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How Many Puppies Do Golden Retrievers Have? What You Need to Know!

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By Nicole Cosgrove

golden retriever puppy with collar

Golden Retrievers are one of the most popular breeds of dogs in the United States. They are known for their loyal and friendly personalities, and many people choose them as their first dogs. Such a popular breed is always in demand, and more Golden Retriever puppies are born every day.

However, there is some uncertainty about how many puppies Golden Retrievers typically have. Due to their size, larger dogs tend to have larger litters, while smaller dogs tend to have smaller litters. As a bigger dog breed, Goldens can have anywhere from one to twelve puppies per litter, but six to eight puppies are about average. Some litters may have as few as four. Read on below to find out more.

Divider 7Why the Size of the Dog Breed Affects Litter Size

The different sizes of litter between breeds are due to the fact that larger breeds have more room in their uterus to grow puppies, while smaller breeds have less room. This is likely due, in part, to the fact that smaller dogs have a shorter gestational period and thus less time to mature a large number of offspring at a more rapid rate than larger dogs. This difference in litter size can be important for breeders, as they need to consider the size of the breed when planning how many puppies to produce.

However, it is also worth noting that different breeds of dogs will exhibit different average litter sizes, even within the same size class. For example, the German Shorthaired Pointer is around the same size as a Golden Retriever, but has an average of nine pups per litter.

Golden Retriever Puppy Walking on Street in Madison Wisconsin
Image Credit: Wisconsin, SamuelJLi, Shutterstock

First Litter

Female Golden Retrievers have their first heat cycle by the time they are a year old. The first litter of puppies for a female Golden Retriever is typically smaller in size than later litters. This is due to the fact that the mother’s body has to adapt to pregnancy to cope with a larger litter. Additionally, since the first litter is typically born earlier than later litters, the puppies may not have as much time to grow and develop before being born.

Despite this being your female’s first litter, she will not require human assistance during birth since her instincts will take over. She should, however, have regular checkups with a veterinarian to ensure everything is going well. Despite Golden Retriever mothers being able to deliver many puppies, not every pup will survive birth. A dam may give birth to four puppies, but only two or three will survive. The first 24 hours of a puppy’s life can be very challenging, especially if they have been born early, and some puppies will not survive.

Other Factors Affecting Litter Size

A Golden Retriever will probably give birth to four to twelve puppies. Dogs cannot be bred to have a specific litter size, but there are several factors that can influence the size of your Golden Retriever’s litter.


Diet is an essential part of your Golden’s pregnancy. Pregnant dogs require high-quality vitamins, minerals, and premium proteins in addition to a healthy and balanced diet. Additives and fillers in dog food can lead to poor nutrition and ultimately affect litter size. In addition, diet plays an important role in the health and survival rate of puppies after birth.

golden retriever with baseball and mitt
Image By: pawscausepetphotography, Shutterstock


It is possible for a litter to be affected if your Goldie is obese or doesn’t get enough exercise. The chances of a Golden Retriever producing a small litter are higher if they are unhealthy. It is also possible that the puppies are born weak and have a lower chance of surviving.

Age of Parents

Female Golden Retrievers should not be bred too young or too old. Ideally, a female should be between the ages of 2 and 5 when she is first bred. Goldies’ litters will always be smaller if you wait until they are 5 years old to breed for the first time. It is also important to consider the age of the male. Once a male reaches the age of 5, their sperm count will decrease. ​​The size of the litter decreases again for older females.

Golden Retriever eating
Image Credit: Chendongshan, Shutterstock


Overly inbred dogs are less likely to have large litters than dogs with a diverse gene pool. Ask your breeder about their parents and whether they have been tested for defects if you are looking for a puppy. It is important to know the parents’ history before buying a puppy. A reputable breeder will have papers to prove your puppy’s lineage.

Conception Method and Timing

It may surprise you to learn that the way your Golden becomes impregnated may determine how many puppies she will have. Having a larger litter is more likely for Golden Retrievers that become pregnant naturally while conceiving artificially is more likely to lead to a smaller litter. This is because the freezing process kills many sperm cells in preserved semen, resulting in fewer pups.

A litter’s pup count is also determined by the impregnation date. Dogs that conceive within 48 hours of ovulation have a higher chance of having a larger litter.

golden retriever football
Image Credit: cookie_cute, Shutterstock

Number of Pregnancies

With each heat period, a dog is ready to have another litter. With each new litter, your Golden Retriever’s chances of having even more puppies are increased. These larger litters usually occur in the third, fourth, and fifth pregnancy.

Puppy Mills

Puppy mills are commercial breeding facilities that mass-produce puppies for sale to the public. A Golden Retriever’s lifespan is about 10–12 years, so if a female is bred every heat cycle, she may produce as many as 84 puppies in her lifetime. In a puppy mill, the mother dog is often bred repeatedly until she no longer can bear puppies. There are many reasons why one should avoid buying a dog from a puppy mill.

First and foremost, puppy mills are notorious for breeding unhealthy dogs. Dogs from puppy mills typically have a variety of genetic health problems, ranging from joint problems to heart disease. In addition, puppy mills often keep dogs in horrible conditions, with little or no veterinary care. Dogs in puppy mills may also be malnourished and abused.

Divider 7Conclusion

In conclusion, Golden Retrievers have an average of eight puppies. However, a breeder or owner can mate their Goldie at the right time, exercise them, keep them healthy, and feed them high-quality food all year long, but ultimately they cannot control the litter size. That depends on the mother dog’s biology. If you’re thinking of getting a Golden Retriever, and you’re not going to have your dog spayed, be sure you’re prepared for the commitment of caring for a litter of puppies. Thanks for reading!

Featured Image Credit:  Berkay Gumustekin, Unsplash

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