The Complete Guide to the Golden Retriever

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Golden Retrievers along with Labrador Retrievers are the classic family dog. They are generally patient, tolerant and affectionate. They tend not to worry much about noises, or changes in their routine, unlike Border Collies and German Shepherd Dogs, for example, which tend to have a strong need for order. They will generally tolerate children hugging them and otherwise expressing clumsy affection with them. They also love playing ball games with children, Goldens need to be taught the 'drop' command in order for them to give up retrieving objects nicely. Goldens are a large breed, so can accidentally knock over small children if they get too boisterous, and small children and Goldens need supervision, because of the risk of accidents.

The popularity of the breed also means that some breeders have neglected temperament in an effort to produce a dog that is merely saleable, so some individuals can be snappy. Generally, however, Golden Retrievers are one of the best breeds with children. They are also a dream to train, and are well represented in obedience competitions. The breed retains some puppyish characteristics for quite some time, tending to mature late, like the Labrador Retriever, but is generally attentive and keen to please. Well-trained Goldens are gentle with toddlers and frail elderly people alike, and they look such happy dogs that they always seem to cheer people up. They are good confidants for children, and provide congenial company for older people.

Golden Retrievers are also usually friendly with other dogs, though of course they need socialization with other dogs as puppies. They tend to bark a bit more than Labrador Retrievers, but barking is not usually a problem if they have enough exercise. They are good watch dogs, in the sense that they will usually bark when the doorbell rings, but then they are likely to want to make friends with whoever comes in through the door, so they are not good guard dogs. They can be chewers, and need their own legitimate chew objects. They can also be droolers, and more than one family pet has been nicknamed 'slobberchops'. These are not low-maintenance dogs, they do need exercise, and a fair amount of grooming, with a good towelling after muddy walks, because the feathering on their legs, belly and tails tends to be a magnet for mud, and they often mat behind their ears. Common health problems include eye disorders, hip dysplasia, cancer, hypothyroidism, heart disease, von Willebrands, epilepsy, and allergies, which may lead to skin complaints.

This book is an excellent guide to Golden Retrievers, which covers gundog training in some detail, as well as showing, and temperament. There is a very useful account of hereditary problems which can affect the breed, which is refreshing, since many breed books gloss over these. There is enough information here to interest experienced owners of Goldies, as well as novices, who just love their dogs and have no competition ambitions. A real treat.