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Golden Retriever - Breed Profile

The Golden Retriever is one of the most popular family dogs worldwide due to his cheerful, tail-wagging nature. His even temper coupled with his intelligence and responsiveness to training makes him a popular choice for families, people with disabilities, and owners involved in obedience, tracking, agility and retrieving.


Keepers and dogs at Guisachan (Scotland) -
Nous (on the left)
The relatively modern Golden Retriever was originally developed in Scotland in the late 19th century as a retrieving dog to use while hunting wild fowl from scrub and water.

In 1865 Lord Tweedmouth purchased his first yellow retriever at Brighton, a dog named Nous, bred by the Earl of Chichester. Nous was the only yellow puppy in an unregistered litter of black wavy-coated Retrievers. In 1867 he was given a Tweed Water Spaniel, Belle, by his cousin Mr David Robertson, MP of Ladykirk on the Tweed. Nous and Belle produced four yellow puppies in 1868 at Guisachan, named Crocus, Primrose, Ada and Cowslip! These were the foundation of the Golden Retriever as a breed.

The Golden Retriever appears to be a mixture of many breeds, including water spaniels, the Newfoundland and the Irish Setter. The similarities to Labradors are probably not coincidental and a shared ancestry is likely.

The first official registration of Golden Retrievers imported to Australia was in 1937.


Golden Retrievers are medium to large dogs, never bigger than a German Shepherd. A male stands about 56-61cm (22-24″), while females are smaller at 51-56cm (20-22″). 

Weight ranges between 27-37kg (60-80lb), males being heavier.

The eyes are dark brown, well set apart and with dark rims. The ears are of moderate size and set on an approximate level with the eyes.

The double coat is wavy and water-resistant which is ideal for those not uncommon plunges into any body of water the dog may encounter. The colours can range from shades of cream to deep gold. Whilst puppies are quite pale, the shades of the tips of the ears can indicate the dog's final adult colouring.

For the Golden Retriever Breed Standard, visit Dogs Australia.


The Golden Retriever is placid and friendly, will get along with other dogs and is a real a joy to be with. Described as an ideal family pet, the Golden Retriever is eager to please and easy to train. They are intelligent, docile and should never be aggressive. 

Golden Retrievers also thrive on structured training programs and are consistent top performers in obedience and agility trials. 

If you are looking for a dog that can be left alone in the backyard while your family enjoys daily outings, forget about owning a Golden Retriever. 

Golden Retriever working as a Guide Dog
Over the years, Golden Retrievers have been bred to make excellent companions to owners as retrievers in hunting expeditions, as service dogs for people with sight or physical disabilities, or as sniffer dogs working with the narcotics or search and rescue divisions in police departments. As a result, Golden Retrievers need to closely interact with their owners and be regularly included in family activities.

Like the popular Labrador Retriever, the Golden Retriever is known for his intelligence and gentle disposition. The Golden Retriever is a versatile breed that will greet everyone with a wagging tail which soon brightens a dull day. The flip side is that they require lots of companionship to be happy, but it is easy to spend time with a Golden Retriever because they are active dogs – they love to retrieve and can spend hours at the park or beach bringing back a tennis ball or a frisbee. 

Golden Retrievers, are slow to fully mature both physically and mentally. At one year of age, they will be at full height but their full weight will be another year or two away.

Mentally, Golden Retrievers can remain puppies up to the age of three years but don’t be worried because this means they keep their lovable, playful personality for longer than usual – sometimes for most of their lives – which is why they are often found in hospitals and retirement villages. 

Owning a Golden Retriever can open up a whole new world for family involvement. Activities such as showing, retrieving, obedience, tracking and agility can be very rewarding for both the owner and dog. The level of involvement can range from purely social to serious competition.

Health & Lifespan

Two debilitating bone diseases – Hip Dysplasia and Elbow Dysplasia, are not uncommon to the breed.

Eye problems can also occur which include: Entropion, Distichiasis, Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA), Cataracts etc.

Golden Retrievers can suffer from inherited heart disease. The breed's primary heart problem is Subarterial Aortic Stenosis (SAS). This disease can be fatal from an early age. Again, breeders should be checking for the presence of disease in breeding stock. 

Certificates should be checked to ensure the dog is clear from any disease and they should hold a clearance after the age of 12 monthsThese conditions can be tested for and pups should only be bought from those reputable breeders who hold current testing certificates.

Be careful because like Labrador Retrievers, Golden Retrievers love food so obesity can be a problem. Because Hip Dysplasia can be exacerbated by excess weight, it is important to monitor food intake throughout the life of your dog. 

You can expect your Golden Retriever to be with you for 10 to 15 years.


The Golden Retriever's coat is medium to long and he sheds a lot, particularly at the change of season. Many pet owners find a thorough 10 minute brushing once a week is adequate. 
You will find great tips here on grooming and trimming thanks to the Golden Retriever Club of QLD

Recommended for

The Golden Retriever is a great dog suited to the family. Be mindful of the dog’s size around small children however a well trained Golden Retriever will know its place around all humans, large and small. They make wonderful companions and are deservedly regarded as one of the best all round family dogs.

They are not a breed for apartments or terraces as they do like to romp and explore a backyard. A daily walk will also benefit the dog and keep its weight in check.

  • Temperament: friendly, trusting
  • Lifespan: average 13 years
  • Maintenance: medium
  • Recommended for: families

For more information on this wonderful breed, please contact:

The Golden Retriever Club of NSW

The Golden Retriever Club of VIC

The Golden Retriever Club of QLD

Sadly some Golden Retrievers end up in rescue shelters and if you'd like to rehome one of them, please get in touch with:

Golden Retriever Rescue 


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