What should I know about the Golden Retriever before I consider adopting one?
Golden Retrievers are large sporting dogs. Males run up to 25 inches at the shoulder and females slightly smaller. They also have long hair and shed slightly throughout the year. Once or twice a year they will shed substantially, as they are a double-coated dog... a soft undercoat beneath their water-repellent outer coat. Daily brushing is recommended in all cases. If your family has an allergy problem, or if your lifestyle requires uncompromising housekeeping, you may find one of the non-shedding breeds more suitable.
Golden Retrievers are extremely intelligent, which is why they are used as Guide Dogs and Assistance Dogs. While this is a positive factor in your companion, it also means that you must take the time to at least take your Golden through basic obedience class and train him as a well mannered member of your family. Some of the dogs that come into our program have already received basic obedience, it is good to repeat this program so that you can communicate with your dog. Goldens make excellent companions for participating in almost any dog sport, such as obedience, agility, flyball, tracking, or field trials.
Golden Retrievers are known for their loving, affectionate temperament and must live in your home. They do not make good kennel dogs, and if this is in your plans, you would do well to seek a breed that is less devoted to family life.
How much does it cost to care for a Golden?
Within forty-five days after adoption, we recommend that you take your Golden to your veterinarian for an introduction as well as presenting the veterinary records that we will give you at the time of adoption. Although a fecal test for intestinal parasites will have been performed while the Golden was in our care, we suggest you take another fecal sample to your veterinarian, as some intestinal parasites are very difficult to detect, and may not be positive at the time GGRR performs the test.
As far as other expenses, you can expect to pay about $350 per year for food. We recommend a well balanced premium food, not grocery store food. Veterinary care, outside of any emergencies, will cost about $100 per year. Leashes, bowls and toys will probably cost $40. You can obtain many of these items from a wholesale company (see Links page for sources). Grooming by a professional groomer, at a minimum of every eight weeks, will cost you about $200 per year.
Bringing the total annual cost to $690. Be sure you can afford this before you decide to adopt. Heartworm preventative is a mandatory part of adoption and costs about $80 per year.
What age Golden do I want?
This is a personal choice, but the life span of dogs is increasing, so don't disregard the older Goldens. A Golden can live to 14 plus years of age with the proper care and exercise. A Golden that is 7 to 9 years of age is still full of energy and is quite appropriate for the household that does not want to cope with the activity of a puppy. Senior Goldens can still take long walks, swim, retrieve and enjoy their most favorite part of the day, human companionship. We rarely get puppies into the program. However, we consider a dog up to three years old to be a puppy because of the energy level and enthusiasm of the breed.
Will an older dog adjust to our lifestyle?
Yes!! We consider a Golden a senior canine at 9 years of age. They still have plenty of energy, and are so very loving. Although they may not be with you as long as you wish, you can have many wonderful years together. The sense of joy in giving a senior citizen a home is unequalled. Goldens quickly bond to their new family. If you have reservations about this, we will be happy to put you in touch with people who have adopted older dogs from our program.
Should I obedience train my golden retriever?
Yes!! A Golden Retriever is a big dog, training should begin immediately and be an ongoing process, regardless of the dog's age. At the time of adoption, you will be given several recommendations of places that hold formal training classes. All Goldens are trainable and actually enjoy the learning process. Training creates a bond between you and your dog, and will make your Golden a good canine citizen. GGRR gives a $25 refund if you enroll and participate in obedience classes (and send proof) within the first 6 months of adopting a Golden.
Male vs. Female: Myth vs. Reality
At the present time, we are receiving into our program a greater ratio of males to females. If you have your heart set on a female be prepared to wait longer.
Frequently, when we talk with people about male Goldens, we encounter beliefs that the female is more affectionate than the male. This simply is not true. A recent poll of our volunteers revealed that most of us had males, some two or even three!!
Male Goldens are loving, affectionate and often referred to as "Big Teddy Bears".
Some other misconceptions are that males will mark inside the house. The Golden Retriever is a very clean dog, and unless it is very stressed and confused (or sick), would rather hold its bladder forever than soil it's "den". Some of the males lift their legs, but it does not kill bushes. Most neutered males squat to urinate just like a female.
The following books are wonderful for anyone who wants to understand dogs better, whether they're rescue dogs or not:
"The Chosen Puppy: How to Select and Raise a Great Puppy From an Animal Shelter" - Carol Lea Benjamin
"Surviving Your Dog's Adolescence" - Carol L. Benjamin
"Good Owners, Great Dogs" - Brian Kilcommons
"How to Speak Dog" - Stanley Coren
"Dogs Behaving Badly" - Nicholas Dodman
"The Dog Whisperer" - Paul Owens