Are Golden Retrievers Aggressive? The Honest Truth

Golden Retriever owners will most times be highly indignant if you dare to suggest that their Goldens have even an iota of aggression in them. The word aggression just doesn’t gel well with Golden Retrievers. Most often, they are extremely good dogs that love their owners & family.

They will be quick to tell you that dog experts will even use this big golden, friendly dog as an example breed when looking to confirm what a calm, amicable dog is. And the puppies? Are golden Retrievers aggressive as puppies? Not at all. Alright, so as a puppy it is only natural that he will nip and bite your hand as he is teething.

He has the cutest little growl too. Growling, yapping, and nipping doesn’t for one instant mean your puppy is aggressive. He’s just being a puppy. However, not training your puppy and not taking him along to socialization classes can allow this puppy habit to develop into something serious.

Is Aggression Common in Golden Retrievers?

Are Golden Retrievers aggressive? Only very seldom. Calm and laid back as your Golden Retriever is, there are going to be times when your golden doggo may be aggressive. This isn’t the norm though and it is quite possible that it may just be a once-off event. 

So to answer the question ‘is aggression common in Golden Retrievers, the answer is ‘no, Golden Retrievers are not aggressive. They are loving, playful, calm, friendly, smiling, amiable dogs. 

Yes, there is that saying ‘even a worm will turn, but everyone becomes aggressive when they are sick, in pain or someone has been cruel to them. 

Are male Golden Retrievers aggressive more often than females? Not really. It’s just that the males tend to be more territorial, more so before they have been neutered. As mentioned, these dogs are rarely aggressive, but it is more likely that the male Golden Retriever will be more aggressive than the female.

Aggression in Golden Retrievers nearly always comes from poor breeding, bad dog owners, inadequate training, and lack of socialization. You can also add in abuse, neglect, and cruelty.

Golden Retrievers are known as control groups for aggression

A control group is a standard to which comparisons are made in a dog aggression experiment. There is a control group and an experimental group. The inclusion of a control group helps the researcher to make conclusions from the study. It is only with a control group that a researcher can determine whether a treatment can have an effect on an experimental group. 

In the study, golden retrievers were tested and used as a control group. Seventy Golden Retrievers were tested in the temperament test. Levels of escalation in aggressive behavior were scored. A total of 98.57% of the dogs reacted appropriately, and just a little over 1% displayed some aggressive behavior.

Goldens are not typically aggressive

Most Golden Retriever owners are familiar with the good-natured temperaments of their Goldens, and they would consider an aggressive Golden Retriever to be an unheard-of thing.

Dogs are like kids and the Golden is just a big loving child wanting to please you. As you can see, tests have been done, and the results of these tests provide would-be Golden Retriever owners with perfect proof that the Golden isn’t typically aggressive.

What Causes a Golden Retriever To Be Aggressive

golden retriever angry

Just like the golden teddy bear in a child’s toy cupboard is regarded as a harmless, placid toy, it’s how owners of Goldens see their beloved pet. And rightly so. A Golden Retriever is an inherently calm, non-aggressive dog and it’s why it’s such a popular breed with families. 

Nobody in their right mind would want an aggressive Golden Retriever around their small children. 

Nonetheless, even though the chances are almost nil that your Golden has any aggression in him, there are one or two factors that can cause aggression in Golden Retrievers, and with good reason, and we look at some of them below.


Fear causes any dog faced with a threat to defend itself by biting.  Veterinary behavior specialists tell us that fear-related aggression is just that – it is used as self-defense. It may well be out of sheer desperation that a cornered dog bites when it anticipates a threat. 

A Golden Retriever that has been regularly smacked learns to generalize – believing that every human hand wants to strike him. He goes into self-protection mode by biting the hand that reaches out to him.  

Fear is also instilled in a dog such as the Golden Retriever when an owner uses harsh, cruel punishment-based training methods. Harsh behavior increases aggression but also anxiety. 


Dogs act in unusual ways when they sense danger. Can Golden Retrievers be aggressive in the face of danger? Yes, but it’s not the normal behavior of Goldens. 

Although Golden Retrievers aren’t typically the first breed you think of when you think of a protective dog, they can surprise you and show a protective side. You can nearly always trust a Golden Retriever’s instincts. If your pet is responding negatively or aggressively towards a person, that person may well be the danger you’re facing.


It’s unthinkable that a beautiful, intelligent, friendly, loyal, good-natured dog such as the Golden Retriever could face abuse from anyone. This abuse can take different forms. 

It could be that you were presented with an adult Golden Retriever and you don’t know the neglect and cruelty it was shown. Goldens who have suffered from emotional and physical abuse can respond to anyone with aggression.

Poor Training or Socializing

Any dog who finds himself outside of his regular environment won’t know how to interact with other people, animals, and situations. He will in all likelihood be scared, agitated, and aggressive. 

Socializing your Golden Retriever will prepare him for a broad range of situations so that he is able to interact with various animals, people, and situations. It’s important that your pup is socialized from an early age. It teaches him to react to the world out there in a calm way without fear and aggression. 


Aggression in a Golden Retriever can have a medical cause. Just like the human child gets whiney, cranky, and aggressive when ill and with a bad headache, our canine friends do as well.  

Medically-induced aggression in a Golden Retriever can result in warning signs of growling, baring teeth, and general aggression. Brain inflammation occurs in conditions such as rabies and encephalitis. The aggression in this instance is most times a neurological reaction to the effect of the inflammation on the brain. 

Low thyroid levels affect mood and thyroid therapy can relieve aggression in dogs with hypothyroidism. Dogs are like humans in some ways and if they have woken up feeling under the weather, they may respond by showing signs of aggression.


There are many causes of aggression in dogs and injury is a common cause of canine aggression. Your Golden Retriever is nearly always a well-behaved dog, so if he suddenly shows signs of aggression, you just know there is something unusual up with him. 

If you find him acting out of character and wanting to nip you, get him to the vet as soon as possible for a thorough examination. He could have chewed on something that has caused injury to the teeth or even lodged somewhere, causing injury and pain inside the mouth. 

Irresponsible Breeding

Canine aggression always poses concerns. Aggression in dogs is researched by people wanting to understand breed differences. Research always reveals that the Golden Retriever is a calm, good-natured golden beauty with hardly an aggressive bone inside him. 

But what about irresponsible breeding? We all know that breeding a dog properly isn’t a cheap affair. It’s why we see irresponsible breeding – dog owners who just want to make a lot of money quickly and with little concern for the animal. 

A dog can suffer from all kinds of complications in pregnancy and when ignored because of the costs it can be tragic and heartbreaking. 

A responsible Golden Retriever breeder is one who knows the breed well and who has health clearances to show that both parents are free of genetic disorders. They follow the AKC breed guidelines for health testing.

The test includes hips, elbows, thyroid tests, hearing tests, DNA testing, and heart tests. Also before breeding, dog parents need additional tests for Brucellosis testing and both dogs need to be up to date with all their vaccinations.               

An irresponsible breeder isn’t concerned about breeding healthy puppies and is essentially just in it for the money. Their characteristics, their bad attitude, their lack of affection, their lack of concern, and their troublesome lifestyle all cause aggression in Golden Retrievers.

Signs of Aggression in Golden Retrievers

golden retriever with a stick

Golden Retrievers are sometimes like other dogs in showing their aggression and they will growl and bark while simultaneously becoming hyperactive. 

Their floppy ears are raised, the feathered tail is raised and stiff and their hackles are raised. Other signs of aggression can be:

  • baring his teeth
  • lunging
  • biting

How to Stop Aggression in Golden Retrievers

golden retriever not aggressive

It’s hard to think of your Golden Retriever with any kind of aggression issue. If your Golden has turned into a bit of a biter, snapper, and growler, there has to be a good reason.  So how does one stop aggression in Golden Retrievers?

The first step would be to figure out what is causing your dog’s aggression and then to follow these tips. 


Ensure that your Golden Retriever puppy stays with his mother until he is 8 weeks of age. Just like young kids have to be disciplined in order for them to display appropriate behavior,  your puppy Golden will need to be trained and socialized. 

You don’t want your puppy to be antisocial and to react badly to other people and animals. Check out with your local vet where the best puppy socialization classes are.  

Choosing a Good Breeder

By the time your Golden Retriever puppy is 8 weeks old, he is ready to go to his new home. The way he has developed so far will be dependent on how the breeder has raised him and his siblings. The breeder and the environment that they have provided will have a profound effect on your golden ball of fur’s future behavior. 

Puppies kept in an unloving, cold, hostile environment will have aggressive tendencies later on and not be able to function properly in your household. Choose a good breeder very carefully. 

Are you wanting to buy the cutest, most beautiful, friendliest, balanced, loving, non-aggressive Golden Retriever puppy? My Golden Retriever Puppies has just what you want, after all, they are the trusted source for responsibly-raised Golden Retriever Puppies in Ohio. Know your breeder and find yourself a healthy, lively, happy, amicable Golden who has been raised with love and care and dying to shower you with Golden Retriever kisses. 


Although it is difficult to find one iota of aggression in a Golden Retriever, any kind of aggressive behavior can be avoided with proper training. Apart from early socialization, you can train your dog firmly, fairly, and consistently. You could also allow a reputable professional dog behaviorist or trainer to train your Golden to mix with other people and dogs without showing aggressive tendencies.

Positive Reinforcement

Your young Golden Retriever will just love it if you praise him and reward him for being ‘a clever boy’ or ‘clever girl’.  With such positive reinforcement for showing obedience, he’ll want to repeat pleasing you.

Positive reinforcement training is great when a tasty treat is given as a reward for the desired behavior. Never confuse your dog, and make sure that everyone in the family uses the same signs and commands that he is familiar with. 


If you want to avoid aggression in your Golden Retriever, exercise him. Dog aggression is a concern for any dog owner and even your mild, calm Golden can begin to feel the stirrings of aggression when he is never exercised. 

The Golden Retriever is a large dog and he is also a sporting breed. Some exercise every other day won’t cut it with this active dog breed. Your Golden will need a consistent workout every day for at least 20 minutes at a time. Hitting a ball for him with a tennis racquet can be an excellent running exercise for him.  


America’s favorite family dog is smart and out of 138 dog breeds, the Golden is ranked in the top 5 for intelligence. He’s darn smart, but you have to remember that he is still a dog. You have to be patient with him and show him kindness, gentleness, and fairness when training him.  


Are Golden Retrievers aggressive? They can be, but only under certain circumstances. Look at his gentle brown eyes and smiling face and you’ll have your answer. It is things such as improper breeding, abuse, and fear from humans that put aggression into any dog. Know your Golden and get him to the vet if you suspect uncharacteristic aggression which could be brought on by pain or illness.

Make Sure You Get Paired With The Right Golden Retriever

One of the best ways to ensure you don’t get an aggressive Golden Retriever is by getting one through a reliable breeder. You can easily find one by checking out our puppies here!

All our puppies are raised by our own group of small, independent breeders who lovingly care for and socialize with each of them daily so they grow up happy. We even take all the extra steps to provide the best healthcare for them.