pets that beautifully fit into and enhance the lives of their owners.
One of the most popular breeds is the Golden retriever. Before selecting a Golden retriever puppy to love and welcome into their home, the prospective pet owner should first become familiar with the traits and characteristics that will impact their new puppy’s ability to fit into their home and lifestyle.
Choosing a Golden Retriever Puppy
Dog breeds vary in their overall disposition, size, lifespan, and general needs. The American Veterinary Medical Association recommends that all of these factors (and more) be considered in the process of selecting a dog. Some dog breeds have an innate aggression that makes them very appropriate for use as guard dogs.
Some dog breeds are known for having thick, fast-growing coats of hair that require frequent use of dog grooming services. And some dog breeds are more prone than others to health conditions like arthritis and certain types of cancer. Prospective owners should have a clear idea of the primary function their new dog will serve, how much of their budget they are willing to allot to the dog’s hygiene and upkeep, and a clear plan of care designed to maximize and maintain the dog’s general health.
Golden Retriever Origins
Near the beginning of the 19th century, Scottish aristocrat Dudley Marjoribanks began breeding dogs and merging the characteristics that would make for a reliable hunting companion. By design, and after 50 years and “several generations of clever breeding,” the Golden retriever was established as an attractive and reliable breed. According to the American Kennel Club, an organization with recognized expertise in purebred dogs, the Golden retriever made its debut at a British dog show in 1908. Shortly thereafter, the breed made its way to Canada and, eventually, the United States. The breed’s most noteworthy characteristics were its efficacy as hunters, its beauty, and its mild temperament.
In the 20th century, the Golden retriever became cemented in its place as one of the most popular breeds among American pet owners. Much like dog show attendees who were among the first to become acquainted with them in 1908, Golden retriever owners have found dogs belonging to this breed to be beautiful, trustworthy companions.
Golden Retrievers as Guard Dogs
Before selecting a Golden retriever puppy, the prospective owner should be aware that this breed has not traditionally ranked high on the scale of aggressiveness. But while some owners have found Golden retrievers’ potential as a guard dog to be offset by their inherent friendliness and mild behavior, their loyalty and receptiveness to training are the redeeming qualities that, in turn, are prerequisite to the success of a training program.
Golden retrievers can be trained to aggressively confront trespassers. If the intent is to integrate the Golden retriever into a family where it can act as both a companion and fierce protector of the home and its occupants, it may be worthwhile to invest time and resources in a training program.
Response to Training
Because Golden retrievers are very obedient dogs who typically respond very well to training, this makes them very suitable choices for guide dogs, as well as search and rescue dogs. Golden retrievers frequently work in these capacities, and according to Lynn Buzhardt, DVM, puppies can begin training as early as eight weeks old.
With consistent drills and commands, puppies can begin to execute commands after a couple of training sessions. Pet owners whose dogs are learning commands, signals, and responses should also be prepared to undergo some training. This will make them better able to successfully communicate with their dogs.
Requirements for Physical Space and Activity
Golden retrievers do require moderate space and regular exercise. As noted in an Encyclopedia Britannica entry, Golden retrievers routinely grow to be about 22-24 inches tall and can range in weight from 55-75 pounds. Prospective owners with very limited indoor space may wish to opt for a breed that remains small throughout their lifespan. Owners whose indoor space can accommodate a large dog must commit to chaperoning their Golden retriever for outdoor exercise and playtime.
Many Golden retriever owners report that their dogs respond well to daily opportunities to play and exercise outdoors. This breed’s history as a hunting dog manifests itself in the Golden retriever’s constant desire to run, chase, and retrieve toys. Many people say that Golden retrievers have “endless energy.” This is a breed that can be trusted to adequately complement active lifestyles.
Susceptibility to Medical Conditions and Diseases
It is important for prospective owners to be aware of Golden retrievers’ susceptibility to certain health conditions. While this breed does have a generally long lifespan of about 10-12 years, owners should maintain regular visits to their veterinarian. It is highly recommended that Golden retrievers be monitored for issues like dental disease, obesity, parasites, and other health conditions that impact all dogs.
Pet owners should also be vigilant about preventing and monitoring more serious medical conditions that Golden retrievers have a genetic predisposition to. Liver problems, heart disease, glaucoma, bone, and joint problems, and certain kinds of cancers are diseases that commonly develop in Golden retrievers.
With healthy diets, active lifestyles, and preventative medical intervention, Golden retrievers can lead long and healthy lives. Prospective owners must be prepared to commit a considerable portion of their income on providing a healthy and active lifestyle for their dog. Before owning a pet, most people grossly underestimate the costs associated with owning one. According to a 2017 report published by CNBC, dog owners can expect to spend between $30,000 and $40,000 on their dogs over the course of their life.
Dogs can make very positive contributions to their owners’ lives, and Golden retrievers make excellent choices for people with a wide range of needs. For example, they offer companionship for individuals and families who are interested in having a canine partner to live, sleep, and play with. They offer security for owners who would like to be alerted to the presence of uninvited visitors. And for dog owners who need the assistance of a guide dog, a hunting companion, or a search and rescue dog, Golden retrievers offer strict obedience and consistent responses to owners’ commands and signals.
To ensure an optimum pet owning experience with a Golden retriever, prospective owners should have clear expectations of what this breed requires, and an ability to ensure that their dog’s needs are met. To the extent that a person is able to provide a fun, active, healthy, and regimented lifestyle, Golden retrievers are an ideal pet.
After taking the first steps of dog ownership by conducting research on various breeds and assessing their ability to fit into the owner’s lifestyle and budget, the next step is to purchase or rescue a Golden retriever and enjoy them.