Golden Retriever Temperament & Personality

golden retriever temperament

Golden Retrievers are loved by many because of their perpetual smile, loving affection, extreme athleticism, and high intelligence. They are athletic and have a beautiful coat and are known for their ability to adapt to nearly any environment. It is no wonder that this breed is the 3rd on the list of most popular dog breeds in America. Golden Retrievers are the perfect family dog and companion for all.

History of Golden Retrievers

The Golden Retriever originated in Scotland in the late 19th century. A breeder set out to produce a dog that was both extraordinarily talented in the hunting field and still a fantastic companion within the home. Through a litter of breeding in which certain Spaniels (particularly the Tweed Spaniel) and Retrievers were bred together, eventually the ‘golden’ puppies were set aside, bred through multiple generations, and streamlined.

What came out was the Golden Retriever that is; a working-class animal that is agile, docile, intelligent, and has an incredible nose. The original Golden Retriever was known for its adaptability in the hunting field and used for multiple different utilities (particularly in retrieving waterfowl like ducks or birds). They were also known for their charismatic personality, approachability, and loving home-nature.

The reason why understanding the Golden Retrievers history is important is that the ‘hunt’ remains to be dominant in this breed. While generation upon generation of breeding has certainly produced a Golden that needs less activity, is a bit more home-oriented, and even more affable in nature, that doesn’t mean that their sense of smell is no longer keen, their intelligence has dulled, or that they don’t require excessive stimulation.

Because they’re such incredible home companions, owners outside of the hunting realm were and are still able to utilize this aspect of their personality and create a perfect pet out of the breed. But do note when purchasing a Golden Retriever that while they don’t have a huge prey-drive, they’re certainly hyper-sensitive and did not forgo all of their original characteristics.

golden retriever traitsGolden Retriever Personality

The Golden Retriever personality is a thing of near perfection. They’re calm, loving, docile, and overly welcoming (making them awful guard dogs). These canines love to be loved and love to love in return.

Even though Golden Retrievers are known for their great personalities, factors like early-socialization, upbringing, and training are some of the most integral components in the shaping this breed’s personality.

However, as a whole, the Golden Retriever personality is just about everything you want from a companion. One of the most raved and notable attributes of a Golden is their youthful playfulness. Often a dog will be overly playful in their puppy years (having not developed their maturity), a bit goofy, and as they grow, they’ll become a bit more reserved, calm, and lazy.

One of the most raved and notable attributes of a Golden is their youthful playfulness. Often a dog will be overly playful in their puppy years (having not developed their maturity), a bit goofy, and as they grow, they’ll become a bit more reserved, calm, and lazy.

This breed is often considered to be the everlasting puppy. While they’re a highly trainable breed and naturally docile, that childish playfulness and enthusiasm doesn’t shed until they’re about 4-5 years of age, making them a bundle of love and fun well into adulthood. While they’re often considered great dogs for the first time owner, this is a Golden Retriever trait that’s sometimes overlooked, and will require quite a bit of attention.

In terms of self-assuredness, these dogs are extremely confident but rarely dignified. They know what they’re capable of and who they’re loyal to, but rarely do they desire to flaunt this sense of identity in front of others or keep a cautious space between unfamiliar people and canines.

This breed is also fantastic around children. They’re smart enough to differentiate between the size and fragility of adults and youngsters, and are often gentle to the point that they treat the little ones like their own offspring. Perhaps the sole reason why they’re 3rd on the AKC’s most popular list of 155 dog breeds is not their adaptability, elegance, playfulness, or the sheer companionship they bring, but how effortlessly they can be the perfect family dog.

Through and through–if raised correctly and from a strong bloodline–the Golden Retriever is the great adventuring companion, the children’s best friend, and that coveted addition to the loving family. There is very little negative to say about their personality, even though they have a dismal prey-drive, they are rarely dignified, and almost never introverted.

Golden Retriever Temperament

The Golden Retriever temperament is calm, collect, and often energetic. These aren’t dogs that are prone to snap, lash out, or even challenge others, and rather they take life as a collective social experience. 

As mentioned earlier, in their puppy years they can be incredibly energetic (which is often contagious and not overbearing) and don’t outgrow this outpour of enthusiasm until they’re well into adulthood. But, aside from that Golden Retrievers are calm and gentle animals.

golden retriever personality

In fact, they have such stable and consistent temperaments that they’re often used as therapy dogs for those in need. Their honest rapport mixed with their dashing confidence is a perfect combination.

Do beware, however, that these dogs can be a bit needy. Not needy in the sense of maintenance, but attention. Once they’re integrated into the heart of a family they rely on that love, and in its absence can grow tireless, anxious, and a bit destructive.

Once they’re integrated into the heart of a family they rely on that love, and in its absence can grow tireless, anxious, and a bit destructive.

This means they’re not a good fit for the owner that doesn’t have ample time to spend with their canine, and will leave their dog at home for long periods of time.

Since Golden Retrievers suffer from separation anxiety, they need to be in a household where they will have constant stimulation and people around.

As stated above, Golden’s have a lot of energy. While this is often just an aspect of their temperament, and something often loved, it can become problematic. Some owners read up on Goldens, see that they don’t need as much exercise as most retrievers, and then plan accordingly only to realize that their canine has an endless reservoir of energy.

This, of course, can be trained and mitigated, but sometimes with Goldens it takes a lot of time, patience, and obedience training to correct. This breed justs want to play for forever, and have a hard time differentiating playtime from rest time.

Of course, similar to their personality, there are a many other factors that directly affect a Golden’s temperament. But, overall they are generally a calm, loving, and levelheaded breed.

Open to meeting and engaging with strangers, this breed does not fall victim to the ‘bad behavior’ that needs to be curbed or trained out of so many existing breeds. This is another Golden Retriever trait that correlates with their popularity ranking.

Golden Retriever Puppy Mills

When it comes to the personality and temperament of a Golden Retriever, the topic of puppy mills is important to discuss. Every popular dog is going to fall victim to the puppy mill phenomenon, but it seems Labs and Goldens often have it worse.

With such a high demand for these breeds, an array of irresponsible breeders will stress a larger focus on quantity rather than quality, producing Goldens that no matter how well socialized, trained, or loved will simply demonstrate poor traits. That’s why it’s incredibly important with this breed to ensure that your breeder is reputable, clearances have been given to the parents, and that their personalities are on par with that of the quintessential Golden Retriever.

There are plenty of cases out there in which a poorly bred Golden Retriever contradicts the breeds stereotype, and this is often the case of irresponsible breeding. For a breed as popular and coveted as the Golden Retriever, do your research and know your breeder.

golden retriever traitsGolden Retriever Training Tips

Chances are, despite how meticulous you’re going to be about early-socialization or training, your Golden is going to be, well, golden.

However, to solidify that reality, you need to take the necessary steps in cultivating that honest and lovely temperament and personality this breed is known for.

Early-socialization is key. You’ll have no problem taking your Golden into social environments (and sometimes might actually have to teach them how to be less excitable), but it’s best you do it early and frequently.

This will help accustom them to the world, other people, and other dogs. Not only will this develop their confidence, but early socialization will also develop their identity and sense of security in populated environments.

Training is key too. These dogs thrive when they have a job to do, as that’s what they naturally crave. An exhausted Golden Retriever is a behaved Golden Retriever–but exhausted doesn’t need to be exclusive to physicality.

Take them to puppy classes as they’re smart enough to discern between lessons and the homestead, and then integrate both intuitively. Not just that, but they love to learn. Learning is one of their favorite activities no matter what sort of knowledge they’re being fed.

This is a breed that was produced to be trainable, and that’s something they still desire today. Alongside their obedience training, teach your Golden commands, tricks, and games to stimulate his intellect. Give your dog a challenge and you’ll have his full attention.

Golden Retrievers will rarely challenge you in return and instead will welcome the task at hand. This stimulation, on top of the obedience, helps cultivate that fantastic personality and temperament. Give your dog a job and create a routine for him that makes it seem as if he has a set role within the household. This could mean you play fetch with your dog every morning, or there’s a training session and a task to be completed every night.

This breed covets a purpose, and while they’re entirely satisfied with that purpose being the couch-warmer and the children’s best friend, if you stimulate and enforce routine, this breed is more likely to express docility and an even temperament.

Wrapping Up

The Golden Retriever is sometimes considered the most well-rounded breed of all dogs. They are an intelligent hunting companion and lovable family pet all at once without sacrificing the integrity of either side. If you add in their regal aesthetic, manageable size, and enthusiasm for life, this is one of the most adaptable and recommended dogs for all people.

They’re naturally docile, affectionate, and social. However, with that being said, it’s important with this breed (like all breeds) that you take the necessary steps in cultivating that personality and temperament they’re known for.

Do your research before buying your Golden, and raise him with the proper attention and diligence he deserves. All said and done, you can’t really go wrong with a Golden Retriever. They’re simply wonderful.

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