Retrievers love running, a golden retriever running through a field

Retrievers are very versatile dogs and can be used for a variety of activities. They make good family pets, as they are gentle and loving with children, but also have the strength to handle some tasks like fetching a ball or retrieving an object.

There are many types of retrievers, including the Chesapeake Bay Retriever, the Flat-Coated Retriever, the Curly-Coated Retriever, the German Shorthaired Pointer, Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever, Labrador Retrievers and Golden Retrievers. All of these breeds have different personalities and traits, and it’s important to select one that will fit your lifestyle and your family’s needs.

If you are looking for a versatile dog that can be used for a variety of activities, you should consider a retriever. Retrievers are affectionate and gentle with children, but also can handle long walks, fetching a ball or long play sessions.

Retrievers were bred primarily to retrieve birds or other prey and return them to the hunter without damage. As a result, retriever breeds are bred for soft mouths and a great willingness to please, learn, and obey. A soft mouth refers to the willingness of the dog to carry game in their mouth without biting into it. 

The Retriever’s willingness to please, patient nature and trainability have made breeds such as the Labrador retriever and Golden retriever popular as a disability assistance dog. The outstanding reputation of the Retriever has landed both the Labrador and the Golden Retriever among the top 10 best dogs for children and families around the world.

Retrievers Information

  • Average Height: 21.5-24 inches
  • Average Length:  37-42 inches
  • Average Weight: 55 to 75 pounds
  • Coat Type: Double-coat
  • Coat Appearance: Long and smooth outer coat, and the soft and fuzzy undercoat
  • Coat Colors: Golden, black, cream, and dark golden (or red)
  • Grooming Needs: High
  • Shedding: Seasonal shedding
  • Brushing Requirements: During times of heavy shedding, these brushing sessions turn into daily affairs
  • Sensitive to Touch: Yes
  • Excessive Barking: Low
  • Tolerance to Heat and Cold: Not heat-tolerant
  • Good Pet: Yes
  • Safe with Children: Yes
  • Good with Other Dogs: Yes
  • Good with Other Pets: Yes
  • Suitable for life in an Apartment: Yes
  • Good for Less Experienced Pet Owners: Yes
  • Training: Easy
  • Exercise Needs: Daily exercise
  • Weight Gain: Yes
  • Health Concerns: Hip and elbow dysplasia, Eye problems, Ichthyosis, Ear infections, Cancer, Hypothyroidism
  • Allergies:  Yes
  • Average Life Span: 10-12 years

Physical Appearance of Retrievers

The retriever is a medium-sized dog that typically weighs between 50 and 75 pounds. They have a long, mid-sized body with a thick neck. Their heads are wedge-shaped with a fair amount of hair on them, which can be wavy or curly. Their eyes are brown or hazel and the nose should be black. Retrievers have a long, thin tail.

Temperament of Retrievers

Retrievers are very easy to train. They are gentle and loving with children, but also have the strength to handle some tasks like fetching a ball or retrieving a fallen object. They make good family pets, as they are gentle and loving with children, but also can handle exercise like fetching a ball or going on long walks.

Training Retrievers

Training a Retriever is important for proper behavior and socialization. Retrievers are intelligent and can learn many commands with consistent training. Positive reinforcement techniques such as verbal praise, treats, and playtime are the best way to train a retriever. Retrievers respond best to firm yet gentle handling. Be sure to have consistent leadership when teaching your retriever new commands or behaviors.

Retrievers are eager to learn and respond best to positive reinforcement. A good rule of thumb is to give your dog praise when they do something correctly, and try not to scold them for any mistakes. The most important things to remember when training a retriever is consistency, encouragement, patience, and rewards. Training sessions should be short and kept interesting so the dog doesn’t become bored or overwhelmed.

Obedience Training Classes

Obedience training classes are a great way to help your dog learn some basic instructions. Obedience training isn’t just for your dog, it also helps owners learn to teach and control their new dog. These classes can teach you as an owner the best ways to teach your puppy. The amount of time you spend trying to stop your Retriever barking at strangers can be a lot less if you know the best way to teach them.

Early Socialization Training

Early socialization training can help your Retriever become more comfortable around people and other animals. This should be done as early as possible, ideally before they’re six months old. Socialization can involve introducing your dog to different people, animals, environments, and noises in a positive way. It’s important that the environment is one that the pup finds comfortable and safe, so they can learn to associate these new experiences with positive feelings. Socialization should be done gradually and in a controlled way to ensure that the pup is not overwhelmed. With early socialization, your Retriever will be better adjusted and more comfortable around people and other animals.

Kennel Training

Kennel training works very well with Retrievers. If done right they will see the kennel as their safe space, and a place that they can relax and sleep. Most dogs enjoy small spaces and will find a sense of security while inside it. Getting them comfortable in a kennel early on will save you a lot of headaches. You know that they can’t get into trouble while you’re sleeping or at work if they’re in their kennel. It’s also a great place for them to dry off after they come into the house when it’s wet outside.

Clicker Training

They need to be trained to understand what is good behavior and what is not OK. Clicker training will help them understand what is good behavior. Clicker training has you make a noise with the clicker when the desired action is done. In addition to the click you’ll give them a treat, at least while you train them. Every time your dog hears the click they’ll know they did a good job and you are happy.

If your dog misbehaves, try not to punish them because it can discourage them. Instead, remember the clicker training and divert their attention to something else. You might have to do this several times to help your dog understand that they are not supposed to do the undesired activities.

Their Compatibility with Children

With proper training, Golden Retrievers are very compatible with children. They are gentle and loving animals that enjoy spending time playing with children. They should be supervised when around small children, because they can get excited and could unintentionally nip or jump on a child.

Retrievers are known for their loving and loyal personalities, making them an ideal companion for children. Retrievers are typically very patient and gentle with children, and can help teach them responsibility by teaching them to care for the dog. They make great playmates because they have a lot of energy to burn off. They love playing games outside with kids. It’s important to introduce your retriever puppy to your children early on, so they can develop a strong bond and trust between each other.

Retrievers have a natural instinct to protect their family, so they can be an excellent guardian for children. It’s important to remember that all dogs need proper socialization and training for them to be well-behaved around children. It is also important to supervise Retrievers when playing with kids in order to keep both the dog and the child safe.

Best Climate for a Retrievers

Retrievers are adept to living in a wide range of climates, as long as they have access to proper shelter and exercise. A Retriever’s ideal climate is mild and temperate. They are active dogs that thrive in climates with moderate temperatures and plenty of sunshine. They should not be left in cold climates for extended periods of time or in hot weather without shade and a bowl of water.

They prefer warm weather, but can tolerate cooler temperatures in the winter months. Retrievers should be kept indoors during severe storms or extreme temperatures (both hot and cold). Humidity is also something to consider. High humidity levels make it difficult for Retrievers to cool down after playing and exercising.

In colder climates, they should have warm blankets and a place to sleep that is away from drafts.

The Attention a Retrievers Needs

Retrievers are very active dogs and need regular exercise to stay healthy and happy. Retrievers need a minimum of 30 minutes of exercise each day, but more is recommended for optimum health. Activities such as walks, jogs, runs, swimming, fetch and playtime are all great ways to give them the exercise they need. It’s important to note that Retrievers need consistent exercise, and can’t go for long periods of time without it.

Retrievers also need to be trained regularly in order to maintain good habits and prevent bad behaviors from developing. They need regular physical and mental stimulation to remain healthy, both physically and mentally. It’s important to give them plenty of toys and activities to keep them entertained.

Retrievers, like all dogs, need plenty of attention and exercise to stay healthy and happy. They are highly social animals that thrive when given proper stimulation. Without enough mental and physical activity, Retrievers can become bored and destructive. It’s important to give them enough affection. Retrievers are often called “velcro dogs” because of their strong bond with owners.

Health Issues

Retrievers are generally healthy dogs, but like all breeds they can have certain health issues. Some of the most common problems include:

  • Joint problems, including arthritis
  • Eye diseases, including cataracts and glaucoma
  • Thyroid problems
  • Diabetes
  • Epilepsy


Cataracts are a common eye condition that can cause vision loss and blindness. Cataracts occur when the lens in an eye becomes cloudy or opaque, blocking light from passing through to the retina. This can lead to decreased vision, or even complete blindness.

There are several causes of cataracts in dogs, including genetics, diabetes, trauma, and certain medications.

Cataracts in dogs can be a serious condition, but with proper treatment, your dog can regain their vision and live a happy life.


Glaucoma is a painful condition and can lead to blindness if not treated early on. Symptoms include:

  • Watery or red eyes
  • Squinting
  • Discolored cornea
  • Watery discharge
  • Blindness

Pet owners might not notice the pain but the disease can be extremely painful. If you see your dog with any of the above symptoms or with swollen eyes, take them to a vet.


Hypothyroidism is a common health condition in dogs that causes weight gain, behavioral changes, skin and coat problems. The condition occurs when a dog’s thyroid gland isn’t creating enough thyroid hormones to regulate their body’s metabolism. 

The thyroid gland is located in their neck, close to the windpipe. The gland is responsible for regulating the metabolism. When the thyroid becomes underactive their metabolism slows down and hypothyroidism occurs.

Hypothyroidism is caused by two diseases. One is lymphocytic thyroiditis, an immune-mediated disease where the dog’s immune system mistakes the thyroid as foreign and starts attacking it. We don’t know why this happens but lymphocytic thyroiditis is the most common reason for hypothyroidism in dogs. 

The other disease that causes hypothyroidism is idiopathic thyroid gland atrophy where their fat tissue replaces the normal thyroid tissue. The cause of this disease is also unknown.

95% of hypothyroidism is caused by these two diseases, and the other 5% by rare diseases like thyroid gland cancer. Whatever the cause, the symptoms and treatments of hypothyroidism are usually the same.


Cancer is a leading cause of death in dogs, accounting for nearly half of all deaths in older dogs. While there are many types of cancer that can affect dogs, the most common include lymphoma, mast cell tumors, and osteosarcoma. 

Early detection and treatment of cancer is essential for a successful outcome. Regular check-ups with your veterinarian are important to monitor your dog’s health, as well as to detect any signs of cancer early. 

If your dog is diagnosed with cancer, there are several treatment options available. Surgery is often used to remove tumors or affected areas of their body, and chemotherapy can be recommended to help reduce the size of tumors or slow their growth. 

Radiation therapy might also be used in some cases. In addition to traditional treatments, many pet owners are now turning to alternative therapies such as acupuncture, herbal remedies, and dietary changes to help their dogs fight cancer.

Ear Infections

A veterinarian is examining a dog's ear.

Ear infections are a common problem in dogs, and they can be caused by a variety of different things. Ear infections can be caused by allergies, parasites, bacteria, or yeast. Symptoms of an ear infection include head shaking, scratching at their ears, ears discharge, and a foul odor coming from their ears. If left untreated, an ear infection can lead to hearing loss or even deafness.

If your dog has signs of an ear infection, it’s important to take them to your veterinarian for a proper diagnosis and treatment. Your veterinarian will be able to determine the cause of the infection and the best course of action for treating it.

It’s also important to note that some dog breeds are more prone to ear infections than others. Breeds with long, floppy ears, like Cocker Spaniels, Golden Retrievers and Basset Hounds, are more likely to develop ear infections due to the shape of their ears.

Dogs with allergies or skin conditions can be more likely to develop ear infections.

Hip Dysplasia

Hip dysplasia is a hereditary problem that can make walking, getting up or laying down difficult and painful. When a dog has hip dysplasia, their hip socket fails to fully cover the ball portion of their thigh bone. The looseness between the hip and leg bone leads to partial or complete dislocation of their hip joint and can cause pain and stiffness. In most cases, medication and exercise restrictions are advised by the vet. Over time the condition could become severe enough that your vet might recommend surgery to correct it.

Elbow Dysplasia

Elbow Dysplasia is a condition that affects a dog’s elbow joint. It’s caused by abnormal growth and development of their elbow joint, resulting in pain, lameness, and arthritis. Elbow dysplasia can be caused by genetic factors or environmental factors such as nutrition or trauma.

Symptoms of Elbow Dysplasia

Dogs can also have a decreased range of motion in the affected joint. In severe cases, dogs will have difficulty walking or running. The symptoms of Elbow Dysplasia can vary depending on the stage of the disease. In the early stages, dogs can have signs of:

  • Lameness 
  • Stiffness in their elbow joint

 As the condition progresses, dogs will get:

  •  Increased pain 
  •  Swelling in the joint

In severe cases, dogs can get arthritis in their elbow joint.

Bathing, Coat, and Cleaning

Retrievers have an oily coat that is prone to dirt and debris buildup. They need to be bathed on a regular basis. Regular bathing helps keep them from smelling, especially when they get wet. Use a mild shampoo that is formulated specifically for dogs and rinse them thoroughly to avoid skin irritation. Be sure to use warm (not hot) water and dry your Retriever completely afterward.

The Retriever’s coat should be brushed on a regular basis to keep it free from debris, mats, and tangles. Use a pin brush or slicker brush to reach their undercoat and remove any loose fur. Make sure to be gentle when brushing your Retriever’s coat because their skin can be sensitive.

You’ll want to check their ears for wax buildup. Wax buildup can lead to ear infections. Clean the inside of their ears with a damp cloth and vet-approved cleaner.

Feeding Retrievers

Feeding a Retriever is an important part of their overall health and well-being. It’s best to feed your Retriever high-quality, age-appropriate food. Be sure to follow the recommended feeding instructions on the package for the best results.

Puppies should be fed three to four times a day, adult Retrievers should receive two meals a day, spaced 8-12 hours apart. Be sure to monitor your Retriever’s weight and adjust the amount of food they eat accordingly. Avoid giving them table scraps and fatty treats because these can lead to obesity.

A close up of a bowl of dog food.

Always make sure that your Retriever has plenty of fresh, clean water.

Related Questions:

What Kind of Dog is a Retriever?

A Retriever is a type of gun dog that Retrieves a game for a hunter. Generally gun dogs are divided into three major classifications: retrievers, flushing spaniels, and pointing breeds.

Why are Dogs Called Retrievers?

Originally bred to help hunters, Retrievers were tasked with finding birds or other game and bringing them back undamaged. For this sort of job, the dog needed a “soft,” gentle mouth, where they would carefully carry the prey without damaging it.

What is the Smallest Retriever?

The Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever is the smallest of all the retriever breeds. Originally developed in the 19th century by Canadian hunters to lure ducks and geese within gunshot range, and to retrieve both on land and in water, this dog was bred to look and act like a fox.