I have had goldens all my life, and I can verify that they are indeed incredibly good-natured dogs, and I can also tell you that accidents can happen even with the gentlest dogs on this planet.
People think that goldens are too good, and while they are most of the time, we forget that these are still living animals and they are not perfect.
But how bad can it get? Can they attack? Do Golden Retrievers attack humans? Yes, Golden Retrievers can attack humans if they’re pushed too far. Although incredibly friendly, goldens do attack humans when they feel that they or their loved ones are in real danger. Goldens are large and strong dogs and their attacks can be dangerous and even deadly in theory.
Although very, very rare, Golden Retrievers do attack humans, and these attacks can in theory be very harmful. I say in theory because I have not come across any stories of a golden retriever fatally injuring a human before.
But the problem is not golden retrievers, it’s humans. To find out how is that so and what you should do to stop your golden retriever attacking you or someone else, keep reading.
Why Do Golden Retrievers Attack Humans?
Golden Retrievers can attack humans when humans are abusing the dogs, mistreating them, or being negligible. Humans can – and I’ve seen many actually do – mistake their dog’s good nature as a green card to do whatever they want.
While some dogs like golden retrievers and labradors are incredibly good natured, they are still animals and are prone to snapping.
Golden Retrievers make the perfect family dogs, and you can learn about 20 reasons why here, but they are not perfect. Being great family dogs is not an excuse for some parents to leave their children to pull on the dog’s ears, try to ride the dog, or bother the dog in any other way.
Dogs are not horses or toys. They are not those English Palace guards with funny hats that will standby and do nothing as you do things you think are funny. They do have a great deal of self-control, but it’s not unlimited and they can still snap if they are pushed too far.
Do Golden Retrievers Attack Their Owners?
While not impossible, it’s very unlikely for golden retrievers to attack their owners. Golden Retrievers may attack their owners only if the owner poses a serious risk to; their own life, the dog’s life, or to the life of another human that is also very close to the dog – such as the owner’s kids or partner.
Goldens simply don’t have the aggressive predatory instincts that can make it easy for them to attack humans, so the only case in which they will attack their humans is when they are motivated by their protective instincs.
Your dog’s protective instincts can be quite strong and it can lead the dog to put himself in the way of danger to protect the human. So, in a nutshell, they will only do it when they think the owner poses a serious threat to the dog’s own life, the owner’s life itself, or the life of other humans that are also close to the dog.
Why Golden Retrievers attack
It’s really simple; dogs attack when they are stressed.
According to Dr. Sean Wensley, a Senior Veterinary Surgeon at the people’s dispensary for Sick Animals, any dog can be aggressive when they feel threatened.
“The motivation for lots of dog bites is fear. Others are territorial – if they’re guarding something that they highly value, or defending their favourite resting place, their bed… Or if they’ve learned to defend, say, a dog bowl – that can result in aggression.”Dr. Sean Wensley
An interesting note here that must be mentioned is that many dog bites happen during the holiday season. The Holidays can be stressful to those rushing to get things ready by Christmas, but it can also be very stressful for your dog.
During the holiday season, houses are full of new people. They are also full of kids running around excitedly, trampling on the dog who is being left behind as the owner skips the daily walks to pop to the shops instead or spend more time with the family.
This means that the dog gets bored, stressed, and confused easily and this is combination is a recipe for disaster.
How to Prevent Your Dog From Attacking Humans
The best way to prevent your dog from attacking humans it to get the dog trained and socialized at an early age, keep this training and socialization process going through their lives, and educate any humans that come in contact with the dog on what they can and can’t do.
Your dog’s training and socialization is a lifelong process. It shouldn’t stop at a certain age.
Learn the Signs of Aggression
Golden retrievers can be aggressive, and you should take a minute to check our complete guide to golden retrievers’ aggression here.
For now, we should cover the basics; you should know how to detect the early signs of aggression in your dog. You should also teach these signs to your family members and any other people you have as guests.
Signs of Aggression to check:
- Wide eyes
- Ears pulled back
- Tense mouth or curled lips
- Wrinkled nose
- Showing teeth
- Air Snapping
We are very verbal species, when something hurts or feels bad, we can say something and let others know how we’re feeling. Dogs, on the other hand, only have body language cues to communicate with us.
What to do if a dog attacks you?
The short version of what to do if a dog attacks you:
- Stay Calm and in Control
- Avoid Direct Eye Contact
- Stand Slightly Sideways if you can
- Have something ready to defend yourself
- Protect yourself and guide their bites strategically
- Fight Back, Don’t Run
If you are confronted by an aggressive dog, remember to be calm. Yelling, kicking at the dog, or trying to run away are all going to fail.
If you stay calm and in control, it will throw the dog off because they will be expecting you to get stressed and anxious. Avoid direct eye contact with your dog but keep them in your peripheral vision.
Try to stand slightly sideways which makes you a narrower vision for the dog.
If you have something or can reach something that you can use to deflect the dog’s attack, make sure to get a hold of it. For example, you may want to slowly remove your sweatshirt to use to deflect the dog’s attack when they jump at you.
If you don’t have anything on you that can work, you may use your shoes as a last resort. In all cases, you must protect your face, chest, and throat. Keep your hand in fists to protect your fingers.
Golden Retrievers are very unlikely to bite their owners, but as a general rule of thumb to remember, if you can’t avoid being bitten in a dog attack, the safest places to be bitten are the shin and forearm. A bite anywhere else could be fatal, including your thigh as it will cause too much bleeding.
The last thing to remember is that in a fight between a human and a dog, the chances are highly in your favor. While you may not have the same bite force or jaw strength as your dog, you can definitely outwit your dog.
Your dog can only attack you with their mouths, while you can use your both hands to fight back. If it comes down to this point, grab their legs and lift them off the ground.
Now that you know how to protect yourself in these extreme situations, you should remember that dogs are our dearest friends, and not enemies. Dogs are inclined to protect humans, not attack them, and an aggressive dog is the result of bad dog owners.
If you are a responsible dog owner, dog aggression is very unlikely to become a serious problem that you need to deal with.
Can Golden Retrievers Be Dangerous?
While Gentle, Golden Retrievers can be dangerous when their lives or the lives of their owners are in danger. Goldens do not have aggressive predatory instincts but they do have strong protective instincts that can lead them to attack other dogs or humans to protect themselves or their owners.
You can learn more about how your golden can protect you from intruders here.
Can Golden Retrievers Kill You?
Golden Retrievers are physically capable of killing you, but they are not mentally able to ever hurt a human badly enough that it can become fatal. Golden Retrievers are good-natured dogs and they will only become aggressive when their lives or the lives of their owners are at serious risk.