Our 2 1/2 year old female Golden Retriever, Sophie has shown some aggressive behavior to other dogs over the past 1 1/2 years. About a year ago we left her with our 7 year old male Yorkshire Terrier for an over extended period of time. When we came home we found that Sophie had bitten the Yorkie that required an emergency hospital visit, many stitches and a month recovery. Since then there have been no other incidents and the dogs get along well. Last evening Sophie was playing very nicely with a Cocker Spaniel and after about 20 minutes Sophie was laying on the ground with the Cocker laying on Sophie’s back. A neighbor came out with her female Jack Russel, which had in a previous meeting lunged at Sophie without incident. The Jack barked and Sophie rushed over to the dog who then slipped its collar and proceeded to bite it once on the back and the side. I told the owner to take the Jack to the emergency room and we have covered all charges – $800 so far. Later that evening had Sophie out and she met a Lhasa Apso and was very gentle and friendly.
My wife is demanding that we put Sophie down. Needless to say this is very difficult for me to accept. Sophie is very good with me and I can take anything away from her without any resisitence. I can pry her mouth open and take things she has picked up, tissue, chicken bones, etc., without any problem.
I am concerned that this may be a breeding problem.
Any comments, suggestions, advise will be greatly valued.
I’m from Brazil, and I have a golden retriever and Sophia this one year old
I can not trust her with dogs barking, because she attacks them. I’m sad I do not know what to do, I can not trust her with other dogs who attack her, because she reacts biting too. Does that’ll never change. thank you
Telma Luz (facebook)
Rio de Janeiro – Brasil
What began as a wish for all Golden Retrievers who are rescued (Hope For A Better Life) has turned into a compelling and viable cause related program to help those dogs who are behaviorally challenged.
Over the past two years, GRCGLARescue has seen an increased intake in Goldens with serious behavior issues…ones who find themselves ‘red listed’ for euthanasia at the shelters or unnecessarily suffering at the hands of owners with unrealistic expectations.
To pet lovers, the general public and Hollywood, the Golden Retriever represents a cherished family companion. They are featured in movies, advertisements and the media as gentle and loving creatures. It’s hard to imagine an ‘aggressive’ Golden Retriever. But they are dogs and not puppets.
Much is being done on this front by GRCGLARescue to give these Goldens a second chance through a formal behavior modification program which significantly increases the likelihood of permanent adoption.
But we can’t do it without your support. With an average cost of $2,069 to rehabilitate a single Golden through a behavior modification program – “Hope For A Better Life” requires funding.
Thanks to an anonymous donor who has offered a matching gift challenge using the 2010 Long Beach Marathon as the fundraising platform for “Hope For A Better Life” … you can now double your contribution! For every dollar you donate – a matching dollar will go to help our behaviorally challenged Goldens.
In this giving spirit, we dedicate this June Issue to those dogs who are so often ‘misunderstood’ and present the greatest challenge to rescue organizations seeking to place these dogs in forever adoptive homes. For those adopters or dog owners who have ever felt the frustration and heartbreak from having an ‘aggressive’ dog…there’s hope.
The Golden Retriever Club of Greater Los Angeles Rescue
Neal, I’m a behavioral consultant that has witnessed first hand the growing problem of aggression in Goldens. May I direct you to Dr. Jean Dodd and her research on thryoid and aggression. Much of her work has been with goldens and the increasing number of thyroid cases with linkage to aggression. Once at the link, you can read more articles on thyroid,and I encourage you to contact your vet for a thyroid test (full panel, not just T4).
Note, too, that there are other medical causes for aggression. Also, her age suggests some other causes to me that could be managed with behavioral modification, and if warranted, pharmaceutical intervention.
I’m a new reader of this blog but I am loving it so far–truly fascinating insights into the history of dog breeds and evolution. I am a Newfoundland person myself, and I have been going back and reading your posts involving Newfoundland history–it is truly refreshing to see well researched posts that provide a much clearer picture of how Newfs evolved and their relationship with retrievers. Far more interesting than the murky “bear-dog” theory that the breed books promote. I am also highly interested in the modern dog’s relationship to the wolf and other wild canids, and your blog is full of great stuff regarding that subject.
Just wanted to pop in and let you know how much I appreciate your blog; I look forward reading more. :)
i have the same behavioral problems with my newly adopted companion… i’m still new to the GR world but somehow old watching them from afar. anyways, Mocha, a liver colored GR about 1.6 yo bit my other yellow GR. in continuous search for the brown GR history i came upon 3 other gun-dog breeds CBR, FCR & trollers… I’m a bit confused at first if there was a registration problem here in my country, that the supposed to be one of the mentioned breeds was registered as a GR. not until i saw your site (lifesaver TNX!)
i am planning to breed my GRs eventually, but because of this incident with Mocha… i somehow theorized never breed different colored GR: dark X light or curly sparse hair X long coated ones… the reason behind my theory was the ring type GRs are somewhat laid back if you’ll ask me VS the field type, dark ones… any reactions about this? again I’m a newbie and willing to learn.
I’d say this dog has been poorly socialized to other dogs. She didn’t learn how to be with other dogs, so she responds aggressively. She may learn eventually to get along with others. Or she may always have little edge to her.
The reason why you don’t often see resource guarding (aggressive over toys and food) in field goldens is this would be a major behavioral fault. Send the dog after a duck and then have to fight him over it. That is a bad proposition.
got ur reply… yes i believe she’s not well socialized. i myself would socialize my dogs… first signs of aggressions towards others, both dogs and human, i would always try to stop them. How can i start to socialize Mocha now, i mean after knowing that idea.
BTW, in the US, this red color isn’t rare at all. — yes ive done some reading also, but here in the Philippines, most breeders would breed the lighter colors… i on the other-hand prefer the darker ones. and since most breeders like the lighter colored, there are only 2 owners I know that has the same color like hers…
can you comment on my theory regarding breeding?
long hair GR x long hair GR
curly Gr x curly GR
same color GR only
Thank you so VERY MUCH!! We have a Very close friend that we talked into getting a Golden Retriever since we had had one. Ours ( Amber Dawn lasted 11 years with siezures, ( was put on phenobarbital ). She also showed signs of aggression.
Our friend Coby’s dog Lady (female) has now bitten her appr 6 times, always later in the evening for no reason that we can asertain. Have had her to a couple of vets and they are all saying obdience training. Ha, my husband has trained more bird dogs, Goldens than you can imagine. Plus Lady is wel behaved and very smart. We have noticed she is extremely hyperactive, and will keep trying to find her help as she is a very loving dog.
I used to rent to a goldie breeder (in Australia, but her lines were from UK). She wasn’t good about socializing her dogs, and they had nasty streaks. Particularly distressing were resource guarding fights among the bitches . . . . they would fight to the death over access to a water sprinkler if no one interrupted. As a Lab breeder I found this surprizing . . . I’ve never seen any sign of dog on dog aggression with my Labs. I had thought they were breeds with similar temperaments..
I have a Golden Retriever male who gets along just fine with my Boxer/coonhound mix. The only time he has shown aggression is towards men that he doesn’t know that comes onto my property. My Boxer mix is the same way. Generally he is the best dog and a great companion. I just love this blog!
I often to wonder about what Michell above posted about…the “golden aggression.” We have a small GR kennel and I often this experience pack oriented behavior that we don’t see so much with our Labradors.
I feel that the socialization piece is really critical, which is why my husband and I feel so strongly about integrating these dogs into our family life as much as possible before adoption. The GR is a sweet breed.
Blessings and thank you for having this forum. It never ceases to amaze me, how much I learn from reading other dog blogs.
I’m confused. I did not say golden’s I agree that a golden shows aggression. Im clearly saying they do not have aggression, they are pack dogs who are very pack oriented, if you breed golden’s you would clearly understand.
My family raised 2 golden retrievers, both of the dark red type. Neither EVER had any aggression issues. One would not type crap (obviously alpha) from any other 4-legged creature, but never over-protective, no resource aggression, nothing. The first one lived 17 years, the second, only 10. Since then, I have adopted three rescue goldens. All of the mid-gold to blonde type. Again, no aggression issues at all. I’m of the firm opinion that aggression issues are the result of bad breeding, mistreating or failure to socialize. It is in NO WAY representative of the breed!
My 10 month old golden has great temperment, she is beautiful loves to swim and play just a great dog. The only problem is she loves to eat poop her ,mainly her own. Is this common can this be corrected it is really gross . Thanks for your help
While looking for information on golden retriever x doberman mix, I stumbled on this blog, which at a glance looked like a blog own by a GR-doberman mix owner (Retrieverman sound like Retriever-doberMan).
I am wondering if the photo (Millie?) is golden retriever x doberman mix. It does not seem so though.
I have 3 golden retriever x doberman mix. The father (doberman) is a good guard dog. He hates instability and have predatory instinct. Our Beagle and Maltese were bitten badly when they squeaked (representing preys). He also does not like other dogs barking at us (his pack). But overall he is okey with stable dogs and okey with humans.
The problem with this doberman is that he is very active. I have to tire him up everyday (play catch, thread-milling, long walking), which would be a problem when I am busy. He sometimes pulls during walking. But I always manage to control him with verbal commands – stop, get back, slow, etc.
I also have a very nice sweet golden retriever (female) that is way less hyperactive than the doberman. On a walk, she will carry her on lease, while I have to hold the doberman, the dachshund and others.
I thought a mix golden retriever x doberman would a nice dog when I considered to breed them. Look exotic (and fearsome) and less active and still have an instinct of a guard dog for my 9 year old girl. She had a problem with an exhibitionist and I am not sure if there are pedophiles in our neighborhood. That why I’ like to have a guard dog to accompany my daughter when she is out and play in the neighborhood.
I have to decide now to dock the tails and ears or not, because these procedures are nothing but cosmetic to make the dogs look fierce.
Anyone can help me with an adult Golden Retriever x Doberman mix?
Who knows what kind of breeding my 8 month old dark red golden Allie has, but she is definitely different. Strange underbite, narrow chest, very tall and lanky. Equally happy go lucky and stubborn. Also aggressive, snarling and biting on occasion. This behavior would get her a time out in her crate until she discovered that constant barking would get her out of jail free. She loves to play with other dogs and is loved by everyone in the neighborhood because she runs up to them with such enthusiasm, wiggling and rolling and wagging her tail. But she is very attached to me and doesn’t want any other dogs to get too close. Enter my big 5 1/2 year old yellow lab Lucy who just came home after spending over a year with my daughter and family. Both were rescue dogs. Allie immediately wanted to play her nipping/wrestling game and Lucy, whose goal in life is to chase tennis balls, enjoys it for awhile. When Allie persists, Lucy gives her what-for. They have only been together for a day and I see a big change in Allie. Her big sister is using mama dog behavior to teach her the manners she needs!
I am a Certified Behaviorist and Certified Dog Trainer, the author of “Language of Dogs”,”Am I Safe” and the forthcoming book, “My Life in the Doghouse”.
My father invented the original Pooper Scooper in 1957, so you could say I was destined!
I have a full time training & behavior practice (www.bluedogtraining.com) here in Madison, WI and speak all over the world on all things dog. I have spoken for the Association of Pet Dog Trainers annual conferences in the US, Australia, New Zealand and Ireland but often speak for other types of groups, including GRRoW (Golden Retreiver Rescue of WI) whom I have a close longstanding relationship with.
For those of you wishing to learn more about ggression and other canine behavior problems…please join me and “like” my public Facebook page under Sarah Kalnajs. I’m happy to answer questions or lead you to a qualified professional near you!
I stumbled across your blog while using the TrapIt App and was very impressed with your piece on Konrad Lorenz. I look forward to following your blog and hope you take some satisfaction in knowing that it is the only blog I have ever followed.
Hopefully our paths will cross one of these days.
Sarah Kalnajs BA/CPDT-KA/CDBC
Blue Dog Training & Behavior
Hi, good blog site -thanks. I lived in New Zealand for over 20 years, but am originally from California. Back in the 80s I bought two Golden Retrievers thinking I would breed them. The female was wonderful and a great companion dog that was rehomed with a lady bound in a wheelchair whose husband travelled and she became a very good dog for this lady. The other male I bought was a disaster. At that time, I didn’t realise that some breeders were breeding either show or field lines. this male was a field line and he was so hyper I couldn’t handle him and finally had to rehome him to a man who hopefully was able to do something with him. So this discussion about aggressive Golden Retrievers may have something to do with breeders who are breeding for field. Field Golden Retriever must have endurance to carry out the field activities — but that also means they may be more likely to NEED a great deal of exercise to keep them calm. I breed GRs and I have two lines — both from the same foundation bitch, but different males. One of my foundation males was a keen retriever, but also a beautiful show dog. The other foundation male was just a good old clown and produced really laid back Goldens that did not have much interest in retrieving. The one line that had the natural retrieving instinct needs more exercise than the “clown” line. So breeding can have somewhat to do with the temperament of a GR.
Sy Guth http://www.lorgair.com
Selection pressures in this breed are all over the place. If you go out and buy, say, an Irish water spaniel, they are all pretty similar in aptitude, but if you go out and buy a golden or Labrador retriever, they vary quite a bit– not just in looks but also temperament and drive.
The nonworking type is a usually a very nice dog, and that is the rub in both golden and Labrador retrievers. They make excellent pets, and there is just a huge market for breeding dogs with lower drive and calmer dispositions.
There’s nothing wrong with that, but there is the risk they will wind up like rough collies from the twentieth century or Newfoundlands from the nineteenth– wonderful pet dogs but not the best working dogs.
But on the other extreme you can produce such a driven dog that very few can handle it, so there has to be a balance.
http://www.k9data.com/pedigree.asp?ID=542183 I found this from K9data. Com about Noranby Crash Probably he is Crasher grandson to Campfire on fathers side and also tp Balcombe Boy from mothers side
I like much your writings it give me many answers when i only read your pictures looking them
Today i have no website only site with my name at Facebook
Sorry if i take your pics but i was so happy when i saw Campfire pic which was showing how he really look because i also had feeling that this worldknown picture about him was only about him as young not adult .
I like the old type goldens and i am also worried about this ” white cream ” invasion because in genetic it will mean that pale is dominant colour so in future we will see even more only pale dogs :( And i think that most of breeders dont have really tought what they are doing when they breed hole time more pale “genes ” to dominate this breed
I was not self either knowing that when i start my breeding today i would keep me stubborn on the golden colour so that it will not be rare colour in goldens . Also that type in golden colour which is both good looking and good hunter just like example Ch Dukeries Dancing Lady was would be my passion to keep alive .
Once again thank you for your site I love it much :)
Greetings from Finland
Ps. As passion i have done genetic research about Pra in dogs from 2002