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Are Golden Retrievers Good With Cats? Breed Temperament & FAQ

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By Nicole Cosgrove

golden retriever and british shorthair cat

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Golden Retrievers are one of the most popular dog breeds in the world, and one of the reasons for this is their loving nature. This loving nature is not only targeted at family but extends to friends and can include strangers. It also typically includes cats and other pets within the home, and because the breed is not known for having a high prey drive or being aggressive, Golden Retrievers are also usually docile around cats in the street that they don’t know. With that said, every dog is an individual, and it is better to introduce dogs and cats when they are as young as possible.

Read on for more information on Golden Retrievers and what makes them so good with cats, as well as some tips on how to introduce a new dog to your cats.

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About Golden Retrievers

The Golden Retriever was first bred in Scotland, and it was, as the name suggests, developed as a retriever. They would have retrieved dead game for hunters, but they would not have traditionally been used to hunt or kill the hunter’s prey. As such, they do not tend to have a strong prey drive, but they do enjoy carrying anything and everything in their mouths.

Because of their breeding, Golden Retrievers also enjoy the outdoors and are built for it. They are a large breed, have good stamina levels, and usually enjoy the water. They are also considered very intelligent dogs and are trained for a wide range of purposes and applications from therapy dogs to military dogs.

As a pet, the Golden Retriever does need adequate exercise and mental stimulation. It does well with an active, outdoor family that is willing to take their pup everywhere with them. However, that long coat does require some maintenance, so potential owners need to be willing to invest some time into weekly brushing, especially if their Golden enjoys getting into water.

golden retriever and british shorthair cat
Image Credit: Chendongshan, Shutterstock

Are They Good With Cats?

While the breed is a retriever, it would not have traditionally hunted the animals it carried, and the breed would have intentionally been trained to leave the birds and other game alone so that their handler or hunter could get the kill. This means that the modern Golden Retriever does not usually exhibit signs of a strong prey drive.

They are listed as being the fourth most intelligent dog breed in the world, and they are keen to please their owner. This combination makes the Golden Retriever easy to train.

Golden Retrievers are loyal and loving. They are considered gentle with children and are widely regarded as one of the best breeds of dog to get for families that already have pets.

This combination of features makes the Golden Retriever one of the best breeds for mixing with cats, and your Golden is not only likely to pose no threat to a cat but could also form a strong bond with them.

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Top 6 Tips to Introduce Dogs and Cats

If you’re bringing a new dog into your feline house, even if it is a Golden Retriever, there are some steps that you can take to help ensure as smooth an introduction as possible.

1. Start Young

golden cocker retriever puppy
Image: PxHere

Ideally, you should introduce dogs and cats when they are puppies and kittens. Any size difference will be less, and the young pets will have a chance to get to know one another. Even if the dog grows up disliking other cats, it will likely get along with one it has grown up with and accept it as part of its family. Obviously, this isn’t always possible, but it is worth considering in advance of getting pets.

2. Establish a Dog-Free Sanctuary

There will come a time when most cats have had enough of a new dog, and they will want to go and get away from them. Even if an introduction goes well, cats are private animals and they enjoy some alone time, so make sure you have a dog-free room your cat can go to. This should have a door that can be closed to prevent any accidental meetings.

3. Feed Them Separately

Dog and cat eating dry food
Image Credit: 135pixels, Shutterstock

No matter how well you want your pets to get along, food envy and jealousy can turn an otherwise placid pet into something more aggressive. And, a stressed pet, especially a stressed cat, is less inclined to eat. Feed your dog and cat separately and ensure that the dog can’t get close to your cat’s food.

4. Start Slow

When making introductions, don’t just throw the two together and hope for the best. The first stage is scent swapping.  Rub a clean cloth or old towel on the cat and give it to the dog to smell and vice versa. After a couple of days of this you can move on. Start by having the two on opposite sides of a gate. Let the dog see the cat but then get its attention by playing or taking the opportunity to groom it. Let the two see one another for a few minutes before separating them again.

5. Repeat and Be Consistent

British shorthair cat playing with golden retriever dog
Image Credit: Chendongshan, Shutterstock

Introduce the two for a few minutes a day for the first week before removing the gate, assuming there are no signs of possible aggression. Be nearby, have the dog on a leash, and let the cat have the freedom to go wherever it wants. If your pup behaves well, for example by ignoring the cat or sniffing it calmly, give a tasty treat as a reward. Again, don’t let these sessions last too long, but do repeat them every day to reinforce the positive training.

6. Let Them Loose

If the animals get along, you can, after a few meetings, allow the dog off the leash and let them in the same room together. But you should still stay in the room. Again, call the dog or cat away after a while and repeat until you’re confident that they’re comfortable in one another’s company.

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Golden Retrievers are considered one of the best breeds of dog for living with cats. They are loving with family members, visitors, and strangers, and this tends to carry over to cats and other dogs, including those within your own home. Ideally, you should introduce the two when they are both young, but when this isn’t possible, you can follow some simple steps to ensure a positive introduction and to minimize the stress and anxiety for all involved. Above all, remember not to push it and to limit early interactions.

Featured Image Credit: Chendongshan, Shutterstock

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