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Will Golden Retrievers Attack People? Breed Facts & FAQ

Written by: Luxifa Le

Last Updated on May 16, 2024 by Dogster Team

English Golden Retriever

Will Golden Retrievers Attack People? Breed Facts & FAQ

When deciding what kind of dog to bring into the family, many people wonder if their new dog will be equipped to protect their house and family if necessary. Golden Retrievers are well known for their friendly and gentle dispositions. With that in mind, many prospective owners wonder: Will a Golden Retriever attack an intruder? Golden Retrievers can be trained to do protection work, but it can take longer and be a more complex process for them.

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Complexities with Golden Retrievers as Guard Dogs

When deciding whether to train your Golden Retriever for protection work or not, consider how they respond to stimuli naturally. Some dogs are more inclined towards protective behaviors such as barking. These dogs will adapt better to the responsibilities of guard dog work than ones who are more reserved.

golden retriever barking
Image by Adrian_Sobotka, Shutterstock

Golden Retriever Personality and Temperament

The main issue when it comes to training a Golden Retriever for guard work is their personality. They’re amiable and docile dogs. These traits make them famous for service dog work but are less attractive for protection and guard work.

The standard Golden Retriever personality isn’t suitable for protection work; Golden Retrievers would often prefer to make friends with a new person. Their sweet and kind personalities are a breed trait that is highly valued amongst breeders. Breeders have worked hard to cultivate this personality within their dogs and will work similarly hard to preserve it.

Golden Retrievers are often friendly to a fault, and this lovable trait makes them fantastic companion dogs but works against them when they’re trying to learn to protect someone or something from intruders.

They’re naturally protective dogs, but they’re protective of everyone. A Golden Retriever is a compassionate dog who wants to help anyone they see in need, even strangers. This protective nature can work against your Golden Retriever when it comes to guarding work.

Golden Retrievers are also pretty quiet dogs. While some may bark, they’re not known for vocally welcoming guests. This reservedness might also hinder guard work as they may not be inclined to bark to alert you to the presence of an intruder.

Owners looking to do bite work will run into further hurdles since getting your Golden Retriever to do any biting will be tough. These dogs are laid back and unlikely to bite of their own accord, even when provoked.

golden retriever as therapy dog
Image By: Africa Studio, Shutterstock

Other Breeds Are Better Suited for the Task

People aspiring to have their dog do physical protection work in that regard will want to consider other dog breeds that are more suited to the position, like the German Shepherd Dog.

Furthermore, bite work should only be done by specially trained professionals who understand the risks and consequences of doing such training. Individual owners should not be self-training any aggression and should be wary of independent trainers and dog schools that do bite training.

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Training Your Golden Retriever for Protection

Despite these hurdles, Golden Retrievers can become wonderful guard dogs. Golden Retrievers are eager learners who can pick up the tenets of protection work with some lessons. Owners and trainers will have to keep in mind that they’re training the dog to betray their instincts. It can take time and effort to get your dog to perform their duties consistently.

Golden Retrievers are brilliant dogs which makes them good candidates for just about any kind of training. We recommend that owners looking to have their Golden Retriever performing protection duties focus on having their dogs refer to their handlers for guidance and take commands.

The referential frame of mind is more in line with the Golden Retriever’s natural mindset. They want to make their favorite people happy, first and foremost. So, if they’ve learned to follow protection-related commands to make you happy, it will be easier for them to understand how to react.

Golden retriever standing on the grass
Image By: tanatat, Shutterstock

The Boundary Method

An excellent way to get your Golden Retriever doing some guard work is to start establishing boundaries. You want your Golden Retriever to protect the home and the people inside it, but you don’t want them to get too aggressive or protective out in public.

The best way to do this is to help your dog set and understand the boundary between home and outside. When you take your dog for a walk or a run outside of the house, encourage them to be quiet and pleasant.

  • When at home, take your dog out on a long lead that allows them to explore at will. Allow and encourage them to bark at any people or animals who approach your boundary line. You’ll want to reward your dog with a treat for barking at strange animals or people who approach the boundary.
  • You don’t want your dog to be aggressive, though. You’ll want your dog to only bark to alert you to the presence of a strange person. Don’t give your dog treats if they act aggressively towards a stranger; only reward them for barking to alert you.

This training helps your dog establish a differentiation between at home and outside. It teaches them that they need to bark to alert them to strangers who approach their home. Once you’ve had your dog out for a while and encouraged them to bark to alert you to the presence of strangers, take them for another walk and encourage them to be quiet during the walk.

Once your dog knows that they are supposed to bark to let you know of a guest approaching, you’ll want to work on developing a command to have them stop barking. This command will make it easy to control your dog’s behavior and help them learn which people they don’t need to bark at.

You can encourage safe people to come over often so that you can help your dog learn that these people are safe. You can even have the command to stop barking be tied to you entering the room so that your dog will stop barking when you’ve responded to their call.

Golden retriever lying on light floor
Image By: Tatyana Vyc, Shutterstock

The ‘Speak’ Method

The ‘Speak’ method of protection training relies on your ability to train your dog to bark on command until you tell them to stop. Luckily, the Golden Retriever is a very trainable dog that thrives on praise.

Once you’ve trained your dog to bark on command, you’ll want to introduce suspicious noises during training, such as banging or footsteps. Make sure your dog can’t see where the noises are coming from.

When the noises start, command your dog to bark until you tell it to stop. Then reward the dog for barking. Repeat this cycle, rewarding your dog for barking when they hear noises until they start to initiate the behavior consistently.


Though they have some obvious hurdles to overcome, Golden Retrievers can make excellent guard dogs. They’re intelligent, loyal, and brave, which makes them good candidates for the job, even if it might take them a bit longer to learn to do it.

Utilize techniques like the boundary and bark-on-command methods, and the Golden Retriever’s natural drives to help shape their behavior and make them into effective guard dogs. Consulting with a reputable dog trainer can also help you build a plan for your dog’s training.

We hope that you’re able to find a dog that suits your lifestyle and personal needs, whatever those needs may be! Good luck!

Featured Image Credit: Rob Wee, Pixabay

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