Golden Retrievers are one of the most popular dog breeds and with good reason. These dogs are gentle creatures who get along with everyone in the family. They’re smart and easy to train. Not surprisingly, they are ranked third in the American Kennel Club’s popularity rankings. Golden Retrievers are definitely America’s sweethearts, so much so that two American presidents Ford and Reagan owned them while in office. If you’re planning to get one of these lovable pups home, here’s a list of things to keep in mind.
Golden Retrievers weigh between 55 and 65 pounds for females and 65 to 75 pounds for males. They can reach heights between 21.5 inches to 24 inches at the shoulder. This means that they need plenty of space to move around. Having a yard is preferable, so keep this in mind before getting one.
Golden Retrievers are said to shed moderately on a frequent basis. You’re going to have to brush your dog almost 3-5 times a week, for about 15 minutes. Ears will have to be cleaned regularly and teeth will need to be brushed as well.
Since these dogs tend to be extremely energetic, they require regular exercise. Golden Retrievers love runs, hikes, or even bike rides. A bored Retriever left to their devices might be prone to becoming mischievous. Lack of proper exercise can generate a series of medical conditions like obesity, heart diseases, diabetes, or issues with ligaments and tendons.
Retrievers are highly eager to please, so reward-based training might be the best bet to train your dog. They thrive upon mental stimulation and respond well to training. It’s imperative to expose your dogs to different kinds of people and situations during their early years, ideally between seven weeks to four months.
It’s also important to spend as much time as possible with them. They love to be around people and often create strong bonds with their owners. So, it might not be a good idea to leave them alone for more than four to five hours a day. This might lead to unwanted adverse effects like depression and separation anxiety.
A golden retriever may be prone to medical conditions like:
- Dental disease– Said to affect 80% of all dogs by age two. Dental disease starts with tartar build-up on the teeth and progresses to infection of the gums and roots of the teeth. Clean your dog’s teeth regularly to reduce such instances.
- Infections– Are susceptible to bacterial and viral infections like rabies and distemper viruses. A round of vaccination may help to stay ahead in such situations.
- Obesity– May cause or worsen joint problems, metabolic, digestive disorders, and even fatal heart diseases.
- Cancer– A leading cause of death in older dogs, early detection is critical here. Hemangiosarcoma (a type of bleeding tumor affecting the spleen), lymphoma, mast cell tumors are some of the types of cancers most often seen in these dogs.
- Chest infections– Like other large breeds, Golden Retrievers are said to be at risk for a variety of conditions affecting the heart, lungs, and circulation. One of the most common conditions is subvalvular aortic stenosis, a medical condition characterized by the narrowing of aorta that carries oxygenated blood from the heart to the rest of the body. Be vigilant when your pet shows signs of lethargy, weakness and has difficulty in breathing. You might have to see your veterinarian to rule out this fatal condition.
- Bone and Joint problems– hip and elbow dysplasia is an inherited disease that causes the joints to develop improperly and results in arthritis. Dogs with symptomatic hip dysplasia have trouble performing simple tasks like jumping into a chair or climbing stairs. Advanced cases are characterized by joint inflammation, pain, stiffness, and degeneration of the bone. Surgery is usually corrective, anti-inflammatory medications might also help.
- Eye problems– Golden Retrievers can inherit or develop a gamut of eye conditions that include cataracts characterized by the lenses becoming more opaque and glaucoma which may lead to blindness if left untreated.
- Thyroid problems– the thyroid gland located in the neck releases the hormone thyroxine, important for maintaining the basal metabolic rate. If the gland doesn’t produce enough of this integral hormone, your dog might be prone to suffering from hypothyroidism. This condition may be marked by symptoms like lethargy, weight gain, exercise intolerance, and mental dullness. Early diagnosis is of paramount importance since the administration of oral replacement hormone can drastically reverse symptoms in most cases. But, unfortunately, your pet might have to take medications for the rest of their lives.
- Von Willebrand disease– An inherited bleeding condition that manifests as bleeding from the gums or other mucous membranes or excessive bleeding during surgery. Bleeding tendencies might also be attributed to cancers, autoimmune diseases, liver failure or toxin exposure. There is research going on in the field of genetics to discover a potential cure for this disorder.
- Allergies– Symptoms may include licking the paws, rubbing the face, and frequent ear infections. These typically start between the ages of one and three and may get worse with every passing year.
Given that Golden Retrievers are prone to so many health conditions, you may consider getting pet insurance that covers a wide range of health issues. But, picking the right one for your needs and concerns might be confusing. The services offered, diagnostic procedures covered and the duration of waiting periods might differ from one service to another. Read upon guides to how pet insurance works to help you choose better.
Golden Retrievers do make great family pets. They are affectionate, good with kids, are people-oriented, and always eager to please. But, they do shed a lot and need a lot of activity and mental stimulation. They might not be the right pet for you if you aren’t willing to put in the time or effort to train. Contact a reliable breeder or look out for golden retriever rescues if you’re still interested.