Is a Golden Retriever a Medium or Large Dog Breed?


Our family recently got a new Golden Retriever puppy. One of the things we noticed very early on was the large size of his paws. We were often told that paw size is an indicator of how large the dog will get. 

We decided to research the Golden Retriever breed to know what to expect for our dog when he is full-grown. Specifically, we wanted to find out, is a Golden Retriever a medium or large dog breed? 

The Golden Retriever is considered a medium to large size dog breed. Depending on gender, Golden Retrievers will range from 55 to 75 pounds, and height varies from 21.5 to 24 inches. The Golden Retriever’s size makes it well-suited as both an indoor dog and an active companion for outdoor pursuits.

Initially bred to retrieve waterfowl and fieldwork, the Golden Retriever is a sturdy and athletic dog. It’s trademark Golden coat is made for the water, and Golden Retrievers are highly active dogs. Their size and energy levels make them a perfect companion for owners who enjoy outdoor activities. 

What Distinguishes a Medium Golden Retriever From a Large One? 

First, it’s important to note that there is no “standard” for any dog breed’s weight or height. However, there seems to be a general “range” that distinguishes a medium dog from a large one, including the Golden Retriever. 

Keep in mind that weight, not height, is the gauge used to distinguish between the size of different dog breeds. 

Golden Retrievers usually reach their maximum weight and height by 12 months of age. Of course, each Golden Retriever is an individual, so weight and height variations vary from one dog to another. Still, most will fall within the general guidelines discussed below. 

Weight Distinctions

So, what exactly is the difference between medium and large dogs in terms of weight. 

It depends on the source. However, the broad range for a medium dog is between 35 and 60 pounds, and for a large dog, it’s about 60 to 100 pounds. For example, Hills Pet classifies a medium dog between 20 and 60 pounds and a large dog over 60 pounds. Royal Canin put a medium dog at 23 to 55 pounds and a large dog at 57 to 97 pounds. 

Regardless of the scale used, the Golden Retriever will typically fall within the medium to the large dog breed range.

A female Golden Retriever can weigh 55 pounds at the lower end of the weight scale, placing her in the medium-sized range. A larger female may weigh up to 65 pounds at the upper end of the weight scale and is considered a large breed dog. 

A typical male Golden Retriever is considered a large breed dog. Smaller males tend to weigh 65 pounds, and large males up to 75 pounds, placing them well into the large category. 

Height Distinctions 

Like weight, there is no standard for height among dog breeds.

The American Kennel Club notes Golden Retriever females stand between 21.5 to 22.5 inches. Male stand 23 to 24 inches. 

The Golden Retriever’s size is similar to other medium-large dog breeds such as the German Shepherd and Labrador Retriever. 

Does the Golden Retriever’s Size Adapt Well To Everyday Life? 

The Golden Retriever’s size falls within that “sweet spot” of not too big and not too small. They adapt very well to indoor living with relative ease. They are controllable when walking on a leash for most people, provided they’re adequately trained, of course.

Golden Retrievers also fit nicely in most cars, so transporting them does not require a larger vehicle. 

The Goldens size and its friendly and patient disposition make them well suited to service or therapy dogs. Their size poses little access issue for planes, restaurants, and other locations where service dogs must go.  

Golden Retrievers are big enough to provide physical support to a person when needed, and they can pick up heavier objects – two essential requirements when filling a job as a service dog. 

They enjoy swimming and playing fetch and are happy to accompany their owners on hikes, swims, and runs. You’ll even find Golden Retrievers enjoying rides on paddleboards and large kayaks or running alongside a bike, so their size doesn’t limit them from doing much. 

While a little large for a lap dog, the Golden Retriever does like to cuddle and does well nestled on their owner’s feet or sharing the couch.

If you’re curious as to why Golden Retrievers like to cuddle, you may find this article interesting:

Do Golden Retrievers Like To Cuddle?

Overall, their size poses few issues, and the Golden does not need a lot of space when resting indoors. They are quite at home in a dog bed in the corner of the house or their crate. 

Are There Any Limitations Due To the Golden Retrievers Size? 

Golden Retrievers can adapt to most living situations rather well. However, because the breed is typically very active and loves the outdoors, they tend to do better in homes with more space and a backyard. Of course, farms or acreages are particularly well suited. 

However, all Golden Retrievers still need structured exercise, and throwing them in the backyard does not qualify. They need to be walked or exercised daily. 

The Golden can do well in apartments and condos, although small living areas may pose greater issues. Due to space limitations, the Golden will need a much more structured daily exercise routine to ensure it’s physical needs are met. 

The biggest issue with apartments and condos is that many communities have restrictions on dogs, either not allowing them or imposing size limitations. 

Suppose the community does allow a Golden Retriever. In that case, it’s crucial to ensure that the Golden is well trained and exercised to ensure no complaints come from neighbors due to a large, loud barking, and unruly dog. 

Owners should also consider their physical limitations. Children and some adults may find the size of the Golden a bit hard to handle. Like any medium-large dog breed, a Golden must be trained to be respectful on the leash and in the home.

A small 20-pound puppy may easily be handled. It’s another story when you have a rebellious 75 pound adolescent on the other end of the leash. 

Golden Retrievers will need to be supervised around small children. Goldens can be very exuberant when playing and forget their size. Whether it’s a Golden running, jumping, or playing, children can be inadvertently knocked over. 

Budget and maintenance should also be considered. A large dog means there’s more dog to take care of. Goldens will eat more than a small or extra small dog, and a bigger shedding dog means more hair. 

Generally speaking, large dogs cost more. Not just in terms of food, but larger dog crates, beds, and supplies in general. 

What Affects How Large a Golden Retriever Can Get? 

Like humans, size and weight can be affected by numerous factors. Keep in mind that not all Goldens will be the same size or grow at the same rate. 

Genetics plays a significant role in the size and weight development of the Golden Retriever. A good indicator of the size of your Golden will be the size of the parents. Typically, if the parents were both large, then your Golden may be as well. Although, not always as other factors can impact growth. 

A well-balanced and healthy diet is critical for the healthy development of your dog. A Golden that is overfed may be overweight and exceed the recommended weight range for the breed. An overweight or obese Golden during the development stage may cause joint and skeletal issues that could affect growth. 

Conversely, an underfeed Golden may not develop properly due to missing the essential nutrients it needs to grow healthily. Sufficient calories and nutrients are required to ensure proper growth.

Adequate macro and micronutrients are also necessary to develop skeletal bones and muscles optimally and provide a healthy immune system. Hormones can also be impacted by malnutrition. 

Other factors affecting a Golden’s size and weight development include illnesses and injuries. A condition, such as parasites or an injury early on in a Goldens life, can also disrupt the normal growth cycle. 

In Conclusion  

It’s important to know before getting a dog, either as a puppy or if you’re adopting one, what size is best suited to your needs.

Although size is only one of the many traits you should be considering, those looking for a medium to a large dog may find the Golden Retriever a good option. 

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