Are Golden Retrievers Aggressive?

Are Golden Retrievers Aggressive?

If you’re planning on adding a new dog to your family, one of the most popular choices is a Golden Retriever.

They’re usually great, family-friendly dogs, but like many other dog breeds, some people may have had an experience with an aggressive dog.

So are Golden Retrievers Aggressive?

Are Golden Retrievers Aggressive?

For the most part, Golden Retrievers are not aggressive dogs.

Both male and female golden retrievers are friendly and look similar behaviourally and physically. However, there are areas where they are distinct and different. For instance, females tend to have a relatively calmer temperament, but there are certain instances where both can become aggressive.

What Can Make Golden Retrievers Aggressive?

There are a host of factors that may cause your dog to be aggressive. For golden retrievers, here are the most common reasons for aggressive behaviour.

Neglect and Abuse

Neglect can cause your golden retriever to develop aggressive behaviour. For instance, starvation or extreme isolation can make your dog aggressive. Dogs will also develop aggressive traits if they are abused or mistreated. Mistreated golden retrievers can turn aggressive when they come close to humans as a way of protecting themselves from repeated experience.

Your golden retriever needs enough exercise and attention. Lack of enough exercise can lead to bent up energy, and if they are not released, they can lead to unwanted aggressive behaviours like destructive chewing, growling, or constant barking. 


Aggression due to fear is an instinctive reaction in most dog breeds, including golden retrievers. It is triggered by frightening experiences such as gunshot sounds, thunder, car backfires, or fireworks. If your golden retriever had a negative experience in the past, a similar event could trigger fear leading to aggression. Dogs have a sharp memory, and even a familiar smell associated with the bad experience can trigger fear. Your Golden retriever can be scared of a vet’s vaccination needle due to experience and can fight back with aggression.

Poor Breeding 

A backyard breeder may be interested in money and not the dog’s pedigree, and as a result, your dog may have inherited aggression traits from other breeds. Reputable dog breeders have pedigree golden retrievers.  

Poor Socialization and Training

A well-trained dog understands how to cope with the environment and proper interaction with people and other animals. Have you seen those dogs that charge against a garbage truck or behave scared all the time?

A dog that has not been socialised would not understand that everything is out to harm them or its owner. They will often react to protect their owner or themselves from the perceived threat. 


Dogs don’t communicate pain as humans. They isolate themselves and lick their wounds. Therefore don’t expect your golden to come to you looking for help. When they’re in severe pain, and you try to help, they can respond with canines out.

Maternal Instincts

If your golden retriever has just had a litter of puppies, avoid the temptation of wanting to play with the puppies right away. Such an attempt could cause the motherly instincts to kick in, and you could be in trouble. Any dog should be left alone, especially for the first few days after giving birth. All mamas of any animal species have that inborn responsibility to protect their babies.


Another reason for aggression in golden retrievers could be strangers in your home. Our canine friends see their owners as a part of them, and they can be too selfish to let go. Once a stranger invades their territory, they might feel threatened and may become aggressive. 

For these and other reasons, golden retrievers would signal when they perceive an imminent threat. They growl, bark, or become hyperreactive as a way of protecting themselves. Golden retrievers would perk up their ears or stiffen their tails to assert dominance when they encounter another dog.

How to Prevent Aggression in Golden Retrievers

If you notice that your golden retriever is becoming aggressive, the best thing to do is stop the behaviour. Since a wide range of factors causes aggressive behaviours, here are some approaches you can use to prevent aggression in your dog.

Offer Proper Training at a Young Age

The best method to curb aggressive behaviour in your canine friend is to stop them at the early stages. Good training and socialisation would help the dog grasp what’s acceptable and not as they grow. As soon as your vet has immunised them, start taking walks to get them used to different environments, animals and people.

Ensure your dog learns how to behave in the presence of other animals, how to react to different sounds, smells etc. An exposed dog is a brave companion. As in any training, you’ll need to keep consistency, so you’re your golden doesn’t get confused about the changing rules and directives.

Choose a Reputable Breeder

Genetics play a significant role in determining if your golden retriever is aggressive or not. You can choose a breeder with a history of breeding dogs with a good temperament. Some breeders may cross-breed dogs, transferring traits of breeds with a high level of aggression.

Make a Schedule

Dogs learn to respond better when they have a specific schedule. When they see consistency in living, a defined time to wake up, eat, walk, or play, they become content and calm with the prescribed schedule. The calmer and conditioned they become, the lesser aggressive they grow to become.

A schedule is essential when assisting your golden retriever to re-learn some habits—grasping the schedule and routine assists the dog to trust you and the environment.

As You Play, Show Love. 

Ensure you spend time with your golden and show them some love. Offer them some treats, cuddle them on the couch and spend time on the playground. Since these dogs become insecure when neglected, ensure they get attention and love.

Be Kind and Patient

You have to be patient and kind when training your golden. Avoid being aggressive yourself because your dog can copy aggression from you. Don’t raise your voice when your dog charges or growls at a passing dog or animal. That way, they feel unwanted or unloved.

Train them calmly, and they’ll know how to behave instead of snapping or growling. Don’t use punishment because it can reinforce aggressive behaviour. Dogs wouldn’t understand the language of punishment.

Are Golden Retrievers a Good Family Dog?

Golden Retrievers are great family dogs, and if you want a dog breed that’s been tested and trusted for mild aggression, then a golden retriever is your perfect fit. 

They only typically become dangerous if they have been neglected or mistreated, so provided you give your dog regular training, love, and exercise, your golden retriever will always blend well with your family and will get on well with children and other family pets.

Golden retrievers are friendly, intelligent, and the best human companions. They are also crafty and playful, trying all the time to get the owner’s attention by pleasing them.

The Bottom Line

Golden retrievers are excellent family pets, and they are not usually dangerous. However, certain circumstances can make this family-friendly breed aggressive if they’re mistreated or abused. 

They will always offer the best to other pets, kids, and visitors. If you notice aggressive behaviour in your dog, first, try to find out the cause and the best way to root it out. It will keep you safe and help your family and other pets enjoy the dog’s presence as their best friend.