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Raising a Golden Retriever: A Complete Guide!

Golden Retrievers can be one of the most wonderful dogs to own – But they can also be a handful! This is a unique dog breed that will have unique needs. The way that you raise and care for your retriever will play the biggest role in their health and happiness, and in turn, in your experience as an owner. So today, we’ll teach you everything you need to know about raising a golden retriever!

The Basics of Raising a Golden Retriever

The most important part of caring for a golden retriever is building a solid foundation for your dog. So, I’ve put together a list of the 5 foundations that will help you raise your golden retriever:

  1. Create a safe environment for your retriever
  2. Feeding your retriever quality food
  3. Teaching obedience to your retriever
  4. Cleaning/Grooming your retriever
  5. Properly exercising your retriever

While some of these are simply practical steps, such as obedience training, others are things that people do not always consider when raising their retriever. The best way to raise your retriever into a loyal companion is to care for their health. After all, a healthy dog is a happy dog, and a happy dog is a happy owner!

raising a golden retriever

Creating an Environment to Raise Your Retriever

Everybody wants their retriever to be happy and energetic, but not everybody considers what it takes to make their retriever happy. Just like you, your retriever’s happiness largely has to do with their environment. Golden retrievers are an intelligent breed, and they need to have a space that they can call their own. Prestige Animal Hospital names a “Safe space” as one of the most important things for retrievers.

For many retrievers, this can simply be a dog bed with food and water, and a few toys. Your goal with this space is to help your retriever unwind at the end of the day. So, you can be as elaborate as you want with this space – Some people even dedicate entire rooms to their retrievers!

While not everybody has an entire room to give to their retriever, there is something everybody can and should do for their retriever. The environment is more than just a physical space. Showing your retriever love and affection also helps them know that your house is a safe space. In addition, setting up routines, such as set feeding and walking times, helps your retriever’s peace of mind.

Feeding Your Retriever Quality Food

At the end of the day, golden retriever’s are loyal and friendly breeds. However, this may not always be the case if your retriever isn’t fed properly. When it comes to raising a golden retriever, your choice of dog food can be the most important decision.

Ideally, you will want to find a dog food brand that will give your retriever all the nutrients they need. This may sound difficult, but it truly is not. There are several tricks you can use to weed out bad brands and find what your retriever actually needs.

  1. Stay away from anything labeled “Chow”. This is a pet-food term that means the food is primarily corn, which doesn’t provide any nutrients for your golden retriever.
  2. Look for real meat as the first ingredient. The first ingredient is the most used, so if meat is the ingredient, you know the food may be quality.
  3. Look for a “No-fillers” label. Even if meat is the primary ingredient, this does not mean the food doesn’t have a lot of corn or grains in it. These ingredients, called fillers, are used to produce cheap dog food that looks like quality food.
  4. Look for vitamin-added brands. If a dog-food brand has added vitamins into their food, they will advertise that in big, bold letters. These won’t be the only vitamins in there, of course, but they will be an added boost to your retriever’s diet. In addition, added vitamins are usually those that are most important to your dog, such as calcium or phosphorous.

If searching through dozens of dog food brand’s isn’t your cup of tea – Don’t worry! Here are 2 of my personal favorite dog food brands for golden retrievers:


Best quality:

Fromm Adult Gold Large Breed
Formula Dry Dog Food

Best Value:

Blue Buffalo Wilderness
High Protein, Natural Dry Food

Teaching Obedience To Your Golden Retriever

Many people use the term “raising a golden retriever” as “teaching obedience”, but they are quite different. In order to get the most out of obedience training, you will need to properly raise your retriever. With a healthy diet and lifestyle, obedience training is a breeze with golden retrievers!

Because retrievers are such a loyal breed, they will want to learn from you. The key to obedience training is simply repeating yourself over and over again. If your retriever is regularly praised or scolded for a certain action, they will learn if they should be doing it or not. Rewards, such as treats, should be used to encourage positive behavior from your retriever.

As mentioned earlier, retrievers are a loyal breed and want to make you happy. Because of this, scolding them for bad behavior is actually pretty simple. You do not need to spank or hit your retriever to stop bad behavior. Instead, a firm voice and saying “Bad boy” is enough to let your retriever know he is doing something wrong. Your retriever does not need to be punished for bad behavior, but simply told that they need to stop whatever they’re doing.

raising a golden retriever

Your best bet to training your golden retriever is to start a training routine. While a “Training routine” sounds daunting, it doesn’t have to be. Our friends over at Kingdom of Pets have created one of the most effective training routines on the internet, and it has already helped thousands of people to train their golden retrievers!

Cleaning & Grooming Your Golden Retriever

When people think of grooming their retriever, they generally only think about brushing and trimming their fur. However, breeds like golden retrievers have many more grooming needs than this. They can be a high-maintenance breed, so it is important that you regularly care for their needs.

There are many aspects to golden retriever grooming, including: Brushing fur, bathing, trimming fur and nails, and brushing their teeth. These are all things that will factor into your retriever’s happiness, and in turn, how they behave. Knowing how to care for these various needs is vital when it comes to raising a golden retriever.

These grooming needs are so important, in fact, that we wrote an entire article on the subject! Click here for our full guide on golden retriever grooming.

Properly Exercising Your Retriever

Golden retrievers were bred for one purpose – Retrieving! This means that they are super active, and need regular exercise daily. This is especially important for retriever under 8 months of age. Because their bones and joints are still developing, they will need exercise to grow properly. Not only does a lack of exercise hurt your retriever’s physical health, it can also lead to depression and anxiety.

Unlike you and I, it isn’t hard to get your retriever to exercise! Most of the time, your retriever will love the opportunity to run, jump, and even swim. Games like fetch are great for your retriever, and trust me, they will never get tired of bringing the ball back.

As you raise your retriever, their exercise needs will change. As puppies (2 months old or younger), they will require very little exercise, and a simple walk can satisfy them. However, as they age, this will change. At adulthood, retrievers require 1 – 2 hours of exercise daily. For more information on keeping up with your retriever’s exercise needs, check out our Golden Retriever exercise guide.

raising a golden retriever

How To Juggle Your Retriever’s Needs

Now that you know the 5 foundations of raising a golden retriever, it’s time to practice. If you’re new to owning a golden retriever, it can be difficult to keep up with these needs. However, the best option for you is to simply do these things regularly. Over time, both you and your retriever will learn how best to do each step of golden retriever care. After you and your retriever have set up a care routine, raising your retriever will be a breeze!


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