The Golden Retriever has long been hailed as the ideal family pet. Its affectionate, biddable temperament and impressive athleticism have endeared the breed to countless pet owners worldwide. Even more endearing are Golden Retriever puppies, tumbling and wagging their way into their owners’ hearts! If your Golden Retriever is expecting puppies, you probably have a few questions, including how long Golden Retrievers are pregnant, how many puppies you should expect, and how you can know for sure that your dog is pregnant. Read on to find the answers to these and much more!
Types of Golden Retrievers
The Golden Retriever is a breed of dog within the species Canis lupis familiaris. It belongs to the genus Canis within the family Canidae. Golden Retrievers were originally bred in Scotland as gun or bird dogs. They were renowned for having “soft mouths” that would not cause damage when retrieving prey, calm and trainable dispositions, and excellent athletic abilities.
There are 3 main types of Golden Retrievers: American Golden Retrievers, Canadian Golden Retrievers, and English or British Golden Retrievers.
American Golden Retrievers
The American Golden Retriever is less muscular than the Canadian or British types. However, it stands taller than the British Golden Retriever and shorter than the Canadian. Its coat is long and wavy, tending toward rich golden shades. Breed standards frown on very light or very dark shades.
Canadian Golden Retriever
The Canadian Golden Retriever is similar in build to the American Golden Retriever. However, it carries a slightly thinner, shorter, and darker coat compared to the other two types. It also has less feathering. Height-wise, it stands taller by up to 2 inches on average. Any shade of gold is acceptable.
English or British Golden Retriever
This type of Golden Retriever tends to be stockier and more muscular in build, with a long, silky coat and plenty of feathering. It features a broad head with a wide muzzle. Despite its athleticism, this type is smaller overall than the American or Canadian Golden Retrievers. Cream is a permissible coat color, which sets it apart from the other two types.
Golden Retriever Appearance and Size
Golden Retrievers are, of course, golden. These lovable dogs come in a wide range of gold shades, generally divided into light golden, golden, and dark golden. Light golden includes cream, a shade so light that it may appear white. Though lovely, it’s unacceptable according to most breed standards. Dark golden, on the other hand, can be so rich as to appear reddish or bronze. Some people may even mistake them for Irish Setters. Golden Retrievers can be any shade in between these two extremes.
All 3 types of Golden Retrievers are athletically built with broad heads and wide muzzles. Their facial features form a calm, friendly expression with a pleasant, easygoing gaze. Though muscular under their flowing coats, Golden Retrievers are exceptionally gentle with children, making great family pets.
Contrary to popular belief, Golden Retrievers are not large dogs. They are medium-sized, with males weighing between 60-75 pounds and standing 22-24 inches tall. Females typically weigh between 50-70 pounds and reach up to 20-22.5 inches in height.
Golden Retriever Diet
Like all dogs, Golden Retrievers are omnivores and enjoy a wide range of foods. That said, they do require a certain amount of protein to be healthy. Chicken, turkey, beef, and salmon are all acceptable sources. It’s best to keep them away from fatty meats(i.e., pork) and fish, at least in large quantities. Golden Retrievers may like certain fruits and vegetables on occasion, like apples, carrots, and lettuce. Other “human food” should be avoided as it can be fatty and wreak havoc with their weight and digestive systems.
High-quality dog food serves as the foundation of a Golden Retriever’s diet. As a general rule, owners should feed their Golden Retrievers no more than 5 cups a day for adults and 3 cups a day for puppies. Check out this list for the best dog food to feed your Golden Retriever.
Golden Retriever Temperament and Exercise Needs
Golden Retrievers are among the sweetest and most playful dog breeds in the world. Despite being active and energetic, they are highly intelligent, eager to please, and very trainable. They delight in learning and demonstrating new tricks.
Due to their athletic build, Golden Retrievers require a significant amount of exercise. Daily walks or runs are a must to burn off their boundless energy. Off-leash dog parks are a great way to let your Golden Retriever romp freely, as well as find a few canine playmates. Generally, this is a sociable breed that loves to meet new dogs and people.
Golden Retriever Reproduction and Lifespan
Male Golden Retrievers are able to breed by 6 months, though it’s best to wait until they reach full sexual maturity at 12-15 years of age. Females, on the other hand, take much longer to develop. A female Golden Retriever should not be bred until at least 2 years of age, after her third heat cycle. If she’s bred too early, health complications could arise.
When she is ready to mate, the female will indicate this to the male. The male will then mount her. They may remain together for up to half an hour before disengaging. It may be necessary to repeat the process to ensure a pregnancy. It’s also important to prevent your female Golden Retriever from mating with other dogs if you hope to have puppies of a certain standard. A litter can contain puppies from more than one male if she mates with different dogs on different days.
Healthy Golden Retrievers typically live to be 10-12 years of age. Sadly, it’s unusual for a Golden Retriever to live longer than that. Cancer is a common problem for this breed, killing over half of all Golden Retrievers. Amazingly, a dog named Augie holds the record for the longest-lived Golden Retriever at 20 years 11 months!
How Long Are Golden Retrievers Pregnant?
Golden Retrievers are pregnant for about 63 days before giving birth. This may change by a few days one way or the other. During this 2-month gestation period, the female will experience a number of changes in her body, affecting appetite, energy, and mood.
How Can You Tell If a Golden Retriever is Pregnant?
There are several ways to tell if a Golden Retriever is pregnant. These include:
- Weight gain, most notably a swollen abdomen
- Enlarged nipples
- Changes in mood ranging from increased affection to increased irritability
- Increased lethargy
- Increased or decreased appetite
Veterinarians can also do an ultrasound to detect pregnancy in the early stages. By 4 weeks into the pregnancy, it should be possible for a trained professional to detect a fetal heartbeat or confirm the presence of puppies by palpitating the abdomen. Pet owners should not attempt this themselves as they may damage the fetuses.
How Often Can Golden Retrievers Get Pregnant?
Female Golden Retrievers experience a heat cycle every 6 months and remain in heat for about 3-4 weeks. A 9-day span marks the period of fertility. Generally, it is recommended to limit the number of litters from one female to 4-6.
Golden Retriever Litter Size
A female Golden Retriever can give birth to 4-12 puppies at once, with the average number being 8. Her first one or two litters are likely to be smaller than subsequent ones. The mother will usually wean her puppies by 3-4 weeks of age. By 8-12 weeks, they are ready to be rehomed.
As adorable as Golden Retriever puppies are, it’s important to make sure you have the resources to properly care for a new litter. After all, our canine friends deserve the best we have to offer them!
Ready to discover the top 10 cutest dog breeds in the entire world?
How about the fastest dogs, the largest dogs and those that are -- quite frankly -- just the kindest dogs on the planet? Each day, AZ Animals sends out lists just like this to our thousands of email subscribers. And the best part? It's FREE. Join today by entering your email below.
Thank you for reading! Have some feedback for us? Contact the AZ Animals editorial team.