When you’re looking at information about different dog breeds, it’s commonplace to hear terms that are sometimes breed-specific.
This is true, even about the most popular dog breeds in America—such as Golden Retrievers. Among breeders, looking for the right type of Golden Retriever feathers can be a sign of quality heritage.
What are the Golden Retriever feathers? Well, they are long tufts of fur that have a “feathered” look to them that can be found in specific places throughout the dog’s body. Most notably, you can see feathers on the back of a Golden Retriever’s leg and on his tail.
This strange breed quirk might seem fairly minor, and it might also be a little funky. But, the more you learn about this unique fur pattern, the more you’ll be able to see why it’s a focal point of many breeders.
What Are Golden Retriever Feathers?
Obviously, dogs don’t have feathers in the same sense that birds do. This term actually refers to a certain type of fur.
Do you remember seeing photos of Farrah Fawcett from the 70s? If so, you might remember her “feathered” hairdo. Golden Retriever feathers have a similar wispy texture.
When you see a Golden Retriever running around, it’s their feathers that tend to move the most. So, if you’re having a hard time spotting Golden Retriever feathers on your pup, that’s the easiest way to do it.
Where Are Golden Retriever Feathers Found?
Golden Retrievers have a unique coat that includes a “topcoat” and feathers. The feathers are located near:
- Behind The Legs
- Underneath The Stomach
- The Bottom Of The Tail
A Golden’s feather layout is what gives these dogs a graceful look while they’re running or hunting. It adds a little movement to their coat and often adds to the slight “wave” of their fur coat.
What Color Are A Golden Retriever’s Feathers?
The color of a Golden Retriever’s feathering depends on the dog’s coat color, as well as genetic factors. Golden Retrievers come in a massive range of different colors, ranging from near-white-yellow to a deep amber hue. In rare circumstances, Golden Retrievers can even be black!
Knowing this, it’s pretty hard to give a specific answer to this question. Feathering usually is roughly the same color as your Golden Retriever’s coat, but can sometimes be a shade or two lighter.
Golden Retrievers with extreme color differences between their outer coat and feathering are considered to be anomalies.
Are Golden Retriever Feathers Uniform?
Not really. There are three different types of Golden Retrievers, and each type has slightly different feathering on their coat. Here’s what you need to know about each type of Retriever, and how it affects their coats:
Canadian Golden Retrievers. Canadian Golden Retrievers have a somewhat slender build, and their fur is shorter and thinner than other types. Because of the shorter fur, these lovable pups are known for having less feathering than other retriever breeds.
British Golden Retrievers. These dogs are a great pick for families that love extra fluff and fur around the house. Known for their creamy, heavily feathered frames, British Goldens have a powerful build with sturdy legs that are ideal for running.
American Golden Retrievers. In terms of build, these puppers are fairly similar to their British counterparts. American Goldens are known for having darker fur than their buddies across the pond. Their feathering is long to medium in length and is most notable near their tails.
No matter what kind of Golden you have, you can expect their coloration to have a beautiful yellow-gold tinge and a great demeanor.
Are Golden Retrievers Born With Feathers?
No, they aren’t. Their initial puppy coats don’t have feathering at all. However, their feathers do grow in rather quickly. By three months, most Golden Retriever puppies will start to have their feathering come in.
Though the first signs of feathering start off at around three months of age, it can take quite a bit for your Golden Retriever to fully develop their coat.
Depending on your dog’s individual growth, it can take anywhere from nine months to two full years for your dog’s feathering to be completely done growing.
Unlike many other dogs, Golden Retrievers never shed their puppy coats. Rather, they just grow them out into adult pelts. So, you’ll start to see your dog’s appearance evolve to have feathers, day by day.
What Do Male Or Female Retrievers Have Better Feathering?
With many canine breeds, certain traits can be gender-specific. Others aren’t so distinct. Feathering is one of those traits that’s hotly debated over its gender ties. The jury is still out on whether or not one gender has thicker feathering than the other.
Though there’s still some debate on the topic, anecdotal evidence suggests that males tend to have slightly thicker feathering than females.
Do Labrador Retrievers Have Feathering, Too?
To casual observers, Labradors and Goldens look virtually identical and have fairly similar behavior. That being said, Labrador Retrievers do not have feathering.
That’s actually one of the most distinctive differences between the two breeds in terms of appearance and coat upkeep. Labrador Retrievers are the feather-free version of Golden Retrievers
Does the AKC Have Standards Relating To Feathering?
The American Kennel Club is the leading authority on dog breeds. They set the standard for breeding ideals, and that includes the standards for Golden Retrievers.
If you want to have your pup participate in a dog show, you might as well learn about standards for your dog’s coat and feathering.
Entering your dog into a show will require you to make sure that he’s up to standard. Here’s what you need to know about your Golden Retriever’s coat standards, feathering included:
The outer coat needs to be water-repellant and thick. The undercoat (including some feathering) should be thick. The topcoat should be “neither coarse nor silky” in texture.
Your dog should have moderate feathering on the back of his forelegs and stomach. It should have some thickness to it, but not so much that it’s difficult to run fingers through.
The feathering around your Golden Retriever’s neck, back of thighs, and tail should be heavier. This is where feathering really matters.
There should not be any feathering around the front of your dog’s forelegs. It’s considered to be very undesirable.
The feathering shouldn’t be excessively soft. Super-soft fur on retrievers of all types tends to be seen as a serious fault and can disqualify your dog from a show.
Feathering is allowed to be lighter than the rest of your Golden Retriever’s coat. This is considered to be an allowable deviation, and may even be considered a positive trait by some judges.
That being said, these standards are just a handful of AKC standards relating to Golden Retrievers. It’s a good idea to look them all up before you head to a dog show.
How To Groom Golden Retriever Feathers
When left unkempt, a Golden Retriever’s feathers can cause the dog to smell—especially after they go to the bathroom. If you want to keep your dog happy, clean, and healthy, you’re going to have to trim your Golden’s feathers on a semi-regular basis.
The easiest way to reduce a mess on your dog’s butt and keep his coat intact is to trim the feathers down by an inch or so near his rear end.
Most Golden Retrievers will not have exceptionally long feathering, so you won’t have to worry too much about doing this on a consistent basis.
After your dog’s feathering is trimmed down, you can finish your dog’s fur maintenance by just giving him a bath. That being said, this technique can cause matting if you don’t do it on a regular basis.
How Often Should I Groom My Retriever’s Feathers?
Your Golden Retriever’s feathering needs to be washed on a fairly regular basis, with many owners choosing to do it at least once every month or once every two weeks. Trimming tends to be on a “needs-based” basis, which roughly translates to once every 45 days.
Washing aside, most Golden Retriever owners still need to brush their dogs at least once a week. Baths, too, are a little bit more regular in occurrence. It all depends on how much activity he has and where he’s going.
What Tools Should I Use To Groom My Dog’s Feathers?
Like with any other high-maintenance breed, grooming a Golden Retriever requires specialty tools. A good grooming kit for your pup will include clippers and a brush, but those aren’t always the best tools for feathering grooming.
According to experts, the best tool to clip and thin out feathering is a set of thinning shears. This will help your dog’s coat keep its full look while reducing the actual feathering to a minimum. They’re also fairly easy to use, too.
How Can I Tone Down The Smell On Golden Retriever Feathers?
Even with a little trimming, some Golden Retrievers will still have a little odor attached to their feathering. Thankfully, there are a couple of remedies dog owners can use to reduce the odor or get rid of it altogether:
Use Bragg’s apple cider vinegar. To use this remedy, mix one-part apple cider vinegar with three parts water, and spray it on your dog’s feathering. This mixture neutralizes odors in a pinch and will not harm your dog if he decides to lap it up.
Use baby wipes. Some dog owners have had success with rubbing baby wipes on their dog’s coat to reduce odor. If you’re looking for quick cleanup in a pinch, this is a smart choice.
Express your dog’s anal glands. This is gross, but it has to be done from time to time. Pushing out built-up secretions will immediately reduce the stink.
Use a dog deodorizing spray. Several sprays exist on the market that make it possible to just spritz your dog and remove the scent.
Can You Just Send Your Golden To The Groomer?
Of course, you can! This is actually the most advisable course of action if you intend on bringing your dog to a dog show. Going to a good groomer also offers the following perks for your Golden Retriever’s upkeep:
Better sanitation. It takes a lot of work to get your retriever’s coat to stay clean, especially when your dog’s coat isn’t properly groomed. With proper trimming and brushing from a groomer, the amount of weekly cleanup you have to do will shrink significantly.
Less work for you. Grooming is way more work than you’d expect it to be, especially when it comes to a dog like a Golden Retriever. Going to a groomer can save you an hour of work, not to mention the time spent putting together all the grooming kit.
A better look for your dog. It takes quite a bit of work and learning to get good at grooming Golden Retrievers. That’s why a trip to the groomers tends to be a way faster way to keep your Golden looking great.
My Golden Retriever Lost His Feathers!
Believe it or not, there are some cases where Golden Retrievers will suddenly shed most or even all of their feathering. This is what some groomers call a “blow out,” and it’s usually nothing to be worried about. (Well, unless you’re going to a dog show, anyway.)
If you’re worried about your pup losing feathering or fur in large clumps, there are several reasons why this happens.
Can Weather Cause Feathering Loss?
Yes, and it’s actually the most common reason for dogs to temporarily lose their feathering. It’s a temporary matter when the weather is the cause. Warm weather and big, bulky fur coats don’t always mix, you know!
Most of the time, blowouts happen during the summer when the weather is particularly warm and humid. When Golden Retrievers get too warm, they may start to shed feathering en masse in order to help keep themselves cool. When winter comes, they’ll start to regrow their coats in full.
Could Feathering Loss Be Caused By Allergies?
Golden Retrievers aren’t immune to allergic reactions, and actually hold a fairly high propensity towards food sensitivity. In certain situations, dogs won’t display many symptoms of an allergy attack that are more alarming—like breaking out in hives or throwing up.
Dogs that are exposed to certain allergens can react to them by just having a serious shedding fit. If you’re concerned that your pup’s food is the cause, switch brands or talk to a vet about the condition. It’s usually an easy fix.
Could Blow Outs Be Caused By A Puppy’s Age?
Though most Golden Retrievers don’t do this, younger puppies can shed off large portions of feathering as they develop their adult coats. If your puppy is about a year old and it’s summer, chances are high that this could be the reason why they’re a little less furry than usual.
Can Stress Make My Dog Shed His Feathers?
Believe it or not, the answer is yes. Stress, whether it’s a physical or emotional source, can stress out your dog to the point of provoking a mass shedding episode. Once you remove the source of stress, your dog’s coat will start to regrow.
There is a little bad news related to this issue. After the cause of stress is removed, it can take up to four months for your dogs’ feathers to regrow. So, he might be hairless for a while.
My Retriever Lost His Feathers And Is Older. What’s Going On?
Admittedly, it’s rare to see older Golden Retrievers those experience blowouts. When you do, it’s often accompanied by lethargy, weight gain, and general malaise. The majority of cases that fit this bill are due to hypothyroidism.
If you’re concerned about hypothyroidism as a cause for blowouts, then it’s crucial to get your dog to a vet. If left untreated, hypothyroidism can seriously harm your dog.
Are There Other Dog Breeds That Have Feathering?
Golden Retrievers are one of the most popular dogs to have partially feathered coats, but they’re not the only breed to have some feathering. Over the course of centuries, many different breeds were created that have similarly feathered fur—either as a partial coat or their full-body coats.
Finding other breeds with similar feathered coats can be difficult, but it’s always doable. Here are some breeds commonly associated with feathering:
Saluki. These exotic dogs are known for having a coat type that is almost fully feathered, giving them a very wispy, wiry look.
Chinese Crested. These beautiful dogs have a partial coat that involved feathering around the head, tail, and feet. Their feathering is referred to as “plumes” by breeders.
Almost all types of collies have at least some feathering on their coats, with many types having a full double coat during the winter.
Irish Setters. These rust-colored dogs are known for their incredibly shiny coats, and yes, their feathers too. Unlike most other dogs with feathering, Setters have a single coat that is filled with wispy fur.