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From 14 ounces to 75 pounds, your golden retriever puppy will grow and develop a lot during his first 2 years. You’ll find that your golden is intelligent, silly and active throughout his life. He's often called the “dog who never grows up.” The golden, a member of the sporting group, loves nothing more than retrieving and carrying everything from tennis balls to dead ducks. Your golden retriever will be a faithful, loving companion during his life span of 12 to 14 years.
Newborn Goldens Need Their Mom
Like all puppies, golden retrievers are born blind, deaf and completely reliant on their mother for survival. She feeds them, licks them clean and keeps them warm. Golden retriever puppies weigh between 14 and 16 ounces at birth and will double their weight by the end of their second week of life.
Your golden puppies’ eyes and ears open by the end of their second week of life. Golden retriever moms tend to be calm and friendly, so hold and socialize with newborn puppies often. Keep them warm by holding them close to your body so they don’t lose body heat.
Goldens Love Carrying Toys Around
All puppies learn about their environment by exploring with their mouths, but goldens were bred to carry ducks without damaging them, so they're especially mouthy. Provide young puppies soft toys to carry around and you'll quickly see evidence of their retrieving instinct. Make sure the floor is clear of small items that are dangerous to puppies such as paperclips, coins and pills.
Golden retrievers have thick, shaggy double coats that require daily brushing; otherwise their coats becomes hopelessly matted and tangled. Start grooming your puppy while he's young so he will be accustomed to holding still long enough to get pretty.
Monitor Your Golden's Growth
Carefully monitor your golden's growth between 4 and 7 months of age. The breed is prone to hip dysplasia, a painful joint condition exacerbated by rapid growth. Goldens who grow too quickly also suffer a higher likelihood of soft tissue injuries and some cancers.
Feed your puppy kibble specially designed for large breeds, which is less calorie-laden than other puppy foods. Ask your veterinarian for a slow-growth plan to minimize health risks. Such a plan includes careful weight monitoring, a low-calorie puppy food, exercise and elimination of excess food. It provides a slow, steady weight gain of 1 1/2 to 1 3/4 pounds per week during those crucial growth months.
Exercise your golden puppy daily to train his metabolism to burn excess calories. Play with him on grass and soft surfaces to minimize the impact to his hip joints.
Always a Puppy
Your golden reaches his full height of up to 24 inches tall at the shoulder by the end of his first year and reaches his full weight at 2 years old. A male weighs 65 to 75 pounds; a female typically weighs 55 to 65 pounds.
Goldens keep their youthful temperament well into adulthood. They’re goofy. playful and boisterous well into their adult years.
Make sure your golden pup gets plenty of exercise. The dog's size and active nature require that he gets more vigorous exercise than some dogs. He’ll be happier and better behaved if he gets out daily for a long hike, swim or run in the park. As a retriever, he can have no greater joy than fetching tennis balls or splashing in a pond to retrieve sticks or floating toys.
- American Kennel Club: Golden Retriever Breed Standard
- The Golden Retriever Handbook; D. Caroline Colie, Ph.D.
- Animal Planet: Golden Retriever; Sheila O’Brien Schimpf
- Dogtime: Golden Retriever
- Golden Retriever Club of San Diego County: Slow Growth Plan
- burcuys/iStock/Getty Images