Do Golden Retrievers Bite?

Golden retrievers are the dog everybody thinks of when they think of the perfect family. You think white picket fences, perfectly manicured lawns, and, of course, that gorgeous golden retriever.  

According to the AKC, they are the third most popular dog breed.  If you are thinking about getting one, you might wonder if they are as gentle and playful as they look.

Do Golden Retrievers Bite?

Like all dogs, Golden Retrievers can bite if they feel overwhelmed, threatened, or in unfamiliar territory. However, they are kind and gentle in nature, so they typically won’t lash out at you. Golden Retrievers are known to be one of the most family friendly breeds available. 

In this article, you’ll learn why golden retrievers might bite. We will also let you know how you can tell that a golden retriever is on edge. Lastly, you’ll learn how to treat a wound if you do get bitten, and how you can prevent it from happening again.

Why Would a Golden Retriever Bite?

Golden Retrievers are not necessarily known for being aggressive dogs. They’re good with kids and easy to train. However, like all dogs, some instances prove to be too much for the dog to handle. Instances like these are what will cause the dog to lash out and bite 

Being Overwhelmed

Just like humans, dogs can get overwhelmed by their surroundings. Some of the most common settings that will overwhelm any dog of any breed can be parties, concerts, crowded parks, and stores. When there are a lot of people around, it makes it hard for the dog to be able to relax and feel safe. Especially in the case of crowded public places, the people the dog sees are not all people that the dog knows.

Dogs also tend to get overwhelmed during extreme storms. You might notice that, when there is a thunderstorm, the dog goes and hides under the bed or in another secluded area. When you see this taking place, take it as a sign that the scary loud noises are overwhelming the dog.

What Can You Do?

If you notice that your dog is overwhelmed at a party or in a public place, the best thing to do is remove them from the situation calmly. Even if it’s only for a few minutes, taking them somewhere where they can be alone and chill out for a little while is essential to making sure that the dog doesn’t lose it and bite somebody.

During a storm, when the dog is hiding, your first instinct is probably going to be to try and comfort the dog by snuggling up with it. While that might sound like a solid plan, it also might be a surefire way to get bit in the face. A dog on edge is more likely to snap, even if they didn’t mean to. The best thing to do in that situation is to simply leave them alone and let them come back out when they feel safe to do so.

“If your dog is stressed, first remove him from the stressor.”

Lynn Buzhar, DVM

Feeling Threatened

Another big cause that can lead to a biting puppy is them feeling threatened. Dogs aren’t like us. They can’t think logically. Where we would see a mailman walking up to our door and just think, “oh, my impulse buys are here!” a dog would look at that and think of it as a threat. In most cases, when dogs feel threatened, they bark and growl.

It’s typical for a dog’s owner to see this type of behavior and try to intervene. If you’re outside and your dog starts growling and barking, you try to yank them away. If they’re inside, you try to get them away from the window. Doing that can get you bitten.

If the dog feels like something is wrong and you catch them by surprise, there is no doubt that the dog will most likely snap back and bite you. They’re protecting themselves, and they probably think they’re protecting you, too.

Unfamiliar Territory

A dog being in unfamiliar territory will automatically put it on edge. While it may not necessarily feel threatened, being in a new place will most definitely make them uneasy. An uneasy puppy is a puppy that will give into its instincts and bite something if it feels the need.

The unfamiliar territory could mean a dark and scary alley, or it could mean something so mundane as the vet’s office. If you know you’re going somewhere your dog has never been before, then you need to take precautions to make sure they have a good experience, and you need to be prepared to pull them out at a moment’s notice. That will help prevent any aggressive behavior.

Signs of Aggression

Unlike humans, dogs can’t mask their emotions. If a dog is about to flip out, you’re going to be able to see that. There are a few signs of a puppy, who’s on edge, to watch out for.

A dog’s ears are one of the easiest ways to tell how the dog is feeling. Whether the dog is scared, sad, or feeling aggravated, one of the first things it will do is put its ears down and back. They do this when they’re preparing for a fight; pulling their ears closer to their heads prevents an attacker from being able to grab on.

The same happens with their tail. They will put it down between their legs, which achieves the same as pulling back the ears. In dogfighting circles, that’s why a lot of the owners crop their tails as well as their ears. Some breeds have tails that point downward anyway, so it may be harder to see. In golden retrievers, though, you will be able to see the withdrawn tail.

In a lot of cases, dogs will begin to show their teeth and growl when they’re overwhelmed or sense danger. That is to let potential attackers know that they have teeth, and they aren’t afraid to use them. Often, it’s enough to ward off the threat completely, almost like brandishing a gun when you feel threatened. The goal is to make the potential attacker second guess whether hurting you is worth the consequences.

How To Prevent A Bite

Those signs of unease are going to be your best friend if you’re trying to avoid getting bitten by your otherwise delightful golden retriever. When you notice them, the best thing to do is to take the dog somewhere else and let it chill out. If you’re at a house party, taking them for a quick little walk around the neighborhood, where they can be alone with just you, will help.

The other thing you, as their owner, need to do is be able to tell people to back off from the dog. If a child is pulling on their tail, tell the parent to get them away, maybe take the dog for a quick little walk around the neighborhood.

If you’re in an unfamiliar place, there isn’t a lot you can do other than try your best to comfort the dog and make sure no strangers touch them, especially if you see that the dog is having a tough time. If you know for a fact that you have yourself a timid puppy, don’t force it to socialize.


Golden Retrievers are cute and fluffy. They’re easy-going, loving, and easy to train. However, as mild-mannered and kind as they may be, they are still dogs, and they can bite you.

If you do get bitten, do not freak out. That won’t do anything other than escalate the situation and lead to more injuries. Calmly make sure the dog is safe, go into the bathroom and address the wound. Of course, never reward that negative behavior, but don’t strike the dog or become too upset.

Sometimes, Goldens are “play biting” because they are wanting to play. Be sure they get plenty of exercise and have plenty of toys to keep them busy.

If you are looking to train your retriever, be sure to check out Training a Golden Retriever: A Complete Guide to learn more.

Corey Rawlins

Corey Rawlins has loved Golden Retrievers since he was a boy. His current Golden Retriever, Brady, was his inspiration to create Golden Retriever Society. He and his wife have three children who are always keeping Brady entertained. They love spending time together, traveling, and meeting other dog families.

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