The Golden Retriever is the classic family companion. They are obedient, playful, intelligent, well-mannered, great with kids, and kindly to strangers. They are good watchdogs, but make lousy guard dogs as they love people far too much to be effective. Golden Retrievers are always at the top of their obedience classes and are often the champions of sporting competitions. Hunters find them to be reliable bird dogs, and their keen sense of smell and desire to work alongside people makes them sought-after narcotics sniffers. Golden Retrievers need people and are best suited for large, active families.
Golden Retrievers need a lot of exercise, but not as much as other Retrievers and their activity requirements can be met with a couple of daily walks and tossing a stick in the yard. They enjoy pretty much any outdoor activity their people participate in, whether walking, running, hiking, biking, swimming or playing chase with kids. Though they are naturally even tempered and don't need hours of exercise, their large size makes them unsuitable for apartments. They need a lot of room to move around, and confinement is unfair to a Golden Retriever.
Golden Retrievers are a breeze to train. They are people-pleasers and will do anything for a bit of praise and some food. This makes them an excellent choice for first-time dog owners. Goldens should always be treated with a gentle hand, as they are sensitive creatures who don't respond well to harsh tones and discipline. The biggest problem people have in training this breed is walking on a leash. They should be taught proper leash etiquette early on, otherwise they can – and will – pull on a leash. Their trainability has made them a number once choice for service and therapy dogs, and in recent years they have been a favorite choice of police forces, who utilize them as drug and bomb sniffers and in search and rescue teams.
While Golden Retrievers are generally even-tempered and well behaved, potential owners should do their research before settling on a breeder. Goldens are popular, and this has led to indiscriminate breeding practices which means puppies with unstable temperaments. All the exercise and socialization in the world can't undo a bad bloodline, so always adopt from a reputable breeder.
This is a social breed of dog who adores people and thrives on companionship. If left alone too long, especially without proper exercise, Golden Retrievers can develop Separation Anxiety which usually means destructive chewing. In fact, well-adjusted Goldens are big chewers, so they must be provided with plenty of their own chew toys and bones, otherwise they will run off with shoes, books, pillows and other household items.