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Why Do Golden Retrievers Like Socks?

Have your socks ever mysteriously disappeared? If so, you’re not alone – losing socks is so common that mathematicians created a formula estimating the probability of misplacing socks in the weekly wash. 

However, these brilliant minds failed to consider our fluffy canine pals – notorious stealers of socks. Sure, losing socks in the wash is common, but what if your sock never made it to the wash in the first place? All it takes is a mischievous Golden Retriever with access to dirty laundry. 

Shirts and pants are too large to fit comfortably in their mouth, but socks are small, soft, and stinky, making them perfect for hiding and retrieving when dogs need comfort and a familiar scent.

If you’re looking to maintain pairs of socks while housing a Golden Retriever, here’s everything you need to know about the breed and how to avoid stealthy sock stealing.

The History of Golden Retrievers – and Why These Dogs Love Socks

To uncover why Golden Retrievers and other dog breeds love socks, let’s travel back to 1868 and explore how this beloved dog breed came to be.

In the 1800s, the black Wavy-Coated Retriever was an outdoorsman’s best friend. These dogs were highly intelligent and eager to please their owners. On the hunt, the Wavy-Coated Retriever could seek out the wounded game and softly carry it in its mouth.

One day, a man named Dudley Coutts Marjoribanks found a rare yellow Flat-Coated Retriever and set out to create a hunting companion that would rival the renowned black Wavy-Coated Retriever. The product of his dog breeding was the Golden Retriever.

golden retriever laying down

But why socks?

As hunting dogs, Golden Retrievers love to carry things in their mouths. They’re so gentle with their game that Goldens and Labs both have what’s called a “soft mouth.”

Most dog owners aren’t deploying their Goldens out on hunting tasks, so socks are an excellent substitute: Like birds or small animals, socks are soft and easy for dogs to retrieve and carry.

When you look back into the history of the Golden Retriever, it makes sense that socks would be attractive to this dog breed.

Why Do Golden Retrievers Bring Clothes to Their Owners?

Many dog breeds — including Golden Retrievers — love to abduct dirty laundry and bring them right to your feet as if it’s your most prized possession.

But why do they behave this way? 

Well, it all goes back to your personal scent. Your clothing is a sacred item in your dog’s eyes, embedded with your distinct smell. Retrieving clothing is a dog’s way of saying, “Hey, I found this for you! It must be important because it smells just like you!” 

Our beloved furry friends are just trying to strengthen their bond with humans by stealing laundry. However, if your dog ruins your clothes, it might be time to change your routine and reinforce a different behavior.

How to Avoid Losing Socks to Your Golden Retriever

If you find yourself in a losing battle with your dog over socks, it may be time to change your routine. Golden Retrievers steal socks for several reasons, whether they’re bored or suffer from separation anxiety. Since socks smell like humans and have a soft texture, this article of clothing is highly coveted, but here’s what you can do:

Step #1: Pick Up Dirty Socks Off the Floor

Keeping all dirty clothing off the floor when you’re housing a dog is helpful by itself, but socks are the most appealing for pups.

golden retriever with sock in its mouth

Leaving dirty socks on the floor is an open invitation for Golden Retrievers to steal them when you aren’t looking. This article of clothing is imbued with its owner’s scent which only makes socks more attractive to dogs. 

Our canine friends have an acute sense of smell, up to 10,000 to 100,000 times better than people. Not only that, but dogs can intensely miss their owners while away and will even ignore food to greet their humans. So it’s easy to see that dirty socks provide comfort to Golden Retrievers in the absence of their human family. 

Step #2: Obtain Chew Toys of Different Varieties

When you first welcome a dog into your home, there’s no telling what toys they will enjoy. That’s why you’ll want to have various toys and dog chews to identify your new pup’s favorite playmate and avoid sock depletion.

Here are some great ideas for chew toys to keep your Golden Retriever occupied without losing socks: 

  • Soft plushies: Plushies are the closest toy that resembles socks while maintaining a Golden Retriever’s ability to softly carry game in their mouth. Your dog can munch on this toy while channeling its natural instinct. Also be sure to supervise your golden retriever as they can chew off pieces that could cause blockage. 
  • Indestructible chew toys: If you discover socks with mysterious holes, your dog may be chewing on them. When you purchase indestructible chew toys, your dog can keep calm and chew without destroying a toy or clothing. 
  • Squeaky toys: Golden Retrievers were bred as hunting companions, and squeaky toys channel this instinct. When owners can keep dogs amused with toys that respond to their bite, the chance of stealing socks will decrease. Try to play fetch with a squeaky toy and see how crazy your Golden Retriever goes!
  • Puzzle toys: These toys will keep your Golden entertained for long periods of time. Puzzle toys dispense treats periodically during play, so your dog spends time trying to obtain treats rather than scouring your bedroom for socks. 

Providing a Golden Retriever with ample toys can help prevent sock stealing since your dog will be too busy with their belongings to retrieve yours.

Step #3: Praise Good Behaviors 

Dogs thrive off attention – especially our loveable, fluffy Golden pals. The problem is animals don’t understand the difference between good and bad attention. If dogs learn that bad behavior yields more attention from their owner, they will begin acting out more frequently. 

There is a whole field of science dedicated to behavioral training for pet owners. Professionals will tell you to give lots of praise to good behavior and ignore destructive behaviors to strengthen your dog’s understanding of acceptable actions within your household. 

So if your Golden gets attention from chewing on socks, they will continue to do so until they find a better way to grab your awareness. If this becomes a serious problem, consider employing a trained behavior specialist to work with your dog.

Julia the puppy-client relations representative

When you get a Golden Retriever from a reputable breeder, your pup will likely receive some level of behavioral training before entering your household. At Snowy Pines, every English Cream Retriever puppy learns simple commands (such as sit, stay, yes, and no), socializes with other pups and humans, and gets basic crate training before going home with you. 

While Snowy Pines can’t guarantee pups won’t steal your stinky socks, our behavioral courses aim to support good behavior and minimize household misbehavior. When you invest in a Golden Retriever puppy with behavioral training, they enter your home eager to please and receive praise.

Incorporate Items with Your Scent to Make Golden Retrievers Feel Comfortable

Golden Retrievers love their pack, so when they’re home alone, they miss their humans more than anything. Pets don’t understand why humans leave the house without them or when their owner is expected home — so in turn, they might be stealing socks to feel close to you while you’re gone.

If you find that your Golden Retriever has been nabbing socks from the laundry basket, it’s time to create a safe space for the pup to relax while the house is empty.

labrador in a cage

Crates can be a great place for dogs to relax, sleep, and hang out until their owner gets home. Used blankets will have the comforting scent of a doggo’s humans, making it less likely that your dog will seek out stinky socks.

White Cream Retriever puppies from Snowy Pines will enter your home with basic crate training, so pups are already accustomed to the space. All you have to do is incorporate your human scent into their crate.


These hunting dogs are extremely loyal animals, bred specifically for their high intelligence and soft mouth. It’s easy to see why these dogs steal socks – this article of clothing closely resembles the game they were trained to retrieve in the 1800s. 

But that doesn’t mean you want your Golden Retriever chewing or eating socks. If you find your dog excessively stealing clothing, it’s time to make some household changes. You may need to invest in some new chew toys and incorporate your personal scent into blankets or bedding. 

When you adopt a White Cream Retriever puppy from Snowy Pines, your new buddy will enter your household with prior behavioral training. While we can’t promise your dog won’t steal socks—it’s practically embedded in their DNA—we can assure families that we’ll find a perfect canine companion for your household.

Contact us today to learn more!

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About the Author


Tom Massey

Tom Massey has owned and operated Snowy Pines Labradors for over a decade. They have become the leaders in English Labradors in the US. He and his team serve customers all over the US and Europe. They house their "dog family" in a state of the art facility on a large farm in the Ozark Mountains. With an obsession for genetics and temperament they raise and train dogs known across the globe for health and personality. Tom serves the pet industry in many forms campaigning for ethical breeding, training, and pet ownership.


Calm Tempered, AKC Purebred, and Certified Genetics.