Photo of Golden Retriever dog playing in the creek.

Breed Highlight: Golden Retrievers

by Kris Phillips

White Golden Retriever in the mountains near Denver Colorado. I met my first Golden Retriever as a child when my parents volunteered us to be puppy raisers for a group called “Guide Dogs of the Desert.” They’re an organization that raises and trains seeing eye dogs for the blind. His name was Gemini and he quickly became an intrinsic part of our family. Smart, silly, and deeply loving, his only real fault was an overwhelming love of water! A trait that eventually prevented him from becoming a guide dog. Though he stayed in the program and sired many future guide dogs. He also spent his life bringing joy to the residents of a nursing home where he lived out the rest of his days chasing tennis balls and splashing in their fountain.

Golden Retriever splashing through the creek.

Golden Retrievers are known to be smart, hardworking and friendly & outgoing with humans and other animals alike. It’s no wonder they’ve ranked among the most popular breeds since they were first introduced to the world by the Scottish Lord Tweedmouth.

White Golden Retriever among the Aspen trees. He was a hunting enthusiast who spent decades developing the perfect gun-dog. Starting in 1835 he crossed his yellow retriever with a, now extinct, Tweed Water Spaniel, then threw in some Irish Setter and Bloodhound for good measure. The Golden was introduced to the world around 1908 and their popularity really took hold courtesy of President Gerald Ford and his Golden, Liberty.

Golden Retriever in a field.

They have long hair which needs frequent brushing but little maintenance otherwise. The color can range from almost white, to classic golden, to practically red.

Golden Retriever fetching a ball in Golden field.

In addition to being wonderful family dogs Golden Retrievers excel at a number of important jobs- guides for the blind, Search & Rescue, hunting, and as therapy dogs. The job of seeing eye dog was originally held primarily by German Shepherds. Though research showed that the German Shepherds prominent position in law enforcement made some people uneasy. And the Golden’s teddy bear face and easy smile allowed them to move among the general public more comfortably. The Golden’s appearance also makes them well received in search and rescue work.

Tiny Golden Retriever Puppy.

My goal with this series is to help people make more informed decisions when considering adopting a dog. So, I wanted to present a balanced view of each of the breeds highlighted. Finding the downside of a Golden Retriever took a little work but here’s what I came up with.


  • Lots of hair. This breed was developed to be comfortable in the cold, wet climate of the Scottish Highlands. Daily brushing is recommended.
  • Size. Ranging from 55 -75 lbs, Golden’s are large, powerful dogs.
  • High Energy. Bred to be chasing after downed waterfowl for hours on end, this is a dog which needs daily exercise and will develop bad habits when ignored.
  • Highly Social. Golden’s are VERY people oriented which makes them wonderful family dogs, but they wont do well if left alone in an apartment or yard the majority of the time.
  • Questionable Breeding Practices. Because of their popularity, Golden’s are particularly at risk of unscrupulous breeding practices which often lead to congenital health problems later in life.

Red Golden Retriever leaning on a fallen tree.Pros:

  • Highly Intelligent & Motivated. Originally bred as a working dog Golden’s are motivated to learn new things and exercise their skills. Excelling in a number of jobs.
  • That Face! Seriously, is it even possible to look at a Golden without smiling back?
  • Social & Loving. They’re highly social a generally good with children of all ages and other animals as well.

Golden Retriever smiling by Clear Creek, near Denver Colorado. I’ve been fortunate enough to photograph a number of Golden Retrievers over the years and I’ve learned two things:

  1. Bring my high speed zoom lens & a tennis ball.
  2. Plan to get wet.

Golden Retriever puppy in the winter.Always an abundance of personality Golden Retrievers are an absolute blast to photograph! Their love of water, fixation on tennis balls, and unstoppable drive to play fetch always make for stunning shots.

Golden Retriever on the banks of Clear Creek in Golden, Colorado.

Ready to capture your Golden’s personality? Let’s get together. Currently booking for May!


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