Written by Dr. Marcelle Landestoy, DVM
Golden Retrievers are one of the most popular dog breeds in the United States, ranking third on the American Kennel Club’s list as of 2018.
And no wonder: They’re cute, fluffy, and great to have around the house.
However, you may have also heard that this breed barks a lot, so you may have come here wondering if that’s true.
Are Labrador Retrievers Known for Barking Too Much?
Why Do Dogs Bark?
Dogs bark for various reasons, such as hunger, needing to go to the bathroom, separation anxiety, and the presence of other dogs. Their barks may also vary depending on their age, gender, and whether they have any health issues.
Below, I’ll go into more detail on each of the reasons dogs bark, other than their age, gender, and health issues (which will be covered in later sections).
Dogs Bark Because They are Hungry
If you haven’t fed your Golden in 24 hours, chances are their barking is due to their hunger.
Dogs know that they can get rewards for certain barks, and food may be one of them.
But if you give your dog food and they’re not eating, there might be another reason for their barking.
Dogs Bark Because They Need To Go to the Bathroom
Like with their meals, Golden Retrievers need to relieve themselves at least once a day.
If your Golden hasn’t answered the call of nature in a while, it’s possible their barking is a way to tell you that they need to go to the bathroom.
In that case, take them to the nearest area where they can do their business without interrupting others.
Dogs Bark When They Are Alone For Too Long
Dogs can get separation anxiety when they’re left alone for too long.
They may do this out of frustration, fear, or want the reward of you hearing them and paying attention to them.
If you notice that your Golden barks every time you’re away from home, they might be suffering separation anxiety, and you should probably ask a vet for help.
Dogs Bark When They Hear Other Dogs Bark
Dogs communicate with each other by barking.
There are many reasons your dog might bark at other dogs, including the following:
- Dogs may bark at other dogs out of fear. Dogs can express their anxiety to other dogs if they get into a situation where they’re not comfortable. For example, they may feel that the other dog poses a danger to them somehow. In that case, you’d do well to get your Golden away from the other dog as far (and as soon) as possible.
- Your dog may copy other dogs barking. Dogs are very social animals, so if they hear other dogs barking, they may want to join in on the party. They like to have a good time with their friends just like people do, and if they hear a neighbor’s dog barking, they may communicate with them accordingly.
- If your dog thinks they need to protect you, they might bark at other dogs. As I said earlier, it’s common for dogs to bark at other dogs if they sense a threat. Your dog may be warning another dog not to get too close to their pet parent if they feel any danger.
Barking Behavior by Age
What qualifies as normal barking behavior varies depending on the age of the Golden Retriever.
When Goldens are younger, their verbal cues differ from an older dog’s.
Puppies are still learning how to communicate and have a different energy level than their adult counterparts.
Golden Retrievers bark the most when they’re young.
The primary reason Golden puppies bark is to get their parents’ attention.
These pups need a great deal of affection, play, and attention from their family, especially when they’re small and vulnerable.
Your Golden puppy will want to run and play with you now and then, so if they feel like they aren’t getting their pet parent’s full attention, they will let you know by barking.
If your Golden puppy is barking at you, it’s normal as they want to let you know how much they love you.
Adult Golden Retrievers tend to be less vocal than puppies.
But they will still let you know when they need your attention.
Compared to their younger counterparts, they’re a bit better at expressing what they need from their pet parents.
When it comes to adult Goldens, pay attention to the tone of their bark, how often they bark, and whether there’s been a sudden change in barking behavior.
Anything unusual with these may indicate health problems that warrant the help of a veterinarian.
Barking Behavior by Gender
Golden Retrievers may also exhibit different behaviors depending on their gender.
Males mature a little slower than females, which becomes apparent through behaviors like barking.
For more information on the differences between male and female Goldens, watch the YouTube video below:
Male Golden Retrievers tend to keep their puppy energy longer than females do.
They’re more interested in playing and will let you about know this through verbal cues like barking.
Males have boundless energy, and they may bark if they’re not getting enough exercise or are left alone for too long.
Because the males tend to be bigger than females, their barks are also louder.
In other words, just because the bark is loud doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a bad sign.
Male Golden Retrievers may bark louder, but females may bark more.
That’s because female Goldens tend to mature faster and have different emotional and social triggers for barking.
Because they’re more mature, they’re also more independent than males.
What Can Cause Excessive Barking in Golden Retrievers?
Excessive barking in Golden Retrievers is often because they want to get their pet parent’s attention for exercise and play. They may also bark due to the presence of another dog in the house. Otherwise, they are not frequent barkers.
Generally, Golden Retrievers don’t bark due to minor environmental changes like other dogs do.
But if your dog is getting appropriate attention and is barking more often than usual, you should also consider when the barking began and whether it’s a sign of health problems.
When Did the Barking Begin?
If your Golden Retriever started barking recently, consider what changed in the dog’s environment. For example, you may no longer be giving your dog as much attention as you used to. A new dog or child might also be causing your Golden to bark more than usual.
Therefore, make sure you set aside ample time to play with your dog.
Shower them with attention and exercise because that’s very important for golden retrievers.
Assuming they’ve been appropriately trained, ample affection and exercise should help alleviate excessive barking.
Can Barking Indicate Health Problems?
Suppose you can’t figure out any behavioral or environmental issues that may be causing your Golden Retriever to bark more than usual.
In that case, you may wonder if your dog’s barking is a sign of a more serious underlying health issue.
There are instances where excessive barking can indicate health problems. The two biggest red flags are if the barking started suddenly and unexpectedly. If other behavioral cues accompany your dog’s barking, a veterinarian’s help is warranted.
Some symptoms your Golden Retriever can show that (when combined with barking) may indicate a potential health problem include:
- Exaggerated panting for no reason.
- Limping or favoring one of their paws.
- Shivering or shaking for seemingly no reason.
- Excessive eye-watering.
If any of these happen, call your veterinarian immediately.
How To Tell if the Barking Is Aggressive
If your dog’s barking is loud and accompanied by growling, predatory body language, and angrily showing their teeth, the barking may be aggressive. They may also lean forward aggressively and stick their tail high up.
If any of these signs come with increased barking, talk to a professional trainer.
How To Reduce Excessive Barking
When your Golden Retriever is barking more than you want them to, there are techniques to get them to bark less.
You should first know how your dog communicates through verbal and body language to figure out why they’re barking so much.
Here are a few tricks to reduce extreme barking by your Golden Retriever:
- If they’re barking at a person or animal, get their attention to shift towards you. It’s essential to establish control of the situation using calm but confident verbal cues. For example, you can teach your dog to respond appropriately to “Shhh” or “Quiet.”
- If you suspect your Golden Retriever is just begging for attention, you can ignore the barking. It’s important not to reward them whenever they bark. Dogs will repeat behavior that they know will get your attention.
- Offer incentives for them to listen to your verbal commands. If you tell your dog to be quiet and they listen to that instruction, you can give them a treat. Golden Retrievers love the attention of positive rewards, especially when they’re in the form of food. Take care to wean them off treats eventually, however, as you want them to stop barking without the need for external reinforcement.
Avoid These Pitfalls in Your Quest for Some Peace and Quiet
Positive reinforcement is crucial when trying to get your dog to bark less.
Do everything you can to provide a happy, healthy home for your Golden Retriever, even if the nonstop barking is getting on your nerves (and probably that of your neighbors’ too).
If you want to know what not to do when getting your Golden to stop barking, here’s a quick list:
Punishing Your Dog
Punishing your Golden Retriever for excessive barking is not a good method to get them to stop.
Your dog won’t understand why they’re being punished, and they may become frightened and anxious instead — which is the last thing you want to happen to a peppy Golden.
Making Your Dog Think You’re Going To Hit Them
Another way some people try to get their dogs to stop barking is by pretending to hit them.
This practice will make your Golden Retriever scared of you and break the trust between a dog and their pet parent. Never even pretend to abuse your pet physically.
Shouting and Verbal Aggression
Using verbal aggression will not only make your dog afraid of you, but it will also not help one bit with getting them to bark less.
When you lose your cool, your dog may become confused and could end up barking more.
Shouting and verbal aggression is counterproductive to getting your Golden to stop barking unnecessarily.
Do not even try to train your dog not to bark at all.
Barking is an essential way for your Golden Retriever to tell you how they feel.
Instead, think about what’s causing your dog to bark excessively and address the problem as best you can.
Barking collars are an awful solution to your dog’s barking problem.
Under no circumstance should you use a barking collar as it makes your dog scared of you, and it’s painful for them to wear.
If you need to put a collar on your dog, use the normal ones that fit them properly.
Your Golden Retriever may be barking for a few different reasons.
Most likely, they’re barking to get your attention.
Golden Retrievers are social dogs, so they will want to play with you at any opportunity they get, especially at a younger age.
Anticipate your dog’s needs to reduce barking.
Ensure they have enough exercise, attention, and love to give them a comfortable and happy home.
If you practice this, your Golden Retriever will most likely not bark nearly as often.
- Homeward Bound Goldens: Barking
- American Kennel Club: The Meaning of Your Dog’s Bark
- Bark Busters: Breed of the Month Golden Retriever
- Dog Area: Male vs. Female Golden Retriever – Are There Really That Many Differences?
- American Kennel Club: Golden Retriever
- YouTube: Male vs. Female Golden Retrievers
- Pet Keen: Male Golden Retriever vs. Female Golden Retriever: What’s the Difference?
- Golden Retrievers: Why Your Golden Retriever Doesn’t Bark?
- Golden Retriever Forum: Barking for Attention Won’t Stop
- WikiHow: How to Make a Golden Retriever Stop Barking
- Illinois Department of Veterinary Medicine: Decoding Your Dog’s Excessive Barking
- VCA Animal Hospitals: Aggression in Dogs- Territorial
- The Humane Society of the United States: How to Get Your Dog to Stop Barking
- VCA Animal Hospitals: Why Punishment Should Be Avoided
- Google Video: The Right Way for Barking Training a Dog
- The Humane Society of the United States: Dog collars: Which type is best for your dog?
- ASPCA: Barking
- RSPCA Pet Insurance: Why is My Dog Barking?
- American Kennel Club: Treating Dog Anxiety
Click here to read my post on whether or not Goldens are aggressive
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