Golden Retrievers have been one of America’s favorite dogs for years and years. You’ll find them near the top of any “Most Popular Breeds” list for any year and it’s not without reason! Goldens tend to have several wonderful qualities that make them ideal pets, but believe it or not, they’re not perfect for everyone. If you want a breed that’s LIKE a Golden Retriever, but ISN’T a Golden Retriever, there are other pups out there who have similar qualities, but might be a better match for you!
A big breed like a Golden Retriever, but don’t want to spend so much time exercising?
You’ll need to be a realistic here – ALL dogs need daily exercise, and big breeds will, generally, need more exercise time than smaller dogs. On average, a Golden Retriever needs about an hour a day of exercise – some need more. That’s rain or shine, or whether your social anxiety is getting to you or not. (Dogs are great for that, by the way.) You should also expect your Golden Retriever to want more exercise than just an hour – especially if there are friends around to play with, or people and other dogs to sniff and meet on walks.
If you would love to have a big breed like a Golden Retriever, but would prefer to have a snuggle buddy than a walking buddy…
Consider: a Great Dane
If you’re a couch potato with your heart set on a big breed, this might be the best choice – but he’ll still need daily exercise. Still, you’re getting much more dog for the amount of activity you need to put in. Dogtime recommends 30 to 60 minutes a day for an adult Great Dane, and 90 minutes for a puppy. Exercise can also help keep your Great Dane from developing bloat – which is a common ailment in large, deep-chested breeds.
When you get your exercise out of the way for the day, though, your Great Dane will be happy to marathon anything you want on Netflix, fit as much of himself as he can into your lap, and love you from the comfort of your couch!
If you’re 100% opposed to daily exercise and can’t bear the thought of breaking a sweat… have you considered a cat?
An affectionate breed like a Golden, but without the hair on your clothes
Parents of Golden Retrievers will tell you that their dogs are lovers. They love to cuddle, and snuggle – and will do so with humans and other animals alike. Heaven for a Golden Retriever is next to the person they love most. And you’ll carry a souvenir of your most recent snuggle around on your clothes and find it on your furniture later!
Brushing a double-coated dog is WORK. And when the seasons change, you can expect your beautiful Golden to blow his coat – which will look like his body weight in fur! Shaving it isn’t a good idea, so you can be optimistic about brushing your pup and say that it’s quality time spent with your dog, or if your arm is getting tired just thinking about it…
Consider: a German Shorthaired Pointer
The name should tell you what you need to know about his coat – short hair that requires less brushing and won’t cover your home in fur! Their coat is very distinctive – they have brown heads and beautiful, speckled bodies. Dogtime’s recommendations for grooming are short and sweet: brush weekly, bathe as needed! You should still expect a few loose hairs – all dogs, even those that people claim are hypoallergenic, shed.
GSPs are not as outgoing and friendly as Golden Retrievers, but they are world-class cuddlers when it comes to their people. You can expect a good snuggle from your German Shorthaired Pointer – sans the shed.
Want a cute puppy, but don’t want a big dog?
Golden Retriever puppies are like the Gerber babies of dogs – the super cute, fuzzy face that pops into peoples’ heads when they hear the word “puppy.”
There’s no problem wanting a young pup – what is a problem is taking your pup to a shelter and abandoning him the moment he becomes “too big.” Plan ahead: all dogs will grow, and there are several totally unselfish reasons not to adopt a big dog. Big dogs need space. They need more food, more exercise, and on average tend to cost more to care for but have shorter life spans than smaller dogs. If you want your cute puppy to stay small…
Consider: a Pomeranian
All puppies are adorable, but some have features that make them score higher for “cuteness.” Pomeranian pups are adorable little balls of fluff. When they grow, they become bigger balls of fluff, but still weigh only about 5 pounds. Like Golden Retrievers, they are playful and energetic, but they don’t require nearly so much exercise. They also share a double-coat with Goldens, so we hope you’re a fan of brushing.
Note: Pomeranians are a popular breed for backyard breeders. Though some breeds might be harder to find in shelters, they’re out there! We encourage you to adopt – and consider seniors, too!
Your kids want a Golden Retriever, but need a more low-maintenance pup
At some point it’s likely that your children will ask you for a dog. Even if you already have a house full of pets, most kids have a “the more the merrier” mentality!
Your kids know the answers to all the old questions: are you going to walk him? Yes. Are you going to feed him every day and play with him? Yes. Are you going to pick up his poops? Yes.
Will your kids follow through? No? Maybe a Golden Retriever isn’t the right pup.
A Golden Retriever will absolutely love your kids. They will snuggle them spend time with them, but if your children will skip play time with your pup in favor of their favorite TV show or toys, you may want a dog that’s a little more low maintenance.
Consider: a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
If your kids have seen Lady and the Tramp, this breed is probably already a winner with them.
Furthermore, they’re GREAT with kids. Patient. Friendly. Gentle. Playful. Up for anything.
Want a star athlete that’ll pal around in the yard with your children? Cavalier King Charles Spaniel.
Want a calm cuddle buddy to snuggle with your sleepy toddler? Cavalier King Charles Spaniel.
Want someone well-behaved to take to grown-up brunch because you’re sick of Chuck E. Cheese? Cavalier King Charles Spaniel.
The silky coat may look intimidating, but Cavs need little more than a weekly brushing to keep them free from mats. Your CKC will also need exercise, and will require walks, but they can also get what they need in your backyard and some energy can be burned off indoors. (Check out this cool Sniff Diggy mat for indoor exercise time.)
If your kids forget the promises they made about cleaning up, brushing, and exercising their new pup, it’ll be easy enough for you to pick up the slack – and your Cavalier will have no hard feelings about it.
P.S. – We understand that children can lose interest in a pet once they realize how much work pet ownership is, but if no one in your family is willing to give a dog the consistent attention and love it needs, we ask that you reconsider adding a pet to your home.
What is most important in choosing the right pet is choosing the right one for you. By educating yourself and knowing what to expect, you can avoid disappointing your newest family member by having to surrender them because you can’t meet their needs. If you haven’t already found your perfect pet, rest assured that there’s a dog out there for you!