Is a Golden Retriever the Right Dog for Me?

Golden Retrievers are the best breed of dog (in my biased opinion). However, as much as I love them, I can appreciate that they’re not going to be best suited for everyone. 

When getting a new pet, you’re signing up for a long commitment. You need to be prepared financially, have enough space, and plenty of free time (amongst other things) before you get a new Golden Retriever.

Perhaps you’ll find that your lifestyle isn’t ideal for a Golden Retriever but don’t worry – there are so many other options of different dog breeds or different animals that might be the perfect option for you.

Read on to see the list of things you should consider before bringing home one of these fluffballs. It’s set out in questions, so if your answer is ‘yes’ to each question – there’s a good chance that a Golden Retriever is a good match for you.

Can I Afford a Golden Retriever?

We’re not just talking about the upfront cost either. In the current climate, you could be looking at anywhere between £3-5k for a Golden Retriever puppy in the UK. And this figure could increase at any time!

But the cost of upkeep will also need to be considered. You’ll need:

  • Food: Golden Retrievers are prone to allergies. Good, high-quality, nutritious food is a must for this breed. You’ll also need to consider that this is a large breed and they will eat more than smaller breeds.
  • Insurance: Although this is a choice, my personal experience when our Golden had to have some unexpected, extensive testing which quickly amounted to around £4k just for a diagnosis (not including treatment), left us thankful for our insurance policy!! For additional perspective, in 4.5 years with our Golden, we claimed insurance 3 times for different issues. That’s almost once a year.
  • Vets Fees: As mentioned above our Golden Retriever has had a few unexpected injuries/illnesses which required veterinary attention. 

One of our biggest costs was for her recurring ear infections every few months, poor thing just couldn’t avoid them. 

Another time, she sliced her paw pad on something sharp in a river which required a few separate check-ups/antibiotics/dressings.

Once she got a hold of some toxic plants in a friend’s garden which left her very poorly and in need of an emergency vet trip.

As a pup, we thought she had twisted her gut after a run on the beach as she started pacing, retching, and showing signs of extreme discomfort. Unfortunately for us, this was out of hours which cost extra.  

These are just a few examples of vet visits I hadn’t factored into my annual costs as being the naive first-time owner I was, I just didn’t expect so many problems to arise compared to my starter-pet hamsters which never seemed to get into mischief. 

  • Equipment: As with any dog you’ll need the basics: food/water bowls, collar, harness, lead, bed, toys, a crate if you’re planning on crate training, poo bags, and training equipment. You’ll likely find yourself bringing home a constant stream of toys as your little angel chews their way through every toy in the house. I considered this an ongoing cost.
  • Health: Your Golden Retriever will require upkeep. They will need yearly vaccinations as well as flea and worm treatments (usually every couple of months). Again, large breeds cost more than small breeds to treat as they require bigger doses of the medications. For perspective; a quick search of the website for a popular national pet shop and vet chain here in the UK for a flea and tick treatment plan brings up £33 for 3 treatments and they suggest you treat your dog every 4 weeks through the year. Treatment for worms is recommended usually once every 3 months and for the 4 pack, they’re selling for £29. You could be averaging around £160 per year on this. You can probably do this cheaper using a less recognised brand but make sure you do your research on the product first.
  • Maintenance – You’ll need to factor in the upkeep of your pup’s health including tooth cleaning equipment, regular grooming sessions & nail trimmings. You can self-teach the last two if you’d rather save money and go DIY.

Can I Cope With the Shedding?

Golden Retrievers have so much fur. You will have to spend a lot of time grooming them. And brushing their teeth, clipping their nails, and bathing them. And don’t forget ear cleanings – they’re prone to ear infections!

It’s your choice if you’d prefer to send them to the groomers (which saves you time but will cost you) or if you want to do it yourself. This includes regular brushing, baths, and clearing up.

You will also need an outstanding vacuum cleaner to cope with the never-ending onslaught of golden tumbleweeds. There’s also a chance that you could be allergic to their dander, urine, and saliva too, you can learn more about it here.

Do I Have Enough Space at Home?

Golden Retrievers are a large breed of dog. 

They also love to be near you, under your feet, and on your lap. Wherever you are and whatever you’re doing at home, your Golden is probably going to be right there with you.

If you are already short of space on your property you’ll need to consider whether you can spare the extra space for an energetic Golden Retriever.

Any low-lying ornaments will also become acquainted with the tail of your Golden (and not in a good way!) Tail swipes will be a common occurrence so you should consider a little rearranging before you welcome a Goldie into your home.

If they get a case of the zoomies, they’ll rush around the place, so if there isn’t a lot of space they might end up knocking into furniture and causing chaos.

However, most Goldens will adapt to a smaller space once they are grown and settled so it’s not the end of the world if you don’t live somewhere big. It’s possible to live in apartments with a Goldie, which you can find out more about by reading this post.

Do I Have Enough Time to Exercise and Train a Dog?

Golden Retrievers are a sporting breed – this means they have energy in abundance! They’re smart dogs and can be a handful if their brains aren’t stimulated enough. Boredom often leads to destruction as they release their pent-up energy.

Adult Golden Retrievers require at least 1-2 hours of exercise per day. This can be through walking, swimming, playing, or other ways, but this is in addition to the time it’ll take to train them.

The bottom line is this: they are a breed that will require a lot of exercise and stimulation to keep them from developing destructive behaviours. You should be able to spare at least an hour per day to maintain a happy, healthy Goldie. 

Golden puppies will also need training. As cute as they are, they don’t often come ready-trained and well-behaved. Luckily, they’re smart and willing to learn as long as you have the time to teach them.

Will I Be Home Most of the Time?

As mentioned previously, Golden Retrievers love people and socialising. They very quickly feel the effects of loneliness and boredom if left to their own devices for too long.

Will you be out of the house for work or leisure for long periods every day? If so, your Golden will pine for you. On occasion this is fine but if your circumstances leave you absent all day every day this breed will not cope well.

You could consider Doggy Daycare for your pooch but you’d have to look into local prices and locations for this and see if it’s plausible for you. Other options include taking your Goldie with you (if possible) or hiring a dog sitter. They’ll prefer your company best though.

Will a Golden Retriever Fit In With My Family?

Golden Retrievers love everyone and make brilliant family pets! They’re loving, friendly, and loyal – but you’ll have to keep an eye that they don’t try to sit on your two-year-old’s knee while you’re out of the room. 

You’ll find it can get pretty uncomfortable when you have 30kgs piled onto your knee for an hour. They can accidentally play too rough or knock over small children – though they tend to be patient, intelligent dogs so they can be trained if need be to stay out of the nursery.

Be warned; If you’re looking for a guard dog, this is not the breed for you. 

Golden Retrievers are too friendly – they would open the door for a burglar, show them the valuables and then send them off with the leftover birthday cake you were really looking forward to after your long day.

If you’re looking for more information on how a Golden Retriever will fit into your family, this is the article for you.

For more information on whether your Goldie will get on with other pets and children, you can read up here, here, and here.

Are My Circumstances Going to Stay the Same?

Are your living conditions likely to change? This includes moving house, having a baby, having a partner move in, getting more pets, and anything that’ll cause a change at home. If so, it might not be an ideal time in your life to get a Golden Retriever.

Once you have a Golden Retriever, you’re in for a lengthy commitment to living and caring for them. Their average lifespan is 10-12 years. Consider whether you’ll have the time and money if you’re due to have a baby soon. Or what you’ll do if your partner is allergic to dog fur and you can’t keep them.

Also, are you renting? Will your landlord allow pets or are you possibly moving soon to somewhere that may not be pet friendly? Some places allow pets, but you should plan for this as early as possible so as not to unsettle your Golden Retriever more than necessary.

In Summary

Overall, Golden Retrievers are brilliant pets if you’re in a position to give them everything they need to thrive. Make sure that you’re ready before you get a new pet, and you can use the questions above to help you decide if you’re ready.

  • Golden Retrievers are such lovely dogs. They will light up your days with their beautiful faces.
  • They adapt well to most living situations and will do so with a smile.
  • They love to cuddle and will love you forever.
  • They’re great with kids and adults and will fit in with whatever family setup you have.

All breeds have their downsides. And for me personally, the few that Golden’s do have are manageable and well worth the time and effort.

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