Can Golden Retrievers be aggressive?
Golden Retrievers and Labradors have a reputation for being loving and gentle in any situation. I have heard more than one Golden Retriever owner brag about how their dog allows children to pull their tails and ears without blinking. While this is typically true, it is fair to ask some deeper questions about the possibility of a Golden Retriever going off the rails. Can a Golden Retriever be aggressive? Yes. Golden Retrievers can be aggressive although they are typically one of the gentler breeds. There are several things that can make a Golden Retriever aggressive, including neglect or abuse. Inadequate socialization can also create aggressive Retriever.
Golden Retrievers are not typically aggressive
Golden Retriever puppies are the sweetest things of all. How can one of them be bad or aggressive?
One of the “best dogs in the family” in America?
Golden Retrievers are known as one of the best family dogs in America. The Golden has been ranked in the top five or the last 3 decades. Take a look at this chart of popularity over the past ten years. These figures come from the official AKC website. 2009 – 3 2010 – 5 2011 – 4 2012 – 3 2013 – 3 2014 – 3 2015 – 3 2016 – 3 2017 – 3 2021 – 3 The popularity of these dogs among American families speaks to the typical nature of the breed. If they were known to bite young children, there would be fewer people interested in getting Goldens.
The aggression of the Golden Retrievers compared to other breeds
In a 2008 study, veterinary researchers Stefanie A. Ott DVM and others compared the temperament of Golden Retrievers with breeds affected by “dangerous breed” laws in different parts of the world. Golden Retrievers were used as the standard against which these “dangerous” breeds were compared. The dogs were tested for obedience and observed in dog-dog contact, dog-human contact, and dog-environment contact situations. Over 98% of Golden Retrievers showed no aggression. 98% That may seem significant, but in a previous study, 95% of the “dangerous breeds” also “reacted appropriately” in the same tests. Golden Retrievers training videosGolden Retrievers are very versatile and successful in hunting tests, exhibitions and agility competitions. Here’s the problem: many websites or fan bases you find cite this study to prove that Golden Retrievers are less aggressive than other breeds. But that wasn’t the finding of the study. The study determined that “comparing the results of Golden Retrievers and the breeds affected by the legislation, no significant difference was found. “1 I think the lesson here is simply what I try to remind people of all the time. These are still dogs. Dogs are animals and we must remember that they do not reason or compute things like humans do. Animals ALWAYS present some level of risk.
Do Golden Retrievers deserve their “gentle” reputation?
We should probably ask ourselves, considering the study I just explained, why do Golden Retrievers get a pass. Why do people assume they will not be aggressive? Like all our stereotypes, our assumptions are based on our past experiences. Most people have been around Golden Retrievers and have seen them in familiar surroundings. Many of us have seen the Golden Retriever that allows young children to crawl over it and occasionally pull its tail or ears without reacting aggressively. As such, we establish, at least in our own minds, the stereotype that all Golden Retrievers will do that. But is there scientific evidence? Another study, conducted in 2010 by researchers in Taiwan, found two significant indicators of aggression: race and physical punishment. Of the breeds, Golden Retrievers scored the lowest.2 An earlier study by Deborah L. Duffy and others at the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine stated, “Golden Retrievers, Labrador Retrievers, Bernese Mountain Dogs, Brittany Spaniels, Greyhounds, and Whippets were the least aggressive to both humans and dogs.
Where does aggression in dogs come from?
To be honest, there is no absolute answer to where dog aggression comes from and why some dogs exhibit it more than others. In a research study by Yuying Hsu and Liching Sun in Taiwan, they found that some of the factors associated with aggression included
Not spending enough time with their owners
Whether the dog was acquired as a puppy or not…
If dogs are given responsibility
and “guard” training…
Physical reprimands during training
Living in rural areas
Basically, Golden Retrievers are not aggressive, but a bad environment can lead to bad dog behavior.
Puppy behavior and aggression are different
Another problem in determining how aggressive one dog is over another, let alone one breed over another, is the puppy’s behavior. Golden Retriever puppies are troublemakers, they jump on everyone and bite everyone. They grab your toy when you try to take it away and then engage in a game of tug-of-war while grunting and growling. Golden Retrievers are great service dogs. The passive and sweet temperament of the Golden Retriever makes them great service dogs. These behaviors, and many others like them, are simple puppy behaviors and are not classified as aggression. It seems that there are new people in the dog world who cannot distinguish between the normal behavior of a puppy and that of an aggressive dog. Puppy hateful behaviors give us a golden opportunity to train our dogs not to be aggressive. This is how nature intended puppies to learn such behaviors. Remember that dogs are pack animals. And, as such, they live in a community of other dogs and have to learn the acceptable behaviors of the pack.
Acquired bite inhibition (ABI) is a great example
Perhaps the best example is a puppy bite. All puppies born into this world bite – ALL! In the pack, a puppy learns quickly when its bite is too strong. This happens when one of the litter’s companions takes it out on him or throws a high-pitched scream, basically saying, “HEY! WHAT HAS HAPPENED! So, for the first three or four months of a puppy’s life, his littermates teach him where the line is drawn and what is unacceptable behavior. Over time, the puppy learns to control his bite so he can play with his littermates without inflicting pain. When you take a puppy home, you have about six months (with each dog) to teach ABI. As you do this, your dog learns to control the bite pressure even when it is frightened or in pain. This is just one example of how we can train dogs to be aggressive.
What can make a Golden Retriever aggressive?
My father had a female Golden Retriever, Sasha, and she was a great dog, especially at first as a puppy and young dog. But as the first few years went by and she turned three or four, something began to happen to her. First, this dog who used to love to hunt because he was deathly afraid of gunshots. I’m not sure, but I think this started on the 4th of July several years ago. So, as the events that would require large groups of people and a lot of really loud noise approached, she had to be medicated essentially just to get through the day. Eventually she became more territorial with her toys and other dogs and from time to time she became a food watcher. We took all this in stride, until one day Sasha attacked the neighbors’ dog.
Although he did not kill the little one, it was costly to save its life and the dogs had to be separated from then on. The strange thing is that before that day, these two dogs had been friends.
What are some of the causes of the Golden Retriever’s aggression?
I guess I take the example of my father’s Golden Retriever because when it comes down to it, nobody knows exactly why he became aggressive. As heartbreaking as it was for my father, in the end he had to sacrifice it. When we talk about dogs in general, there are some things we can say that cause aggression. While there may be some variation in individual cases, we can typically point to experiences or situations that are more likely to bring out aggressive tendencies even in the Golden Retriever. You have to impress upon them the type of personality you want them to have as an older dog. To be brief, here is my short list of things to keep in mind that can cause aggression in any dog.
New frightening experiences
One of the challenges we have when it comes to dogs is that we don’t know how they process experiences. Most professionals believe that dogs do not transfer past experiences to new situations as quickly as people do, if at all. A new situation can create anxiety for a dog that fears the unknown.
Neglect (especially not being fed enough)
A dog that has been neglected has a greater difficulty in trusting people in general. If a dog has been malnourished, when it receives some food it will be carefully cared for. This can be a problem for shelter dogs. When they enter a home where the food will be plentiful, they will likely continue to protect their food from any potential threat. This includes small children. This may be, in my experience, the most common reason for young children or other animals to be bitten by Golden Retrievers.
Like other forms of neglect, physical abuse will instill in dogs an expectation of how people typically treat them. When you approach a dog that has been beaten in any way, you have to be extremely careful about how you talk to it. Even your body language and posture should be considered from the dog’s perspective.
Lack of physical exercise
A dog that has locked up energy often becomes destructive. At first this can become a cry for attention. However, if the problem is not addressed at its root, the behavior can become a habit.
Most illnesses come with a sense of discomfort and uncertainty. When we move or try to play with a sick dog, we can increase that discomfort. It is not uncommon for dogs in that situation to attack. To clarify, I don’t consider this to be aggressive, but some people interpret it that way. Therefore, I include it here only to cover the basics of situations in which a Golden could be seen to behave or react badly.
Just like when they are sick, dogs that are injured will be too protective of themselves. The sense of self-preservation will cause them to snap and growl. Although it is not pleasant to be around a dog that growls at us, I think they deserve a little understanding. Have you ever spoken badly to someone when you were hurt?
Sense of imminent danger
Just as Goldens can get aggressive when he feels the need to protect himself, he can do the same when he feels the need to protect someone he loves. So don’t be surprised when your Golden Retriever starts growling at a stranger at night. You may see her interact with another dog that seems to threaten someone in her family. Tips to help your Golden Retriever act appropriately So, now that you’ve seen some of the things that can make a Golden Retriever aggressive, let’s talk about how you can work to stop it. Much of this work is best done when your Golden is a puppy.
That’s when you can direct his behavior instead of trying to redirect it. When it comes to dogs and people, it’s easier to create habits than to break them. Here are some things you can do in advance to help your Golden Retriever puppy not be aggressive when he grows up. Can Golden Retrievers be aggressive? Their gentle temperament makes them a great choice for hybrid and designer dogs like this “Goldendoodle”. The Taiwan study concluded that “although no causal relationship between dog aggression and environmental variables can be deduced from observational studies, the results of this and other studies support the possibility of reducing aggressive dog responses through proper management by owners.
Socialization is one of the most underrated parts of raising a puppy. It is critical that you begin the socialization process as soon as you bring your puppy home. Socializing your puppy is basically getting him used to as much of the world as possible while he’s still young. You want to socialize your dog to different
As part of your socialization program, include trips to stores and parks where people will ask you to pet your puppy. The more the merrier. If another dog shows up, pet your pup in a reassuring manner and let him smell the other dog. Always be in a place where you can pick up your dog if something goes wrong. These will be some of the best sessions with your puppy, as they will result in an adult dog that will remain calm around other animals.
Schedules are also underestimated and overlooked by first-time dog owners. A reliable schedule will give your dog some confidence in your expectations for the day. A dog that knows it will be fed later that day will be less likely to protect its food. The same can be said of a dog that has a schedule to go out and exercise every day. Routines are good for your Golden Retriever’s mood and perspective.
Tons of Love and Playtime
I believe that every Golden Retriever puppy is a blank slate. What you end up with is typically a reflection of your own qualities as a dog owner. Dogs that are happy and confident have no need for depending on aggression to overcompensate for the lack of trust. Spending time with your dog in a productive and loving way pays tremendous dividends in the years to come.
Maturity and Time
The last thing that will help keep your dog from becoming momentarily aggressive is the old time. Father Time has a way of softening even the bravest of dogs (unless it brings with it a mental illness or painful disorder). As your Golden Retriever grows, he will settle into a fantastic place as far as personality is concerned. My Labrador Retriever is there right now. He is 8 years old and still has the courage to go hunting for 3 or 4 hours. On the other hand, he is happy to sit next to me on the porch while I read. I love this setting. There is so much to learn when it comes to your Golden Retriever. Be sure to check out my book on what I think is the sweetest breed in the world. I explain where the Golden Retriever comes from (both myth and reality). I also get into some of the dangerous health issues facing Golden Retrievers. Some of them can be prevented if you know what to look for and catch them in time. There is also a chapter on how dogs think and how that changes the way we train our Golden Retrievers. I am sure you will find new information that will help you and your furry best friend.