Golden retrievers are one of the most popular dog breeds out there. Goldens are gorgeous, friendly, and lovable.
However, they are also known for their high-energy dispositions and larger sizes. How well can golden retrievers really do without a yard to run around in? Can you keep one happy and healthy in an apartment?
Are golden retrievers good apartment pets? They can be. While there are some challenges you need to be aware of with having this breed in a smaller space, they can all be overcome. With the right lifestyle and level of commitment, you can have an inseparable animal companion, even in a smaller space.
What makes having a golden retriever in an apartment difficult? We’ll run through a number of complications with golden retrievers and apartment living.
However, there are a number of amazing things about this breed that makes the other stuff totally worth it. If you’re settled on a golden retriever, what sort of apartment should you be looking for? We’ll cover some things to look out for.
Challenges with Apartment Living
A golden retriever isn’t probably the first thing you think of when you hear “apartment pet.” Face it; they’re big, rambunctious animals.
Keeping a golden retriever happy and healthy in an apartment is absolutely doable, but its also hard work. If you’re hoping for a nice, low maintenance pet, you’re probably better off with a goldfish.
Golden retrievers were bred as bird dogs. A bird dog retrieves (hence the name) a bird that’s been shot by a hunter. Shooting a bird out of the sky can make finding the game a literal wild goose hunt. Rather than dig through marsh and tall grass searching for a downed bird, hunters use bird dogs to find and bring back the body.
Because of this heritage, goldens are extremely high-energy. They are especially adept at swimming as they have webbed feet, perfect for fetching birds from lakes and ponds.
Managing this energy can be challenging in an apartment setting. If you don’t have a yard that your furry companion, you’ll need to take him or her out regularly.
We’re not just talking about a walk once a day. Your pet will need to go on multiple walks a day and also tag along for the occasional run or bike ride.
These guys need to burn a lot of energy. Obesity is a prevalent and serious problem for goldens that are too cooped up. Be very careful about overfeeding and make sure that exercise is a priority.
If you lead an active lifestyle, a golden retriever might be a perfect fit for you. Even if you’re trying to get out more and are hoping that an animal buddy might force to be a little healthier, it might be a great idea.
But, if the idea of going on multiple walks or runs every day sounds like a massive pain to you, then you might want to look at some smaller breeds.
All dogs chew to some extent; it’s a natural instinct for them to use those big teeth they’ve got. But this instinct is cranked up to eleven in golden retrievers.
They chew on everything! Pillows, furniture, shoes, rugs, and anything made out of leather. Almost nothing is safe. And whatever they decide to chew, they quickly tear to shreds. Nothing you own can survive the jaws of a golden retriever.
This isn’t necessarily a reason not to get a golden retriever, understanding what causes retrievers to chew can help you to manage the behavior. There are a number of reasons why golden retrievers chew on things.
Age– The younger your golden retriever is, the more likely they are to chew. The behavior is worst when they’re puppies and can disappear entirely as they enter their first or second year.
Boredom– Remember when we said that goldens were high energy? Well, when they feel bored and cooped up, what do you think they do? They chew. Ensuring that your dog gets plenty of exercises can reduce their urge to gnaw on things.
Teething Pain – Part of the reason why golden retrievers chew so much more as puppies are that they’re teething. Applying pressure to their teeth by chewing on things can alleviate the pain. Unfortunately, there isn’t a lot you can do about this one. Just make sure that they have safe outlets for chewing. Give them plenty of bones and toys that are safe to chew and hope to redirect them appropriately.
Exploration – Dogs explore the world through their mouths. Your pet is a lot more likely to chew on things as they explore their new environment. If you have time to take a few days off work when you first get your dog, you can help direct them away from chewing on things until they adjust to their new home.
Lack of Discipline– Golden retrievers are very easy to train. However, you need to actually go through the work of teaching them what is and isn’t appropriate. Your engagement as a trainer can determine whether your apartment looks great or looks like the inside of a paper shredder.
Don’t let chewing scare you away from bringing a golden retriever into your apartment home. By understanding what is causing your dog to chew, you can help them become more contended and save your things in the process.
Do you own a good vacuum? You’ll need one because golden retrievers are extremely heavy shedders. These dogs get hair everywhere. You’ll find dog hair coating your carpets, your couch cushions, your clothes, and just about everything else.
Goldens have what’s called a double coat. This means that there are two layers of hair: an undercoat and an overcoat. This double layer allows the golden retriever to stay comfortable in different seasons.
In winter, the undercoat grows thicker to keep the dog warm. In summer, the undercoat sheds to allow the dog to stay cool. The coat protects them from all weather conditions and grants them a certain amount of waterproofing.
Because of this double coat, regular grooming is very important, especially in springtime. You’ll want to invest in a good wire brush and an undercoat rake.
You should give your dog a good brushing every week or two. You may want to do some light brushing more frequently than that as it can significantly cut down on shedding and keep your apartment looking cleaner.
No matter how often you groom your dog, you’re bound to wind up with scattered hairs. Vacuuming regularly can keep the hair from building up. A small hand vacuum is great for spot cleaning or quickly sucking up hair in areas your retriever traffics a lot.
Everybody poops, including your dog. If you live in an apartment building, especially if you’re several stories up, you’re going to need a game plan for how to deal with your dog’s business.
If you’re close to the ground, you may just be able to train your dog to let you know when they need to go. You can quickly throw on a pair of flip flops and take the dog out to go.
Be sure to bring a plastic bag with you as you’re likely to get in some trouble with your landlord, your neighbors, or maybe even the city if you’re constantly leaving dog poop in the grass or on the sidewalk.
If you’re taking the dog out several times a day (and you should be), you may be able to get your dog on a schedule. If you can get your golden used to using the facilities at the same time every day, then you may eliminate the need for additional trips.
The easiest option may be to figure out a way for your dog to cleanly relieve itself inside the apartment. There are a few solutions for allowing your dog to go right into the apartment. A product called the Pet loo uses a square of turf over a removable pan.
Simply teach your dog to go on the grass square, and you can easily clean up at your convenience. You can also find various pads and other options. If you’re on a higher floor, this might be your best bet.
Why Goldens Work in Apartments
So now, you know all the reasons golden retrievers can be difficult apartment pets. Obviously, nothing we’ve talked about is impossible, but why bother? Why does anyone bring a 55+-pound animal into an apartment instead of say, a cat?
Well, golden retrievers are remarkable animals, and their best qualities can more than makeup for their worst.
Obedience is the winning characteristic of any successful apartment golden retriever. Goldens are extremely trainable. Going back to their roots as hunting dogs, they can easily be taught commands, routines, and behaviors.
Applying a firm hand with your dog can allow you to overcome some of the more problematic instincts of golden retrievers, such as chewing or being overly hyper.
You need to teach your dog that you are in charge and then make sure they know what is and isn’t acceptable within your house.
Golden retrievers thrive in these kinds of structured environments; they were bred to be teachable and obedient. Use this to your advantage to raise a dog that adapts to its surroundings.
Worried that constant barking, yipping, and howling is going to drive you (and your neighbors) crazy? Well, worry no more. One of the best things about goldens is that they aren’t big barkers.
Again, this goes back to their history as hunting dogs. Hunters couldn’t bring along a dog that was going to scare all the birds away, so it was important that they could stay quiet.
A golden retriever is unlikely to both you with loud noises at any time of day. The downside of this is that they make terrible guard dogs. While some goldens will alert you to the appearance of strangers, many won’t even bark when they meet new people.
If you’re hoping to invest in a golden retriever for added apartment security, you may want to keep your doors locked.
Golden retrievers are among the friendliest dog breeds out there. Goldens are known for being gentle and affectionate.
A golden retriever is going to quickly win your heart along with the hearts of any family members, neighbors, or anyone who interacts with them regularly.
If you’ve got children or other pets, golden retrievers are even-tempered and get along very well with small children. You won’t have to worry about your kids being bitten or scratched by the dog. These are gentle giants.
If you’re adding a golden retriever to an apartment full of pets, you can expect that they’ll make a great addition to your personal petting zoo. Just make sure that you have the space for them.
Apartment Hunting: What to Look For
Finding just the right apartment can alleviate many of the difficulties with owning a golden retriever. It can be tough to find an apartment that suits both you and your pet, but knowing what you’re looking for is half the battle.
Here are a few things to consider when apartment shopping to ensure that you can find a space that will make you and the dog a little happier.
More and more apartment buildings are becoming pet-friendly as the popularity of apartment pets increases. However, there are still plenty of complexes that don’t allow for pets, so this is the first thing you’ll want to watch out for.
You’ll likely need to disclose to your landlord that you’re bringing in a dog. Many apartments charge additional security deposits for dogs or additional pet rent. Be sure that you understand the rules surrounding dogs before you move in.
Some of the more pet-friendly apartments go above and beyond simply allowing dogs. These apartments provide amenities specifically for dogs, such as enclosed dog parks or areas designed for dogs to interact with other dogs.
These coincidently (or perhaps actually by design) double as a place to get to know other cool dog people in the building.
The Bigger, the Better
Golden retrievers are big dogs. The more space you can give them the better. You shouldn’t break your budget paying for a second bedroom for your dog. You’ve got a pet, not a kid. Or at least your pet isn’t your kid. At any rate, your dog doesn’t need his own room.
Ideally, you want to find an apartment that’s 700 square feet or bigger. This is generally pretty doable in most major cities, even on a budget. This size apartment will allow your dog some room to move around without the two of you stepping all over each other.
Ideally, you want to be as close to the ground as possible. The closer you are to the ground, the less troublesome it will be to take your dog out for walks and potty breaks.
If at all possible, a ground floor will allow you to instantly get outside. This will make bathroom trips a snap and allow you to get in and out for walks as quickly and easily as possible.
A ground floor apartment isn’t necessary, and you may even prefer the view from higher up, but there’s no arguing that being on the ground makes things much easier with a golden retriever.
Once you’re in the right apartment with your new pet, your lifestyle is what will really determine whether or not living with a golden retriever is going to work or not. Ultimately, these are dogs that require time and effort, but they pay it all back in love and companionship.
You’ll have to be active enough to get your retriever enough exercise. Multiple walks daily, and regular runs with your dog are a must.
You also will need to spend plenty of time grooming them to ensure a healthy coat and cleaning up after their shedding.
Training is a must with golden retrievers. You need to take the time to build a bond with your dog and teach them appropriate behaviors.
If this all sounds like a lot, that’s because it is. These animals spell “love” T-I-M-E. If you want to have a golden retriever in your apartment, you absolutely can, but you need to spend the time to make it work.
Your dog will pay you back for the time you spend many-fold. Golden retrievers are special animals. Their kind hearts make them an ideal companion for almost any type of person.
Whether you’re a first-time dog owner or a seasoned dog lover, don’t let the challenges of owning a golden retriever hold you back if that’s what you really want. There’s no need for your living situation to prevent you from owning one of these amazing dogs.
Simply be aware of the challenges involved with these large animals in smaller spaces and plan accordingly. A golden retriever might be what turns your space from just an apartment into a home.