Can Golden Retriever Dogs Get Depressed?

The brains of dogs are very small as compared to that of humans, so they experience “sadness” in another way. While human emotions are quite complex, doggy emotions are more simplistic and straightforward. The depression in these animals is not because of any neurochemical changes but the circumstances make them sad generally.

Golden Retrievers are quite congenial and extremely comfortable to train out of other breeds. These dogs are well-known for their loveable nature and outstanding ability in fetching and chasing.

Retrievers have predictable tendencies to some health problems and issues. A revelation about Golden Retrievers is that they are at high risk to health issues of the mind than other variety of dogs. 

If you feel that your Golden Retriever is acting sad, it may or may not be clinical depression. In this case you must try to observe the obvious signs of your Retriever looking sad and depressed before you pay a visit to the veterinarian.

Why it’s not easy to Detect Depression of Golden Retriever Dogs?

Since no specific biological test or scientific proof available for clinical depression in Golden Retrievers, hence it becomes difficult to diagnose this mental illness. But there is a lot of unreliable evidence that supports the guesswork that these dogs do get depressed.

Symptoms of Golden Retriever Depression

Golden Retriever Depression

There are several causes why Golden Retrievers might become depressed. Because there are many possible reasons there might not be just one solution for this problem. At first, you need to be sure of the normal eating, drinking and behavioral pattern of your pet. Hence you need to rely on body language and non-verbal cues for treating your dog struggling from depression.

Depression or sadness in Retrievers might show the following signs:-

  1. Changes in appetite – If certain dogs are extremely sad, they lose interest in eating and often start to lose weight. Alternatively, there are Retrievers that will use food for comfort when they become upset and want to eat more, leading to gain in their body mass. Such dogs might also stop drinking enough water.
  2. Too much sleep or restlessness – In case you left your Retriever for a long time (eg: for work) and it continues to sleep even after you come back home, disregarding your presence, it may be sad. The opposite effect could also happen with your pooch, who starts having trouble to sleep and become restless.
  3. Hiding in rooms or closets – Dogs who want to be left alone go behind doors and inside closets because something is bothering them.
  4. Apathy – If your Retriever loses its interest in activities that it usually enjoys doing then it might be depressed.
  5. Licking of Foot – Retrievers usually become upset and start licking their paws for soothing themselves.
  6. Unusual aggressive behavior – If your Golden Retriever displays compulsive dog behavior; it might be due to depression.
  7. Decreased energy levels – Your dog might not be as energetic like before and does not show any activeness.
  8. Sporadic episodes of howling or whimpering – If you notice any excessive howling or whimpering of your pooch, it might be sad.

Causes of Golden Retriever Sadness

Dogs go through mood swings which can also lead a difference in the dog’s daily routine. Notice if there any changes in the nearby environment of the pet or on its health.

Some of the causes why retrievers act sad are as follows:-

  1. Loss of a Friend – Your pooch might go through a grieving period when there is a lost companionship, movement to a different location, or no attention given to it (newborn baby in the house). Not only you, but even pets begin to cry if someone passes away. Dogs will also mourn if there is a death of their animal friend. However, time heals dog-hearts, so let your pet go through her own mourning and she will become fine.
  2. New Pet – Your pooch might show some sadness if there is a new pet added to your household. This is because the whole attention is given to the new pet and your old pooch feels left out.
  3. Owner demise – Depression in Retrievers can also happen if the owner is no more. Our sadness or anxiety is infectious, these dogs can “attract” the grief at home due to the demise of a loving family member.
  4. Inappropriate food – It can be possible that the dog is not fed with appropriate amount of foods, and hence poor diet might cause a change of mood. It can also be possible that no one else is feeding it in your absence and it is not getting nutritious food.
  5. Poor health – If your Retriever has caught an infection or is ill, that might also be a reason of their sadness.
  6. Mistreatment – Another reason that your Golden Retriever is sad might be due to poor treatment from someone. This can be if your pet was adopted from animal shelter. You should also keep a watch if its mood changes in the presence of a particular individual.
  7. Everyday pattern – Let your pooch get into an everyday pattern. Retrievers will start behaving abnormally in case they do not get enough exercise. Generally, it is important for your pet to be active and get at least 60 minutes of exercise per day when they grow into healthy adults.

How to ensure your Golden Retriever to become Happy Again?

Happy Golden Retriever
  1. If your dog starts behaving differently, first thing you should do is to take it to the vet immediately, to ensure that there is no medical issue behind the behavior or mood.
  2. In case the veterinarian rules out any ailment, then it is essential to observe your pooch’s everyday pattern. You might also need to consider if there is an issue with the diet of your pooch.
  3. If your Golden Retriever finds spending a lot of time by herself because of your changed routine, you might not question the cause of her mood swing. Anyways the answer to this will be recognition from you, and for this you have to devote extra time to her.
  4. Make your departures and return home uninteresting. It may be important to make it obvious before leaving home and being affectionate towards your pet this will likely make matters worse. Contrary to what one would intuitively expect, this way might lower the anxiety and depression of your pooch if you make your entry and exit mundane.
  5. Distraction is a great way for alleviating separation anxiety. If your pooch has a special plaything, try being with her and pass time with that toy, just in advance to pulling yourself out. This will let you withdraw from there easily.
  6. You must try celebrating when your leaving from home. Handing out a delicacy prior to taking yourself out makes the exit more enjoyable. Comfort foods can be regarded a right distraction particularly if it requires a lot of time to devour. Your Retriever will thankfully take your present and go astray to own it in ecstasy, consequently making your egress inapplicable.
  7. If you can, buy an additional pet! Despite being impracticable to include one more dog to your house, think of it like an additional child. Such animals desire for a friend to be busy and hence will not be sad or depressed.
  8. You must not penalize or scream at your dog even if it is not behaving properly. It is definitely irritating if your Retriever has bitten off the sofa but don’t take any decision to beat or torture them. You must not show any kind of hatred even if your pooch has become very moody.

Maximum Retrievers Become Sad and Happy by themselves

Dogs like Golden Retrievers are extremely cheerful and contented pets. When the veterinarian checkup of your pooch has confirmed about having no ill health problems, you should stop worrying since the dog will start getting better on its own. But do not start manipulating your dog with her moods and ensure it is treated very well.

Allow Your Dog Be Occupied in Body and Mind

Golden Retrievers are very lively pets. These animals need associations with individuals they are fond of. The key factor is to keep your pooch do some activities of the body and mind to be occupied when they seem depressed. To engage your Retriever’s mind, you can play some games or take her out for walks where they can meet other dogs.

Do not Reward the Depressing Behaviors of your Golden Retriever

A common mistake that owners make it to reward the dog’s sad behavior. Dogs are quick learners, and if you praise them especially when they do nothing, then they will continue to be lazy and not do anything. If you see the Retriever has started showing the same normal mannerisms and habits, applaud and congratulate them. If your dog is wagging its tail, that is a sign of her happiness.

Medical Treatment for Worse Case Scenario

Usually your veterinarian will give anti-depressants as prescription for dogs who are very much depressed, and when it becomes a worst-case scenario. If you catch your dog’s depression early, you should be able to help her but if you wait a couple of months and then put the Retriever on medication later, it will take some more time to show its effect on your pooch.


In a nutshell, you can look for signs of sadness in your Golden Retriever by paying more attention to the daily routine and changes in their behavior and then help them to come out of anxiety or depression with the help of your vet.

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