Not all Golden Retrievers Are Fluffy: This is Why!


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Suppose you have a Golden Retriever or are interested in getting one. In that case, you might have noticed variations in the ones you have seen. For example, Golden Retrievers can vary from gold to reddish to cream color. Similarly, you may have noticed that some Golden Retrievers have longer, thicker coats and seem more “fluffy.” In contrast, others seem to have thinner hair and be less fluffy. 

So, why is that exactly? Why are some Golden Retrievers not fluffy?

Fluffiness in Golden Retrievers is mainly due to genetics and the specific traits that a breeder selects for the coat. As a result, some dogs may have a longer, denser, or fluffier coat, whereas others are bred for shorter and thinner fur. Differences in fluffiness also exist due to age, health, and grooming.

So, Golden Retrievers can vary widely in how fluffy they are. As you’ll learn below, that is often primarily due to the aesthetic preference of different breeders. Still, there can also be wide variations due to individual differences, even with a litter. 

So, In this article, we’ll explore everything about the Golden Retriever and its fluffy fur. 

Since most puppies will be fluffy to start, you may wonder if a fluffy puppy will determine if you get a fluffy adult. Fluffy puppies are discussed later on in this article.

Let’s begin with adult Golden Retrievers.

Why Is My Golden Retriever Not Fluffy? 

Typically, a few factors impact how fluffy your Golden Retriever will or will not be. Some of these you can control, others you cannot.

However, by being aware of what impacts fluffiness, you can better understand how to choose a Golden Retriever that is more fluffy if that trait is especially important to you. 

Factors that impact fluffiness in Golden Retriever include: 

  • Breeders preference 
  • Genetics
  • Age
  • Cleanliness 
  • Health and Medical Issues
  • Diet

Breeders Preference

Many people are surprised to learn that there are NOT three types of Golden Retrievers, as you often will read on the internet. Sorry, but there is no such thing as a Canadian, American, or English Golden Retriever. Instead, there is only one Golden Retriever breed possessing different colorings and structures.  

In truth, those colorings and differences are due to the preferences of breeders for specific physical structures, including coat length and thickness, as well as for color preferences. 

How long, dense, and fluffy your Golden Retriever’s coat will be is essentially due to the specific traits that were chosen by the breeder. For example, breeder “A” may have chosen a paler, shorter coat that is thick or wavy. Breeder “B” may have opted for a reddish Golden Retriever with a long, thinner coat. 

Of, if your buying your Golden Retriever from a non-registered breeder, it again depends on the lineage of its parents and grandparents. In other words, if you want to know approximately how fluffy your Golden Retriever will be, then looks at its parents. 

Some Golden Retrievers have reddish and less “fluffy” fur

For example, our Golden Retriever’s father was shorter with a broad, flatter head and a long gold coat. His mother was taller and lankier, with a short wavy coat. The result? Bailey is a mix. He has the size of his mother, the thickness of his father, and his coat is gold with white marking, mid-length and wavy.

However, beware that even seeing the parents is no guarantee of a fluffy Golden Retriever. Unless you’re purchasing from a high-quality breeder that has controlled its lineage for generations and has multiple dogs that it rotates for breeding purposes, you are less likely to know for sure. 

And that is because Golden Retrievers can have individual differences within a family litter. Just like human families can have wide variations among siblings in their eyes, hair, and physical attributes. The reason?

Genetics

You can take heart that almost all Golden Retriever puppies will have some degree of fluff factor. However, suppose you find that your Golden Retriever puppy is not as fluffy as another. In that case, unfortunately, you have little control over that. 

How much or little fluff your Golden Retriever has is largely dependent on genetics. In other words, that is how your puppy was born.

Golden Retriever puppies are individuals, and the interplay of genetics in each of those puppies can be very complex. This means there can be a wide variety of trait variations between individuals. 

Consider human beings, for example. You may have a child that is taller or shorter, has brown or blue eyes, and goes bald later in life.

So, similarly, you may have a Golden Retriever puppy that is not as fluffy as your neighbors solely because of genetics. As well, even within a litter, you can have variations. So, while your Golden Retriever puppy might be highly fluffy, someone else selects one that is far less so. 

Regardless if your Golden Retriever puppy is high or low on the fluff scale, I can guarantee it will be cute and adorable (they all are). And fluffiness is fleeting. It decreases as the puppy ages in adolescence and adulthood (discussed next). 

So, if you happen to have a Golden Retriever puppy that is not fluffy, don’t worry there is nothing wrong. Enjoy the puppy, and don’t compare. Your puppy is special and unique in its own right. I have yet to meet a Golden Retriever that is not. 

Moreover, the degree of fluffiness does not necessarily guarantee that your adult Golden Retriever will be long-haired. Again, genetics does. 

Be mindful that the coat you see on your puppy will not be the same as the one it has as an adult, and that includes color, length, and fluffiness.

Age

The next factor that affects fluffiness is age. Puppies that are less than 12 weeks old are all fluffy. However, as noted in the previous section, fluffiness is fleeting. 

Within the first 3 months of age, the Golden Retriever puppy has a very thin, soft goose-like fur. If you’ve ever seen a baby duck or goose, they have that same downy, frizzy fuzz that is later replaced by permanent feathers. 

Golden Retrievers puppies are similar in that their coats are thinner and more fuzz-like. The fuzz-like fur, due to it being lighter, tends to stand up more and is more frizzy. So it puffs up the puppy making it look fluffy.

The puppies get protection and warmth from their mother and littermates early on. However, as the Golden Retriever puppy ages and becomes more independent, its fuzzy fur thickens and lengthens. Then, it is slowly replaced by a longer coat. 

Bailey was a fluffy puppy

That thinner, fuzz-like coat that is consistent with a fluffy furball is most prominent within the first 12 weeks, after which it begins to lessen as the coat grows in. The coat will rapidly thicken beyond 3 months of age, and the fluffiness associated with a young puppy decreases. 

Cleanliness

If the Golden Retriever’s fur is dirty, it will be more matted and less fluffy. Typically, there is nothing to worry about in the first 8 weeks as the mother keeps the puppies clean by licking them. 

A Golden Retriever puppy should not be bathed before 8 weeks of age. Your puppy will (should) still be with the breeder within the first 8 weeks of its life; and typically, there will be no baths. 

However, many breeders (ours included) will give your Golden Retriever its first bath at about eight weeks old, usually before you bring it home.

Bathing removes any dirt or oils from the fur and removes any matting. The result? The coat has more volume and lift, making the puppy look more fluffy. 

No different than if you have hair that is dirty, greasy, and matted down, and then wash it. Immediately after it dries, it has more volume and lifts, and it looks fluffier. 

One word of caution. Overbathing can remove essential oils and cause skin issues. There is no need to bathe a Golden Retriever more than every six to eight weeks.

I wrote an article on how often to bathe a Golden Retriever, which you can check out here if you’re interested: Golden Retriever Baths: How Often and How Best To Do It.

Health and Medical Issues

Health or medical issues or medications can impact a Golden Retriever including the fur. Often the coat will be thin and lack shine, and there could be excessive shedding, dandruff, or dry fur and skin. 

Some medical issues that can impact a Golden Retrievers coat are hormones, parasites, cancer, and problems with digestion and metabolism. Arthritis, obesity, or malnutrition can also cause issues with the fur.

Skin issues such as allergies or hot spots may also impact the coat, and excessive scratching can exasperate the problem.

Fur and skin issues are often a sign of an underlying health issue. If your Golden Retriever is showing signs of skin and fur issues such as excess itching, shedding, and a thin, lackluster coat, consider booking an appointment with your vet for an examination.

Another cause of potential fur issues is stress and anxiety. Stress can cause affect the coat’s shine and cause excess shedding [source]. Be mindful of stressors in your dog’s life, such as using aversives while training. 

If your Golden Retriever appears sad or depressed it is often due to stressors. Sadness and depression can also affect appetite and desire to exercise, which in turn, can impact the fur.

You can learn all about sadness and depression in Golden Retrievers here: Golden Retriever Sadness and Depression: Explained.

Hold Up. Do you need a dog training program for your Golden Retriever? I bought and compared some of the most popular online dog training programs to determine the best ones. You can read my review and recommendations here: Online Dog Training Programs: These Are The Ones To Buy

Diet

Like a poor diet can impact our hair, the same is true for our Golden Retriever. A diet deficient in nutrients or calories can cause a malnourished dog or a dog that is too skinny, which impacts health and fur.

Likewise, lacking adequate macro and micronutrients can cause the fur to be thin, look dull, be matted, and fall out. 

In contrast, overfeeding a Golden Retriever can cause obesity which can prevent a Golden Retriever from grooming itself properly. Furthermore, a dog that is too fat is not only more prone to health issues but has a shorter lifespan too.

Watch for allergens. Often if your Golden Retriever is allergic to a specific ingredient, it will manifest in the skin and coat. Itchiness, hotspots, excess shedding, and a thin, lackluster coat could be signs of an allergen or skin issue resulting from the diet. 

Also, watch table feeding. Premium dog foods are designed to provide the optimum amount and balance of nutrients for your dog, something which table scraps may not provide adequately. Plus, table feeding can cause a dog to become a picky eater.

A common allergen for Golden Retrievers is dairy products including milk. To find out if your Golden Retriever can drink milk, and how much is okay, check out this post: Giving Milk to a Golden Retriever: Is It Okay?

How Do I Make My Golden Retriever More Fluffy? 

How fluffy your Golden Retriever becomes is mainly dependent on those issues discussed earlier: breeder preference, genetics, and age. However, you may be wondering if there is anything you can do to make your Golden Retriever more fluffy? 

While fluffiness is mostly beyond your control due to genetics and age, you can do a few things to make your Golden Retriever’s fur more fluffy. Keeping your dog at a healthy weight with adequate exercise along with feeding it premium dog food is important for optimum coat health, as is keeping the dog clean and brushing it regularly. 

As discussed earlier, a Golden Retriever puppy should be bathed no earlier than eight weeks of age. If your breeder does not give your Golden Retriever puppy a bath before taking it home, then you can proceed to provide the puppy with its first bath. 

In addition to making your puppy more fluffy, introducing it to regular baths early on ensures that it becomes used to being bathed. Doing so makes it much easier as the dog gets bigger. 

Bathing helps remove dirt and clean fur adds volume and fluff to Bailey’s fur

A few words of caution if you bathe your puppy at eight weeks. Keep it as short as possible and as positive as possible. Your puppy is in a strange house with strange people and is now separated from its mother, littermate, and home. Add in a scary bath now, and you have a stressed puppy. 

In fact, I might suggest waiting until week nine or ten, so your puppy can acclimate to you and your home first. 

Second, towel-dry your Golden Retriever only and let it dry off inside if it’s cold out. While blow dryers are great for puffing up fur and accentuating the fluff factor, be mindful of the heat. Fact: blow dryers can cause heatstroke in dogs if the temperature setting is too warm or it’s left on them too long. 

If you decide to use a blow dryer, then be mindful of the temperature and the length of time you are using it. 

This is especially true of puppies. Puppies have smaller surface areas and do not yet possess their full coats, which offers some protection against heat. Moreover, dogs do not sweat but instead regulate heat by panting. As a result, a small puppy is less equipped to keep up with cooling if overheated. 

If you’re interested in learning about what temperatures are too hot for your Golden Retriever and the signs of heatstroke, read about it here: Golden Retrievers In Hot Weather: What’s Too Hot?

The next thing you can do to make your Golden Retriever more fluffy is to brush it regularly. Brushing will help remove loose hairs and dirt while redistributing body oil. Brushing also “fluffs” up the hair making it more fluffy. 

Regular grooming practices are vital for maintaining your Golden Retriever in optimum health. Doing so will ensure a healthy dog that has an attractive coat.

In addition, premium dog food coupled with proper portions and adequate exercise will ensure your dog has all the nutrients it needs while maintaining a healthy weight and good digestion.

Adding some supplements such as salmon oil can help produce a shiny, soft, and healthy coat and aid in healthier joints, brain, and heart. 

And, don’t forget to exercise! To help ensure a healthy, well-balanced Golden Retriever that is at an ideal weight make sure your dog gets regular daily walks or runs.

Finally, regular vet check-ups will ensure there are no medical issues that need addressing. Regular vet check-ups are also the perfect time to discuss any coat issues. 

Are Golden Retriever Puppies Fluffy?

There are few cuter things than a Golden Retriever puppy. As puppies, one of the most adorable things is their fluffy, goose-like fur. It’s almost like they just came out of the dryer.

So, is this trait specific to a few lucky puppies, or are all Golden Retrievers puppies fluffy? 

Most Golden Retriever puppies will be fluffy up until three months of age. Within the first three months, the puppy possesses fluffy, soft fur that helps regulate body temperature. After three months, the coat begins to thicken and lengthen, and it gradually becomes less fluffy as the dog ages. 

Yes, the Golden Retriever puppy is adorable with their juvenile coat being so high on the fluff factor. You just wish you could keep them small and fluffy forever. 

But can you?

Do Golden Retrievers Puppies Stay Fluffy?

As your Golden Retriever ages, it will become less and less fluffy. Before 3 months of age, the fur of a Golden Retriever puppy is similar to fuzzy goose down. It’s softer and thinner, so much more light and therefore fluffy. 

However, as the Golden Retriever ages, its coat begins to grow. The coat thickens and increases in length, and the dog develops its double coat.

Golden Retrievers possess a double coat consisting of the thinner and lighter inner coat that helps regulate body temperature and the lustrous golden outer coat, which is thicker and water-resistant. 

Expect your Golden Retriever puppies coat to begin to grow after the third month. While the coat still might have a fluffy-ish appearance, it typically will not be the same as before month three. 

And it will continue to become less so over time. 

As an adult Golden Retriever, the dog may have more dense hair, and that fur might be longer. As a result, the dog may appear a bit more fluffy than an adult Golden Retriever with less length and thickness. 

Again, this is determined by genetics and breeding. For example, some Golden Retrievers have shorter, less dense coats, while others have longer coats. 

Bailey’s dad had a long beautiful coat, but his mother was more short-haired. Bailey is only 1.5 years old, so his coat may continue to grow in and lengthen, but for now, it appears he’ll be somewhere in between his father and his mother. 

Still, as an adult, a Golden Retriever with a longer, thicker coat, while looking a bit more fluffy, will not look like it did as a puppy. The hair is longer and thicker, which is heavier and lays on the body more, versus the lighter fuzzy fur that a puppy has, which has more volume and lift. 

So, the short answer is no, Golden Retrievers do not stay fluffy, at least not to the same degree as they are when puppies. 

Final Thoughts

Golden Retriever puppies are pretty much all fluffy. However, there is a timer on that fluffiness, and after about the 3rd month of age, that soft, thick fuzzy fur will start to thicken and grow.

So by adulthood, while most Golden Retrievers have a long, dense coat, they lose the fluffiness they had as puppies. However, you may have an adult Golden Retriever that has a longer and fluffier coat, whereas your neighbor’s Golden does not.

That is due to genetics and the breeder’s interpretation of what traits are most desirable, including coat length and color. While you can control what breeder you buy a dog from (and from that get a good idea of what it will look like), you cannot control its genetics.

Don’t fret, however, if your Golden Retriever is not fluffy, because it’s only one trait that makes them so cute, and a small one in that.

Need more convincing? Then read this article I wrote on the 17 reasons why Golden Retrievers are so cute (fluffy is only one of them): 17 Reasons Why Golden Retrievers Are So Cute!

Woof-woof!


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