The Golden Retriever is a gorgeous golden-colored dog, with an athletic body, high energy, and long flowing hair. The Golden Retriever actually has two layers of hair, or fur if you prefer, when they are full grown. However, when they are born, they have a thick, short type of hair on their bodies. This coat on the puppy is soft and fluffy.
So what are Golden Retriever Feathers and why do Golden Retrievers have feathers?
These so-called feathers are basically tufts of hair that grow on the Golden Retriever. These tufts are long and appear to have a feathered look to them. These feathers and tufts of long hair do not grow over the entire Golden Retriever’s body. They are found in specific areas of the dog. The two main locations would be the back of the leg and also on the tail, the other location is under the belly area.
These tufts of hair, the feathers are not the same as you see on a bird. These can be explained by giving a few examples of famous people who have feathered hairstyles. Farrah Fawcett is the number one choice, her hair flowed beautifully in the breeze. Jane Fonda, Valerie Bertinelli, Princess Diana, and even Scott Baio all have or had hairstyles that when brushed back resembled splayed feathers.
This may seem like a minor issue to many people. However, breeders that know the breed well, know that finding the right feathers on a Golden Retriever, will show you a quality line of dogs. The feathers are a sign of a good heritage.
The colorings of these long tufts of hair, and feathers, can range from an almost total white to, in rare cases, black feathers. The coloring would generally follow the coloring of the Golden Retriever. Most of the time, what you find is that the feathers are a shade or two lighter than your Golden Retriever’s coat. When you find one that has a major shade difference, this is truly an anomaly and very rarely will happen.
By mentioning human hairstyles one would likely expect the feathers on a Golden Retriever to be uniform in length and wispiness. This is not always the case. Hair seldom grows in a uniform length, on humans or dogs.
Each type of Golden Retriever will have varied feathers also. For instance, the Canadian Golden Retriever has much shorter hair, therefore, the feathering is also shorter and in less quantity. The American Golden has medium to long tufts of feathering that is slightly darker in coloring than that of the British Golden Retriever. The British Golden, however, is heavily feathered with tufts of hair.
Age of Feathering
A Golden Retriever pup is not born with feathers, nor is a bird. Birds are covered in a downy soft hair, softer than feathers. The Golden Retriever will begin to grow the feathers starting at around 3 months old. This would ultimately mean that your Golden Retriever spends16 or more months growing these feathery tufts of hair and their actual long coats of hair. In general, long hair comes in around the 1.5-year stage of a Golden Retriever’s life.
Another point to make mention is that the Golden Retriever never does lose its puppy coat of hair. This coat becomes the undercoat and helps to regulate the Golden Retriever’s body temperature in all types of weather. It can take up to two full years for the coat to be fully grown.
As far as the American Kennel Association is concerned, the Golden Retriever should definitely have feathering in the previously mentioned areas on the body. Around the neck, tail, and thighs the feathering should be heavier. They also require that there is a moderate amount of feathering on the stomach and the back of the forelegs.
The American Kennel Association states that there should never be feathering on the fronts of the forelegs. The coloring can be a shade or two lighter, the Association understands that some will have a few shades darker. To some judges, this is considered to be a desirable trait.
Grooming The Feathers
Unlike the actual coat of your Golden Retriever, the feathers do need to be washed, trimmed, and groomed routinely. These feather areas can hold in some rather unpleasant lingering odors, such as urine or feces. It is highly recommended that in order to avoid matting or a big mess on your dog’s butt, you should trim the feathers down by about an inch.
Once the trim is done, continue on to give the bath. This routine will need to be followed regularly so that you do not end up with matting on the dog’s rear end. Washing the feathers should be done once every two weeks or at least monthly. The trimming should be done as needed, this would on average mean every 45 days.
Some Golden Retrievers will still have an odor on the feathers. This can be helped by using Apple Cider Vinegar, baby wipes, a doggy deodorizing spray, and also draining or expressing the anal glands. That alone can be a disgusting task, however, it is one that needs to be done routinely to keep odors to a minimum.
You may find that hiring the right groomer, one that knows Golden Retrievers, and knows how to clean them properly, is the right choice to make. This way you know it is done. However, it would not hurt to spray a little mix of Apple Cider Vinegar and water onto his or her butt feathers to keep the odor down.
The groomer is trained very well in what needs to be done with each different breed. Just be sure to ask if your groomer does the expressing of the anal glands, and also the trimming of the feathers, without cutting any of the hair.
After all this talk about the importance of feathering, it is also time to tell you that it is possible for some Golden Retrievers to shed or have their feathers fall out. There is nothing to stress about this situation.
There are different reasons that losing feathers can happen to Golden Retrievers. The weather can play an important aspect. Most owners and groomers find that blowouts happen during the summer months when it is extremely hot outside.
Thick fur coats and high temperatures do not combine to make anyone happy. The loss of feathers is a way that nature will help to keep the dog cooler. When fall and the chillier temperatures arrive, your gorgeous Golden Retriever will once more begin to regrow his or her hair.
Allergies could be another culprit for the Golden who loses his feathers. The Golden Retriever will not have a classic human reaction to allergies, such as throwing up or breaking out in hives over a food allergy. What can and does happen is a short burst of tufts of hair and feathers falling out. This could be a serious shedding situation.
Since it is most often food allergies, changing the food that your dog has, may seem like a simple fix, but trust me, this will usually do the trick and your Golden Retriever will be back to his or her hairy self soon. If changing the dog’s diet does not seem to make a difference after one or two days, definitely speak with your veterinarian. Stay calm as this is generally an easy fix.
When puppies have a blowout in the summer months, this is actually somewhat expected. As puppies begin to grow in their long hair, adult coats some will actually shed large clumps of feathers and puppy hair. Stress is another cause of feather blowouts. Try to keep the Golden Retriever in a stress-free environment. Just like a human, stress can affect dogs differently, and losing their feathers is one possibility.
When it comes to an older aged Golden Retriever, and they seem to suddenly be losing their feathers, it is likely combined with lethargy, weight gain, and an overall sense that the dog does not feel well. This is definitely time to take your fur baby to the veterinarian so that he or she can be checked out.
The biggest issue that is found by the veterinarian at this stage of a Golden’s life and with the loss of feathers is Hypothyroidism. Just as with humans, this condition can be treated. If left untreated for a lengthy period of time, it will cause much more serious issues for your Golden Retriever.
There are other breeds, a few, that have feathers. The Golden Retriever happens to be the most popular one. In all reality, most dogs will probably show some little bits of feathers when they are younger.
However, they likely lose those as they grow the adult coats. For a Golden Retriever, these feathers are what make your dog look so beautiful when there is a breeze and his or her hair is gently flowing in the breeze.