Are Golden Retrievers High Maintenance and Can You Handle Them?

Golden retrievers are perfect family dogs; they’re fiercely loyal, incredibly gentle, amazingly loving, and infinitely cute. They are the third most popular dog breed in the United States and have been one of the most popular dog breeds in the world for a while now.

But Golden Retrievers are a large dog breed that needs a lot of care and attention.

So, if your question is are golden retrievers high maintenance? Yes, Golden Retrievers are high maintenance dogs. They are heavy shedders, need daily physical exercise, and are prone to health problems. They need your love, affection, attention, and time to continue being the happy, go-lucky dogs we all love.

The question really is not whether golden retrievers are high maintenance or not. Almost all dogs are high maintenance. If you want something low-maintenance, please get a cat, not a dog.

The question is how you are planning on handle your golden retriever and their needs. If you are planning to handle their needs and are ready for the challenges ahead, you will be rewarded with an angel living in your home and showering you with love and affection every day for the rest of their life.

Let’s take a look at what makes Golden Retrievers high maintenance dogs and how you can handle them.

Living with a Retriever: Recommendations and Sources

Why Are Golden Retrievers High Maintenance?

Golden Retrievers are high maintenance because they have quite a bit of needs that need you to take care of them which require quite a bit of your time, effort, money, and attention on a daily basis.

I’m going to try to discuss these needs as simply and as briefly as possible.

Here are the basic needs of a Golden retrievers;

  • Food, water, and shelter
  • Health Care and probably health issues
  • Grooming Needs
  • Exercise and stimulation
  • Affection and attention

The Basic Needs of a Golden Retriever

photo of golden retriever puppy to show why are golden retrievers high maintenance and explain their basic needs

Food, Water, and Shelter

Golden Retrievers need a healthy diet that has all the nutrients they need and this diet will need to change as they grow old and as their health condition changes. Feel free to check out our guide for recommended dog foods for a golden retriever at every age here.

They also need access to clean, fresh water at all times. This can be done through constantly refilling their water bowl or you can do it using a water fountain like this freshwater fountain on Amazon.

They also need shelter from the elements. Golden retrievers are not really the kind of dog that you leave outside the house. I have actually touched on why Labradors and Golden retrievers aren’t ‘outside dogs’ in my Do Labs Get Cold Outside at night post here, feel free to check it out.

Goldens are also large dogs, so they need a lot of space. They need a lot of space to go around freely and not feel cramped or caged in, and they definitely are not the kind of dog that can live in a kennel or a dog house happily. They can indeed live in apartments, but it will be a challenge.

Health Care and Probable Health Issues

Golden retrievers need health care just like any other dog, but they are more prone to some health issues than other dogs.

For example, golden retrievers are famously prone to hip dysplasia, which is a form of arthritis that can happen due to genetic causes, malnutrition, or obesity. If left untreated, the dog may not be able to walk again.

They are also prone to cancer when they are older, and it’s actually the breed’s biggest killer.

If you are getting a golden retriever, you should be ready and willing to treat these health issues if they do happen to your golden.

Grooming Needs

The coat of a golden retriever is absolutely gorgeous. Their thick double coat provides them with their majestic look, insulate them from the elements, and help them regulate their body’s temperature.

With that being said, Golden Retrievers need regular grooming almost on a daily basis. They need frequent baths, daily brushing, and this type of care is not easy. You need to be ready to spend some time daily to brush their coats, untangle knots and mats, and keep their coat clean and healthy.

Speaking of grooming, having the right tools can greatly help. Feel free to check our recommended brushes for golden retrievers here and our recommended Shampoos as well.

Exercise and Simulation

Golden Retrievers are very active dogs, and they need a lot of exercise to stay healthy and happy. Obesity is also a very real problem in Golden Retrievers, and dogs get fat for the same reasons we do; eating more calories than we burn.

You should be ready to take your dog for a daily walk or run around the block. You can also start cycling with them running by your side, and it’s actually easier than you think to train your dog to do it.

They also need mental stimulation, so puzzles and toys are also needed to keep them mentally stimulated as well.

Affection and Attention

Goldens are the kind of dog that will thrive on attention. They constantly need your love and attention. They need to constantly be around you and they need to spend time around people to stay happy.

They were bred to be the perfect family dog, so if no one is home most of the time, they will not be happy dogs. They are also prone to separation anxiety if you leave them alone a lot of the time.

They are great with children and with other pets, which can help them in not staying alone, but they still need to spend time with their humans. Goldens are not for the super-busy people that their calendars are planned to the minute. They need someone who can give them at least a couple of hours every day for their grooming, exercise, and attention needs.

What Does it Take to Care for a Golden Retriever?

This is a sneaky question, because caring for a Golden Retriever will cost you two things; Time and Money.

The Financial Cost of Owning a Golden Retriever

A Golden Retriever will cost you around $14,000 – $16,000 during their lifetime. You can expect to spend up to $2,700 on your Golden Retriever per year.

These can include:

  • Up to $100/month on Foods and Treats
  • Up to $1000/year on Vet Bills
  • Up to $600/year on Grooming
  • Up to $300 on Training (Once in their lifetime)
  • Up to $50 on Leashes and Collars
  • Up to $200 On Their beds, crates, and houses.

As you can see, having a Golden Retriever is costly. If you are not ready for this kind of financial burden, you shouldn’t be making this step.

Is it costly? Definitely. Is it worth it? 1 million percent. The love of your golden retriever and affection can’t be exchanged for all the gold and dollars in the whole world. I think every dog owner out there would agree with me on that.

The ‘Time’ Cost of Having a Golden Retriever

Most people look at the financial cost of owning a golden retriever and make their decision solely on that, but there is another cost that is just as important; the time you need to spend with your dog.

As explained before, goldens need a lot of attention, and this is just as important as their bills if not more. A healthy relationship with your dog requires you to spend at least one hour per day with your dog on their walk and daily brushing.

They also need playtime with you. Taking them to the dog park every now and then is important to grow their social skills and help them make new friends.

Goldens are happy to go with you wherever you go, so it’s not hard to choose a place to spend time together. Your backyard works great for playtime, and so does the dog park, and so does this empty parking area you know no one goes to anymore.

Your dog doesn’t really care about the where and when as long as they get to spend the time with you.

Are Golden Retrievers Problematic Dogs?

No, Golden Retrievers are not problematic dogs. They are very easy-going, happy-go-lucky dogs that are quite low maintenance in this regard and are super happy and chill with minimum effort. They are not territorial, loud barkers, or aggressive.

That’s what some people think about when they think whether a dog is a high maintenance dog.

Some dogs are indeed a bit more problematic than others. Some dogs are very prone to dangerous health problems after ages of breeding (such as pugs), and others have aggressive tendencies and territorial instincts that make them excellent watchdogs but not so social.

Goldens are not like that. They don’t have a lot of ‘issues’ that you need to worry about. They are quite chill, and are easy to train to calm down.

They are also very intelligent dogs – the third smartest dog breed – and can be easily trained to follow commands with a very high success rate.

Goldens are also emotionally intelligent dogs, which means they can read your emotions just from your tone and body language and respond appropriately. This is why they will become happy when you’re and empathetic when you’re sad.

Is a Golden Retriever the Right Dog for you?

Let’s play a game. This game will help determine whether a Golden Retriever is the right dog for you. These questions are really simple but answer them honestly.

If you’re feeling excited about getting a golden retriever, now is not the right time to answer these questions. You will answer with your “happy brain” and not your “rational brain”, and we really need your rational brain right now.

Okay, ready? Here we go.

5 Questions to determine if a Golden Retriever is the right dog for you.

Q1. Are you ready for a 12-16-year commitment?

A golden retriever is a lifetime commitment, and you absolutely can’t get a dog if you are not willing to have them in your life for the next 12-to-16 years. If you are planning on having the dog for a couple of years from now, please get a hamster, not a dog.

Q2. Do you have a couple of hours to spend daily with your dog?

You need to spend time daily with your dog. If you or your family don’t have at least two hours to spend daily on walking and grooming the dog, a Golden Retriever is not the dog for you.

Q3. Do you have the space for a large Dog?

Goldens are large dogs that need space. Do you have this space for them? Is your landlord okay with you having a large dog on the premise? Does your car have enough space for the dog?

If you don’t have the space for a large dog, maybe look into smaller dogs.

Q4. Are you financially Stable enough to get a dog?

There is a reason why people get a dog to train on becoming parents; they have needs, and some of these are financials. As explained before, Goldens can cost up to $16,000 during their lifetime, are you okay with this budget?

If you are not financially ready for this commitment, maybe consider adopting a kitten?

Q5. Is Your Family Okay with a Large Dog in the House?

Is your spouse on board? Does your partner love dogs? Are you ready for a large dog in the house? Goldens can be a furball walking around the house shedding everywhere at some times of the year, your family should be okay and willing to handle this.

Living with a Retriever: Recommendations and Sources

Related Questions

Are Golden Retrievers Good House Dogs?

Golden retrievers are excellent house dogs, but they need some space. If you want them to live in an apartment, it should be a spacious one at least. Goldens do best when in a large house with some dedicated outdoors space such as a backyard.

Do Golden Retrievers like to cuddle?

Golden retrievers love to cuddle. They are very affectionate dogs that are more than happy to cuddle with you all day and night. They are also calm and gentle in nature, which makes them the best cuddlers.

Goldens will also cuddle with other dogs and cats, not just humans. Read more about why are golden retrievers good with cats here.

How long Can Golden Retrievers be left alone?

The most you can leave an adult golden retriever alone is 8 hours a day, but it’s much less than that for puppies less than 18 months of age. Goldens that are frequently left alone for more than 8 hours are prone to developing separation anxiety which can cause problems such as loud barking, chewing, and excessive shedding.

Goldens are very social animals and do not like being left alone at all, and they are quite prone to behavioral problems when they feel ignored, separated, or trapped.

Can Golden Retrievers be left alone or 8 hours?

You can leave a golden retriever alone for 8 hours per day given they’re well trained, socialized, and have access to food and fresh water. They shouldn’t be left alone more than that, however, as it can lead to them developing behavioral problems such as separation anxiety.


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