The trusty Golden Retriever. A wise and loyal family dog—playful and exuberant—and a hero search and rescue dog joyfully leading first responders at a disaster site. Goldens crave activity as a member of the Sporting Group, but how much exercise does a Golden Retriever need?
Golden Retrievers need at least one hour of exercise daily, including a mix of walks and playing.
After all, Golden’s ancestors were retrieving fowl on land and water for over a century before becoming a household family dog. When that excess energy isn’t put to work—or play—it can lead to bad behavior and obesity.
The Association for Pet Obesity Prevention found that 63% of Golden Retrievers are overweight or obese. Compared to 56% of all dog breeds.
Like the Labrador Retriever, the Golden Retriever has a gene deletion mutation of POMC—a gene responsible for regulating appetite. When diet and food levels aren’t adequately controlled, the Golden is prone to over-eating and obesity.
To better understand your pet’s exercise needs, it’s essential to understand their breed—and Golden Retrievers’ are one of the fattest dog breeds that require the most exercise.
This article details more about the Golden Retriever breed, giving you a better understanding of what makes them an active breed. By the end, you’ll know the exercise needs of your Golden during their puppy, adult, and senior years — plus walk away with other exercise ideas.
- Why are Golden Retrievers active dogs?
- How often do Golden Retrievers need to be walked?
- How long should a Golden Retrievers walk be?
- How much exercise does a senior Golden Retriever need?
Why are Golden Retrievers active dogs?
Like many breeds, the origin story of Golden Retrievers dictates today’s temperament and need for exercise.
Bred in Scotland in the late 1800s by Baron Tweedmouth, the Golden Retriever was a remarkably successful attempt to create the ultimate retriever breed. Crocus, the original Golden Retriever, was a mix between a Flat-Coated Retriever named Nous and Tweed Water Spaniel named Belle.
The Flat-Coated Retriever, initially bred in England, is a gundog breed developed to retrieve game on land and water.
The Tweed Water Spaniel, a now extinct dog breed, was an avid swimmer, waterfowl hunter, and fishing dog from the town Berwick-on-Tweed.
While there isn’t a clinical “hyper dog” breed, there is a genetic sense for many dog breeds to want to burn off energy. Without the proper exercise, that energy can cause your Golden Retriever to become anxious and destructive.
How often do Golden Retrievers need to be walked?
Golden Retrievers need to be walked at least once a day and preferably twice. Daily walks are an essential exercise for dogs. It helps them use up some of their energy and gives them a chance to explore the world around them.
Over time, and after their growing phase, you can increase a Golden Retriever’s fitness level to become jogging or running companions.
Running with your Golden Retriever before 18 months of age can cause joint issues, so check with your veterinarian before starting.
Besides walks, what other exercises can you do with your Golden Retriever?
Golden Retrievers are excellent trail runners and hiking dogs. They handle agility well, which makes rough terrain an easy challenge. Keeping up with them will be the real challenge.
The stamina of a Golden Retriever also makes them an excellent companion for long bike rides. Agility and obedience training can be a great activity that Goldens enjoy.
How long can a Golden Retriever run?
Golden Retrievers can regularly run 3 to 8 miles, with the ability to run a full marathon—26.2 miles—with the proper training. Golden’s make excellent running partners with a need to please and sprinting speeds up to 35 miles per hour.
If running and bike rides don’t fit your lifestyle, Golden Retrievers are strong swimmers and love water.
Swimming can also supplement running and walks when the heat isn’t safe in the summer months. Although your best friend would still appreciate early morning walks.
How long should a Golden Retriever’s walk be?
Adult Golden Retrievers should be walked for at least 30 minutes to an hour each day. You can start with a shorter walk at a young age and gradually increase the time as they finish growing.
Golden Retriever puppies need 5 minutes of exercise twice a day for each month of age.
At 18 months, your Golden Retriever is an adult and through the twelve phases of growth and development. Once fully grown, Golden Retrievers have tremendous stamina and are known to run for miles.
It’s essential to test your pup’s stamina first by looking for signs of fatigue. Avoid exhaustion by slowly increasing your Golden’s endurance.
Health risks in Golden Retrievers to watch for.
Golden Retrievers are generally healthy dogs. A responsible breeder should screen for elbow and hip dysplasia, eye conditions, and heart disease—reducing the risks.
Many medium to large-sized dog breeds are at high risk of hypothyroidism, which affects the thyroid gland and causes it to produce less of the hormone that regulates metabolism and heart rate. The Golden Retriever is no exception.
In fact, It’s estimated that up to 25% of Golden Retrievers suffer from this thyroid disorder.
The Morris Animal Foundation has a Golden Retriever lifetime study following over 3,000 Goldens. Since hypothyroidism is common in older dogs, the results from this study are still inconclusive.
The study does show the issues younger Golden’s are most prone to, which include:
- Skin allergies (integumentary)
- Gastrointestinal problems
- Swimmer’s ear (Otitis externa)
The most serious health risk to Golden Retrievers is obesity. Transferred down from their Flat-Coated Retriever parent breed, Golden’s have a gene deletion mutation that can cause an uncontrollable appetite.
Aside from the gene mutation, the same lifetime study revealed that 48% of Golden Retrievers receive only moderate daily activity.
If for health reasons or inactivity, always keep a close watch on your dog’s weight, adjust their food intake accordingly, and consider natural healthy snacks.
Golden Retrievers are active dogs that require more exercise than most breeds.
How much exercise does a senior Golden Retriever need?
As your Golden Retriever ages, they slow down and have less need for exercise. But, 30 minutes of exercise—including walks—is still essential for their health.
The lifespan of a Golden Retriever is 10 to 12 years — making them a senior at around eight years old.
As a senior, your dog may be experiencing pain in their joints. By maintaining a regular exercise program with your senior dog, you can better identify injuries and any decrease in your dog’s stamina.
Consider supplementing long walks with swimming or play sessions to help them burn off any excess energy.
Avoid overworking your senior Golden Retriever.
Your dog’s age, health, and weight are essential when determining how much exercise is appropriate. An overweight dog should work into a more strenuous exercise once conditioning increases and weight decreases.
If your senior Golden Retriever has any health problems, check with your veterinarian before starting or changing their exercise routine.
Without the rich sporting history of Golden Retrievers parent breeds, your Golden wouldn’t have the wild, fun personality you love. But, managing that energy is the key to staving off destruction and chaos.
So, how much exercise does a Golden Retriever need?
- Golden Retriever puppies need 5 minutes of exercise twice a day for each month of age. Playtime and short, structured walks should be part of the daily routine.
- Golden Retriever adults need a minimum of one hour of exercise each day. It would be best if you exercised at least twice a day. More playtime in between will make your pup even happier.
- Senior Golden Retrievers still need 30 minutes of exercise each day—unless instructed otherwise by a veterinarian.
When it comes to exercise, every dog is different. It’s essential to find what works best for your Golden Retriever and start slow.
Don’t forget, we call it exercise, but to our pups, it’s playtime.
Do you have any tips for exercising with a Golden Retriever? Share this story on social media and share your tips.