Golden Retrievers and the Quest for the Perfect Family Dog

Written by Dr. Marcelle Landestoy, DVM

Golden retriever playing with a puppy

Finding the perfect dog to complete your family is exciting. Golden retrievers are generally viewed as a typical “family dog,” but are they a good fit for your family?

Golden retrievers are excellent dogs for most families. They are a loving and intelligent breed and one of the easiest dog breeds to train. While they’re great around children and other animals, they have a lot of energy and require frequent physical exercise.

With my background as a veterinary doctor, I’ll look into everything about Golden Retrievers. Read on to learn more about their temperament, what makes them great family dogs, and the different advantages and disadvantages to consider before adopting.

Are They Good With Kids?

One of the main things you’re going to require from a new family dog is that it be good around your children.

Golden retrievers are known for their kind temperament, but, like everyone, they can have bad days and get annoyed.

While Golden’s usually are sweet and cuddly, it’s essential to ease your new dog into your family by slowly introducing your young children. 


golden retriever and baby

It’s common to see people adopt a puppy when they have a baby so the two can bond as they grow.

However, this is more work than many people think.

Both the baby and the puppy will need all of your attention.

Puppies are smaller, but they’re also unpredictable and clumsy. They might try to jump on the baby to play without realizing it can cause the baby harm.

An adult Golden retriever will be more predictable and also way easier to train.

While it might be easier to adjust an older dog to a baby, you can still accommodate a puppy.

As long as you have the time and attention to give both the baby and the puppy, the two will form a great bond in no time.

Helping Your Golden Retriever Adjust to a New Baby

If a Golden retriever is adequately socialized and trained, it shouldn’t be a problem around babies.

Golden retrievers are loyal and protective, so they might view your baby as someone to care for and protect.

Jealousy is common among Golden retrievers because of their love of human companionship.

Therefore, if there’s a baby at home that is taking away time and attention from them, they’ll feel jealous.

Golden retrievers will usually only show their jealousy with attention-seeking behaviors, which will typically be in the form of pushing the owner or attempting to get between the owner and the ‘rival.’

Which, in this case, is the baby.

You can work to prepare Golden retrievers for a new baby by practicing commands such as “sit” or “stay” and rewarding them.

When you introduce the baby, let the dog be excited for a minute, but then use the commands and offer rewarding treats while the dog checks out the baby.

This positive reinforcement allows Golden retrievers to view the baby as something good.

Eventually, the Golden retriever will love the baby as much as the rest of the family.


golden retriever and toddler

Toddlers are full of energy—just like Golden retrievers! That makes them the perfect little companions.

Golden retrievers will be fine around toddlers, as long as your toddler isn’t too rough.

Young children don’t always understand boundaries.

They might pull on a dog’s ears or try to sit on them, and this can cause an adverse reaction from the dog.

Nona K. Bauer, a writer and Golden retriever expert suggests that you wait until your toddler is a little older before adopting a dog.

In her book “Golden Retrievers for Dummies,” she writes that she believes the age limit for kids is four years old.

Children usually know more about right and wrong at this age and won’t do anything to annoy the dog too much.

However, properly training Golden retrievers will decrease the chances of acting out if a young toddler is climbing all over them.

Most of the time, these big, cuddly animals will love the attention.

Older Kids

Golden retrievers are excellent with older children. They’re known as great family dogs because of their kind, energetic, and easy-going temperament. 

Older kids will have the energy to keep up with the Golden retriever, and both the dog and the children will have fun while doing it.

Is the Golden Retriever the Right Size for Your Family?

Deciding if a Golden retriever is a suitable size for your family depends on several reasons, including your family’s current size and your living situation.

If you have a large family and not a lot of room in your house or live in an apartment complex, you might need to go with a smaller dog breed.

Male Golden retrievers can grow up to 23 to 24 inches in height and weigh between 65 and 75 pounds.

Female Golden retrievers are slightly below that, at 21 to 22 inches tall and between 55 and 65 pounds.

Therefore, only the older children or adults in the home should walk, carry or bathe them.

Golden retriever

Training Golden retrievers on how to act during a walk may allow younger children to walk them.

However, without the proper training, Golden retrievers may get excited and try to pull on whoever is walking them.

Children may be able to assist in bathing them, but it’s not advisable.

How Much Living Space Does a Golden Retriever Need?

Golden retrievers grow to be a large breed. While they’re not as large as a Great Dane, they still require an adequate amount of space to live.

The bigger the breed, the larger supplies it will need. You’ll have to have a larger kennel, space to store big bags of dog food, big food bowls, and a big dog bed.

While a Golden retriever technically can live outdoors, it’s at its best when kept indoors with the family.

They love to be around their people, so they make for great indoor pets.

Can Golden Retrievers Cause Allergies?

If you’re prone to allergies but still want to adopt a family dog, I have bad news.

No dog is entirely hypoallergenic. Some, however, produce fewer allergens that are less likely to affect you. 

Unfortunately, Golden retrievers are more likely to have dandruff problems, which will give off more allergens.

If someone in your family is allergic, a less hypoallergenic breed is a better option.

If you have a Golden retriever and are affected by pet allergies, I recommend this Allerpet Dog Allergy Relief from Amazon.

It’s a 100% safe and non-toxic solution that you rub into your dog’s fur. Many vets recommend this product for people suffering from pet allergies.

Do They Bark a Lot?

Golden retrievers do bark—all dogs do! However, they only bark occasionally and rarely aggressively. 

Usually, Golden retrievers will only bark if they’re excited or scared.

They aren’t known to be very chatty. Therefore, if there are babies or elderly members in the home, a Golden retriever shouldn’t bother them too much.

Are Golden Retrievers Aggressive?

Golden retriever close up of face

Golden retrievers rarely get aggressive, and many vets describe them as kindly, friendly, and confident dogs by nature.

Golden retrievers are seen as poor guard dogs because they’re so loving and playful.

They’re protective and loyal to their family. However, just like other dogs, they might become aggressive as an act of protection if they’re scared or frightened.

What About Families With Seniors?

Seniors love Golden retrievers. Because Golden retrievers are so friendly and sociable, they make for great senior companions.

However, if a senior will be the primary person taking care of the Golden retriever, it might not be the best option.

Golden retrievers require a lot of exercise. They’ll need frequent walks or a lot of outside time.

Because of this, seniors might not be the best caretakers for them.

Golden retrievers also tend to get excited and jump on family members.

Families can avoid this with proper training, but this isn’t ideal in a house with seniors.

If the golden retriever is adequately trained and has access to the exercise it needs, it would make an excellent companion for seniors. 

Do They Get Along With Other Dogs?

Golden retrievers love being around others, and that includes other dogs!

If you already have a dog and you’re thinking about getting a Golden retriever, that wouldn’t be a problem.

They’re very social animals and get along with any dog breed.

Are They Good With Cats?

Typically, you will find that Golden retrievers are great with cats. However, every dog is different.

If they’ve never been around a cat before, it might be a bit of an issue.

However, since Golden retrievers are easy to train, it wouldn’t be too hard to teach them to leave the cats be.

It’s essential to slowly adapt the animals to each other and pay close attention for a while after introducing them.

Final Thoughts

Overall, Golden retrievers make great family pets. They’re one of the most kind, loving, and companionable dog breeds and get along with just about everyone—cats included!

However, every family is different.

If you live in a small home and have young children or seniors living with you, a Golden retriever might not be the best option for your family.

Nevertheless, if you’re looking for an intelligent and loyal pup, a Golden retriever is a great option!

Not only will you get the benefit of a loving dog, but it will soon feel like part of the family.

Golden retriever on a bed


  • Wikipedia: Golden Retriever
  • Wikipedia: Hypoallergenic
  • Wikipedia: Great Dane
  • Wikipedia: Guard Dog
  • Google Books: Golden Retrievers For Dummies
  • Neater Pets: Why Golden Retrievers Are the Best Family Dog
  • Golden Hearts: Golden Retrievers & Kids: Everything You Need To Know
  • PetMD: Golden Retriever
  • Jealousy in Dogs
  • ASPCA: Dog and Babies
  • WebMD: Why Does My Pet Make Me Sneeze?
  • Golden Retriever Rescue of Mid-Florida: Are You a Senior? Does That Mean You Can’t Adopt From GRRMF?
  • All Golden Retriever: Does My Golden Retriever Need a Companion?
  • Golden Hearts: Are Golden Retrievers Good With Cats?

Click here to read my one-page Golden Retriever parent’s guide

Veterinary Hospital Director at UCE
Dr. Marcelle is a general veterinarian with a Small Animal Medicine Specialty | Director of the UCE School of Veterinary Medicine | Certified by the International Veterinary Acupuncture Society

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