Golden Retrievers: History, Temperament & Personality Traits

A thorough guide about golden retrievers. Golden Retrievers: History, Temperament & Personality Traits

The Golden Retriever is one of the most loved breeds in our country today, in fact, it ranks in the top 5 most popular of breeds. The “ Golden”, (as fanciers of the breed call them) seemed to gain popularity with a presidential golden retriever named Liberty, owned by President Gerald Ford. It was said that Liberty spent as much time in the public eye as the president himself. She was a favored topic of the press and loved by the American public. When she wasn’t being photographed by the press, she lazed her afternoons away in the oval office.

The Golden Retriever gained further popularity with the magic of the big screen, being cast in movies such as “Homeward Bound’, “The Trial of Old Drum”, “Snow Buddies”, “Fluke” and numerous “ Air Bud” movies. It’s no surprise that their popularity has continued to grow with their charming personalities, their smile-like faces and their high intelligence. 

The breed originated in the British Isles of Scotland somewhere around the mid 19th century. They are classified as a sporting breed or gun dog. They were bred to be an agile and responsive companion to bird hunters, retrieving what the hunter had shot, whether it needed to be retrieved on land or in the water. Their sleek, muscular and well-balanced body allows them to easily move through any number of vegetation types. His level headed approach to the tasks that are given to him has also earned him high standings in obedience, tracking and agility competitions.


This dogs gentle disposition and high intelligence level has caused him to earn his place as one of the most popular breeds to be used as a service dog for persons with disabilities. He can be trained to assist persons with blindness, hearing impairments, physical challenges and more. They are loyal to their owners, friendly with others and always ready to fulfill requests that are made of him. With a height of approximately 22 inches at the shoulder and 65 lbs. in weight, this makes him ideal for the physically challenged and those in wheelchairs. He’s able to pick up packages, turn on lights, retrieve desired items, etc.

Their compassionate eyes and warm-hearted disposition have also made them a favorite visitor in nursing homes across the country. Their height allows their head to easily rest on the side of a bed, leaving the patient with a smile.  

The Golden Retriever is also gaining popularity in the law enforcement fields due to their desire to please and their excellent sense of smell. Their noses have put them at the top of their field in substance detection. Searching out narcotics at borders, airports, and a sundry of other locations. As Search and Rescue dogs, their keen sense of smell, determination, and agility often allow them the ability to find missing persons in a notably quick amount of time. It seems that there just isn’t much that this breed can’t do.

As a family pet, they can’t be surpassed. They tend to have a tolerant nature with children of all ages and are the perfect dog for kids to learn responsibility with. They’ll happily lay on a blanket with a toddler or fetch a ball with older kids. Although the Golden Retriever is a great alarm dog, they are not known to be excessive barkers. You should also know that they are not guard dogs from the standpoint of attacking an intruder. They’ll simply let you know that there’s a stranger nearby.

Although Golden Retrievers don’t need a vast amount of exercise, they do need a moderate amount. Remember that they were bred to retrieve, so it’s in their nature to be on the move. I would suggest a brisk daily walk or a good round of fetch at the very least. If they don’t get a proper amount of exercise, your probably going to see some destructive behaviors start showing up. They’ll exert that energy somehow and left to their own devices, it’s more than likely not going to be favorable. It’s also a good idea to give your Golden Retriever puppy plenty of toys and safe, chewable bones as they do tend to be chewers for at least the first couple of years of their lives. Toys are also a great way to interact with your dog while building a close and trusting relationship.

Color Me Golden

You’ve now decided that the Golden Retriever is just the dog for you and your family, good for you. Now you get to decide what color you would like to have. Golden Retrievers range from a milky butter color all the way to beautiful mahogany or deep reddish color. The American Kennel Club will only recognize 3 coat colors of Golden Retrievers. The first is light golden, the next is golden, and the final color is dark golden. The light golden colored dogs are often times called “English” Golden Retrievers because the lighter color is so popular in the UK. AKC does not allow these light colored dogs to show. Genetically, there is some consistency in the fact that these lighter retrievers tend to have leaner lined bodies. The red Golden Retrievers are known to have shorter and straighter hair than other Golden’s, with a more dense body structure.

All Golden’s are expected to have a singular color, although it’s common for the feathering on them to appear to be a shade or two lighter than the rest of their bodies.

No matter the color that you choose, you’ll have to expect to brush your dog at least once a week, if not twice. Of course you’ll have to determine how often your dog needs to be bathed based on the area you live and the types of activities that your dog is involved in.

Did You Know….

  • Golden Retrievers are considered to be in the top four breeds of intelligence. So, these guys are the total package, you get brains and beauty.
  • Although the Golden Retrievers were originally bred into existence in the mid 19th century, they weren’t officially recognized by the American Kennel Club until 1925.
  • It was a female Golden Retriever that won the first ever American Kennel Club Obedience Championship in 1977. The following two years were won by two separate male Golden Retrievers.
  • Three family sitcoms from the 1980’s and 1990’s starred Golden Retrievers. The show “Full House” had a family pet named Comet that was a Golden Retriever, the “Punky Brewster” show had a Golden Retriever named Brandon and Dreyfuss, the half Golden Retriever and half Saint Bernard dog was on a show called “Empty Nest”
  • It was once loosely believed that some Russian circus dogs bred and accidentally produced the first Golden. This, of course, wasn’t true.
  • Would you believe that Bloodhounds were actually used to perfect the Golden Retriever lineage?
  • There’s actually a Golden Retriever named Lilly that lives in Australia who is a surrogate mother to a kangaroo named Dusty.
  • At the young age of 10 months old, there was a Golden who swallowed an entire light bulb and then passed it through without ever breaking it,
  • A Golden Retriever named Augie landed herself in the Guinness book of world records by being able to hold five tennis balls in her mouth at one time.
  • Johns Hopkins bestowed an honorary mental health degree to a Golden Retriever service dog who attended all of the classes with his owner.
  • Did you know that each dog’s nose print is as unique as each persons finger print.
  • A Golden Retriever can run faster than a Seagull can fly.
  • A Golden Retrievers coat should never be entirely shaved off as it protects them from extreme temperatures in both directions. Their coat is also water resistant, therefore protecting them from water temperatures.
  • A Golden Retriever doesn’t show it’s adult coloring until it’s approximately a year old.
  • Some Golden Retrievers will get light colored spots on their nose during colder months. This is a condition called Snow Nose.
  • Golden Retrievers don’t mature until they’re approximately three to four years old.
  • A Golden Retrievers height and weight mature on different timelines. Their weight isn’t considered to be mature until the age of two, whereas their growth in height is considered to be complete at one year.

On The Flip Side

Although Golden’s have dozens of reasons to make one part of your family, there are a few negatives that you should know before making your final commitment.

Because they have long floppy styled ears that tend to stay damp inside, they are prone to bacterial infections in their ears. This can be avoided by keeping a close eye on the hygiene in your pups ears. Stay on the lookout for any kind of swelling, redness or foul odors coming from the ears.

Another health concern should be cancer. According to The Golden Retriever Club of America, an alarming 61% of Golden’s die from some type of cancer. Based on that statistic, cancer is the number 1 killer of this breed. The bottom line here is that you need to stay on top of regular visits to your veterinarian and don’t be afraid to ask questions.

I should also mention that Goldens are prone to being overweight, so make sure that you have your dog on good food with appropriate portions, balanced with proper exercise.

At The End of the Day

When it’s all said and done, there are very few reasons not to make a beautiful Golden Retriever part of your family. After all, with this breeds versatility, you can take him out hunting with you, bring him home for playtime with the kids and have him help mom dust the house with that feathery tail.


  1. Your Pure Bred Puppy, Golden Retrievers
  2. Pet Wave, Golden Retriever Dog Breed
  3. Golden Retriever Club of America, Homepage 
  4. Madison Guthrie, How Much is a Golden Retriever Puppy to Buy and Care For?