Overweight Golden Retrievers: Big-Boned, Chunky, or Just Fat?

The golden retriever is one of the most popular dog breeds in America. This is because the golden retriever is a very friendly and outgoing family dog. They are joyous animals that have a very playful approach to life. Alongside all of this, they also like to play outdoors and swim.

However, as lovely and energetic as these animals are, they have a tendency to gain a lot of weight very quickly, which leads to them becoming obese. Not only is this a problem for the dog itself, but you will also have a tough time dealing with the medical costs and health problems that are associated with overweight golden retrievers.

Overweight Golden Retrievers

A lot of dogs tend to gain weight, and golden retrievers are no exception. According to a survey done in 2017 by the Association of Pet Obesity Prevention (APOP), around 56 % of dogs are classified as overweight. It is known that approximately 63% of golden retrievers fall into the overweight category.

A cute golden retriever Dog

Being overweight is not a good sign for your dog as it can lead to a whole host of future problems. Alongside that, it is also highly unhealthy for your dog to have excess weight. If your golden retriever is overweight, it will not be able to run around like the other dogs, it will be sleepy and lazy most of the time and it will not want to go out as much.

Why Does the Golden Retriever Gain Weight so Easily?

One of the main reasons that overweight golden retrievers are so common is due to the fact that they are almost always hungry. Because dogs are direct descendants of wolves, they are constantly on the lookout for more food. They always want tasty snacks every now and then.

Being a dog owner, this can prove to be a great challenge for you. Your dog is very much like your baby, so every time that it begs and mooches for food, you tend to give in to its demands. It also doesn’t help that golden retrievers are just so adorable. It’s quite difficult to say no to them when they’re asking for food.

More food leads to them gaining weight over time. Once they gain that extra weight from the snacks that they keep eating on and off, it makes it harder for them to move around more and exercise. This starts a very bad cycle of eating and laziness that almost always results in an overweight golden retriever.

While more food and less exercise may seem like the most obvious reason for overweight golden retrievers, there are a lot of other reasons that might play a part. Some dogs are genetically inclined to gain more weight. A study conducted at Cambridge University showed that the POMC gene is responsible for controlling a golden retriever’s appetite. Another study showed that another main reason for overweight golden retrievers could also be spaying or neutering at a young age.

Yet another reason for overweight golden retrievers can be chronic illnesses, like hypothyroidism, that often go unnoticed. Regular visits to the vet will help determine whether your dog has any chronic illness that is contributing to its weight gain.

This is exactly why it is highly advised that you make routine visits to the vet so that such issues can be brought to your notice in time.

How Can You Tell If Your Golden Retriever Is Overweight?

Ideally, a fully-grown male golden retriever should weigh somewhere between 65 and 75 pounds. A fully-grown female golden retriever should weigh between 55 to 65 pounds. Anything above that classifies your dog as an overweight golden retriever. However, there are other guidelines, too, based on the shape, genetics, and size of your dog.

You can tell whether or not you have an overweight golden retriever by looking at your dog from different angles. You can also try feeling your dog’s ribs by putting a bit of pressure on either side of its rib cage.  If you can easily feel the ribs, then it is a sign that your dog is not overweight.

You can try feeling your dog’s waist, too. If you can’t feel it, then it is a sign that your dog is overweight. If you look at your dog from one side and you see that its tummy is not tucked up between its ribs and hind legs, then this also points to the fact that you have an overweight golden retriever.

Another sign that can tell you if your golden retriever is overweight is that its width is the same all over its body. This shouldn’t be the case, as towards the chest area, there should be a slight curve. If you look at your dog from the top and you don’t see an inward curve at the waist, then this can also tell you that you have an overweight golden retriever.

Health Problems with Overweight Golden Retrievers

Excess weight can lead to a lot of health problems for your dog. A few of them are explained below.

Joints and Bones

An overweight golden retriever can have a lot of pain in its joints and bones. If a golden retriever is in pain every time it walks, it will stop wanting to move around and exercise, thus becoming lazy.

Hip and Elbow Dysplasia

Your golden retriever can develop this condition due to its excess weight. It is characterized by a disproportionate formation of the hip socket. This can cause your dog a lot of pain and can also increase the chances of your dog developing arthritis.


The golden retriever has a higher risk of getting this deadly disease as compared to other dog breeds. If a golden retriever is overweight, the chances of it developing cancer even higher.


Overweight golden retrievers have a very high chance of getting diabetes during their lifetimes. This can significantly reduce the quality of their lives and can also lead to other health issues.

Reduced Immunity

Golden retrievers that are overweight tend to have compromised immune systems. This increases their chances of developing certain diseases and problems in their lives since they can’t fight off infections and viruses as well as healthy dogs of the same breed.

Reduced Life Expectancy

Overweight golden retrievers have a reduced life expectancy as compared to other dogs. As mentioned earlier, such golden retrievers can’t fight off diseases due to their compromised immune systems, they have a higher risk of developing life-threatening diseases, and their quality of life is not great due to conditions like arthritis.

All this means that an overweight golden retriever will typically live up to 8.5 to 11.5 years, whereas a golden retriever with normal weight should ideally live up to 10 to 13 years.

Cardiovascular Diseases

Excess fat can cause fat deposition, which can then cause major problems relating to the heart. A lot of respiratory issues can also occur in overweight golden retrievers.

How to Make Your Overweight Golden Retriever Lose Weight

Before you put your golden retriever on a strict diet, you should schedule a visit to the vet once. You need to do this to be sure that your pet’s weight gain isn’t being caused by other factors, and is only a result of overeating and a lack of exercise.

Here are a few things that you can do that can help your obese golden retriever lose weight.

Eliminate Treats

If you give your golden retriever a few snacks every now and then between meals, then you need to stop doing this. All those extra calories are not good for your dog, so cutting out treats will help reduce some of its weight.

Adjust Its Food Intake

You should adjust the food intake of your golden retriever and alter its diet in a way that lowers its total calorie intake for the day. This can either mean giving your dog smaller meals with reduced portion sizes or giving it larger meals, but fewer times a day.

It totally depends on your dog and its preferences. What works for some other dog might not exactly work for yours. It’s best to try out new methods and see which one suits your dog the best.


Exercise is a very important part of a healthy dog’s lifestyle. If your overweight golden retriever has become lazy, then it’s time to change that by coming up with an exercise routine that both you and your dog can follow. This way, you can ensure that your dog stays active, healthy, and joyous.

Remember that an overweight golden retriever won’t want to exercise at first – and you shouldn’t force it to do so. You need to start slow. Start off by increasing your dog’s walking time on flat surfaces. Once it kind of gets used to that, you can start doing some intensive exercises, such as running and chasing after balls. Apart from that, swimming is also a highly preferred form of exercise for golden retrievers. You can try out different forms of exercise and see what your dog likes the most.

Our Final Thoughts

If you have an overweight golden retriever, then you should immediately take it to a vet so that you know exactly what’s going on. Being obese can compromise the good health and lifespan of your furry companion, so you need to do all that you can to ensure that your dog loses weight. Through proper diet control and exercise, you’ll be able to get your dog back to being fit, happy, and healthy.

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