Golden Retrievers: Do They Make Good House Dogs?


When we recently searched for a dog to add to our family, I wanted a breed of dog that was pleased spending time indoors.

We’ve always had dogs that enjoyed being indoors with the family or “house” dogs, and I wanted our new dog to meet that requirement as well. 

While Golden Retrievers are highly active dogs that enjoy outdoor activities, we were pleasantly surprised at how well adapted they are to being good house dogs.   

Golden Retrievers make great house dogs. Golden Retrievers are easy to train, easy-going, and eager to please, and these traits help make them readily adaptable to most indoor living situations. Although the breed is active and enjoys the outdoors, they are equally content indoors with their owners.

When choosing a dog, it’s always important to remember that a dog’s fit to the owner’s lifestyle is much more critical than the breed or type of dog.

For example, a house dog should be happy spending time indoors whether you live in an apartment, house, acreage, or farm. 

In fact, a dog that is content spending as much time (or more) indoors as it is outdoors is the very definition of a house dog. 

So, let’s explore some of the reasons why a Golden Retriever makes such a good house dog. And, we’ll also look at some common questions that prospective owners might have about a Golden Retriever’s suitability to the great indoors. 

However, to start with, let look at what makes a good house dog.

What Makes a Good House Dog?

There are certain traits the make a good house. But, as noted previously, a dog’s fit to a household is much more important than a dogs’ breed.

An active person would do better with a dog that can match its activity level, whereas someone who prefers spending time on the couch would be better suited to a lower energy dog.

However, certain traits are desirable for those looking for a companion that will be primarily an indoor or house dog.

A good house dog is content to spend its time indoors and should not require a lot of space. The dog should not bark a lot, be lower or average maintenance, and get along well with children and other pets. A good house dog should enjoy spending time with its family but still be comfortable if left alone.

Next, we’ll look at how the Golden Retriever does in each of the traits that make a good house dog.

What Makes a Golden Retriever a Good House Dog? 

While almost all dog breeds can technically be house dogs, some dog breeds are better suited and often more content to be outdoors—some dogs just like being outside due to their physical pedigree and temperament.

A husky would be a good example.

So, what makes a Golden Retriever an especially good house dog?

Golden Retrievers do not bark a lot, and their friendly nature, average maintenance needs, and high trainability make them suitable for most indoor spaces, including apartments or condos. As a house dog, the Golden Retriever does not need much space and gets along well with children and pets.

Location and environment do matter. Some dogs do equally well regardless if they live in an apartment, condo, farm, or home with a backyard. While, other dogs might not be a good pick in an apartment or condo, such as the Beagle, which is known to bark incessantly.   

Golden Retrievers are highly intelligent, easy to train, and eager to please, making them one of the most adaptable dog breeds.

The Golden Retriever does well with singles, couples, or families with children and enjoys spending time with its owners wherever they are. 

Golden Retrievers do generally well if left home alone and match equally well with families and first-time dog owners.

It’s that very adaptability that makes the Golden Retriever the “goldilocks” (pun intended) of dogs. 

Golden Retrievers are medium to large dogs. A large male usually tops out at 75 pounds (females at about 65 pounds).

So, a typical Golden Retriever is not too big (think Great Dane) and not too small (think chihuahua).

Surprisingly, the Golden Retriever does not need a lot of space and fits nicely on the bed, a couch, or a blanket in a corner. 

BAR’s favorite place to sleep. He takes up very little room!

Golden Retrievers are average maintenance dogs, with the biggest upkeep item being shedding. Many people think the Golden Retriever is a high-maintenance dog, but that is not the case.

While shedding does require weekly brushing, the breed is overall average when it comes to maintenance issues – better than some, a little worse than others.

I wrote an article on the maintenance requirements of Golden Retrievers, and you might be surprised at how well the breed fares in most categories. Maintenance is much more than just shedding and brushing. I discuss each area in depth in the article, which you can find here if you’re interested: Golden Retrievers: High or Low Maintenance? (Here’s the Verdict).

What if your house includes kids that want to play with a dog indoors? Size can be an issue here, and the Golden Retriever checks that box too. 

The Golden’s size is very well suited to children. The dog is friendly and gentle and gets along with kids making them great companions and well-suited playmates. Whereas a small dog may be too tiny for exuberant children to play with, and a larger dog may be too big, the Golden Retriever’s size, energy, and temperament match perfectly. 

Or maybe you have a house cat, and you’re concerned about adding a dog? Don’t be. 

Golden Retrievers get along with cats and other pets. The breed has a very soft mouth (meaning they naturally bite softly and are more easily taught bite inhibition). 

What about spaces with no outdoor space like apartments or some condos? The Golden Retriever has you covered. Provided the dog’s physical, mental, and social needs are met, they do well in apartments. 

Of course, apartment living has some unique issues compared to homeownership that should be considered beforehand. To find out what those apartment issues are and some solutions to address them, check out this: Golden Retrievers and Apartment Living: Is It Doable?

What about barking? 

Again, the Golden Retriever checks that box. Golden Retrievers are not incessant barkers. The breed typically barks only when necessary, such as someone ringing the doorbell at the door.

For a dog that is spending most of its time indoors, not barking incessantly or at every little noise is very much a requirement of being a house dog.

Bailey does not bark a lot. Even with a family member coming home, he gets excited but rarely barks.

So, all in all, the Golden Retriever aligns very well with those traits that make a great house dog.

The Golden Retriever is not overly large and does not need much space; it does exceptionally well in a household with children or other pets such as cats, and it barks only when necessary.

Golden Retrievers can also do well in homes with no outdoor spaces such as apartments, and it is an average maintenance dog. 

Lastly, the Golden Retriever loves spending time with its people. Often you will find them cuddling with the family in the evening when watching TV.  

Golden Retrievers bond very closely with their family, so adequate training to reduce separation anxiety when being left alone is recommended.

However, because Goldens are so intelligent and easy to train, it usually does not take much effort to teach the dog to be comfortable at home alone for a few hours.

Final Thoughts 

So, to recap, a good house dog should:

  • Enjoy being with its family.
  • Not bark a lot.
  • Be good with kids and other pets.
  • Not need a lot of space.
  • Be lower or average maintenance
  • Be comfortable alone for short durations.

The verdict: The Golden Retriever checks all the boxes for a dog that is well suited to the indoors and easily qualifies as a good house dog. Those looking for a good house dog will find that the Golden Retriever is well suited to the role.

Was there any doubt? 

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