Why Does My Golden Retriever Look Sad – 6 Tips That’ll Really Help

Goldens are cheerful dogs that have smiles that can brighten even your darkest days. They are such a pleasant presence and they can always lift your mood.

But what if you have not seen this beautiful smile? is your dog sad or is it something else?

Are you looking at them and asking yourself why does my golden retriever look sad? Your golden retriever could look sad because they’re sick, depressed, not getting enough exercise nor good nutrition, or because they’ve been mistreated. You can help them by engaging in fun activities with them and spending more quality time with them.

Goldens can get sad at times, but it’s not normal for them to stay down for long. If your golden retriever has been looking more sad than anything else recently, you should pay attention to them and figure out what’s wrong.

I’ll explain the 5 possible reasons behind your dog’s sadness and what you can do to improve their mood and help them go back to their cheerful personality. Keep on reading…

Possible Causes Your Golden Retriever Looks Sad

Photo of a sad golden retriever resting on the couch to illustrate the possible causes of why does my golden retriever look sad

Here are the possible reasons your Golden Retriever looks so sad:

  1. They’re Depressed
  2. They’re Sick
  3. Poor Nutrition
  4. Not Getting Enough Exercise
  5. Trauma (Punishment & mistreatment)

Let’s go quickly over them.

They’re Depressed

While scientists can’t really prove whether dogs can get clinically depressed or not, dogs can surely act like it, which is why it’s agreed on that dogs at least get some form of depression.

Depression in dogs is a serious matter as well, and it can have some physical effects on your dog and can cause them to lose appetite, be lazy, and become overall lethargic and sad.

One of the very common causes of depression in goldens is being left alone a lot. Golden Retrievers are very social and they need to spend time with other people and animals. Leaving them alone a lot will cause behavioral problems and can make them sad.

You can learn how long can you leave your golden retriever alone here. I also discuss the tips and tricks I found useful in keeping them entertained while I’m away for a long, make sure to check it out and do consider applying those tips.

They’re Sick

Becoming sick or ill could cause your dog to look sad. In this case, your dog will probably show other signs of being sick. They may vomit, some hair may fall, you may see red spots, etc.

If this is the case, you should take them to the vet to get a diagnosis and get the treatments needed.

If sickness is the cause, your dog’s mood should get better once they start healing.

Poor Nutrition

A poor diet can harm your golden retriever quite a bit in every way, including their mood and energy levels, of course.

Poor nutrition can be one of three things;

  • They are eating too little
  • They are eating too much
  • They are not getting the right nutrients

If you are feeding your dog the right portion and they are still gaining weight, they are probably getting fed by someone else as well. For example, a family member may be spoiling them with the treats or table scraps without you knowing about it.

The problem can also be that they are eating foods with ingredients that they shouldn’t eat. Human foods often contain ingredients dogs can’t consume. Here are 18 examples of humans foods golden retrievers should never consume, make sure none of the table scraps you feed your dog contain these foods.

If you are looking for good food for your dog, don’t bother yourself and waste your time with the comparisons and endless info on the topic, just check what I’m feeding my own dogs here and get these foods.

Not Getting Enough Exercise

Goldens are active, energetic dogs that need a daily dose of exercise of no less than 30 minutes of moderate intensity exercises to stay physically and mentally healthy.

If your dog is not getting enough exercise, they may look sad because they are indeed sad and tired. Less exercise can actually lower their energy levels and make them feel tired.


The cause behind your dog’s sadness could also be that someone has mistreated the dog and they are shocked or traumatized.

If your dog is adopted, mistreatment could trigger them into depression as it could bring back the memories and bad feelings, so this is something you should consider very carefully.

Regardless of your dog’s history, you should make sure that everyone in the house understands that it’s not okay to punish the dog by yelling at them, hitting them, or throwing something at them.

Physical punishments of this type should be strictly banned in your household.

The dog could also be traumatized by an experience with another animals, such as an aggressive dog at the park that bullies them when you’re not looking.

If you employ a dog sitter or walker, find a way to make sure they are not mistreating the dog in any way. Pet sitters & walkers are humans and they can snap at the dog when they are too tired or overwhelmed, and your dog can’t simply tell you, so you need to figure out yourself.

Signs Your Dog is Really Sad Or Depressed

Here are the telltale signs that your dog is actually sad:

  1. They become less active or straight-up lazy
  2. Sleeping more than usual
  3. They avoid you
  4. They eat and/or drink less
  5. Sporadic episodes of howling or whimpering
  6. Hiding in dark and/or empty rooms in your house
  7. Excessive Paw Licking
  8. Becomes disinterested in things they used to like
  9. Displays compulsive behaviors
  10. Become aggressive

Let’s talk just a bit about each of these:

Becoming Lazy

Your Golden may become less active, spending more of their days resting or doing things with low energy and little to no excitement. They may also want their walks to be shorter or prefer to nap than going for a walk.

It’s worth noting that there are other reasons why your golden could be lazy, so make sure to check out the possible causes your golden is lazy here. I, of course, added the possible solutions that can help your golden regain their energy levels.

Sleeping more than usual

If your dog suddenly starts sleeping till noon or even more, then it’s definitely something that should make you worried. Sleeping most of the day is normal for puppies but not normal for mature dogs, and it could be a sign that they’re depressed.

They avoid you

If your dog’s sadness or depression has something to do with you or your family, they may start removing themselves from the family. It’s worth noting that they may also try to remove themselves from the family even when you have gotten nothing to do with the cause.

They eat and/or drink less

Depressed dogs will lose their appetite and will not eat or drink the same amounts they are used to. They lose their appetite and their eating patterns can change, such as they start dragging their food to another room to eat away from everyone or prefer to eat later when no one is around.

Sporadic episodes of howling or whimpering

They can start howling or whimpering without apparent triggers. Their tones of the howling would be somewhat low-energy and sad, and if you have heard their sad howls before then you know it could be heartbreaking.

Hiding in dark and/or empty rooms in your house

They could start finding dark or isolated areas in the house to hide in. They can be doing this to not face anyone or feel pressured to socialize with anyone. This goes hand-in-hand with the avoiding behavior discussed earlier.

Excessive Paw Licking

Excessive paw licking could be a sign of depression as well as dogs usually do it to comfort themselves when they’re stressed or anxious.

Becomes disinterested in things they used to like

Your dog could suddenly lose interest in things and activities that used to excite them. For example, they may not be excited to play fetch anymore, play with their favorite toys, or even go to the park.

Display Compulsive Behaviors

Compulsive behaviors such as constantly licking their paws, chewing on furniture, or other actions done constantly and with no obvious reason behind it could be a sign that the dog is stressed out or depressed and are trying to find some relief.

What to do when your golden retriever is sad

Here are some tips on what to do when your dog is sad:

  1. Improve their diet
  2. Give them attention
  3. Introduce changes in their lives
  4. Reward them for being active and less sad
  5. Take them to the vet
  6. Don’t make it worse

Let’s check them out:

Improve their Diet

If your dog is sad because of poor nutrition, they should be back to their normal selves a short while after you improve their diet.

Improving their diet includes making sure to give them the proper meal size for their age and activity level, making sure they are getting all the needed nutrients, and maybe introducing supplements if needed.

Give them attention

If you have been away for a while or you travel a lot, maybe it’s time to spend more quality time with them. If you spend most of your day at work, make sure to make the most out of the little time you have together.

You can also make sure that they don’t stay bored at home alone all day by getting them a second dog, a cat, asking a neighbor or a friend to check in once or a while, or contacting them every couple of hours using the Furbo Dog Monitor.

The Furbo Dog Monitor also allows two-way communication so you will be able to see them, hear them, give them treats, while also allowing them to hear you and talk to you.

Introduce Changes

If their daily routine is making them sad or bored, you could shake things up a little bit. Maybe change their walk times from morning to evenings or take them new places around town.

Taking them to a doggy day care is a good idea here because it allows them to see new faces and interact with new people and new animals.

Reward them for being active

Whenever your dog shows signs of activity or becomes a bit hyper for a short burst, make sure to make the most of it by rewarding them and engaging with them with high energy.

Show them that this really makes you happy and keep your energy levels high. Praise them and give them treats, this will make them more likely to repeat it and gradually they will get back to their normal, active and happy self.

Take them to the vet

If your dog is exhibiting symptoms of illness, you should take them to the vet. If a sickness is what is causing your dog’s bad mood, they will get better a short while if not instantly after the treatment starts.

Don’t Make it worse

Pushing them to be better or d activities, ignoring them, or punishing them are all bad ideas. So is being sad and lazy with them even if you don’t have the energy or are feeling down yourself.

You should try to communicate positive energy to your dog, which is the only way to help them improve and recover from what is making them sad.

Related Questions

Can Golden Retrievers Get Depression?

Golden Retrievers can act depressed and show the same signs of clinical depression as humans do even though we can’t diagnose them with clinical depression because we can’t talk to them.

Goldens are more prone to getting depressed than other dog breeds as they are very social animals and can get depressed if they’re ignored or left alone for long periods of time.

Do Golden Retrievers Get Sad?

Yes, Golden Retrievers get sad when they are ignored, left alone for long periods of time, or are mistreated. Goldens are very social animals and very loyal to their owners, so when they are separated from their owners or mistreated by them they can get very sad.


Depression in Dogs


Hey there, I'm Matt, the author behind Retrievershub.com. With a deep love for dogs and a dedication to strengthening the bond between owners and their retrievers, I've created a hub of resources for enthusiasts like you. Through engaging articles, training guides, and product reviews, I aim to provide practical advice that makes a real difference in your life as a dog owner. Whether you're a seasoned pro or new to the world of retrievers, my approachable and informative writing style ensures that you'll find valuable insights. Join me on this incredible journey of discovering what makes retrievers tick, unlocking their potential, and creating an unbreakable bond with your furry companion. Let's embark on an adventure of dog ownership together. Thank you for visiting Retrievershub.com and being part of our vibrant community.

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