I have a close relative that is a bit afraid of dogs, and she was asking if Golden Retrievers ever attack humans. I’ve had retrievers and I have never seen this behavior but decided I should do some additional research and this is what I discovered.
Do Golden Retrievers attack humans?
Golden Retrievers will usually only attack humans when they sense that there is some danger towards them or their loved ones, if they are mistreated somehow or if they have never been adequately trained and socialized, but this is rare. Golden Retrievers do not generally attack under typical life situations due to their friendly personality, temperament, and loving nature towards humans.
This answer also depends on the dog. Every dog has the potential to attack a human when in a situation that forces them to defend themselves or those they love. Golden Retrievers are less likely to attack humans than other dog breeds and are very loving by nature even though they can look a bit intimidating by their size. Golden Retrievers, as well as other dog breeds, respond to their environment. If the environment they are in feels dangerous in any way, they may attack humans, but due to their personality, there would have to be a real need to protect. Golden Retrievers are most often calm, loving, gentle, and peaceful dogs.
Golden Retrievers are by far one of the most gentle and loving dogs that exist. Their size can be a bit off-putting, making people think that they are aggressive, but this couldn’t be further from the truth.
Like other dog breeds, Golden Retrievers always have the potential to attack a human or another animal. For a Golden Retriever who doesn’t normally have an aggressive or dominant personality like some other dog breed designed to guard and protect, there would need to be a severe issue for them to behave out of character.
While there is always the possibility of this aggressive behavior in any dog, one must look at the environment, background, and situation the dog is in.
Dogs who are trained and socialized from a young puppy age are less likely to be aggressive and attack humans. Those puppies and dogs that are not properly socialized or trained can be more likely to attack humans or other animals because they haven’t learned what is expected of them in certain situations and how to behave.
Golden Retrievers who come from loving homes and are treated respectfully throughout their lives are less likely to attack humans and behave aggressively. Mistreatment, abuse and neglect can put a Golden Retriever or another dog on edge and make them stressed all the time as they feel they have to be on guard to defend themselves from harm.
If the dog’s home life is healthy and loving, any dog will still have the potential to attack a human or anyone for that matter if they sense danger or feel a need to protect. This is instinctual, as all animals have this tendency. We as humans are also driven by a need to protect ourselves and those, we care about most.
With, Golden Retrievers have a low incidence of attacking a human because of their personality and temperament.
What can make a Golden Retriever aggressive?
Many things can make a Golden Retriever aggressive, and each dog will have their own unique set of situations or things that bring aggression and potential problems.
Most often, including the Golden Retriever, will show aggressive tendencies if they have been mistreated in anyway. If they feel unsafe or a need to protect self this can make them guarded and aggressive, but this is not in the way most people might think.
These dogs have been injured in some way, whether physical, emotionally or mentally, or perhaps all of the above and they are driven to protect self, not necessarily harm another.
For dogs like the Golden Retriever who don’t possess a guard dog’s character or one designed to protect, their tendency to attack anyone, human or otherwise, and show aggression is very low. Other factors need to bring this tendency out such as abuse or neglect. Their body is always perpetually in survival mode where they feel a need to be on guard to protect themselves.
This, of course, depends on the situation and the dog, and who they are interacting with. This is why the more you know about your dog, including their history, the better. Some dogs may respond better to one gender or another. Some may not handle children well. These issues are usually based on their prior life situation and can affect how they interact with others.
If, for some reason, a Golden Retriever is neglected, they can also become more likely to attack a human. Perhaps they were never fed or not allowed to go outside to the bathroom. Even still, they may have been left to their own devices to care for themselves for a very long time and suffered an injury.
The various situations of mistreatment, abuse, and neglect can be as vast as one’s imagination, and sadly these nightmares not only leave marks on the dog’s heart, mind, and body at the moment, but they also leave an imprint on the dog that lasts throughout the rest of their lives.
Another thing that can cause a Golden Retriever or another dog to attack humans or act aggressively is their health. If a dog is suffering health issues, whether diagnosed or not, it may be more likely to attack depending on the severity. This can include any health problem that is related to their physical body, including pain.
In this situation, a Golden Retriever may attack humans if they feel a need to protect and are already hurting inside. This is a normal response to their problem.
If the pet parent or loving family member knows that the Golden Retriever is suffering, they can respond in a kind and caring manner that can reduce the chance that the dog will be snappish and angry.
When a dog has been mistreated, abused, or neglected or ill, and in any pain, it is a good idea for their loving family to appropriately respond. Providing loving comforts, such as soft and soothing words, slow movements, and a comfortable environment can reduce the chance that the dog will attack or become aggressive in any way.
They are injured or have suffered some injury, whether at the hands of another or through life situations, and must be treated accordingly, with respect, kindness, and patience. Only then is there the potential for them to recover emotionally and heal.
Many humans need to recognize that most dogs don’t want to attack humans or be aggressive. Aggression is a combination of ingrained instinct and situation or environment. Create a safe, loving environment that provides love and security for the dog, and most types of aggression can be drastically reduced.
What can help reduce the chance that any dog will attack a human?
One of the best ways to reduce the chance that any dog will attack a human is to ensure that they are trained and socialized. Training and socialization teach a dog about the world around them and how they respond to it.
This is learned in two ways. Training provides formal learning of what is and is not expected in various situations and how they are expected to behave. Socialization also teaches a dog what is expected of them and what is allowed in a real-world setting.
The practice of good behavior while experiencing their world. Whether it is a trip to the dog park or a family barbeque, each situation introduces the Golden Retriever to new people, new animals, new experiences.
They learn to adapt and adjust as they move through each situation and new environment. They also learn from these situations, environments, and exposure to others. They understand that none of the other dogs dig holes in the park, so they don’t do it. Or they learn that one of the dogs who dug holes in the park was removed, and their playtime was ended, which was not good. This is passive training.
They also learn to be trusting of their loved ones as they go through these situations and the pet parent of family acts according both teaching them and caring for them.
Besides training and social skills, providing your Golden Retriever with a loving, positive, and enriching home life that is safe and comfortable can reduce the chance of them attacking a human.
When Golden Retrievers’ needs are met, they feel safe, and they are loved. They are less likely to feel stressed or need to defend themselves or another.
While a Golden Retriever can always attack a human, they are not likely to do that because of their character.
If, however, they feel the need to defend themselves or another for whatever reason, a Golden Retriever, like any dog, will do what is necessary.
At the end of the day, if they are appropriately trained, loved, and treated with respect, most dogs will never attack a human!