Golden Retriever Dog Breed

Golden Retriever

Golden Retrievers make great companions; they’re patient, loyal and are caring towards the humans in their life. Their friendly and sociable nature combined with their gentle temperament and playfulness makes them a popular choice for New Zealand families.

Just like the popular Labrador Retriever (New Zealand’s most popular breed), Golden Retriever’s are hard workers and intelligent pups making them excellent guide and search-and-rescue dogs. Golden Retrievers are ‘gun dogs’, adept at assisting hunters in finding and retrieving game (most often quail and duck).

Golden Retriever Facts

Typically, a Golden Retriever’s life expectancy can reach 10 to 12 years, and a Golden Retriever’s weight averages at about 25 to 35kgs.

  • Breed Group: Sporting
  • Height: Female: 51–56 cm, Male: 56–61 cm
  • Weight: Female: 25-30 kg, Male: 30-34 kg
  • Life Span: 10-12 years
  • Coat: Double coat
  • Colour: Golden, ranging from light (or cream) to dark (a reddish gold)

Golden Retriever

Breed Characteristics

Exercise needs
Health issues
Medium High
Barking tendencies
Grooming needs
Shedding level

What Does a Golden Retriever Look Like?

Golden Retriever’s are quickly recognisable; medium-sized and sturdy dogs with broad heads, straight muzzles and short ears that fall close to their cheeks. They’re double-coated dogs, with a thick, water-repellent topcoat, a ruff on the neck and feathering on their legs, underbody and tail.

Their coats are always golden, ranging from light (or cream) to dark (a reddish gold). You may have heard of red Golden Retrievers, but those are just Goldens whose coats are so dark they look reddish. You might be surprised to hear there are no white Golden Retrievers! While some puppies’ coats are so light they look white they usually get darker with age. Cream-coloured Goldens sometimes are referred to as English Cream Golden Retrievers because that colour dominates there.

Besides the golden shade, this dog’s hair can be slightly wavy (a throwback to its Scottish ancestors) or straight. Besides the coat, there are no real variations in this breed; a Golden is a Golden is a Golden, no matter the shade.


Golden Retriever

Breed Facts

Breed group:
Female: 51–56 cm, Male: 56–61 cm
Female: 25–30 kg, Male: 30-34 kg
Life span:
10–12 years
Medium length, Double coated
Light to dark gold

Golden Retriever Temperament: Everyone's BFF

The Golden Retriever dog breed would make a great dog world ambassador. Friendly, outgoing and devoted, this breed is a great example of what it means to be a faithful canine companion. With a face that always seems to be smiling, Goldens make friends with nearly everyone they meet. The Golden Retriever temperament is irrepressibly clownish, and the dogs retain puppy-like characteristics well into adulthood.

Golden Retrievers are exuberant and excitable - often appearing to lack an ‘off’ switch! Despite their strength, Goldens are fantastic family dogs - trustworthy, reliable and with love to spare for every member of the family (or anyone who walks in the front door).

Keeping Golden Retrievers Healthy: 6 Issues to Watch Out For

By recognising health problems in a Golden Retriever early on, you can seek advice and treatment from a veterinarian sooner. Reduce Golden Retriever health problems by purchasing a puppy from a responsible New Zealand breeder who has papers to show that the dogs they breed are healthy. Always inspect breeding facilities and breeding dogs, and never buy from a distant online seller. If you opt for Golden Retriever adoption, be sure to get as much medical history that the rescue group or shelter is able to provide.

Joint Dysplasia:

Golden Retrievers are known to suffer from elbow and hip dysplasia, diseases that cause the joints to grow abnormally and develop arthritis. You can avoid this condition by only buying dogs from breeders who certify their dogs to be free of any joint dysplasia. If you are adopting a Golden Retriever through a rescue organisation or rehoming from another family, make sure you ask for the medical history of your new pet.

Skin Allergies and Infections:

While the Golden Retriever’s distinctive golden coat is one of their finest features, their dense fur means they are prone to skin problems. Allergies and infections due to fleas, food or environmental allergens like pollen are common in Golden Retrievers causing hair loss, red and itchy skin. Look out for excessive grooming and scratching.

Ear Infections:

Allergies and floppy ears can predispose Golden Retrievers to recurrent ear infections. Dogs typically suffer from outer ear infections, which cause ears to be red, itchy, smell terrible and have increased discharge. Left untreated, infections can occur deeper inside your Golden Retriever’s middle or inner ear.


An underactive thyroid, or hypothyroidism, is a common issue in Golden Retrievers, which can cause weight gain without appetite change, low energy, changes in skin and hair coat, lethargy and mental dullness.


Cataracts, or cloudiness in the eye lens, are known to be a genetic problem in some Golden Retrievers, and it can cause blindness if untreated.


Unfortunately, cancer is very common in Golden Retrievers. The most common types of Golden Retriever cancer reported are hemangiosarcoma (cancer of the blood vessel walls), osteosarcoma (bone cancer) and lymphosarcoma (blood cancer).

Caring for Your Golden Retriever Dog

Your Golden Retriever will shower you with a lifetime of love and laughter if you care for them properly. Here’s how.


Do Golden Retrievers shed a lot? Yes, they do, but it is so worth it. Golden Retrievers shed moderate amounts of their thick double coats all year round, and twice a year they shed heavily. To reduce shedding, Golden Retriever grooming consists of brushing several times a week, and daily during the heavy shedding times. Using a product like the FURminator deShedding tool, can reduce shedding. Bathing, unless the dog is heavily soiled, is not recommended more than once a month, and clipping a Golden Retriever is not recommended.


Nutrition plays an important role in the health of your Golden Retriever, and how much you feed them is as important as what you feed them. Studies show that large-breed dogs live longer and experience fewer problems with disease, including arthritis, if they are kept at a healthy weight. Ask your veterinarian what the ideal weight for your Golden Retriever should be.

As for the best dog food for Golden Retrievers, adult Golden Retrievers benefit most from eating a complete and balanced large-breed dog food, like Royal Canin Maxi Adult dry dog food, which is uniquely formulated to support the bone and joint needs of large-breed dogs. You can also feed a breed specific food such as Royal Canin Breed Specific Golden Retriever dry dog food.

Avoid overfeeding Golden Retriever puppies because it can predispose them to health problems. No more roly-poly puppies! Many future problems can be avoided when Golden Retriever puppies are fed appropriate amounts of large-breed puppy food, like Royal Canin Breed Specific Golden Retriever Puppy dry food. Use the feeding chart on the bag as a guide, or ask our customer care team for help on how much to feed your puppy.


    This smart and active breed requires daily exercise, both physical and mental. Adult Goldens need at least 45 minutes of exercise a day, whether it is walking, running, playing fetch with a toy like the Chuckit! Ball Launcher or training. Many Golden Retrievers enjoy water, and swimming is a great low-impact exercise. Chewing is also an important behaviour that can be supported by giving your Golden Retriever safe items to chew.

    Exercises such as hiking, agility, or swimming provide both physical and mental stimulation for Golden Retriever dogs. Then you can supplement with interactive dog toys such as the KONG Lock-it, learning tricks and playing games like hide-and-seek.

    For normal growth, Golden Retriever puppies need less strenuous exercise than adult Goldens.

    Training Your Golden Retriever

    Not only are they affectionate, they’re also eager to learn, so Golden Retriever training is straightforward and enjoyable. And when put to a task, whether work or play, most Goldens develop a single-minded focus to get the job done.

    Like every dog, they excel when trained using treats and dog-friendly positive-reinforcement training. Because most Goldens are toy-driven, balls and toys are a great way to supplement treat training.

    When it comes to training a Golden Retriever puppy, it’s important to note that some can become over-excited during the training process and might require a quick pace to stay focused. Like many dogs, Golden Retriever puppies can be mouthy, so consistent early training will help to decrease this natural tendency to nibble. Golden Retriever potty training is also straightforward, requiring typical supervision and consistency to get the job done.

    This playful breed needs both physical and mental exercise to work off their boundless energy. Their name gives a clue to an easy way to do so—retrieving. Goldens also have excellent noses, so games that incorporate scenting, like “find it,” can help to burn off their puppy-for-life exuberance.

    With their gentle ways and gorgeous looks, it’s no wonder Golden Retrievers are a favourite with New Zealanders. These playful, energetic pups will fill your life with joy, fun and activity. Get ready for long walks or runs, games of fetch in and out of the water, and maybe even an agility class or two.

    Golden Retrievers are loving, smart, playful, majestic beings who make great companions and family dogs.

    Top picks for your Golden Retriever