The Complete Idiot's Guide to Golden Retrievers


This guide explains how best to feed, groom, and train the loyal, lovable Golden Retriever. 8-page color insert.
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This guide explains how best to feed, groom, and train the loyal, lovable Golden Retriever. 8-page color insert.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781582450339
  • Publisher: Macmillan Publishing Company, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 4/28/1999
  • Series: Complete Idiot's Guide Series
  • Pages: 293
  • Product dimensions: 5.97 (w) x 8.84 (h) x 1.07 (d)

Table of Contents

The Complete Idiot's Guide to Golden Retrievers

Part 1 - All That Glitters

  • Chapter 1 - What's Gold About the Golden?
    • Golden Roots
    • Do Blonds Really Have More Fun?
    • As Good as Gold
    • A Golden Partnership
    • To Err Is Human; To Forgive Is Typically Golden

  • Chapter 2 - The Making of 14-Karat Dogs
    • The Original Gold Nugget
    • Is a Red Golden Just an Oxymoron?
    • Welcome to America
    • Officially Golden
    • The Let's-Do-It-All Dog

  • Chapter 3 - The Standard for the Golden Retriever
    • A Golden Blueprint
    • Temperament
    • Disqualifications

  • Chapter 4 - Golden Retriever Fever
    • Panning for Gold
    • Growing Up, and Up, and Up
    • Kids + Puppies = Chaos
    • All Goldens Are Not Created Equal
    • Worth His Weight in Gold

Part 2 - Going for the Gold

  • Chapter 5 - Finding a Breeder Who Is Golden
    • Papers as in AKC
    • Pedigree Analysis
    • Healthy Choices
    • More Than Just a Breeder
    • Be a Retriever Detective: How Do You Find This Walk-on-Water Breeder?

  • Chapter 6 - A Golden Match
    • Golden Images
    • Down the Yellow Brick Road
    • Dreams vs. Reality
    • The Male vs. Female Dilemma
    • Be Prepared
    • Checking Out the Breeder
    • Color Him Gold--or Purple--or Blue
    • Puppy Selection
    • The Competition Pup
    • One Is Fun

  • Chapter 7 - Stocking the Puppy Larder
    • Your Puppy's Necessities
    • Leashes
    • Bedding
    • Toys and Chewies
    • Toys Not to Buy
    • Anti-Chewies
    • Shake, Rattle, and Redirect
    • Grooming Tools
    • A Safe House Called a Crate
    • Baby Gates
    • Three Golden Puppy Ps

  • Chapter 8 - Gilding the Home Front
    • In the House
    • Keep the Lid Down
    • In the Garage
    • Botanical Dangers
    • Leaving the Nest
    • The Breeder's Take-Home Kit
    • Travel Safeguards
    • Cool the Wild Welcome Home
    • Puppy-Proof the Kids
    • Introducing a Resident Dog or Cat
    • Meeting the Cat

  • Chapter 9 - It's a Crate Life
    • Three Squares a Day
    • A Room of His Own
    • Furniture Safeguards
    • A Clean Dog House
    • The Traveling Den
    • Relative Benefits
    • The Right Fit
    • Crate Immediately
    • Use a Crate Word
    • Dim the House Lights
    • Crate Consistency
    • A Wet Crate = A Wet Pup
    • Are Crates for Adult Dogs, Too?

  • Chapter 10 - Good Housetraining Habits
    • Routines Build Good Housetraining Habits
    • Whizzer Spots
    • Never Punish Mistakes
    • Odor Neutralizers
    • One Room at a Time
    • Crate Alternatives

Part 3 - Teaching Golden Behavior

  • Chapter 11 - Socialization and Games
    • The Imprinting Period
    • The 8-to-10-Week Fear Period
    • Building Confidence
    • Sightseeing Tours
    • Let's Puppy Party
    • Puppy Learning Games
    • Puppy Catch
    • Pucker Up!
    • Please Don't Tease
    • Short and Sweet
    • Who Chases Who
    • On Golden Bond
    • How to Talk to Your Puppy
    • No-Nos about No
    • A New Leash on Life
    • Puppy Kindergarten
    • Feeding and Food Handling
    • Who's the Boss
    • Start Nail Trimming Now

  • Chapter 12 - Growing Up Golden
    • The "Good Dog" Communication System
    • Later As in Too Late
    • Roll Out the Reinforcements
    • Master of the Scruff
    • Reviewing Chewing
    • No Bite!
    • Using Common Dog-Sense Discipline
    • Golden Ups and Downs
    • Puppy FRAPs
    • The Terrible Teens
    • The Next Dominance Period: 12 to 18 months

  • Chapter 13 - Learning How to Lead
    • Leader of the Pack
    • Play Aggression vs. Leadership
    • Aggression Warning Signs
    • Reinforce Your Position As Number One

  • Chapter 14 - Puppy Basics 101
    • The Golden Rule
    • Cookie Power
    • The "Come" Command
    • The "Sit" Command
    • Your Release Word
    • The "Wait" Command
    • The "Down" Command
    • "Sit-Stay" and "Down-Stay" Commands
    • Walking on Leash
    • The "Drop" or "Give" Command
    • The "Off" Command
    • The "Enough" Command
    • The Chain or "Choke" Training Collar
    • The Prong Collar
    • The Head Collar

  • Chapter 15 - Rebels with Paws--A Behavior Sampler
    • Chewing
    • Teaching Bite Inhibition
    • Aggression from A(ctual) to Z(ero)
    • Borderline Behaviors
    • The Protective Mother
    • Aggression and Eutha nasia
    • Jumping
    • Digging
    • Running Away
    • Eating Feces
    • The Classic "Guilty" Look
    • Food Guarding
    • Separation Anxiety
    • Conditioning and Precautions
    • Counter Exploring
    • Furniture Rules
    • Thunderphobia
    • Electronic Training

Part 4 - Healthy Choices

  • Chapter 16 - The Two "V"s: Veterinarians and Vaccines
    • The Versatile Dog Doctor
    • Meet the Doc
    • On Pills and Needles
    • The Immunity Jolt
    • Alphabet Soup

  • Chapter 17 - Inside and Out: The Battle of the Bugs
    • Roundworms
    • Hookworms
    • Tapeworms
    • Whipworms
    • Heartworm
    • Giardia
    • Coccidia
    • Be a Hygiene Fanatic
    • Fleas
    • Ticks
    • Tick-Borne Diseases
    • Mites

  • Chapter 18 - In Sickness and in Health
    • Allergies
    • Summertime Blues
    • Lick Spots
    • Bloat Notes
    • For Girls Only: Pyometra
    • Diarrhea
    • Vomiting
    • Urinary Incontinence
    • Signs of Good and Poor Health
    • Emergency Situations
    • Muzzling
    • Just a Spoonful of Sugar
    • Eye Ointments and Irritations
    • Periodontal Disease
    • The Spay/Neuter Dilemma
    • Holistic Veterinary Medicine

  • Chapter 19 - That Golden Glow
    • More Than Just a Brush
    • The Golden Coat
    • Tools, Tools, Tools
    • Pawdicures
    • Clean Teeth = A Healthy Dog
    • Ear Care
    • Bathing
    • Anal Sacs
    • Identification
    • Let's Get Physical
    • Golden Energizers
    • Walking for All Ages
    • Be Weather Wise
    • Picking Up the Pace
    • Do a Critter Check

  • Chapter 20 - Hereditary Diseases
    • Eye Disease
    • Epilepsy
    • Hip Dysplasia (HD)
    • Elbow Dysplasia (ED) and Osteochondritis Dissecans (OCD)
    • Hypothyroidism
    • Subvalvular Aortic Stenosis (SAS)
    • von Willebrand's Disease (vWD)

  • Chapter 21 - Nutrition: The Great Dog Food Debate
    • Protein Power
    • The Real Skinny on High Fat
    • Preservatives
    • Vitamins and Minerals
    • Senior Dog Food
    • Food Allergies and Hypoallergenic Diets
    • Digestibility
    • Wet or Dry Food
    • Hold the Anchovies
    • Obesity
    • Keep Your Dog Slim

Part 5 - Living the Golden Life

  • Chapter 22 - The Do-It-All Golden Retriever
    • Swimming
    • Retrieving
    • Gold Medal P erformers
    • Conformation
    • Obedience Competition
    • Hunting: Events and Challenges
    • Tracking: Making Dog Scents
    • Agility
    • Goldens Serve Society
    • Golden Retriever Club of America

  • Chapter 23 - Golden Oldies
    • Weight
    • Teeth and Gums
    • Exercise and Arthritis
    • Vision
    • Hearing
    • Lumps and Bumps
    • Coat Condition
    • Heart Disease
    • Kidney Disease
    • Incontinence
    • Babies and Older Goldens
    • Adopting an Older Golden
    • Adult Golden Sources
    • Letting Go
    • Stay with Your Dog
    • Grieving
    • Getting Another Golden
    • Burial

Appendix A - Glossary of Titles and Abbreviations
Appendix B - Recommended Reading and Resources
Appendix C - How to Register Your Golden Retriever


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First Chapter

[Figures are not included in this sample chapter]

The Complete Idiot's Guide to Golden Retrievers

- 3 -

The Standard for the Golden Retriever

In This Chapter

  • What is an AKC breed standard?
  • The Golden Retriever coat, color, and temperament

  • The Golden's body parts

All breeds must have a standard. Without one, you could breed a dog with big blackor white spots to another spotted dog, and a few generations down the road you'dhave a leopard-spotted Golden. That's what genetics is all about.

It's the job and purpose of every breed's parent club to decide how to preservethe purity of their chosen breed. Goldens were originally hunting dogs (Burn thatpicture in your brain!), and the standard says so. The standard also dictates othercharacteristics of the Golden, like its color, coat type, size, and temperament.

If you know these qualities, you'll be able to recognize a decent Golden whenyou see one. There are some poor quality animals out there, so you don't want tobe an idiot about the breed standard.

A Golden Blueprint

The following is the standard as approved by the AKC. Just like the U.S. Constitutionor other complex legal documents, it has its share of funny terms and language. We'llexplain it (my explanations are in italic type) and define some of the dog descriptionslater.

General Appearance

A symmetrical, powerful, active dog, sound and well put together, not clumsy norlong in leg, displaying a kindly expression and possessing a personality that iseager, alert, and self-confident. Primarily a hunting dog, he should be shown inhard-working condition. Overall appearance, balance, gait, and purpose to be givenmore emphasis than any of his component parts.

Faults: Any departure from the described ideal shall be considered faulty to thedegree to which it interferes with the breed's purpose or is contrary to breed character.

Size, Proportion, Substance

Males 23-24 inches in height at withers (see "Neck, Topline, Body");females 211/2-221/2 inches. Dogs up to one inch above or below standard size shouldbe proportionately penalized. Deviation in height of more than one inch from standardshall disqualify.

Length from breastbone to point of buttocks slightly greater than height at withersin ratio of 12:11. Weight for dogs 65-75 pounds; bitches 55-65 pounds.


Broad in skull, slightly arched laterally and longitudinally without prominenceof frontal bones (forehead) or occipital bones (top back point of the skull).Stop (between the eyes, where the top of the nose and forehead meet) welldefined but not abrupt. Foreface (front of face) deep and wide; nearly aslong as skull. Muzzle straight in profile, blending smoothly and strongly into skull;when viewed in profile or from above, slightly dee per and wider at stop than at tip.No heaviness in flews (the skin or flap that hangs from the dog's muzzle--or hislip). Removal of whiskers is permitted but not preferred.

Eyes friendly and intelligent in expression, medium large with dark, close-fittingrims, set well apart and reasonably deep in sockets. Color preferably dark brown;medium brown acceptable. Slant eyes and narrow, triangular eyes detract from correctexpression and are to be faulted. No white or haw (lining inside the lower eyelid) visible when looking straight ahead. Dogs showing evidence of functionalabnormality of eyelids or eyelashes (such as, but not limited to, trichiasis, entropion,ectropion, or distichiasis) are to be excused from the ring.

Ears rather short with front edge attached well behind and just above the eyeand falling close to cheek. When pulled forward, tip of ear should just cover theeye. Low, hound-like ear set to be faulted.

Nose black or brownish black, though fading to a lighter shade in cold weathernot serious. Pink nose or one seriously lacking in pigmentation to be faulted.

Bet You Didn't Know

Your Golden's nose may turn a little pink in winter. Not to worry. It's called a "snow nose" and will turn black again in spring. Some dogs get it, and some don't. Others get it later in life; it depends on the dog. Don't worry about it.

Teeth scissors bite, in which the outer side of the lower incisors touches theinner side of the upper incisors. Undershot (the lower front teeth protrude beyondthe front upper teeth in bite or closed position) or overshot (just the opposite;the lower jaw is shorter, so the upper front teeth bite down over the lower teeth)bite is a disqualification. Misalignment of teeth (irregular placement of incisors)or a level bite (incisors meet each other edge to edge) is undesirable, but not tobe confused with undershot or overshot. Full dentition. Obvious gaps are seriousfaults.

Neck, Backline, Body

Neck medium long, merging gradually into well laid back shoulders, giving sturdy,muscular appearance. No throatiness. Backline strong and level from withers (topof the shoulders, just behind the neck) to slightly sloping croup (the lowerback, from the front of the pelvis to the base of the tail), whether standingor moving. Sloping backline, roach (humped up) or sway back, flat or steepcroup to be faulted.

Body well balanced, short coupled (not an excessively long body),deep through the chest. Chest between forelegs at least as wide as a man's closedhand including thumb, with well developed forechest (top of the chest). Brisket(lower chest under the breastbone extending to between the front legs) extendsto elbow. Ribs long and well sprung but not barrel shaped, extending well towardhindquarters. Loin (from the rib cage to the pelvis) short, muscular, wide,and deep, with very little tuck-up. Slab-sidedness (a flat or caved-in chest),narrow chest, lack of depth in brisket, excessive tuck-up (underneath the rearpart of the body) to be faulted.

Tail well set on, thick and muscular at the base, following the natural line ofthe croup. Tail bones extend to, but not below, the point of hock (the joint betweenthe lower thig h and rear pastern--sort of the rear elbow. . . see pasterns, nextparagraph). Carried with merry action, level or with some moderate upward curve;never curled over back nor between the legs.


Muscular, well coordinated with hindquarters and capable of free movement. Shoulderblades long and well laid back with upper tips fairly close together at withers.Upper arms appear about the same length as the blades, setting the elbows back beneaththe upper tip of the blades, close to the ribs without looseness. Legs, viewed fromthe front, straight with good bone, but not to the point of coarseness. Pasterns(on the leg, just above the foot, where the foot, or wrist/carpus, bends intothe leg. Metacarpus in front; metatarsus in rear) short and strong, sloping slightlywith no suggestion of weakness. Dewclaws (a nail-bearing fifth toe on the insideof the front leg above the rest of the toes) on forelegs may be removed, butare normally left on.

A Golden's legs should be straight, neither turned in nor out. (Winter Churchill)

Feet medium size, round, compact, and well knuckled, with thick pads. Excess hairmay be trimmed to show natural size and contour. Splayed (the toes--or digits--aresplit apart or separated) or hare feet (center toes are more than a hair longerthan the outer toes) to be faulted.


Broad and strongly muscled. Profile of croup slopes slightly; the pelvic boneslopes at a slightly greater angle (approximately 30 degrees from horizontal). Ina natural stance, the femur (thigh bone, rear leg) joins the pelvis at approximatelya 90-degree angle; stifles (a join t in the thigh, sometimes called the knee)well bent; hocks (tarsus--the joint between the lower thigh and rear pastern)well let down with short, strong rear pasterns. Feet as in front. Legs straight whenviewed from rear. Cow hocks (hind legs that bend in), spread hocks (justthe opposite), and sickle hocks (hocks with angulation in sickle shape)to be faulted.


Dense and water repellent with good undercoat. Outer coat firm and water resilient,neither coarse nor silky, lying close to the body; may be straight or wavy. Untrimmednatural ruff; moderate feathering on back of forelegs and on underbody; heavier featheringon front of neck, back of thighs, and underside of tail. Coat on head, paws, andfront of legs is short and even. Excessive length, open coats, and limp, soft coatsare very undesirable. Feet may be trimmed and stray hairs neatened, but the naturalappearance of coat or outline should not be altered by cutting or clipping.


Rich, lustrous golden of various shades. Feathering may be lighter than rest ofcoat. With the exception of graying or whitening of face or body due to age, anywhite marking, other than a few white hairs on the chest, should be penalized accordingto its extent. Allowable light shadings are not to be confused with white markings.Predominant body color which is either extremely pale or extremely dark is undesirable.Some latitude should be given to the light puppy whose coloring shows promising ofdeepening with maturity. Any noticeable area of black or other off-color hair isa serious fault.


When trotting, gait is free, smooth, powerful, and well coordinated, sho wing goodreach. Viewed from any position, legs turn neither in nor out, nor do feet crossor interfere with each other. As speed increases, feet tend to converge toward centerlineof balance. It is recommended that dogs be shown on a loose lead to reflect truegait.

Bet You Didn't Know

Check out the dog on the tear-card of this book to find canine body parts you don't understand. Not to diminish the value of the standard, but unless you're showing your dog in conformation, you won't need to study this chapter any further. A good breeder should have sound representatives of the breed.


Friendly, reliable, and trustworthy. Quarrelsomeness or hostility towards otherdogs or people in normal situations, or an unwarranted show of timidity or nervousness,is not in keeping with Golden Retriever character. Such actions should be penalizedaccording to their significance.


Deviation in height of more than one inch from standard either way.

Undershot or overshot bite.

The Least You Need to Know

  • The Golden is primarily a hunting dog, not just a fluffy couch potato.
  • A breed standard is necessary to preserve a breed's integrity.
  • Dogs who seriously deviate from the standard may make good pets but shouldn't be bred.
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