Why a Golden is NOT the Perfect Family Dog
Shelley L. Rhodes
1. The Golden suffers from major separation anxiety. Because Goldens are
"people" dogs, they suffer when their people need to leave them behind, even
under the best of conditions in their own home with a live-in servant. The Golden gives no
hint that they are stressed until they explode with a hot spot the size of a dinner plate.
If unable to work up a hot spot, the Golden will resort to a bout of diarrhea or another
ailment serious enough to require a trip to the vet as long as it does not require missing
2. The Golden is first and foremost a retriever. This means that they will make every
effort to bring you everything not nailed down. However, they never return anything to its
original location so a large portion of the day must be spent gathering and redecorating.
During my recent house-sitting, the dogs brought me all of the following: 76 tennis balls
(74 of which appeared from nowhere); four dozen different stuffed toys (each of which had
a name known by the dog); the neighbor's cat (soggy); and, a small sofa.
3. The Border Collie has "the eye", an unblinking stare that is used to get what
they want. The Golden has something equally unnerving, "The Eye Shift." During
The Eye Shift, the Golden darts their eyes back and forth between you and any tennis ball.
This is done without any perceptible movement of their heads. The Eye Shift can be done at
any angle to accommodate a ball on the floor or hidden high on a bookshelf. It is
impossible to hide a ball from a Golden, and every effort to do so will be defeated.
Living with the Eye Shift is like living with a non-stop tennis match. Golden Retriever
owners learn to ignore it or run the risk of developing vertigo.
4. When things are quiet, the Golden Retriever likes to drape in your lap or, at the very
least, rest their fifty-pound head. They are big dogs and it only takes about ten minutes
before your legs go numb. After watching a movie, one is reduced to crawling to bed or the
kitchen or waiting until feeling returns with a painful burst of pins and needles.
5. The Golden makes a terrible watchdog. They like everyone. A Golden will try to work the
Eye Shift on a burglar with some patter that sounds like this: Hey, could you stop filling
that bag for just a minute and toss the ball on that shelf for me, please, please, please.
Yes, that shelf. Just follow my eyes. Right there. Right there. Yes!
6. This breed is known for their versatility. They will do their best at any type of work
they are offered. Guide Dog? Sure. Agility? Can do. Obedience? How long should I stay?
Tracking. Where shall we start? This puts great responsibility on the Golden owner to get
involved in something. Goldens make their owners feel guilty or at least they should.
7. The breed has fragmented into at least two distinctly different types that look
strikingly different. The lighter boned, darker colored dogs bred to work in the field
look very different than their show bred relatives with their Hollywood starlet blond
coats and heavier bone. If you decide on a Golden, you will have to make the tough choice
of whether you want to join the camp of the beauty queens or the athletes.
8. This breed will sell its soul for food. Julie Cairns writes in her book, The Golden
Retriever, All That Glitters that, "... gluttony is a common trait among Goldens, and
many will eat as long as food is available." Now that is an understatement. A Golden
who stumbles on an unattended dog food bag is a candidate for exploding. An increasing
number of Goldens have been appearing on street corners sporting signs announcing that
they will trade their services for food.
9. The death of a Golden presents a serious problem, beyond the mere fact that they have
died. When Goldens die, they are automatically transformed in their friends' minds from a
perfect dog to sainthood. All deceased Goldens are known as Saint Somebody. This makes it
very difficult to get another dog.