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Aggressiveness in Golden Retrievers: Causes, Signs & Solution

Aggressiveness in Golden Retrievers: Causes, Signs & Solution
Aggressiveness in Golden Retrievers

There is a reason why Golden Retrievers are one of the most bellowed breeds in the USA and the world. They are gentle, friendly, kind, and loyal. On the other hand, it is rare to see an aggressive Golden Retriever, but it can happen. Aggressiveness in Golden Retrievers can be caused by a multitude of factors ranging from abuse at a young age to pain, illness, and fear.

Golden Retrievers aggression can be classified into several groups:

  • Aggression towards other dogs
  • Aggression towards strangers
  • Food aggression
  • Aggression towards family members

Aggressive behavior is easy to spot in Golden Retrievers. Teeth will be showing, ears laid back, and body in a downward slant as if to attack its prey.

What causes aggressiveness in Golden Retrievers?

As we already said, many factors can contribute to aggressive behavior in your Golden. 

These are the most common causes:


If you rescued a Golden that has been through a lot, or your Golden has been abused as a puppy, it will develop aggressive behavior towards people or situations it perceives as threats.

Poor breeding practices

The popularity of Golden Retrievers has brought many unscrupulous breeders into the game. These people only care about money and disregard the well-being and proper upbringing of the puppies. They will often keep them locked in cages for a long time, which, in turn, can cause aggressiveness in those dogs.

Improper training

If you are trying to distract your aggressive Golden by offering it a treat, you are doing it wrong. As a result, you will only make things much worse.

Learned behavior

If the puppy sees aggressive behavior in its parents, it may try to imitate that same behavior.

Illness, pain, or fear

Golden Retriever that feels week and vulnerable will try to protect itself with aggression.

Feeling threatened by a stranger or a pack of strangers

Just like any other dog breed, Golden Retrievers are territorial and will defend their space. If a stranger or a “pack” of strangers enter what he perceives as his territory, he may feel threatened and display aggression.

Maternal aggression

If your Golden has just had a litter of puppies, it may show aggressive behavior to protect them. You should avoid touching or playing with puppies in the first few days after she gave birth.

Aggressiveness In Golden Retriever Puppies

When playing, puppies can sometimes seem aggressive with all that barking, growling, biting, and chasing. As a result, many people confuse this normal playing behavior with aggressive behavior. It is important to notice that, when playing, the puppy’s ears will be up. On the other hand, if your puppy has a stiff posture, its lips are curling and, its ears pinned back, those are the signs of real aggression.

How To Fix Aggression In Your Dog

You must act calmly and patiently. Above all, you must not respond in an inappropriate way to your dog’s aggressive behavior, as you will only make things worse.

Harsh disciplinary measures like yelling or hitting your puppy will most certainly backfire and cause even more problems.

If you have an aggressive Golden Retriever, there are few steps you can do to make your life easier.

Socializing your dog

Since the cause of your Golden’s aggression may be fear of other people and dogs, you should make sure that he socializes with as many other dogs as possible. As a result, your dog will gradually learn that they are not a threat, and there is no reason to fear them. 

It is of utmost importance that you don’t rush things in this step. For example, you should first get him used to another dog passing by. Every time another dog passes by, and your Golden doesn’t show signs of aggression, award him with a high-value treat. 

Over time you will gradually close the distance with other dogs until he is comfortable around them. Remember, don’t try to divert his attention during aggressive behavior with treats. This will only make things worse.

Be consistent and determined

Most importantly, be consistent and determined for your Golden to learn anything. Every time he displays aggressive behavior, you must show that this is not acceptable. How to do this? You should tell him off, then do nothing for a few minutes, however, after that, you should pet him and stroke him. This will show him that you didn’t like what he did, but you still love him.

Also, every time he restrains himself, you should award him with praise or occasionally with a treat.

Avoid playing roughly with an aggressive Golden Retriever

If your Golden is aggressive, you should avoid rough play with him. By playing this way, you show him that his behavior is acceptable. Of course, this is not what you want.

Use water spray

A water spray bottle can do wonders in fixing unwanted behavior in Golden Retrievers. Simply spray your Golden with water whenever he exhibits aggressive behavior. Since most dogs don’t like this, they will associate being sprayed by water when they did something aggressive.

Hire a professional

Some people can’t solve the problem of aggressiveness in Golden Retrievers. They don’t have the time nor the patience to do this. In that case, you can always look for professional help, be it a veterinarian or behavior specialist. It will cost money, but they will fix your problem, and you will save time for other responsibilities.


We, as owners, must understand that our dogs are our responsibility. Therefore, every problem your Golden has, be it some health issue or behavioral issue, like aggression, should be sorted out by you. Not paying attention to the aggressiveness of your Golden towards other dogs and people can be extremely dangerous. In conclusion, be a responsible owner and act responsibly for the sake of your dog, your community, and your own sake in the end.