Are Golden Retrievers Good Apartment Dogs?

Have you ever wished that you could get a Golden Retriever, but assumed that you can’t because you live in an apartment?

Golden Retrievers are large dogs. Many people assume that large dogs can’t live in apartments, because there isn’t enough room.

But the truth is that you can have a happy experience with a Golden Retriever in an apartment if you plan to meet their big-dog needs.

Is Your Apartment Big Enough for a Golden Retriever?

Just how big is a Golden Retriever?

Male Golden Retrievers are typically 23 to 24 inches (59 to 61 cm) tall. They usually weigh 65 to 75 pounds (29 to 34 kilos).

Female Golden Retrievers are typically 21.5 to 22.5 inches (54 to 57 cm) tall. They usually weigh 55 to 65 pounds (25 to 29 kilos).

Golden Retrievers in the UK and Australia are stockier than their North American counterparts, and usually weigh up to 2 pounds (around a kilo) more.

There is no doubt about the fact that Golden Retrievers are big dogs. But they don’t require a lot of space.

They need a spot in your apartment big enough for their bed or kennel, about six square feet (a little more than half a square meter).

They need a place for their food and water bowls—not on the kitchen counter!—and a little room on the floor to play with their toys. But no Golden Retriever will be happy if she spends all of her time inside your apartment.

Golden Retrievers Have High Energy

Golden Retrievers have a gentle disposition. Their intelligence and loving attitude make them great therapy dogs.

They make great companions for children and seniors and the whole family.

However, Golden Retrievers were originally bred to be hunting dogs. They were bred to run for miles pursuing game, taking in all the scents of fields and woods.

If your Golden Retriever does not get enough exercise, every day, he will find other outlets for his energy, like demolishing your furniture.

To keep your Golden Retriever calm and content, you will have to take him outside twice a day for 30 minutes or more. Golden Retrievers need to run and play.

They can’t get the exercise they need in an apartment, or even in a large house. You must have easy access to a field or a park every day, in all kinds of weather.

You will need to go on walks, visit the dog park or the dog beach, and play fetch in a fence-in area every day, twice a day, to keep your golden Retriever happy.

Golden Retrievers Shed

Another consideration for keeping a Golden Retriever in an apartment is shedding. These beautiful dogs are heavy shedders.

You will need to brush your Golden Retriever’s beautiful coat every day, but even if you do, there will always be dog hair in your apartment.

The smaller your apartment, the more rapidly dog hair will accumulate.

Decide if you are going to let your Golden Retriever on your sofa, chairs, and bed. If you are, then decide how you will keep them clean.

Daily vacuuming, lint rollers, and sofa covers may become part of your new routine. Be sure you can live with shedding before you bring a Golden Retriever into your apartment home.

Apartment Dogs Need Regular Vet Visits

Another consideration in deciding whether you want to bring a Golden Retriever to live in your apartment is the fact that dogs that live in apartments need more trips to the veterinarian’s office.

Dogs that live in apartment buildings are in constant contact with other dogs, people, and other pets.

They are exposed to the many kinds of infections that spread through saliva and respiratory droplets. Your Golden Retriever can pick up germs from contact with urine and feces of other dogs and wild animals that wander into public spaces.

Your neighbors and visitors to the building may drop trash and other items that your Golden Retriever will want to smell, taste, and chew.

You will need to be on the lookout for potential poisons and infection hazards every time you take your dog through the corridors or into the elevator.

You will need to take your Golden Retriever to the vet at least once a year. Taking out a veterinary health insurance policy can save you thousands of dollars over the life of your dog.

You Will Need to Watch Your Golden Retriever’s Diet

Golden Retrievers that get overweight have trouble fitting into small spaces.

If you let your Golden Retriever enjoy her food too much, or if you don’t take your Golden Retriever out for exercise often enough, being overweight can threaten your dog’s health and make apartment living difficult.

Golden Retrievers have some dietary requirements that most other dogs don’t.

Like cats, some Golden Retrievers lack an enzyme for making the amino acid taurine. Golden Retrievers need diets fortified with the amino acid taurine for cardiovascular health.

Brands of dog food that can provide your Golden Retriever with needed taurine include:

  • Merrick Texas Beef & Sweet Potato Dog Food
  • Taste of the Wild High Prairie Dry Dog Food
  • Taste of the Wild High Prairie Puppy Formula
  • Farmina N&D Codfish & Orange Dog Food
  • Merrick Grain-Free Senior Dry Dog Food

It is important to make sure you have a way of getting your Golden Retriever the food she needs before you bring her home.

If you can’t get any of these brands of dog food delivered to your home, you need to make sure your Golden Retriever gets taurine from another source, such as any commercial cat food.

Watch Out for Balconies

If your apartment has an open outdoor balcony, you will need to exercise caution when allowing your dog to join you out there.

Balconies are a convenient place to get fresh air, or a place for going potty in an emergency, but they can still be dangerous.

Never leave the door to your balcony open. Never leave your Golden Retriever on the balcony alone.

Golden Retrievers can jump, and they may be able to clear the railing and fall to their deaths or to serious injury.

Make sure the bars on your balcony rails are spaced close enough together that your Golden Retriever can’t get through.

Take special care when your Golden Retriever is a puppy. If there is too much space between the bars, put up mesh netting.

Training Is Essential

All dogs need training. For a big dog like a Golden Retriever in a densely populated urban setting, good training can be a matter of life and death.

There will be times your dog will need to obey the command to “Stay” rather than run out into traffic.

There will be times that you will need your Golden Retriever to be “Quiet” when you are dealing with emergency crews or the police.

You will need your Golden Retriever to be leash trained to keep her safe on walks and runs.

You Will Need to Keep Your Golden Retriever Entertained

Golden Retrievers need to “burn off” mental energy as well as physical energy. A Golden Retriever that is not mentally engaged can get into destructive mischief because she is bored.

Buy your Golden Retriever a treat ball. Your dog has to move the ball around to release the treat inside.

Or get your Golden Retriever a treat puzzle. He will have to move certain parts to unlock the treat.

Or get your Golden Retriever a frozen Kong. Fill the Kong with yogurt or peanut butter and freeze it. Your dog will then have a treat she can enjoy for several hours.

You May Need a Dog Walker or Canine Day Care

Many apartment dwellers work long hours, and can’t come home during the day to give their dogs the attention they need.

Busy urban workers often hire dog walkers to come to their homes when they can’t be at home to take their dog for a walk.

Your dog walker might give your dog a chance to socialize with other dogs at the local dog park.

Canine daycare gives dogs a chance to swim. play with other dogs, or just relax.

Your dog may spend so much energy at doggie day care that the only thing he wants when he gets back home is to curl up quietly with his family.

Other Things You Consider Before You Get a Golden Retriever

Here are some other considerations for getting a Golden Retriever.

Theft Prevention

Golden Retrievers are pedigree dogs. They are targets for theft. Make sure you have secure locks on your front door and the doors to your patio or balcony.

Crate Location

If you plan to crate-train your dog, choose a location where that isn’t too close to the heat outlet and where there aren’t any cold drafts.

Golden Retrievers prefer to have their crates where people are close by.


Make sure you don’t have any potentially toxic houseplants.

Any plant in the lily family, including aloe vera, is potentially poisonous, as are dumb cane, ivy, jade plant, and pothos.

Floors and Floor Cleaning

Every Golden Retriever has a few accidents in the process of toilet training.

It is better to have wood, laminate, or tile floors, but if you have carpet, get a carpet shampooer before you get your Golden Retriever.

If you do not shampoo your carpet after accidents, your Golden Retriever will return to the same place to “go” again, attracted by the odor.


Up to 73 percent of Golden Retrievers develop hip dysplasia.

Making sure your Golden Retriever does not have to go up and down stairs before her hip joints are fully mature will reduce the severity of the disease.

Use a ramp instead of the stairs whenever there is one.


Don’t invest in an adult-sized bed for a Golden Retriever puppy.

Chances are that your Golden Retriever will destroy his bed before he reaches adult size, so a smaller, less expensive bed is better at first.

Once your dog has matured, a nicer bed is a good investment.


Your Golden Retriever is intelligent enough not to need a flexi-leash. A short, firm leash is better than a flexi-leash for large, smart dogs.

A harness is even better since your Golden Retriever will not be able to back out of it.


Get your Golden Retriever separate food and water bowls. You will want to make water available 24/7, but train your dog to eat at mealtimes.

Make sure your dog’s bowls are easy to clean (stainless steel is best) and heavy enough not to tip over.

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