Are Golden Retrievers Smart

Are Golden Retrievers Smart? [golden retriever facts]

Golden Retrievers are well known for being one of the most loved and desired dogs in the United States and perhaps the world. If you are searching for a new dog or even have a Golden Retriever now you may be wondering what makes them so popular? 

According to the book, “The Intelligence of Dogs” written by Stanley Coren, Golden Retrievers rank fourth on his dog intelligence list. Coren’s survey included input from 199 dog obedience judges. He noted that each breed has exceptions and the training methods used played a large factor in how intelligent a dog is perceived to be.

Join me on a short journey into the world of the Golden Retriever! Such a popular and beautiful dog that has a great story to tell!

So to answer the question, yes, Golden Retrievers are VERY smart! But there is so much more to tell you about this amazing dog! So read on and enjoy!

dog intelligence list
Dog Intelligence List

Are Golden Retrievers Good Dogs?

Golden Retrievers are often used as working service dogs for people with disabilities. They are also commonly used as guide dogs for the visually impaired.

Golden Retrievers have starred on the big screen in movies like Air Bud, as well as the 1993 movie Homeward Bound. 

American Family Dog

Their popularity in cinema might be because of their trainability, loving nature, and desire to please humans. All this and more has created their renowned image as the “American family dog.” 

Are Golden Retrievers Smart?

Is a Golden Retriever a Hunting Dog?

Golden Retrievers are also great hunting and field working dogs because they are, well, retrievers! They were originally bred as waterfowl hunting dogs, and they love to swim so they have always been loyal companions for hunters.

What is a Working Dog?

The qualities of a working dog often include strength, intelligence, an eagerness to please humans, a sense of awareness, and trainability. So it is not surprising that Golden Retrievers are chosen as working dogs given they possess these traits in great abundance.

Are Golden Retrievers Good Dogs
Are Golden Retrievers Good Dogs?

What is the Most Popular Dog Breed?

Guess what? The Golden Retriever ranks number three on The American Kennel Club, AKC breed popularity chart! Wow! That is awesome! The Golden Retriever is the third most popular dog.

The AKC also states the temperament of the Golden Retriever as “Friendly, Intelligent, Devoted.” With their popularity and long-standing as working dogs, Golden Retrievers are good dogs.

There is no doubt they are a great dog breed. If you are looking for a dog, the question for you is to determine if a Golden Retriever is the right fit for your family.

Golden Retriever Personality

Golden Retrievers are a social breed. They love greeting new people and get along well with other dogs. They are typically very friendly when meeting new people and other dogs.

 If you have a Golden Retriever, do not be surprised if they freely approach others with excitement. A Golden Retriever owner might tell you how their dog begs to visit the neighbors or go to the dog park. 

This is because they find enjoyment in companionship and pleasing others.

Golden Retriever Personality
Golden Retriever Personality

They aim to please people and are very trustworthy. If you teach your Golden Retriever a task, you can rest assured that they will do it. You can trust your Golden to obey and bond with the whole family.

Golden Retriever Temperament

  • Caring
  • Trustworthy
  • Smart
  • Playful
  • Happy
  • Hard Worker
  • Quiet Confidence

Golden Retrievers are also playful dogs. They enjoy playing and keep a puppy like attitude well into adulthood. Their excitement is contagious, and they bring joy to everyone they meet.

Are Golden Retrievers Easy to Train?

A Golden Retriever’s trainability is one of its greatest qualities. These are dogs that truly want to please humans so that makes them one of the easiest to train dog breeds.

 A reason Golden Retrievers are often chosen for service work is because of their trainability. Some say a Golden Retriever can learn and understand 150 or more words.

Training should be started young. Socialization and introduction to training at a young age makes training easier and builds a good foundation. 

Training also promotes bonding between the dog and owner.

Contrary to popular belief though, old dogs can learn new tricks. Even adult Golden Retrievers can be trained. Their people pleasing quality will make it easy to promote new behaviors with positive rewards.

Are Golden Retrievers Easy to Train
Are Golden Retrievers Easy to Train?

Are Golden Retrievers Aggressive?

In general, Golden Retrievers that are trained and socialized from a young age, are not aggressive. They tend to have a friendly, playful, outgoing personality.

The breed is a retrieving dog, bred out of yellow retrievers and, the now extinct, Tweed Water Spaniel. Aggression is not a common trait to any of the breed ancestors of the Golden Retriever.

The Tweed Water Spaniel became Extinct in the 19th Century.

They were known as a “water dog” and used extensively in the development of the Golden Retriever.

Their eagerness to please and outgoing personality make them less likely to be aggressive. However, that does not mean they cannot become aggressive. Any dog can be aggressive at times.

Golden Retrievers are not immune to developing aggressive tendencies. It is important to know that training, socialization, and treating the dog with respect can mitigate the risk of aggression for all breeds.

This also means that a lack of training and socialization, and a lack of respect can increase the risk of aggression. 

Abuse, isolation, and health problems that cause pain, can cause a dog to become aggressive. This should be taken seriously and not ignored based on the general temperament of the breed.

Are Golden Retrievers Aggressive
Are Golden Retrievers Aggressive?

Are Golden Retrievers Dangerous?

Golden Retrievers are no more dangerous than other breeds of dogs. Their natural temperament seems to make them less likely to become aggressive and dangerous.

However, due to the size of the dog, they can be dangerous if they become aggressive. If the dog is abused or trained to be aggressive, their bite could be deadly simply because of their size.

This is not a common trait of Golden Retrievers though. If a Golden Retriever is aggressive and dangerous, they are likely unhappy and severely abused or neglected.

Taking the time to understand why a dog is aggressive can help prevent an incident that results in harm. A dog that is newly aggressive should be seen by a vet to rule out injury or a medical ailment. When in doubt take precautions.

Dogs that do not have a medical reason for the aggression should be trained by a professional who has experience with aggressive behaviors in dogs.

Are Golden Retrievers Dangerous
Are Golden Retrievers Dangerous?

Are Golden Retrievers Loyal?

Loyalty is one of the Golden Retrievers’ greatest traits. Both the AKC and the As Good As Gold, Golden Retriever Rescue of Illinois list loyalty as a trait of Golden Retrievers.

This trait is easily seen when training begins. As a Golden Retriever is trained, they become bond more and more with their human. 

The reward of pleasing their human makes them incredibly loyal to continue that reward.

Are Golden Retrievers Good Guard Dogs?

If you are looking for a guard dog, you might be thinking the loyalty and trainability of a Golden Retriever makes them a great breed for that. 

However, Golden Retrievers may not make the best guard dog.

Golden Retrievers can be protective. They may bark and deter violations to the home or owner. They can be trained to be aggressive, but it is not one of their natural traits. 

They are loyal, but they are not a one person type of dog. Golden Retrievers like people.

Are Golden Retrievers Good Guard Dogs
Are Golden Retrievers Good Guard Dogs?

Their outgoing personality and eagerness to please, make them less suitable as a guard dog or protective dog than other breeds. 

One owner breeds, such as German Shepherds, or Doberman Pinschers, make much better guard dogs because of their protective nature and strong attachment to a specific person.

Are Golden Retrievers Good with Kids?

“As Good As Gold” Golden Retriever Rescue of Illinois says Golden Retrievers are not good with kids. This is contrary to the popular belief that the breed makes a great family dog.

However, in my opinion, their statement simply means that you cannot expect every dog to have the same qualities. Golden Retrievers raised with children, socialization, and training should be good with kids. But with animals, you never know for certain.

Golden Retrievers that have been abused or harmed by children, or a dog that hasn’t ever been around children, may not do well with children.

Golden Retrievers and Kids (keep in mind)

It is important to know that regardless of the dog’s breed, they deserve respect from all ages of humans. These are big dogs and strong dogs. That is something to keep in mind, especially around smaller kids.

Teaching your child to play nicely and respect the dog’s space is critical in facilitating a safe and happy home with any breed of dog.

Golden Retrievers are playful and energetic. They are happy dogs who love to interact with humans. They can make fantastic family dogs. 

Are Golden Retrievers Good with Kids
Are Golden Retrievers Good with Kids?

However, it is important to train both the dog and the children to be good with one another.

Are Golden Retrievers Good with Cats?

This fun, loving, dog is known for its companionship with humans. But what about its companionship with other species?

Golden Retrievers are known to be a very friendly and social breed. Because of those traits, they do get along with cats. 

According to the AKC, breeds that fall under the sporting group, which includes Golden Retrievers, are good with cats because of their friendly and outgoing personality.

While in general, Golden Retrievers are good companions with cats, there are things pet owners can do to reduce the risk of things going wrong. 

An older dog who had a bad experience with cats, or that has never been around cats, should be trained and kept a special eye on. 

Commands such as “leave it” can ensure you maintain control when introducing the pets.

The AKC gives great tips on keeping a peaceful household when you have dogs and cats living together. The most important tip is to start young. If you get a puppy, start with training good, cat-friendly, behavior. 

If bad behavior never becomes acceptable, it likely will never become a habit you have to break.

Are Golden Retrievers Good with Cats
Are Golden Retrievers Good with Cats?

Golden Retriever Lifespan

Most Golden Retrievers seem to live around 10 to 12 years. This is also the average for dogs in general. However, there are some cases of them living much longer.

Oldest Golden Retriever

There have been reports of Golden Retrievers living to be around 17 years old. More recently there was even a story on a Golden Retriever who celebrated her 20th birthday.

Augie, the oldest Golden Retriever, from Tennessee, turned 20 years old and took the title of the oldest Golden Retriever, in April 2020.

Golden Retriever Rescue

This is a great story! Augie was already exceeding the Golden Retriever lifespan average when she was adopted at 14 years old from a rescue operation. Her owners, Steve and Jen, believe she will also see her 21st birthday as her overall health is still good.  

By the way, Golden Retriever Rescue operations are a great cause and deserve your support if possible. There are operations in every state and many cities. They cater specifically to Golden Retrievers in need of help.

Golden Retriever Rescue Near Me

We have a long list of Golden Retriever Rescue centers and are happy to provide with a location near you upon request.

If you need help finding one please email us at Put in the subject line “Golden Retriever Rescue Near Me” then your zip code. We will quickly respond with the closest Golden Retriever Rescue in your area.

Golden Retriever Rescue Near Me
Golden Retriever Rescue Near Me

You can also find centers here: Golden Retriever Rescue List

Are Golden Retrievers Hypoallergenic?

A dog is determined to be hypoallergenic if they do not shed dander. When a dog sheds fur, they also shed dander, which can cause an allergic response to those with allergies to pet dander.

Golden Retriever Shedding

Golden Retrievers do shed, and therefore not considered hypoallergenic. The breed does shed moderately, and even more so once or twice a year when they shed their thick double coat.

Golden Retrievers do not need frequent professional grooming for their coat. They do need regular brushing, and occasional baths can help with the shedding by loosening up the hair.

Are Golden Retrievers Hypoallergenic
Are Golden Retrievers Hypoallergenic?

Pros and Cons to Having a Golden Retriever

There are pros and cons to every breed. Determining if a breed is right for your family means assessing the positives and negatives for each. Always keep in mind the needs of the animal and the traits you desire.

Golden Retriever Pros

  • They are very loyal.
  • They are very friendly.
  • They are very playful.
  • They do not require regular professional grooming.
  • They are a popular breed and are easy to find.
  • They are very smart.
  • They are very easy to train.
  • They tend to be good with kids and animals when they are socialized and trained.
  • They make wonderful companions.
  • They are eager to please their owner.

Golden Retriever Cons

  • They can be heavy shedders.
  • They require frequent brushing.
  • Their hair may get matted easily if not cared for properly.
  • They can weigh between 55 and 65 pounds. This is not necessarily a con for everyone, but if you live in a rental property that has weight restrictions for pets, this might be something you need to consider.
  • They have a high energy level and need a lot of activity. If you do not have time to dedicate to playing with your Golden, they might begin digging or chewing to release some energy.
  • They are not ideal for being a guard dog.
  • Their popularity means many backyard breeders breed and sell puppies that can be sick or unhealthy. These puppies obviously still need homes and to be loved and cared for. 

Unfortunately, supporting backyard breeding and purchasing puppies from stores that get them from puppy mills, perpetuates the cycle of unhealthy dogs that later require a lot of medical attention.


It is usually best to purchase a puppy from a reputable breeder or adopt from a rescue or shelter.

Are Golden Retrievers a Smart Choice for You?

After considering the pros and cons of Golden Retrievers, you should be able to determine if this breed is a good fit for your home. 

Ask yourself a few questions before committing.

  • Do you have the financial means to get proper veterinarian care, such as vaccines and regular check-ups? 
  • Do you have the ability to train the dog your dog (you will have to dedicate some special time for this)? 
  • Do you have the time to play and socialize with your dog?

Once you make your decision on getting a Golden Retriever take some time and research reputable breeders and rescue shelters near you. Call them up and ask questions. 

Be prepared to fall in love with your Golden Retriever!

Golden Retriever Questions

Are Golden Retrievers Labradors?

No, they are different dogs. While similar, Labradors tend to have shorter hair, shorter snouts and a more muscular build.

Dog Show Golden Retriever

What is a dog show Golden Retriever? Pretty simple, a GR that is bred, trained and groomed to have a certain look that dog show judges prefer.

Dog Show Golden Retriever

Golden Retrievers are often one of the stars of the “World’s Greatest Dog Show” put on each year by the famous Westminster Kennel Club.

Golden Retriever Puppy

If you search the internet and just talk to people you will hear a lot about “Golden Retriever Puppies”. This is because most people want to buy a Golden Retriever puppy! They are so cute and adorable they are hard to resist.

Because of this ‘demand’ there are many people and organizations that breed GR puppies for resale.

Golden Retriever Price

Since we mentioned puppies the next thought you may have is how much does a Golden Retriever cost? Most of the information I found seems to indicate that a pure breed Golden Retriever puppy would cost between $300 and $3000 depending on where you find your dog.

Shelters generally have an assortment of fees maybe up to $300. But you probably won’t find a pure breed there. Golden Retriever Rescues can be from $500 and up.

Then you get to the breeders. Backyard breeders, of course will be less expense but a reputable, professional breeder could cost you $3000 or even more for a Golden Retriever puppy with a good bloodline.

These are all just estimates based on my research. Your results may vary.

Golden Retriever Mix

“Chili” by kristijna is licensed with CC BY 2.0

What is a Golden Retriever mix? Simply put, two dog breeds that are mixed, generally on purpose. These ‘mix’ dogs have become very popular.

Examples of popular Golden Retriever mix dogs are…

  • German Shepherd Golden Retriever mix
  • Husky Golden Retriever mix
  • Lab Golden Retriever mix
  • Corgi Golden Retriever mix
  • Pitbull Golden Retriever mix
  • Australian Shepherd Golden Retriever mix
  • Border Collie Golden Retriever mix
  • Golden Retriever mix Poodle
  • Dachshund Golden Retriever mix
  • Cocker Spaniel Golden Retriever mix
  • Black Lab Golden Retriever mix
  • Chihuahua Golden Retriever mix
  • Rottweiler Golden Retriever mix
  • Great Pyrenees Golden Retriever mix
  • Beagle Golden Retriever mix

Types of Golden Retrievers

There are three types or varieties of Golden Retrievers. They have just small differences between them that most people would not notice.

  • American Golden Retriever – Noticeably darker color coat than the English variety.
  • Canadian Golden Retriever – See below
  • English Golden Retriever – Lighter colored coat than the American variety.

Canadian Golden Retriever

What is a Canadian Golden Retriever?

According to the Golden Retriever Club of Canada, the first official record of the dog breed in Canada was in 1927.

While the Canadian Golden Retriever looks very similar to the American and English varieties it is said they have a slightly different coat. Their hair is not as long and not as thick but can be more dense. The Canadian is also a taller dog.

Colors of Golden Retrievers

Golden Retrievers pretty much come in three official colors. You may see a variety of colors in what looks like a Golden Retriever but it is then a mixed breed.

  • Light Golden (sometimes referred to as Cream color)
  • Golden
  • Dark Golden
Colors of Golden Retrievers
Colors of Golden Retrievers

Golden Retriever Club of America

Yes, Golden Retrievers are so special they have their very own club! The Golden Retriever Club of America is well established and a great source of information about Golden Retrievers.

The club states that they are the “Primary Guardian of the Golden Retriever breed.

As a member of one of the largest dog breed clubs you will get to share your passion for Golden Retrievers with other club members in addition to a monthly newsletter and other benefits.

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