When you picture the quintessential American dog, chances are that you’re thinking of either a Labrador or a Golden Retriever. There’s good reason for that, as both breeds are wonderful with almost no negative qualities, making them both excellent for owners of any experience level.
Let’s look specifically at Golden Retrievers. Are they good for first-time owners? Is there anything that new dog owners should watch out for with this breed? Is there any other breed that might be more suitable for certain people?
We’ll answer all these questions and more here.
Are Golden Retrievers Good for Novice Dog Owners?
You could make a strong case that not only are Golden Retrievers good for first-time dog owners, but they may also be the best breed for newbies.
These dogs are loyal, affectionate, obedient, and easygoing, with few behavioral problems. You don’t need to be a seasoned dog trainer to get your Golden to obey your every command, and they’re happiest when they’re with you, which will likely satisfy the desire for companionship that led you to get a dog in the first place.
They’re eager to learn, so they’ll quickly soak up any obedience training that you offer them. Unlike certain stubborn breeds (such as Bulldogs and Huskies), they won’t test you during training, as their only objective is to please their owners.
While no dog breed can be said to be completely safe, Golden Retrievers are not known for being prone to aggression. In fact, according to the American Temperament Test Society, Golden Retrievers passed aggression tests at an 85.6% clip.
They’re famous for being especially patient with children, so if you have little ones in the house, you’ll likely feel comfortable having a Golden around. That doesn’t mean you should leave your toddler alone with your dog, of course, but chances are that your pup will fall in love with your kid immediately.
Are There Any Negatives to Owning a Golden Retriever?
While Goldens are fantastic dogs for first-time owners, that’s not to say that they’re without their fair share of drawbacks.
The biggest issue that most people will have is with their energy levels. These dogs can be incredibly energetic and rambunctious, and if you want to keep that energy in check, you’ll need to spend at least an hour or two per day trying to tucker them out. This is not the pooch for couch potatoes.
If they have any behavioral issues, chances are that it will be due to an excess amount of energy and a lack of suitable stimulation. Expect to spend every day training them, walking them, playing fetch with them, and the like.
Another issue is that they shed frequently, so you’ll need to either groom them often or make peace with the fact that every surface in your house will be covered in dog hair. If you have family members with allergies, they may not be able to handle sharing their house with a Golden Retriever.
Their friendly nature also limits their usefulness as guard dogs. They’re not big barkers, so any intruder that breaks into your house in the middle of the night may be greeted by a wagging tail and a polite request to play fetch rather than bared teeth and terrifying snarls.
What Type of Person Would Do Well With a Golden Retriever?
Golden Retrievers are excellent family dogs, so anyone with kids in the house should consider the breed if they’re looking to get a dog. These pups thrive on affection and attention, so the more people in the house, the more petting that they’re likely to receive.
Unlike some highly affectionate breeds, Goldens aren’t likely to become fixated on a single member of the family. They’ll happily accept love and companionship from every member of your brood, from Grandma to the new baby.
Active types will get along great with these dogs. If you spend your weekends hiking, hunting, or splashing around at the lake, a Golden Retriever will be able to fit right into your existing lifestyle without a hitch.
If you’re planning to show your dog or compete in agility trials or similar events, Goldens are also excellent. Their natural obedience and energetic nature make them tough to beat in any sort of competition, and they’re also beautiful dogs with or without much grooming.
As long as you tucker them out, they’re also a great cuddle buddy. Once you get home from that hike or hunting expedition, your Golden will likely curl up next to you on the couch and settle in for a long Netflix marathon.
What Type of Person Should Consider a Different Breed?
As you might expect, those who live a sedentary lifestyle may not do well with this breed. If you tend to come home exhausted from work, wanting nothing more than to flop on the couch and turn your mind off for a few hours, then your Golden will likely find living with you frustrating, to say the least.
In fact, if you’re hardly ever home, this is not the dog for you. They need love, attention, and stimulation, and they can be prone to separation anxiety, so they do best with people who can dedicate plenty of time to their care.
Anyone living in an apartment should also think long and hard about bringing a Golden home. While they can thrive in an apartment setting, they’ll need to be taken out and exercised frequently, and it’s much easier to tucker them out if you have a big backyard for them to tear around in.
Neat freaks may have issues with the breed because they’re a rough and tumble pet. They’re likely to come home covered in mud or carrying a ton of dirt in their coat, and that’s not even taking into consideration how much they shed. If you must have a spotless house, you’re going to have problems with a Golden.
Don’t think about sidestepping that issue by keeping your Golden outside either. These dogs need to be around their humans, and a pup that’s kept outdoors all the time is likely to become withdrawn and depressed, which can lead to otherwise uncharacteristic behavioral problems from these dogs.
What Other Breeds Would Be Suitable for Someone Who Shouldn’t Get a Golden?
While Golden Retrievers are excellent dogs for newbies, they’re far from the only choice. If you think that a Golden might not fit in with your existing lifestyle, here are some other breeds worth considering.
Papillons are much smaller than Golden Retrievers, and they’re not quite as energetic. They do equally well in apartments or houses with big backyards, and they have tremendous personalities. However, they’re not quite as naturally obedient, so you’ll need to be firm and consistent with your obedience training.
You might think that these dogs would be constantly bouncing off the walls, given the ridiculous speeds that they’re capable of reaching on the track. The fact of the matter is, however, that they’re incredibly mellow (and even lazy!).
Puggles are mixes of Pugs and Beagles, and they’re small dogs that don’t require a ton of exercise (in fact, they can’t handle too much activity). If you live more of a relaxed lifestyle, these pups are more than happy to join you on the couch.
This breed might be tough to track down, but they make fantastic guard dogs, don’t require a ton of exercise, and rarely bark, making them ideal for families and apartment dwellers.
These adorable, wrinkly little dogs require little exercise, so the occasional walk is likely all that you’ll need to provide. They’re affectionate and cuddly, but they can be incredibly stubborn, so you may have more issues during training than with some other breeds.
Many people — especially those with smaller homes — refuse to consider these gentle giants, but that’s a mistake. They’re incredibly affectionate, low-energy dogs, and they don’t shed much either. Plus, no one will mess with you if they see you walking a small horse around the neighborhood.
You’ll notice that some breeds that you might expect to be on this list — like Labradors and Aussie Shepherds, for example — didn’t make the cut. That’s not because they aren’t great dogs, but rather because they’re similar to Goldens in many ways. Thus, if you won’t do well with a Golden Retriever, you’re not likely to do well with a Labrador either.
The Golden Choice
If you’re looking to get your first-ever dog, a Golden Retriever is one of the best breeds that you can possibly bring home. They’re loyal, affectionate, and easy to train, but be aware that they also require plenty of your time and energy.
We can guarantee that you won’t regret bringing a Golden Retriever into your family!
You may also be interested in:
- Are Golden Retrievers Good for Apartment Living?
- 10 Best Dog Brushes for Golden Retrievers – Reviews & Top Picks
Featured Image Credit: Lars_Nissen, Pixabay