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Are Golden Retrievers Good for Apartment Living? 2024 Guide

Written by: Nicole Cosgrove

Last Updated on April 26, 2024 by Dogster Team

Adorable Golden Retriever dog on floor near electric fireplace indoors

Are Golden Retrievers Good for Apartment Living? 2024 Guide

When it comes to large dogs, many people think that they are not suited to live in apartments. The assumption is that big dogs require extra space due to their size. You may have even heard someone say that they wish that they could get a Golden Retriever but can’t because they live in an apartment.

The good news is that Golden Retrievers can thrive in apartments if the right amount of consideration is given to their needs. They may be big dogs, but they don’t require much in terms of living space. Food and water, a soft place to sleep, and the family members around them are all that Goldens need to be comfortable and happy inside their homes.

Golden Retrievers are good for apartment living if they are given the proper amount of care. Your dream of owning one of these affectionate, sweet dogs can still be a reality, regardless of the size of your living space. Here are a few things to keep in mind if you’re considering welcoming a Golden Retriever to your apartment.

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The Energy Level of Golden Retrievers

Golden Retrievers were originally bred to be hunting dogs. Due to their intelligence and loving dispositions, today, they are used as service or therapy dogs. They are also beloved family companions.

While Golden Retrievers naturally have high energy levels, they don’t need to get their energy needs met inside their homes. Releasing this energy is important, however. When Goldens are in apartments for long periods without any way to exercise or receive any mental stimulation, they can become bored and start displaying unwelcome behaviors.

Goldens need a minimum of 30 minutes of exercise twice a day in order to remain calm and content at home. Even if they live in large houses, these dogs need exercise that only running and playing can provide. Most Golden Retrievers must be exercised outside of the home, no matter how big it is.

Consider the time that you have each day to dedicate to your Golden Retriever’s exercise needs in all types of weather. Your apartment may not have the space for this, but there is plenty outside. Going on walks, visiting dog parks or dog beaches, and playing games of fetch in fenced-in areas will allow your dog to get the physical activity that they need.

golden retriever puppy biting a shoe on sofa
Image by: Muk Photo, Shutterstock

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In Inclement Weather

Sometimes, despite your best efforts, Mother Nature makes it impossible to give your dog the exercise that they need. It may be unsafe to be outdoors for long periods due to it being too hot or too cold. Non-stop rain or snow can also inhibit your dog’s ability to exercise safely.

Your pup still needs to go on walks outdoors in any weather for potty breaks. You can make these walks as long as possible, and then it’s time to do other things. If you’re heading to a pet-friendly pet supply store, take them along to walk the aisles and explore. Go for rides in the car. Play games in the house like hide and seek or fetch, even if it means simply throwing the ball across the room for your dog to catch. Keep them entertained and engaged until the weather clears and you can go outside to exercise again.

Golden Retriever licking nose while walking in snow
Image by: In Green, Shutterstock

Daycare/Dog Walker

If you’d like your dog to get exercise and socialization even when you aren’t at home, you can look into using dog daycares or hiring a dog walker. These are also solutions to consider when you just don’t have time that day to devote to exercising your Golden.

Dog daycares provide indoor areas for dogs to play with other dogs, swim, or just relax in the presence of people and other animals. Daycares give your dog mental and physical stimulation. They may come home exhausted from their day. This means you get to relax too.

Another option is to consider a dog walker. This person will come to your home every day at a certain time and take your dog on a full walk. Not only will they get exercise while you’re not home, but they will also have company.

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Mental Engagement

A bored dog is a dog that will try to find entertainment on their own, and it’s usually by doing something that you don’t want them to do! If your Golden Retriever is going to be alone in your apartment for long periods, keep their mind busy.

Puzzles, treat balls, and frozen Kongs work great to keep your Golden happy and give them something to do until you return.

With puzzles, your dog must figure out how to get at the hidden treats by moving certain parts and unlocking the rewards. Treat balls keep your dog entertained and moving as they roll these around to release the goods. A Kong can be filled with low-fat plain yogurt or peanut butter and then frozen, providing your dog with a treat that lasts for hours and keeps them busy.

Golden retriever puppy chewing on toy
Image by: Photology1971, Shutterstock


All dogs should be trained at least to some degree, but a Golden Retriever is a large dog and needs manners in order for the relationship between you and your dog to be pleasant. This is especially true if your living space is on the smaller side.

Goldens are intelligent and easy to train, so this shouldn’t be difficult to do. They enjoy following commands and pleasing their owners. Your Golden needs to know the rules to be successful, so it’s up to you to show them. Decide what house rules you’d like to establish and then work on these things, either in group training classes or by working one-on-one with a professional trainer at home.

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Your Golden Retriever is going to shed. Be prepared for this in your apartment. Regular daily brushing can help keep this under control, but there will simply always be dog hair in your home. The smaller the space, the quicker the hair will accumulate. Decide if you’re going to allow your Golden on your furniture and what you’ll need to keep it clean. Furniture covers, vacuuming, and lint rolling may be part of your new routine.

If you live in a smaller space, you might find yourself cleaning more often than normal. Consider if you are willing to accept this before bringing this dog home.

Image by: 135pixels, Shutterstock

Regular Vet Visits

In an apartment building setting, your dog is likely to come into contact with people, other animals, and countless germs as they enter and exit the building. Regular vet checkups are important for all pets. For dogs that live close to other dogs, it’s especially important to make sure they stay healthy. Many illnesses can spread between dogs through respiratory droplets.

The same is true if your dog visits daycare facilities. However, the dogs at these facilities are required to be fully vaccinated and healthy before attending. The health of the other dogs in your building is unknown.

People who come and go may also drop trash, food, and other items that your dog might pick up in their mouth as you are walking them through the hallways or entering an elevator. Be on the lookout for these things as you walk your dog throughout the building, and make sure to have your dog seen by a vet at least once every year.

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Watch Their Weight

Golden Retrievers who don’t get enough exercise can easily pack on the pounds. Always feed your dog the recommended amount of food for their weight and give them treats sparingly. If you are using things like puzzles and treat balls, factor those calories into their recommended daily allowance.

By maintaining your dog’s healthy weight, they can better maneuver in tight spaces.

Golden Retriever dog eating
Image by: chendongshan, Shutterstock

Watch Out for Balconies

If you live in an apartment that has an open outdoor balcony, always use caution when allowing your dog to join you out there. It may be a convenient way for your dog to get fresh air when you don’t feel like going on a full walk, but it can still be dangerous.

If you open the balcony doors for fresh air without going outside, make sure the screen door is closed. Never leave your Golden outside on the balcony alone. This dog can jump, and it’s possible for them to be able to clear the railing.

Make sure the bars on the balcony railing aren’t spaced wide enough apart for your dog to fit through. If they are, fill the spaces with mesh netting or plastic garden fencing.

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Final Thoughts

If the reason you haven’t sought out a Golden Retriever is that you live in an apartment, don’t let that stand in your way! These dogs can do well in any living space as long as their needs are met. If you’re willing to put in the effort, Golden Retrievers can be great apartment dogs.

With proper training and socialization, you can have a well-mannered dog that adapts well to your home. If you provide them with the exercise, playtime, and mental stimulation that they need, they will be happy to live with you in any setting.

Featured Image Credit: New Africa, Shutterstock

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