When thinking of a Golden Retriever, everyone immediately thinks of a family dog. The fluffy light coat, the loyal look and the friendly character are for many people the reasons to get a Goldie in the house. But do Golden Retrievers have another side and can be dangerous and aggressive?
The answer is: it depends. Golden Retrievers can also be dangerous, aggressive and bite. Any dog can be. However, it must be said that Golden Retrievers are usually friendly, even-tempered and fond of children and do not tend to be aggressive, which is also proven by official statistics. But abuse, miseducation or neglect can turn the most gentle dog into an aggressive one.
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Are Golden Retrievers aggressive?
Golden Retrievers are not aggressive. They have a friendly nature, are fond of children and want to please their owners. Basically, there are no dogs that are aggressive by nature. Dogs, including the Golden Retriever, are always what you make them. If you want, you can also get a Golden Retriever to be dangerous and aggressive up to a certain point.
What can make a Golden Retriever aggressive?
Besides deliberately training aggression, there are other things that can make a Golden Retriever aggressive.
Foremost among these is neglect or abuse.
Every dog becomes aggressive towards people over time if it is mistreated. There are people who beat their dogs with clubs. Of course, that does something to a dog, and even an otherwise gentle Golden Retriever becomes aggressive over time.
Loneliness can also make a Golden Retriever aggressive. Dogs are pack animals and love to be with their humans. If you leave your Golden Retriever alone every day, all day it can be frustrating and he will become aggressive over time.
But too little physical and mental exercise can also make a Golden Retriever aggressive. If your dog doesn’t get enough exercise over a long period of time, he may either destroy things in your home or become aggressive.
Do Golden Retrievers bite?
The Golden Retriever is with 23 inches (60 cm) and up to 88lbs (40 KG) a big dog and can bite sometimes. If a Golden Retriever bites, it can also lead to serious injuries. However, it is fair to say that the bite rate of a Golden Retriever is very low in relation to the number of registered dogs compared to other breeds.
I did some more research on this and found the following numbers:
In Germany (Europe), all biting incidents are recorded statistically. Here is some data from 2018. I assume that this can be roughly transferred to other countries.
In 2018, the following numbers were reported in North Rhine-Westphalia (State in Germany) in connection with a Golden Retriever.
In comparison, I list the German shepherd dog as well as shepherd dog mixes, which are known to bite relatively frequently.
The total number of Golden Retrievers reported was 32,558 animals. In comparison, the number of German shepherds was 42,477 and German shepherd mixes was 33,966 animals.
There were 14 reported human injury biting incidents involving a golden retriever. This compares to 99 bite incidents involving a German Shepherd and 63 involving a German Shepherd mix.
Biting incidents involving injury to another animal totaled 19 with the Golden Retriever, 153 biting incidents were reported for the German Shepherd and 86 biting incidents were reported for the German Shepherd Mix.
The other dangerous incidents, e.g. your dog chasing a cyclist and the cyclist dropped, or your dog jumping at someone and the person being injured, were 6 for the Goldie, 42 for the German Shepherd and 28 for the German Shepherd mix.
Here is the data again in clear table form.
|Incident||Golden Retriever||German Shepherd (Mix)|
|Reported Dogs||32,558||42,477 (33,966)|
|Bite incidents with injuries |
in humans: Number / in %
|Biting incidents with|
Injuries other animal: number / in %
|Other dangerous incidents: Number / in %||6/0.018%||42/0.099% (28/0.253%)|
As you can see, Golden Retrievers can bite and be dangerous. However, it is relatively few in relation to the reported dogs.
How meaningful is the bite statistic?
This point is my personal opinion and should inspire you to think about it.
In a bite statistic only the reported cases go in.
We have, for example in our neighborhood an Australian Shepherd. The breed is also considered as a family dog and is extremely popular.
Now in July there were 3 cases with this dog. The Australian Shepherd abruptly jumped on my wife when she approached him to greet him and wanted to bite her in the face.
She had already felt the teeth very lightly on her cheek and was lucky that the owner reacted quickly and withdrew the dog immediately. A neighbour reported the same thing. A week before, the same thing had happened to her.
A week later, the same dog came running out the front door without warning and bit our neighbor’s dog. 3 biting incidents or attempted biting attacks in one month. Since nothing bad happened in the end no one reported anything.
Let’s swap the lovable Australian Shepherd for a German Shepherd, Rottweiler or American Staffordshire Terrier. Would these cases also have flown under the radar or would the case have been reported immediately – especially if you don’t know the owner.
I would guess that there are more attacks like this that go unreported because it’s just an Australian Shepherd or Golden Retriever. But that’s just my opinion.
Also, you must always consider who is keeping which dog. A Staffordshire Bull Terrier is not aggressive by nature. But someone who wants an aggressive dog is more likely to get such a breed than a Golden Retriever. And of course these dogs will bite more often – they are trained to do so.
Who keeps which dog?
Ultimately, it always depends on what the owner makes or wants to make of his dog. So the problem is at the other end of the leash. In the wrong hands, even a Golden Retriever can be dangerous and bite.
However, if someone wants an aggressive dog for whatever reason, they will probably not buy a Golden Retriever, but choose a dog breed that also looks “dangerous” and has a corresponding reputation.
Conclusion: Are Golden Retrievers dangerous and aggressive?
It depends. Golden Retrievers are basically not dangerous and aggressive. However, even a Goldie can bite due to incorrect attitude or training.
© Mat Hayward-stock.adobe.com (Contributing image)