The best dog for first-time owners.

Golden Retrievers

Golden Retrievers would be my recommendation for a family dog, for a novice owner

In this blog I will share my reasons for believing that Golden Retrievers are the best dogs for first-time owners, and also some information about them,  based on my years as a licenced home boarder, and as a dog trainer.

Golden Retrievers are the ideal family pet dog, good-natured, with an eternally sunny disposition, easy to train and enjoy the company of family members, other dogs and many other animals.

Domestication and evolution

Golden Retrievers surprisingly, have only had breed recognition from the 1920’s. The breed was developed, crossing a retriever with a Water Spaniel and then coring their offspring with other breeds, namely, Bloodhounds, Irish Setters, the St John’s Water Dog and other Retrievers.

They were bred for their ability to support hunts. They were able to retrieve birds from both land and water in the Scottish countryside. This means that you have a dog who has good levels of energy and will happily hike with you all day.

So, on the flip side, you will need to be a fairly active family to meet this lovely dog’s exercise needs. They love to be in the water, it’s what they were bred for, so you’ll need plenty of towels, and a large enough boot for family days out, and not too much aversion to mud! If you have, they may not be the breed for you!!!

Genetics

Golden retriever activity

There are three types of Golden Retrieves . They are always a shade of ‘golden’. Interestingly, this is due to genetics. They all have black pigments and their yellow colour results from a recessive gene pair (the e/e genotype’).  Golden Retrievers are part of the ‘gun dog’ group.  

As these dogs were typically bred to retrieve game, they naturally have a ‘soft mouth’ so that they didn’t damage the birds they carried back in their mouths. Conversely, what you can find, is that they can be particularly ‘mouthy’ as pups. They’re bred to use their mouths, so hold on tight!!! This can easily be addressed through re-direction and training.

Neurobiology

Golden retriever life span

As noted, Golden Retrievers are prone to some genetic neurobiological conditions, such as degenerative myelopathy, sensory ataxic neurological disorder.

 Despite this, they are generally healthy dogs and can live to a good age.

Endocrinology

Golden retriever woodland

The Golden Retriever can be prone to developing various joint disorders.  There is some evidence that early neutering can cause hip / elbow dysplasia, and other conditions. For this reason, neutering is generally not recommended under the age of two, ( and most certainly under one year of age) to enable their hormone systems to develop fully and then to develop sexual maturation.

In summary, neutering your dog too early cuts off their access to hormones that they need for growth and development. This can also lead to joint problems and hypothyroidism amongst other conditions. These issues are a particular concern with Golden Retrievers, amongst other breeds. Hypothyroidism, which is due to having low levels of the thyroid hormone, also seems to be more prevalent when dogs are neutered early. This condition is diagnosed when thyroid levels in the blood are abnormally low. This can lead to low energy, weight gain, reluctance to exercise, and skin problems. Once this has begun, there is no cure, and the condition can only be managed with hormone replacements and is usually successful

Physiology

Golden Retriever physiology

Golden Retrievers are a medium to large size breed of dog. They need plenty of exercise, ideally a couple of hours per day, training and walking.

They do shed, but this is easily manageable. Generally, they are fairly healthy dogs and have a life span of 10 to 12 years, despite some of the health problems noted in other sections.

There are many things you can do to keep your Golden Retriever healthy. Ensure they get plenty of exercise, a good diet, regular grooming, enough sleep and plenty of training to keep them happy and fulfilled.

Cognition and emotion

Golden retriever activity

The Golden Retriever is an intelligent dog and needs to use their brain to stay happy and engaged. Golden Retrievers are regularly used as assistance dogs, due to their calm and dependable nature and their eagerness to learn and train.

However, if these needs are not met, you might find yourself with some behavioural issues, such as chewing. These lovely dogs need to keep their brains active, so plenty of enrichment and mental stimulation is a must.

Sociology

Golden retriever and loyalty to people

The Golden Retriever is a lively and sociable dog. It tends to get along with everyone, and everything it meets, with the right socialisation and training. They are regularly trained as assistance and support dogs and tend to be viewed with great affection by all they meet.

Golden Retrievers respond well to positive and force-free training (like all dogs). The main issue you ‘may’ have with them, is training a solid recall as they usually want to be friends with everyone that they meet, which will result in them occasionally running into trouble with less friendly dogs/people. This can happen particularly with their more boisterous behaviour, through adolescence. Don’t despair! This can be addressed through proper training, beginning when you bring your pup home. Read about the training I offer here at Short Bark ‘N’ Strides

Read more about my training success stories and client testimonials on my Facebook page here!
If you are looking for more advice regarding a new dog or your own dog needs proper training get in touch!

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