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Golden Retrievers are some of the most popular dogs both in the US and worldwide, thanks to their beautiful appearance and their nice characters. But having a dog is a long-term responsibility (10 to 12 years in this case), and you need to make sure you’re ready to share your home with a Golden Retriever before getting a puppy.
I wrote this article about some of the things you should know about Goldens, because many of them end up in shelters, abandoned as soon as their owners have realized what having a dog really means.
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1. You must make room for your dog and her hair
Golden Retrievers are medium–large dogs. A male Golden is about 23-24 inches tall (58-61 cm) and weighs between 60 and 80 pounds (27-36 kg). Females are smaller, but they still need space to move, being 20-22 inches tall (51-56 cm) and weigh between 55 and 70 pounds (25-32 kg).
You’ll have to give your dog enough room to move freely around the house. Having a yard can be helpful, but as Goldens are very social dogs they’ll prefer staying inside with their families rather than running around by themselves outdoors. So be sure your house or apartment is large enough to host such an active and intelligent dog, even if you’ve got a yard.
The dog isn’t the only thing you’ll see around the house all day. Free your schedule for cleaning up hair as Golden Retrievers shed all year, becoming heavier in spring and autumn. The easiest way to reduce the amount of lost hair is by brushing your dog 3-5 time a week, for about 15 minutes. However, you’ll still need a powerful pet hair vacuum cleaner to remove the mess from your carpets and sofa.
2. You shouldn’t leave your Golden Retriever alone for more than 4-5 hours a day
Goldens create strong bonds with their owners, meaning they’re great family dogs. They’re willing to please their humans and love being around children of all ages because kids are always ready to play.
Leaving your Golden by herself all day will only make her suffer, which in time can generate depression, separation anxiety, and in some cases destructive behavior.
Hiring a pet walker or taking your Golden to dog care during the day can help, but none of these solutions replaces your presence. Only buy or adopt one of these dogs if you or other family members have time to play with her every day.
3. You’ll have to hide your shoes because Goldens love to chew
These dogs like to carry things and, often when they’re bored, will start moving your stuff around the house. They’re famous for their chewing habits so provide her with resistant toys, specially made for heavy chewers, and don’t let her get too bored during the day.
Lock up your shoes, telephones, remote controls, games, kitchen utensils, clothes, and small pillows, or they’ll meet a very messy end. Also, move your garbage can inside a cabinet or in a place your dog can’t access.
She should never go through your dinner leftovers as eating human food can harm Golden Retrievers. For safety reasons, hide all electric cables before bringing your puppy or new dog home.
The crate is a good way to keep your dog away from temptations when you’re not around. This way she’ll be in a safe place and you won’t have to worry about the Nintendo you’ve forgotten on the sofa before going to bed.
4. If you’re a couch potato then this dog is not for you
Golden Retrievers have high energy levels and they need to burn this energy off. Give your dog one or two hours of exercise every day otherwise she’ll mess up your home. There’s plenty of activities you can do, as Goldens are great companions for walking, running, playing in the park, swimming, and even hiking.
Besides running, Golden Retrievers need mental stimulation to thrive. You can teach her obedience training by yourself, as these dogs are known to be among the most obedient breeds. Other stimulating activities where Golden Retrievers register great results are canine freestyle and agility training.
Golden Retrievers were bred to work, so they need to be active to stay happy. Furthermore, the lack of exercise will generate a series of medical problems, including obesity and other related issues, such as heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, or problems with ligaments and tendons.
5. Neutering can cause health issues to a Golden Retriever
Researchers at the University of California have discovered that neutering has negative effects on Golden Retrievers, increasing your dog’s chances of getting joint disorders and cancer. In this post, Dr. Karen Becker talks about alternative methods of keeping your dog from breeding, such as a vasectomy or tubal ligation.
Even if you choose not to neuter your dog she’s still prone to a long list of medical conditions, which include:
- hip and elbow dysplasia;
- eye disorders;
- skin problems.
If you own a Golden Retriever you need pet insurance that covers her for a wide range of health issues, besides accidents. This can increase your regular expenses, but it’s usually a good investment as Goldens are in the top of the most expensive breeds in terms of medical costs, with an average of $961 a year.
I think that Golden Retrievers make the best family pets, as they take care of children and are always ready to obey their owners. But they require tons of attention and so much time, which makes them not suitable for busy people.
You need to analyze all the advantages and disadvantages before getting a Golden, so don’t let yourself be taken away by their beautiful looks, just to abandon your puppy in the first shelter you come across a few months later.
Do you have any experience with Goldens? Share your story in a comment below.