Do Golden Retrievers Bite?

By John Martin - May 3, 2021

Golden Retriever play biting with puppy

Dogs, Golden Retrievers, in particular, make for some remarkable pets, and we know you agree with us. Their glorious golden coat and their long furry tails, the sheer joy and face of the love for their most favorite human being in the world.

One look at them, and you’re thinking about what a wonderful decision it was for you to make in adopting one from the shelter.

Golden Retrievers are kind and supportive, incredibly energetic, and gentle pets who are excellent family dogs.

Alongside being a pet, they are also trained to be assistance dogs for people with disabilities of many kinds. Goldens are supremely intelligent, and with the right training, you may find yourself the exact lovely pet for yourself.

But some days, that’s not what we think. We are worried about whether or not the dog will cause more harm than good.

Are there children around? What if it bites them? What if they bite other dogs or children and others? What if getting yourself a dog was, in fact, a bad call on your part? Do Golden Retrievers bite? Are we safe in their company?

Read along to find out!

Do Golden Retrievers Bite?

In short, both yes and no.

Golden Retrievers are not scary, aggressive dogs. They are family pets, well known and adopted for their easy spirit and excellent companionship.

They are easy to train, wonderful with kids, and are great assistance dogs. Therefore it seems odd to think a Golden Retriever would harm anyone.

However, it is important to note that dogs are predators, and it is their natural tendency to bite.

Golden Retrievers do that too since back in the day, they were trained to bite for prey, to hunt for the game with their soft step and softer mouth.

In the present times, however, the likeliness for Golden Retrievers to bite is relatively very less, and they’re usually the safest dogs to be around.

But What About When They Bite?

Golden Retrievers bite. It is as natural as their impeccable ability to sniff and hear from miles away alongside being one of the most adorable dogs.

They were originally bred to bite, too, despite their niceness. In old Scotland, Golden Retrievers came about to hunt for dead game in the forest. Their soft mouths do not further maim the prey, which is proof to us of their gentleness.

If a Golden Retriever does turn aggressive and impose an attack on children or other pets at the parks around, then we must understand they have a reason, no matter how unlikely of a reason it may seem to us.

Think of it this way: clouds look as innocuous as we know them. They are floating through the spheres of air, going by their way every day.

No sooner has summer gone by, the natural cycles take their place and begin to rain, going as far as to thunder down. Petite and calm as they are, clouds are dangerous too.

We can say the same about dogs in that sense.

Why Would They Bite?

Golden Retrievers are highly intelligent and energetic dogs. They love playing and running around in endless spirits. This means that their sensitivity and reactivity is heightened at all times.

As a result, if the right kind of supportive environment is not provided for their growth, a Golden Retriever may grow to be anxious and fearful of the causes of their anguish.

A few reasons why Goldens may give in to their instincts to bite are the following of many:

  • Overwhelming situations: It is often in environments like crowded parks, stores, too much noise, and activity which overwhelm your dog.

Your pet may begin to feel small and cornered, which activates their need to make a place for themselves in such situations, more often than not by creating chaos.

  • Unfamiliarity: Other times, your dog is accompanying you to places that they do not know. Malls, markets, a vet’s office, or even a new playground.

The unfamiliarity can cause worry to your pet and put them on edge. Uneasiness and the feeling of being out of place do not necessarily make them bite, but goldens may lose their sense of reality and give in to their natural tendencies.

  • Self-defense: Trying to stop the havoc they may be making means that the dog sees another source of discomfort in you, and thus, you may be bitten as a result.
  • Past trauma and reflexes: In other scenarios, dogs bite from the reactions they’ve learned from being brought up in neglective and abusive places.

The fear that you will be harming them is more overwhelming than the comfort you keep trying to offer. This place of fear may initiate your golden’s defenses, and thus the bites ensue. Sometimes, this trauma may also translate into generational trauma.

  • Self-harm: In some cases, it is not you or the person next to you being harmed. It is your pet who may cause significant injury to itself.

Many veterinary doctors have observed that a few dogs suffer from Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder as a result of their past trauma. They bite their own tails, scratch themselves, thereby inflicting themselves with harm.

  • Provocation: The most usual circumstance, though, is where golden retrievers do not bite unless they are incessantly provoked and rightfully so.
  • Limited socialization: Due to the lack of interaction in your dog’s life, it is possible for your pet to feel threatened or scared of other dogs they are encountering.

Reasons for their lack of socialization may be plenty, like growing up in abusive homes, in isolation, or left to the mercy of the streets. As such, goldens may bite.

  • Encouraged behavior: Unbeknownst to ourselves, we may have been edging them on to bite. This takes into account the kind of training the pet was provided with and the kind of harmless activities that were encouraged, even by accident.

Things to Consider if a Golden Retriever Bites

It is important to make a note of the following when a Golden Retriever attacks. It is highly unusual of them to act aggressively, which brings more the reason to understand how and why they are doing it.

This will be helpful not only in understanding your dog’s behavior but also help in a diagnosis, should there be any required.

How Old They Are

Younger Goldens are more likely to bite. Their bites are usually nipped or just them mouthing or teething. It is in these formative years of their life that they realize what happens when they bite and how hard they can bite.

It can be worrisome or raise questions if your dog is an adult.

How Aggressive They Are/Were in That Moment and the Time Leading Up to It

If your dog is doing it out of aggression more than mere playfulness, then that behavior must be attended to right away.

Often during the moments leading up to the dire situation, dogs perfectly convey their position and their feelings openly. A dog’s ears are the quickest way to determine how they are feeling.

When they put their ears back and down, it means they are preparing themselves for a fight. The tail is a tell-tale sign of their preparation. Growls and barks become consistent with scaring the potential enemy away.

The Amount of Harm They Have Caused and Their Own Injuries

This is not directly related to your dog. The assessment of the wounds your pet has inflicted will be a way to analyze just how far your dog has gone and what part of your environment has triggered such a reaction.

What Can Be Done to Prevent a Bite?

Golden Retrievers are compassionate and social animals. They are not known for their biting or aggression. However, each has its moments. But we can always try to stray far from the very worse. And this is a short guide on the things to do, in certain cases and generally.

Cutting the Stressor Out of Your Pet’s Sight

Removing yourself and the dog from that situation is of great help, especially if you spend the rest of the time with your dog.

Walk your pet and ensure that you pet them and soothe them well. Anything for them, right?

That being said, do not completely soothe their fears. Dogs are hunters and companions and fighters; leaving them open to their fear is alright, though entertaining, that will make your pet to fear when they’re supposed to be naturally fearless.

Establish Boundaries for Your Dog

It helps in training the dog all while also determining what the dog (and you, as the owner) will tolerate from each other, for each other, and from a stranger. If someone is provocative, be assertive to warn them off to back away.

Notice Your Puppy’s Little Antics and Reflexes

The better you know your dog, the better your dog will remain healthy. If your dog is timid, try not forcing them to socialize.

We mentioned prior to the age of the dog being a factor. If you find your dog showing signs of aggression, use positive reinforcement methods and treats, and playtime.

Playtime is a great destresser as it shifts the energy the Golden has towards doing something more positive and enjoyable.

Golden Retrievers Are Excellent With Children

However, children must be taught the proper manner of interaction with the dogs so as to not hurt the pup.

Puppies Tend to Bite a Lot More Than Adults

These seem like biting but in reality, those pups are just nipping and teething and mouthing.

As a pet owner and a trainer, you must be stern with helping them realize how hard their bite is around the 8-12 week mark. Dogs understand body posture and tone the best, so using them to your advantage is advisable.

Continuing the previous point, having a catchphrase with a fixed tone and body language with your pet does the work. Words like a shrill yell, a firm no, etc., do the job. To help them stop teething, chew toys are preferable!

Exercise, Playtime, and Energy Consuming Activities Are Your Dogs’ Favorite Things

Keep them proactive and healthy, and you’ll find a happier dog.

Other things you can do if you’re finding your pet becoming more and more aggressive is to see a dog behaviorist and a veterinarian.

Related: Can Golden Retrievers Run Long Distances?

What Should You Not Do With Your Dog?

Do not make them feel afraid of you. Never put them in a position where they need to defend themselves from you. This includes hitting, shouting, and punishing your dog for long periods of time with social cues that the dog will not understand.

Golden Retrievers are very sensitive, as mentioned prior. Fast movement and deliberate ignorance are not the answers.

It is important to mention that despite all the precautions taken, you cannot control your dog. They will react as their mind will tell them too.

You can instead provide them with a holistic environment to grow and correct themselves when they are wrong. Or help them understand in your magical way by supporting them through their pain adequately.

Final Verdict

Golden Retrievers are the safest, the best company you can ask for. They are family and assistance dogs for a reason, even more, to emphasize how careful they are among and around children.

They are not to be feared, but in some instances, that can be the case. In such situations, do not worry.

As long as you know where the dog is coming from and why they’re doing it, and know what should be done to ensure that they are safe along with the person or animal they attacked, you’re an exceptional dog owner. So is your dog!

Treat them to some treats and spend more time with them. Go for a walk with them and have faith in your dog’s ability and yours to be the unconquerable pair of companions ever.