Why Are Golden Retrievers So Popular?

Updated September 27, 2023

According to American Kennel Club, golden retrievers are among the most common dog breeds in the U.S. But why are golden retrievers so popular?

“Because they’re simply the best,” would answer any golden retriever’s owner, and they would be right.

But you’re likely looking for a more in-depth explanation. The primary reason for such popularity is that golden retrievers have all the traits of a great family dog.

They’re loyal, intelligent, trainable, friendly, and playful. Goldens are never aggressive for no reason and don’t bark frequently.

These dogs are ideal service and therapy animals and regularly prove their superiority by winning dog shows and sporting competitions.

They Are Beautiful

Looks matter, and most people initially choose a dog based on its appearance. There are over 200 dog breeds, so scrolling through pictures and picking your favorites to narrow down the selection is easier than reading about each one.

And scrolling past a photo of a golden retriever is impossible. These dogs are beautiful, with a lustrous 14-karat long fur, friendly expression, and muscular build.

Of course, every dog is uniquely beautiful. Still, goldens inevitably draw attention.

Golden retriever owners take pride in owning such a gorgeous dog that receives compliments from strangers daily. Golden retrievers are a captivating work of nature that are simply pleasant to look at.

They Are Intelligent

According to the American Kennel Club, golden retrievers are among the most intelligent dog breeds, following poodles, German shepherds, and border collies. Originally bred as hunting companions, golden retrievers were bound to be smart.

Naturally, canine intelligence is different from ours.

Researchers base dog intelligence ranks on several metrics: how quickly a dog memorizes commands, how often it obeys the commands, how well it understands facial expressions and body language, and how well it communicates its own needs.

Golden retrievers excel in every study, continuously proving their high intelligence. These dogs have an excellent memory, rapidly learn new commands, and can perform the most complex tasks, which makes them perfect service pets.

Golden retrievers are also renowned for their empathy and intuition. They can read human emotions, effectively spotting when someone is sad or anxious, and always strive to cheer up their favorite human.

And since all hunting dogs must clearly communicate with the owner, the understanding of how to express their own feelings and needs is rooted in golden retrievers’ genes.

They Are Sweet & Loving

Golden retrievers are among the most sociable dog breeds. They won’t hurt a fly and want to be friends with everyone, even with strangers. Goldens are sweet, loving, gentle, and affectionate.

For this reason, golden retrievers are perfect family dogs. They have enough love for every family member and are devoted to their favorite people. Furthermore, golden retrievers have boundaries when communicating with kids.

Although goldens have a lot of energy, they are unlikely to tip over a child or hurt it during play because of their gentleness. These dogs are also highly affectionate – cuddling with the owner on the couch is their favorite pastime.

However, these traits make golden retrievers poor guard dogs.

A golden retriever will happily let a stranger pet it, even if the stranger came uninvited to the golden’s territory. But if the stranger tries to hurt a golden retriever’s owner, beware.

They Are Playful & Energetic

Many people look for a playful dog that would remain a puppy at heart for as long as possible. Golden retrievers perfectly fit this description. They remain young and goofy even at an old age, never turning down an invitation to play.

One can’t get bored with a golden retriever. These dogs constantly come up with new entertainment, doing funny things that make everyone smile. A golden retriever is always up to play fetch, tug, or water frisbee.

Goldens are natural-born explorers that will accompany their owners on any adventure. They love wild terrains and long road trips. A golden retriever’s nature is energetic, curious, and fearless.

If you’re looking for a dog that will get you out and about and keep you active and fit, a golden retriever is your best bet. These dogs require at least an hour of exercise a day to stay healthy and happy.

Golden retrievers are a perfect match for athletes, travelers, and families with kids. However, such high energy levels make golden retrievers unsuitable for retirees and calm people who prefer to spend time at home.

They Get Along With Everyone

Some dogs are gentle and loving to owners but can’t stand other dogs. People who already own a dog, cat, or another pet often struggle to find a companion for their four-legged friend. Some dog breeds are way too jealous of the owner’s attention.

Golden retrievers are the most dog-friendly dogs. They get along with everyone and will never express aggression first. A golden retriever won’t hurt a smaller pet or fear a larger one.

Unfortunately, not all dogs are suitable for children, but goldens are the best dog breed for families with kids. They are patient and gentle, genuinely striving to become best buddies with their little owners.

Golden retriever friendliness goes all ways – these dogs are lovely even to strangers and don’t mind people they see for the first time touching them.

A golden retriever works as a magnet, attracting all dog lovers, so owners should be ready for extra attention.

For this reason, goldens aren’t the best fit for introverts. Golden retriever owners are bound to regular small talks with strangers who want to pet their fluffy friends.

They Are Perfect Service & Therapy Dogs

Golden retrievers are the second most popular service dog breed, following Labrador retrievers. They have everything that makes a great service dog – obedience, intelligence, sociability, loyalty, and confidence.

Golden retrievers remain focused and attentive in crowded places, unruffled by traffic and loud noises, and always responsive to their owner’s needs.

Golden retrievers will never be aggressive towards strangers, so they can safely attend public spaces.

Furthermore, golden retrievers have an optimal size. They’re large enough to perform tasks smaller breeds can’t, like bringing items from a high shelf, turning on lights, or pushing elevator buttons.

Thanks to a muscular build, a golden retriever can support its owner when they have trouble standing. These dogs are also perfect therapy animals, assisting people feeling lonely, anxious, or depressed. They are naturally loving and empathetic.

They Are Highly Trainable

Stubbornness is a common problem with intelligent dogs. Some dogs just love to get things their way and believe they know best what they should and shouldn’t do. Golden retrievers are different, combining intelligence with obedience.

Golden retrievers are eager to please the owner and highly loyal. Obedience is rooted in their brain, embraced by decades of selective breeding. Golden retrievers quickly learn new tasks and obey the owner’s commands without extra repetition.

These dogs regularly prove their right for the most obedient dog title. In 2018, American Kennel Club’s obedience champion was a golden retriever Streak, and in 2021 a female golden Juicy.

Golden retriever puppies can be goofy and way too energetic, quickly losing focus. However, if the owner provides their puppy with sufficient exercise to drain excess energy, golden retriever puppies will learn commands quicker than most dogs.

Such trainability makes golden retrievers one of the best breeds for first-time dog owners. They rarely have behavioral problems if properly socialized, and even inexperienced people can control these loving and intelligent dogs.

They Aren’t Barky

Many people are hesitant to get a dog because they think that all dogs are loud. Indeed, a constantly barking dog can be annoying, hindering the owner’s sleep, causing arguments with neighbors, and scaring children.

The good news is that golden retrievers are among the least barky dogs. Of course, a golden retriever will occasionally bark, like any other dog – it’s their primary means of communication, after all.

Still, a golden retriever is unlikely to bark out of boredom or to draw the owner’s attention. These dogs typically bark for a reason – for example, at a stranger trying to hurt their owner or in response to an aggressive dog.

Golden retrievers have an inherited understanding of when barking is appropriate because they were bred to hunt waterfowl. If they barked non-stop, they would scare away all birds, and people wouldn’t use them for hunting.

A Wide Selection

Demand makes supply, so when golden retrievers’ popularity surged in the mid-20th century, many people began breeding them. As a result, nowadays, people worldwide have an incredible selection of golden retrievers.

Suppose you want to get a rare dog, like a Norwegian Lundehund, otterhound, or Azawakh. These dogs may be beautiful, intelligent, and loyal, but finding one in the U.S. can be a challenge.

Since they aren’t as popular, you may have to travel far and pay a hefty price. On the other hand, dogs of popular breeds are available in any state and cost less on average because breeders have more competition.

But such a high supply also has pitfalls. Not every golden retriever breeder is responsible and trustworthy, so buyers must be extra careful when choosing the kennel.

Image credit: Pexels

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