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Are Golden Retrievers Good for First Time Owners? Facts & Care Tips

Nicole Cosgrove Profile Picture

By Nicole Cosgrove

man with golden retriever

Golden Retrievers are one of the most recognizable and popular dog breeds, and it’s no wonder why: they are gentle, loving, and make great family pets. Originally bred as hunting dogs, they have a natural instinct to please their owners and the Golden Retriever is an excellent choice for someone who is looking to become a first-time dog owner.

They are intelligent and easily trained, good-natured, and because they are patient and kind with kids they make great family pets. But no one dog breed is the perfect first canine companion for everyone, so read on to find out about the pros and cons of choosing a Golden Retriever.

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Golden Retrievers were bred to work with people as gun dogs and as a result of all that contact with humans, they are gentle, playful, and outgoing. You will be hard-pressed to find a more loving and eager-to-please companion for your life. Because they were bred to work with people, they love doing tasks for their owners such as fetching things. Goldens are playful and open to new people which makes them great at the park or when you have guests—as long as they aren’t unwanted guests, in which case Goldens make very poor guard dogs; they are more likely to show an intruder where the good stuff is than send them packing!

With such a playful and friendly temperament, it is no surprise to see people recommending this popular breed to would-be new dog owners.

Golden retriever beautiful lovely pair
Image Credit: Rala3030, Shutterstock


A pet’s size is very much a personal choice, but Golden Retrievers fit in the “goldie-locks” range for dog size; not too big and not too small. At between 50 and 75 pounds and around 20–24 inches high they are a wonderful medium size dog; not small like a toy dog, but also not a huge hound that will take over your couch. Although to be clear, your Golden is going to want to be close to you, but we think Goldens are the perfect size for cuddles.

When you get your weaned puppy, they will be around 10 pounds and it will take until they reach 18 months old before they reach their adult size.


It should come as no surprise that a dog raised for hunting game is a very active canine. Golden Retrievers love to be outdoors, running around, swimming—however muddy the water is—and playing around. This is especially true when they are young but as they get older, they do slow down with age. So, when you first get your dog, be prepared in the early years to take them out for walks multiple times per day and for your companion to be full of energy and life the rest of the time.

For their size, Goldens live a relatively long time, 10 to 12 years, and this combined with their mellow temperaments can make them a particularly good pet to get if you have young children. It is likely that your beloved pet will grow up with your kids, full of energy at the time they are most active. Then, when your kids are older and less interested in a high-energy dog, your dog will have already decided that a more sedentary life suits them just fine.

golden retriever playing fetch with ball throw toy
Image Credit: Katrin B., Pixabay


We’ve managed to get halfway through this article without ever mentioning how attractive Golden Retrievers are. Their long-haired fur coats are soft, glossy, and shiny and after the standard Golden Retriever color, vary from a blemishless cream white through red-brown to a beautiful rich dark brown. They have an intelligent face that expresses all their emotions, especially their joy and mischief when they are playing, and adoration whilst hanging out with you and the family. It is hard not to fall in love with Golden Retrievers at first sight.

What Age Are Golden Retrievers Most Difficult?

Like other dogs, Goldies are most difficult for their owners when they are a medium-sized puppy; big enough to cause trouble, but not old enough to have grown through some of the key developmental stages. This is generally between about 8 and 18 months. As puppies they like to jump up a lot and this can become a concern especially if you have small children that get alarmed or scared by the experience of having an exuberant little dog jump up at them all the time. With patience and persistence, you can train your dog not to jump up on others.

american golden retriever standing on a riverbank
Image Credit: Cams, Pixabay

What Are Golden Retrievers’ Weaknesses?

Golden Retrievers live their lives as if every day they are discovering all their favorite things for the first time. Despite this joie de vivre, they have a few characteristics which could be called weaknesses as far as keeping them as pets is concerned. It’s well known that Goldens love their food! While compared to some breeds they are not particularly aggressive around food, they are incredibly enthusiastic over food and meals. If you let them eat as much as they want, they may never stop eating. As a result, they are prone to overeating and putting on the pounds, especially as they age.

Another issue is that with such magnificent fur coats comes a lot of shedding hair. Invest in a good de-shedding brush and tackle their coat often. While they have two big coat sheds a year, during spring and autumn, the rest of the time they are still a walking malting machine, spreading hair all around your house. And speaking of houses, they don’t like to be left alone at home for long periods; they are social animals that thrive on human company and generally shouldn’t be on their own for the whole day. Many people with highly anxious Goldens may choose to crate them during the day.

Lastly, there are a number of illnesses and physical problems that Golden Retrievers are more susceptible to than other dogs, although they are not an unhealthy breed and if you have concerns you should consult a vet before making a final decision on the breed of your first dog.

Veterinary by listening to a Golden Retriever dog in his clinic
Image Credit: 135pixels, Shutterstock

At What Age Does a Golden Retriever Calm Down?

As already noted, Golden Retrievers are very active dogs that are inquisitive and like to play. They start life with what can at times seem like an almost limitless amount of energy and then as they age, they seem to first calm down and then slow down. The big change comes at around three years of age when the dogs have left their puppyhood behind and have matured with plenty of experience and knowledge of how their world around them works. The next big slowdown occurs at around 8 or 9 when your dog is entering their senior years.

Do Golden Retrievers Like to Cuddle?

Golden Retrievers are often thought of as loyal, friendly companions. They’re also known for being very affectionate and loving, which makes them great cuddle buddies. If you’re looking for a furry friend to snuggle up with on the couch, a Golden Retriever may be the perfect breed for you. These dogs love to be close to their humans and will often rest their head on your lap or lean against you for some extra affection.

young happy couple holding and hugging golden retriever puppy
Image By: LightField Studios, Shutterstock

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Final Thoughts

If you are going to get a dog for the first time, then Golden Retrievers are a wonderful breed that you should consider. They are gentle, loving, and easy to train. Golden Retrievers are also great with children and other animals. If you are looking for a quiet, low-maintenance dog, which doesn’t need a lot of attention or exercise then maybe this is not the breed for you. A Golden Retriever will be your loyal and friendly companion for many enjoyable years.

Featured Image Credit: Dmytro Zinkevych, Shutterstock

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