Why Does My Golden Retriever Look Sad?

I have a Golden Retriever that I recently adopted, and while she does smile a great deal of the time, there are some moments where she looks sad, and I am curious to know why that is.

I took some time for research today, and here is what I discovered.

Why does my Golden Retriever look sad?

If your Golden Retriever looks sad, it can be caused by poor health, depression, unhealthy diet, picking up on the emotions of their loved ones, lack of love and attention, mistreatment, abuse or neglect, or lack of exercise outside time, as well as socialization. 

Your Golden Retriever may look sad for various reasons, including poor health that can cause them to look sad and feel sluggish.  Golden Retrievers may look sad because they suffer from depression which does happen to dogs just like humans.  If they look less than their usual happy selves, Golden Retrievers might be suffering from an unhealthy diet that needs adjusting.  Due to their very perceptive personality, they may suffer from looking sad if their pet parent or loved one is sad. 

They could also still suffer sadness if it has been a while since they received attention or were shown love. This is especially true if it has been a busy day for their pet parent or loved one.  Should they be mistreated, abused, or neglected in any way, they will look sad. 

Even if they are not getting enough daily exercise and outside time, they can look and feel sad.  Since Golden Retrievers love being around others, they will also suffer from looking sad if they are not socializing regularly.  Whatever the reason for a Golden Retriever to look sad, it is easily fixed with attention to their lifestyle, diet, health, stress level, exercise, outdoor time, and daily socialization while offering plenty of love and attention.

Golden Retrievers are an excellent dog breed that is loving, gentle, and deeply connected to those they love and hold dear.  If their pet parents or loved ones discover that they are looking sad, whether for a few hours, a day, or longer, it can be caused by many things.

Thankfully, much can be done in these situations to restore happiness and that happy, smiling face that brings joy to our lives.  While we can never fully comprehend or understand why they may look sad, there are ways to address this issue, regardless of whatever the cause was for their sad look.

Poor Health

Sickness or poor health can make anyone look like how they are feeling.  If they are feeling unwell, a Golden retriever might look sad on the outside.  In addition to this sadness, they may show other physical signs of illness that can give their pet parent or caregiver an indication that they are unwell.

These signs could include vomiting or diahrrea, loss of hair and red spots, or simply excessive sleeping, lack of appetite, or losing that zest for life that they usually have.  Signs can be subtle, and it can be hard to determine if that sad look is related to their health, but when it doubts, it is always better to schedule a veterinary appointment to be sure.


While it can be hard to determine if a dog is truly depressed or not, it is believed that they do suffer to some degree from depression just as humans do.  Anyone can suffer form depression, and it can reveal itself in physical ways that may be subtle or more intense depending on the severity.

If your Golden Retriever appears to have no enthusiasm for the things they enjoy, like playing with a favorite toy or eating their beloved dog treats for an extended period there could be a problem.   In this case, it may be good to schedule an appointment with their veterinarian.

A common reason for Golden Retrievers to feel depressed is a lack of connection with their pet parent or loved one.  This can be caused by separation anxiety when they are left alone for too long or simply because the pet parent or loved one is busy and doesn’t make time.

Perceptive Nature

Golden Retrievers are very perceptive dogs that can sometimes pick up on the emotions of others.  Many dogs can have this quality, but some have it more than others.  If a Golden Retrievers pet parent or loved one is suffering from sadness, they may pick up on that energy and feel the same way, due to a close connection with their loved one.

If the pet parent or loved one is spending a lot of time feeling sad and down, sleeping a lot, not enjoying their daily activities, and not feeling their usual enjoyment in life, it may make their Golden Retriever feel sad.

The Golden Retriever can be very closely bonded, and while they may not be feeling the sadness that their loved one is, they may show that sadness in how they look if those around them spend most of their time that way.

Taking care of one’s health as a pet parent is equally important and should be addressed with a doctor, not for the dog, but the individual’s health.

Attention and Love.

Since Golden Retrievers are deeply connected to their loved ones, it can be easy for them to look sad when they do not get the attention or love they need to thrive.  This can quickly happen if the pet parent or loved one is away from home, which is a common condition in dogs known as separation anxiety, or it could even be caused by too much busyness on the pet parent’s part.

It can be easy to ignore or forget about those we love when we are fully engrossed in the day-to-day workings of life.  We may give them their water and food and even let them outside to use the bathroom.  We might offer that quick pat on the head as we flit from one project to another and that hey boy as we move from task to task but are we forgetting someone?

Taking time in our day to show love and attention to our Golden Retriever has been shown to increase not only their happiness but also our own.  Health connections with those we care about, including our four-legged family members, have been shown to reduce sadness for everyone.

Mistreatment, Abuse, or Neglect

Some Golden Retrievers that are adopted or are older can come with an unknown past.  This past can be the cause of their sad look and may take a long time to go away depending on their past situation.

While many foster families and other caregivers attempt to address these issues with the Golden Retriever before they are adopted out, in some cases, certain situations can continue to trigger their sadness and other behaviors.

Time, patience, understanding, and much love can go a long way towards helping them trust that their new life situation will not be like their past.  Everyone in the household must understand when any animal joins a family that any form of mistreatment, neglect, or abuse is intolerable and unacceptable.

Yelling at the dog or physically mistreating them, as well as neglecting to provide bathroom breaks or food, and other negative behaviors are never acceptable and must be remedied if they arise, even when the Golden Retriever doesn’t look sad.   Consulting their veterinarian as a whole family can also be a positive way to help everyone understand what the healthy, favorable, and correct treatment of our four-legged family members is.

It is also essential to ensure that those outside the family that may care for the dog understand these things as well. Should they mistreat, neglect, or abuse the Golden Retriever, they should be dealt with accordingly.

Exercise, Outside Time, and Socialization

Golden Retrievers, and any dog for that matter, need certain things in life just as we do.  One area that can easily be overlooked in our busy lives is the things that go beyond food, water, shelter, or bathroom breaks for our dogs.

Exercise is vital to their health, it promotes physical strength, endurance, and a healthy body, but it also boosts happiness.  Just like in humans, a healthy lifestyle that includes exercise can put a smile on their faces.

Why Does My Golden Retriever Look Sad

When it is combined with outside time for a Golden Retriever, all the better and more likely to make them look less sad.   The fresh air that brings with it different smells, new things to look at and do, and the freedom to roam or spend quality time with their loved one can bring joy and happiness to any dog.

Socialization can too be easily overlooked.  Golden Retrievers are social dogs, and they love to spend time around others.  Whether it is that friendly dog next door, their pal at the dog park, or the new human that moved in down the street, they will find great happiness in being social.

Providing a well-rounded lifestyle that covers all these bases, not just the basics of food, water, shelter, and bathroom breaks, can ensure a healthy and happy dog every day.

In Conclusion

While seeing your Golden Retriever look sad from time to time can be difficult.  Figuring out its reason and addressing it can be a bit more challenging.

Being a perceptive pet parent can go a long way to addressing this and other issues, as it is part of being a loving caregiver.

Once the reason for their sadness is uncovered, happiness can most often be restored, and before you know it, they will be smiling again!

Why Does My Golden Retriever Look Sad

Why Does My Golden Retriever Look Sad

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