How to Read Your Golden Retriever's Body Language

Roberto Manzotti

Do you have a Golden Retriever at home? How much do you know your dog? Being a good owner is not just about feeding your dog properly and giving him a good place to stay. It is not only about providing the basic needs of your dog. Golden Retriever also has feelings. So, you should also provide your dog with his emotional needs. As a good owner, it is your responsibility to take care of your dog's welfare. And you can only achieve this if you understand your dog's body language, which may indicate his feeling. It can be easy to know your dog's emotions because dogs are expressive animals. They intend to convey what they feel, whether sadness, happiness, pain, fear, and nervousness. You just have to focus on how certain parts of his body move.

Even though Golden Retriever sometimes “speaks” in growls and barks, most of their communication is done through body language. By facial expression and holding their body in various postures, they have a complex second language without using sound that explains exactly what they think and feel. When you can read and understand Retriever body language, you will be the more attentive and loving owner and it will strengthen the bond between you and your furry pal as you can communicate more effectively. So let's take a look at each part of Retriever’s body language and what they mean.

Eyes Expression

Golden Retrievers can keep their eyes wide open, half-closed, can stare straight at you or look away; each action is different when it comes to what they mean. Retriever eyes are usually wide and rounded when they are alert, afraid or feel threatened. If your pup is staring directly at you, it's always a threat. Dogs hardly make eye contact and when they do, it usually means they are feeling aggressive. If they look away or at you and suddenly turn away, it means the dog doesn’t want to appear aggressive. It is a gesture of submission that shows they are not threatening and can also mean that they are a little nervous or frightened.

Ears Expression

Because golden retriever has large, floppy ears, they are not as expressive as the ears of other dog breeds, but they still display emotion. When they held their ears flat and back on the head, it displays negative feelings of nervousness and fear. The more the ears are forward and high, the more they are confident. Due to the nature of Golden Retrievers ears, they cannot move them much like other breeds, but they can use them the same way.

Golden Retriever's mouth Expression 

Retrievers can also express their emotions with their mouths either by holding it open, or closed, or curling their mouth to expose their teeth, or licking their lip. When your pooch mouth is closed or slightly open and panting in warm dog body languageweather, it means they are generally happy and relaxed. When he licks his lips or another pooch face or person, it is a sign of submission, a sign of stress and that shows the dog is not confident or sure of himself or herself in the situation he is facing.

Play Bow Body Language

If you have raised a Retriever puppy you will notice this instantly. They will lower their front end and stick their bottom in the air. Its tail will be up usually wagging. Friendly puppies will do this to anything they meet including a vacuum cleaner. They learn quickly who reciprocates. They carry this behavior all through their lives. This is one of the most common signs of Retriever's body language. Some of them will bark when they bow. It is usually an expression that they want to play with you or whatever they are bowing to.


This is another gesture Retriever display when they feel tense or stressed. It is a sign of nervousness and not knowing how to handle the situation, it relieves tension within them. When your dog shows his teeth pulling up the upper lip and lowering the bottom lips while growling, they are feeling very aggressive and can even bite. Although, teeth bearing can also be a sign of obedient.

When a Golden Retriever is cheerful

Your dog will look calm and natural, without trying to look big or small or to signal much out of ordinary. They will stand balanced with their weight centered on all four legs. Their eyes, tails, ears, and mouths are naturally maintained and if their tail is wagging, it will be at the lower body level.

When the dog is excited

If your Retriever is excited, he will look happy but less relaxed, more nervous and alert. He may be wagging his tail that the whole rear end will keep moving and not only the tail. Sometimes your Golden Retriever will stare at anything that is exciting them. And if he can’t reach it, it will be jumping, muzzling and nudging. Most Retrievers also bark when excited in short high-pitched barks.

When your dog raises one paw up

When Golden Retriever does this randomly, he is probably trying to ask you something. It can be treats, food, water, or just a pat. Unfortunately, he cannot tell you what he needs but you have to be observant to understand its body language.

When showing Obedience

When a Golden Retriever is trying to show he is submissive, passivity, obedience, and not aggressive. The body language will show that he posed no threat. To achieve this, the dog will make himself look small, its body low to the ground, and the tail held low even though it may be wagging side to side.

They will probably look away and certainly not staring, though, their heads will not lower as when they are afraid. Their necks will be low, while their muzzle may be pointing up rather than downward to the ground. Golden Retrievers will also introduce behaviors such as licking their lips or the person they submissive to. Sometimes they will roll over their backs to display their sensitive undersides as an important show of a mixture of trust and submission.

In fact, Golden Retrievers have emotions, just like people. Therefore, you should try to understand how your dog feels in order to meet his emotional needs. Don’t forget, your dog should be treated as a family member. He is part of your family and you are responsible for his well-being. As a caring dog owner, it is your responsibility to make your dog feel happy, comfortable, and safe. Golden Retrievers are good companion dogs. They are loyal and will stay with you through good and bad times. So, yes, you can read a Golden retriever’s body language and understand what your dog mean or want when using any of the body expression.

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