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Why Golden Retrievers Are the Best Dogs

Whether or not you’re an experienced dog owner, you’re likely familiar with one of the most well-known dog breeds in the world: Golden Retrievers. 

A remarkably popular dog, everyone knows someone with a Golden Retriever. Good with kids and easy to train, they’ve become the quintessential family dog.

There are more than 78 million in the United States alone, and many are also service dogs. They’re so well-loved that there’s even a nationwide Golden Day gathering in Colorado every year, which draws in hundreds of dogs and pet owners. 

But if you need a reason to understand why Golden Retrievers are the best dogs, look no further because this guide will walk you through seven! First, let’s start with a brief history of how the Golden Retriever became the companion pet it is today.

A Brief History of the Golden Retriever

Golden Retrievers have an interesting history. A Scottish millionaire, Dudley Coutts Marjoribanks bred the first Goldens during the 19th century. He was born in 1820 to a successful Scottish banker. However, banking wasn’t the career path Marjoribanks wanted to take.

Instead, on his father’s passing, Marjoribanks took his inheritance and made several property investments, including a brewery and a 15-bedroom mansion — all while breeding dogs as a hobby.

Picture of a golden retriever from 1958

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Golden Retriever, 1958

In 1865, Marjoribanks came across a gold-colored dog named Nous, whose parents were likely black Labradors. This yellow-golden dog caught Marjoribanks’ eye because, at the time, blonde dogs were rare.

This was because black dogs were considered to be much more fashionable and better hunters, so no one was trying to breed dogs with a golden coat. Still, Marjoribanks acquired Nous and bred him with Belle, a Tweed Water Spaniel, with the intention of creating a hunter capable of excellent agility on both land and water.

Picture of Nous and Belle in 1867

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Nous and Belle in 1867

In 1868, Marjoribanks’ first litter was born. The puppies sported the wavy blonde hair from Nous and agility from Belle. Majoribanks named the new dogs Golden Retrievers.

But Marjoribanks quickly learned that these hunting dogs were not just a good fit for those who fancied using them for sport but also had an excellent temperament. Over time, their loyal, affectionate, and obedient personalities made Golden Retrievers one of Europe’s favorite companion pets.

Golden Retriever Breed Characteristics 

Here are some of the Golden Retriever’s main characteristics.

Family Life Physical Social Personality Traits
Very affectionate with their family and pack members

Good with kids, and other dog breeds

The ideal first-time pet for adults and children

Medium-long blonde hair with a double coat that requires frequent brushing to avoid excess shedding

55 to 75 pounds full grown

Reaches 20 to 24 inches in height

Open to meeting new people

Very active, playful, and highly trainable

Willing to share but sometimes protective

Highly adaptable to new situations as they are always ready for adventure

Barks only to alert

Eager to please

Varies between being a couch potato and having very high energy

Loves having a job or activity 

Remains a puppy at heart









Why Are Golden Retrievers the Best Dogs?

To say that Golden Retrievers make the best pets sounds subjective — but many owners would argue that it’s an opinion backed by facts. Based on their temperament, personality, intelligence, and playfulness, Goldens are genuinely unmatched by almost any other dog breed.

Let’s get down to why Golden Retrievers are one of the best dog breeds.

Reason #1: Great Temperament and Personality 

The main reasons that just about everybody is drawn to Golden Retrievers are their excellent temperament and personalities. They are affectionate, loyal, obedient, and intelligent dogs that are always willing to please just about everybody.

While often used interchangeably, there is a difference between their temperament and personality.

What Is Temperament?

Although temperament is often mistaken with personality, temperament focuses on a broader aspect of the animal’s personality, which includes their disposition and general nature. In other words, a dog’s temperament is its general attitude toward people and other animals.

You can measure a dog’s temperament based on:

Picture of dog temperament measures

Golden Retrievers were one of many subjects of The Temperament Test by the American Temperament Test Society (ATTS). This nonprofit organization aims to measure the temperament of purebred and mixed breed dogs. Nearly 86% of tested Golden Retrievers passed the Temperament Test, which looks at shyness, aggressiveness, and friendliness.  

Learn more about how to understand your puppy’s temperament.

What Is Personality? 

Personality is a specific aspect of a dog’s temperament that focuses on its interactions with people and other animals. Like temperament, personality is affected by biological and environmental factors and can be measured by friendliness, trainability, and adjustability.

Almost all Golden Retrievers have very similar personalities because these traits are an inherent aspect of their breed. When you look at different dog breeds, you can see that a lot of the animals’ personality is rooted in what they were bred to do. 

Akitas, for example, belong to the working group. They are naturally protective and usually do better with adults rather than small children. This is probably because they were bred to hunt huge game, like bears and deer, in Japan.

On the other hand, Goldens are in the sporting group, so they are more focused on following directions in personal interactions. 

It’s safe to say that no matter which Golden Retriever you meet, you’ll be taken away by their sweet, loyal, and obedient disposition within moments.

Reason #2: Loves Families, Kids, and Other Pets 

There’s a reason why Golden Retrievers are considered to be one of the best breeds for children and families — and it’s because they’re impressively affectionate, patient, and gentle. Although Golden Retrievers are known to be good with children, they must also be taught boundaries and how to properly interact with your dog.

Goldens are also very eager to please, so they get along reasonably well with other dogs and pets, like cats. Golden Retrievers are naturally submissive, but some have nuances such as being pushier/less tolerant of rude behavior from other dogs/animals.

While Goldens have an instinct to protect their pack, they are not typical guard dogs, so they’re friendlier and more open to meeting strangers and new animals. As long as you, the owner, take the initiative to train your Retrievers from a young age, they will be more than able to interact in all types of social situations.

Reason #3: Smart and Easy to Train

There is no one way to determine dog intelligence, but expert canine psychologist Stanley Coren suggests doing so by measuring these specific aspects

  • Adaptive intelligence measures the dog’s ability to adapt to his natural or new environments and solve problems without human intervention. 
  • Working intelligence measures how quickly and what a dog can learn through obedience training from humans. 
  • Instinctive intelligence measures the dog’s ability to do what they were naturally bred to do according to their group. Goldens belong to the sporting group, so they should fetch and retrieve naturally. 
  • Spatial intelligence measures how aware a dog is of its surroundings, and how it relates to objects in the space around them. 
  • Kinesthetic intelligence measures a dog’s ability to coordinate his body effectively. Golden Retrievers are naturally very agile dogs. 
  • Interpersonal intelligence measures a dog’s ability to interact with other dogs, people, and different animals, such as cats.

As it turns out, Golden Retrievers are among the most intelligent dog breeds in the world, alongside Border Collies, Poodles, and German Shepherds.

Dog intelligence chart

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And due to these natural smarts, they’re also highly obedient and easy to train — in fact, the American Kennel Club rates Golden Retrievers as the fourth most trainable breed! These pups are ready to begin training as early as seven weeks old.

Reason #4: Excellent Workers

Like all modern-day dogs, breeders developed Goldens to perform certain types of work. Golden Retrievers belong to the sporting group, so they’re naturally excellent workers and agile athletes, which is why they’re so often the go-to breed for service and show animals.

Most impressively, Goldens are a favorite in the service dog industry due to their balanced temperament, ability to find and retrieve objects, and overall gentle demeanor, especially with children. There are numerous types of service dog positions that Goldens are perfect for, such as:

Seeing-eye dog with handler

  • Allergy detection
  • Autism services
  • Diabetic alerting
  • Seeing-eye guiding
  • Hearing guiding
  • Mobility assistance
  • Psychiatric services
  • Seizure alerting

“We call them a comfort rug with a heartbeat,” says Tim Hetzner, who worked with the relief efforts for Hurricane Katrina and those who lost pets in the storm. “Goldens are great listeners, they show unconditional love, they’re confidential, they don’t take notes, they’re nonjudgmental.”

Reason #5: Calm Activity Levels 

Did you know that the “ideal companion dog” is described as social, non-aggressive, energetic, and calm?  

Golden Retrievers are known to be a hyper and excitable dog breed, but they do eventually mellow out. So while it’s true that Goldens almost always remain young at heart, their energy levels calm down after they turn two or three years old.

Additionally, most experts and Golden owners agree that Golden Retrievers are considered calm and quiet when compared to other breeds. They have moderate bark levels and typically only make noise when they want to alert their owners of something.

With this overall calm yet friendly disposition, most adult Golden Retrievers make playful, obedient, and affectionate pets — which is why Goldens are such a favorite among families with young children.

Reason #6: Remains Young at Heart 

You might be wondering how Golden Retrievers can mellow out as they reach adolescence while also remaining young at heart. That’s the beauty of this breed: They can do both.

Golden puppies are exceptionally playful, but they still love to play with their families and are very active even well into adulthood. Any Golden Retriever owner will tell you that there is no age limit to playing ball, fetch, or frisbee when it comes to their dogs.

Children playing with dogs in nature

This breed typically lives to be around 12 years old. And no matter how old or even how docile your Golden is, he’ll never say no to adventures, games, playtime, or running around outside — all while wearing that unmistakable puppy-eyed look on his face!

Reason #7: They’re Beautiful

As puppies, Goldens are adorable. Their short and stocky bodies aren’t yet filled out, but the most beautiful feature at this age is unmistakably their dark eyes contrasting against a golden hue.

As adolescents, their long, wavy coats begin to fill out amid the backdrop of a clumsy yet unapologetic gait and a personality that is full of playfulness and energy.

Adult golden retriever with puppy

And finally, as adults, you see them in all their glory. They have yellow-golden hair, contrasting features, and a feathery double coat that flows with each step. It’s clear as day that Golden Retrievers are not only poised and majestic but beautiful too!

When you take your Golden on walks, to the park, to the groomer, or to the vet, there’s no doubt that you will receive numerous compliments and stares. Hands down, this is the breed that almost everyone adores.


There are so many reasons Golden Retrievers are popular dogs.

These likable pets have the best temperaments. Goldens are also known for their extraordinarily high intelligence levels, which allow them to be great family pets. They are easy to train and remain playful yet calm throughout adolescence and adulthood.

But if you’re thinking about getting a Golden Retriever for your family, it’s just as vital that you research where you get one from. 

Snowy Pines has decades of experience raising and training Golden and Labrador Retrievers in the heart of the Ozark Mountains, where puppies and their parents are free to play and roam all day long. Contact us today to learn about our available puppies.

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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.