Are Golden Retrievers Hunting Dogs? The Truth!

Golden Retrievers are known for being friendly dogs with a kind temperament that usually makes them great with kids and other pets. It can be hard to picture your Golden sprinting through the woods after its prey on a hunt. But are Golden Retrievers really hunting dogs? 

Are Golden Retrievers Hunting Dogs?

Yes, Golden Retrievers are hunting dogs. Golden Retrievers were bred to be hunting companions that would retrieve game birds, usually ducks and other waterfowl, during the hunt. Their webbed feet and soft mouths make them an ideal waterfowl hunting companion.

According to the American Kennel Club, the Golden Retriever is in the Sporting Dog Class. They possess a certain level of physical, mental, and emotional strength, making them sporty and a great hunting companion.

Golden Retrievers love the outdoors, which is also due to their breeding and background. They adore the water and have a body with fur designed to keep their body dry, and their double fur coat is insulating and stunning.

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The Golden Retrievers’ body is strong and muscular. Their skill as a sporting dog that is a hunting companion is that of a Retriever, meaning they retrieve the hunted bird game.

Golden Retrievers are excellent hunting dogs that bond closely with their human and adapt to diverse terrain, weather, and hunting situations.

They are not the typical hunting dog with a high prey drive, and Golden Retrievers have a low prey drive and are not likely to chase small game. Their purpose in the hunt was to retrieve the prey once its discovered and brought down.

Golden Retrievers were usually used to retrieve waterfowl and other game birds.

What Makes Golden Retrievers Good Hunting Dogs?

The characteristics of any breed determine whether or not they are suited for activities such as hunting. You must consider many factors when choosing whether your pup is suitable for hunting. So let’s explore what makes Golden Retrievers ideal candidates:


Golden Retrievers are renowned for their intelligence and are known to be able to understand commands easily. This is a crucial quality they need if they’re used as hunting dogs.


You need lots of time and effort to train the animal to act in the field appropriately without any confusion or distraction from external factors. Golden Retrievers have proven themselves capable of handling such tasks, especially when paired with an experienced trainer who knows how best to get the desired results out of them.


When tracking animals, agility plays a significant role since it allows your dog to move quickly through thick vegetation or dense forest that would otherwise be impossible for humans to traverse.

High Energy Levels

Searching for animals requires a lot of energy and stamina, which Golden Retrievers have in spades. They can keep up with some of the most active hunting dogs.

Strong Sense of Smell

Golden Retrievers are pack hunters, which means they rely on their excellent sense of smell to locate and track prey. This invaluable quality makes them great at tracking game or birds over long distances. 


The breed has been created specifically as a hunting dog, so you can be sure they will perform well when asked to do so. All your pooch needs is proper training from experienced trainers.

Can my Golden Retriever become a hunting dog?

Are Golden Retrievers Hunting Dogs Are Golden Retrievers Hunting Dogs? The Truth!

Yes, your Golden Retriever can become a hunting dog, but it depends on their age, training, and history. If your Golden Retriever is an older dog, the likelihood of them learning what’s needed might be a bit more challenging.

Training can turn them into a hunting dog if your Golden Retriever is young, a puppy, or slightly older. It should be noted that there are specific qualities that a hunting dog needs to have to be successful.

If your Golden Retriever was bred as a show-quality dog, or they have a mix of another dog breed, this could also make it a bit harder.

If you are new to hunting, this can be a wonderful learning process for you and your Golden Retriever. Success may take a while for you and your dog, but training can put them in the right mindset.

Golden Retrievers have a natural intuitive ability which can make the process easier. The earlier training specific to hunting is begun, the more successful you and your Golden Retriever will be.

Training for hunting is more detailed and specific to the task than regular obedience training.   Usually, this type of training requires a professional trainer with experience in the task.

If you have a friend or family member who has trained their dogs for this task, they can easily do this for you.

Before you begin this process, you should understand that some dogs do not enjoy performing certain tasks like humans. If the training is started early, they don’t have time to develop an opinion about things.

That is why many hunters begin early in life. Breeding shapes the dogs’ instincts, drive, and what they are passionate about, but personality, temperament, and nature determine their success.

That being said, there are games and fun activities you can do with your Golden Retriever puppy that can steer them down that path while keeping them a family or companion animal.

Items You Need for Training Your Golden Retriever to Hunt

When training a golden retriever to hunt, there are a few essential items you’ll want to have with you at all times. These include lures, dummies, and check cords, so get these before any training activity.

Best Location to Conduct the Training 

The best place for conducting this type of training is somewhere with plenty of open space. This can be a park or large field where there’s room for the dog to explore without getting distracted too easily by external factors like other people and animals nearby.

If possible, find an area with plenty of plant cover, like bushes or trees, where your dog can hide from potential prey and have better success rates when hunting.

Why Should You Train Your Golden Retriever to be a Hunting Dog

Hunting is an excellent way to bond with your pet and provide them with meaningful activities to challenge themselves physically and mentally leading healthier lifestyles overall.

Since retrievers were initially bred to work alongside humans tracking gamebirds and waterfowl. This gives them a chance to do something close to their genetic roots, allowing a better environment, thus ensuring long-term mental happiness and wellbeing

When Should You Start Training Your Golden Retriever to Hunt? 

golden retriever hunt Are Golden Retrievers Hunting Dogs? The Truth!

It is generally recommended to start training the puppy as early as possible to maximize potential learning capacity. The well-known fact is that young minds absorb more efficiently than older ones, so making the most of the opportunity presented immediately ensures successful hunting activity.

Furthermore, puppies usually come equipped with natural instinctive behaviors associated with chasing after things and running around fields. This helps facilitate an easier transition into full-fledged hunters as they move into adulthood.

How Many Times Should Conduct the Training?

Consistency is key in any form of canine education, especially in teaching retrieval techniques. As such, you should spend at least one-hour training your pooch.

However, if you feel a lot of progress, increase the time duration appropriately. Remember, regular breaks between exercises and maintain attention focus levels.

Challenges You Will Face When Hunting With a Golden Retriever

Some of the challenges you’ll face when teaching your Golden Retriever hunting tactics include the following:

 Keep your puppy focused on the target rather than being distracted by external environmental factors.

Due to their high energy levels, they may want to start running ahead of you or become overly excited while tracking down the game. This could lead them astray from their goal, so you’ll need to be careful with the freedom you allow.

Since animal behavior is always unpredictable, even when dealing with trained animals, you must take extra precautions during hunts to ensure that everyone remains safe.

What kind of games can I play with my Golden Retriever that helps teach them to hunt?

You can play games with your Golden Retriever that help teach them to hunt, including games geared towards their hunting purpose.

These games will include retrieving things for you. A simple task in itself that the Golden Retriever will naturally do in everyday life, like finding a newspaper.

The games can progress and change to different items you and your dog use. Changing the terrain or atmosphere of these games can be a good idea. Playing retrieve games outdoors, at a park, or anywhere else you can think of that interests provide diversion and interest.

It’s also a good idea to provide distractions as you progress. The games might start when they are puppies and fetch shoes or keys. As the Golden Retriever ages, you can have them fetch things when there is a party or many distractions in the home or around the yard.

These distractions help them focus on the task at hand, which is helpful during a hunting expedition.   During a hunt, you want them to pay attention to your commands but also what they are doing.

It’s important to reward them with praise and treats periodically so they continue to be driven to succeed. This task isn’t so hard with a Golden Retriever as they are people pleasers, responsive and intelligent.

What other activities are Golden Retrievers good at other than hunting?

Golden Retrievers are good at many other things besides hunting, including being a companion animals in the home. They are a top breed as assistance or therapy dogs.

Their personality and gentle nature make them an excellent choice for this task. Their intelligence, intuitive nature and scenting ability make them excellent for individuals with health issues that require assistance.

As a sporting dog breed, they are versatile, assisting with outdoor and indoor activities. They get along well with children and other animals but just as easily can help dig up the garden with you.

Like any dog, they will bark and work as natural protectors and informants, securing your home and yard, but they are not the best choice for a true guard dog to protect their family.

Their personality and nature would probably have them warning you but then making friends with the intruder. Although one never knows as more than a few Golden Retrievers become very attached to their human family and will protect at all costs.

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In Conclusion

Golden Retrievers are hunting dogs but not prey driven. Their purpose in the hunt is that of a retriever designed to collect the bird or other prey after it’s hunted down.

Goldens set for this purpose are usually bred as field-bred dogs and trained early on to perform at a higher level of success.

Regardless, any youthful Golden Retriever can be trained to use their breed background and intuition to be a successful companion during a new hunter’s sport!

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