Are Golden Retrievers Lazy or Active? (& When You Should Panic)

There are many important things to consider when deciding to adopt a dog. Most people know to consider the dog’s size, temperament, and family friendliness. However, many people don’t consider that it is important to pick a dog whose habits are similar to their own.

If you enjoy going for walks or runs, then you will enjoy having a dog companion who is active and energetic. If you prefer to relax at home after a long, hard day at work then you should probably get a dog that is less active.

If you are considering getting a Golden Retriever, read on to learn what is and is not normal for them. Are they a good fit for you?

Are Golden Retrievers Active Dogs Or Lazy Dogs?

It is natural for large dogs, like Golden Retrievers, to sleep for 12 hours a day. However, this does not make them lazy. In fact, Golden Retrievers are quite active.

Golden Retrievers may nap or seem lazy because they are bored. If you play with them and entertain them, they will not be lazy. Golden Retrievers need at least 1 hour of activity a day, not counting walks. 

Do Golden Retrievers Sleep A Lot?

It may seem to you that your Golden Retriever is sleeping a lot. However, it is completely normal for an adult Golden Retriever to sleep for about 12 hours a day. Puppies and elderly dogs will sleep more than adults. 

Bigger dogs sleep longer than smaller dogs. Golden Retrievers are about average in size and sleep hours. Saint Bernards, for instance, will sleep up to 18 hours a day at their peak. 

Dogs, in general, only spend about 10% of their sleeping time in REM. This is one of the reasons they need more sleep than most humans. They also go through a sleep cycle quicker than humans, which is why they nap throughout the day.


Young Golden Retrievers, ages 0-2 years, will sleep more just link babies and toddlers do. The younger the puppy, the more they tend to sleep. Newborn puppies will sleep up to 22 hours a day. Puppies ages 6 months to 1 year need 15-20 hours of sleep. Puppies 1-2 years began needing less and less sleep.

Golden Retrievers reach adulthood by 2 years old, at which point they need 12-14 hours a day of sleep.

Older dogs, senior age dogs, will also sleep longer. They may sleep up to 18 hours a day. It is always a good thing to pay attention to your older pet’s habits. Older dogs are also more prone to illness, so keep track of your dog’s sleep habits and, if they change, see a vet.


Boredom can lead your dog to sleep more. Golden Retrievers are active dogs and need at least an hour of exercise a day. If they do not get that, they may begin sleeping more. The more they sleep and the less exercise they get, the harder it will be for them to recover.

Boredom can also lead to depression in dogs. Depression can cause a dog to sleep more. Depression can also be caused by the loss of a loved one. 

If your dog is simply sleeping because of boredom, you can fix this by playing with them and keeping them entertained. However, if depression is the cause of your dog’s sleeping, you need to consult a vet. 


Weather can affect a dog’s sleep cycle as well. Hot weather can make your golden retriever lethargic and sleepy. Heat can also tire your dog out faster. Golden Retrievers have luxurious golden coats. Unfortunately, these coats make them hotter quicker.

Help your dog by walking them in the mornings and evenings when it is cooler. If you have to walk them in the middle of the day, make it a quick walk, and take water with you for your dog.

Other ways to help include keeping your house as cool as possible, running fans, keeping shades down, and keeping the water dish full.


Your Golden Retriever may be sleeping more because of illness. If an illness is the cause of your dog’s sleeping habits, you may notice a gradual or immediate increase in sleeping. 

If you suspect illness may be the cause of your dog’s sleeping, contact your vet. Many different illnesses can be the cause of increased sleeping. If your dog has recently started a new medication, it is possible that extra sleeping may be a side effect.

  • Infections

  • Viruses

  • Heart Problems

  • Liver Problems

  • Diabetes

  • Anemia

  • Hypoglycemia

  • Medications

  • Food Poisoning

  • Pain

  • Tumors

  • Hypothyroidism

  • Depression

There are also illnesses that cause a dog to sleep less than is normal or healthy. Dogs can suffer from sleep disorders that are similar to humans.

  • Narcolepsy

  • Insomnia

  • Sleep Apnea

  • REM Behavior Disorder

Diet or Nutritional Deficiencies

Diet or nutrition can impact your Golden Retriever’s energy levels. If they are eating a food that they are allergic to or that doesn’t agree with them, they can be lethargic and tired. 

They can also exhibit symptoms of tiredness and lethargy if the food doesn’t have enough vitamins, minerals, proteins, and nutrients in it. If you think your dog’s lethargy or sleepiness may be due to their diet, check with your vet about what you should be trying.

Golden Retrievers Playing

Are Golden Retrievers High-energy?

Golden Retrievers are considered high-energy dogs. They thrive in active households where someone is around during the daytime to look after them and play with them.

Golden Retrievers do not do well when left home alone for extended periods of time. If you work during the day, you may need to hire a dog sitter or take your dog to a doggy daycare where they can get the socialization they need while you are gone.

Do Golden Retrievers Get Bored Easily?

Golden Retrievers do get bored easily. The good news is that there are many ways to solve this problem. If you have enough space, have two dogs. Your Golden Retriever will love having someone to play with when you are not available. 

Golden Retrievers are active dogs that love games. Playing games with your Golden Retriever is an easy way to keep them from getting bored. If you work during the day, have a dog sitter or walker come and play with them or take them to the dog park.

Some of their favorite games are:

  • Water games

Golden Retrievers love playing in the water. If you have a backyard, you can play all kinds of water games with your dog. If you have a pool or kid pool, your golden retriever will enjoy splashing around in the pool.

If you have a sprinkler, your golden retriever will enjoy running through it, trying to catch the water, or playing tag with it. Golden retrievers will really love it if you run through the sprinkler with them.

You can even turn a bath into a game by bathing them outside with a hose. Turn it into a game of tag where you are spraying your dog as they run around.

  • Hide and Seek

Golden Retrievers are also fans of hide and seek. You can play this game in a number of ways. The most traditional way is where you hide and your dog has to find you. This way may require another play to stay with your golden retriever and then tell them to “find ____ .”

Another way to play hide and seek is to hide treats around the house and have your dog look for them. You might have to train them that “seek” means find the treats.

Lastly, you can play hide and seek with toys. Train your dog to “find” toys. They then go around the house finding toys and bringing them to you.

  • Frisbee

Frisbee or catch is another popular game for Golden Retrievers. Golden retrievers love to chase, catch, and bring back toys to you. This type of game is great outdoors. If you’re planning to play this indoors, you will want to make sure you have a long hallway that doesn’t have anything breakable for your dog to run into.

  • Fetch

Fetch like frisbee and catch is a chasing game. Golden Retrievers love chasing balls, sticks, and toys. Teach them that the word “fetch” means that they bring it back to you. You may also have to train them to recognize the word “drop” or “drop it”.

You can also train your dog to fetch items, like the newspaper. Make sure your Golden Retriever knows different words for each item. They are smart dogs and can learn to recognize commands.

  • Tug of War

Golden Retrievers love playing tug of war. Make sure to get them a rope that is safe for their teeth. There are many different kinds of toys designed to be tug of war ropes or toys. 

Tug of war can be played between two friendly dogs, a dog and their person, or even just the dog. For the single-player version, you need a dog rope that is attached to something like a bungee cord. Attach that to something immovable and unbreakable and watch your dog tug and tug at their toy.

  • Clean Up

Clean Up is a great game to teach your Golden Retriever. It is simple and helpful. Train your dog to answer the command “clean up” by gathering together its toys and putting them in the toy basket.

An alternative to this game is to teach your dog to clean up other things. Make sure that whatever they are cleaning up will not be damaged by being picked up in their mouth. In addition, make sure that whatever they are picking up will not make them sick.

  • Stairway Dash

This game is simple and requires no materials, just stairs. Golden Retrievers love running. Race them to the stairs. Next, have them sit and wait while you go up. Once you are at the top, drop a treat and call “go” and they will race up the stairs to you. You can then repeat this and have them come down the stairs.

  • And more!

There are many more fun games you can play with your smart Golden Retriever. You can set up an obstacle course outside, in your garage, or in a specific room in your house. Golden Retrievers also love chasing bubbles, so get the non-toxic kind and blow away. 

Lovely puppy lying on rug

Why Is Your Golden Retriever Lazy?

There are many causes for laziness in a dog. The key is that none of them are natural. While dogs do sleep a lot more than humans in most cases, they are rarely lazy.

If your dog is lazy and lethargic, it is often a sign of an underlying problem. The best option if your dog becomes lethargic fairly quickly or suddenly is to take them to the vet to find out what is wrong.

  • Infections or viruses

Just like with humans, if a dog is sick due to an infection or a virus, it will be more tired than normal. This is a sign your dog’s body is trying to fight off an illness. Talk to your vet about ways to help your dog.

  • Heart Problems

Heart problems can also cause your dog to slow down and become lethargic or lazy. Your vet will be able to help you decide if your dog needs medicine, surgery or if they simply need loving at the end of their life.

  • Liver Problems

Liver problems can also cause your dog to appear lazy or lethargic. If you notice that lethargy is paired with a loss of weight, appetite loss, diarrhea, or increased thirst, tell your vet as these are all signs that the liver might be the cause.

  • Diabetes

Diabetes is another health problem that may cause dogs to be more tired than usual. Other symptoms include an increased need for water and potty breaks, an increased appetite, and weight loss. If your dog has these symptoms see your vet about treatment options.

  • Anemia

Anemia can also cause dogs to slow down and sleep more often. Anemia can also be the result of even more serious health problems. Go to the vet immediately if you notice the following symptoms: bloody bowel movements, blood in vomit, whiteish or pale pink gums, or quick and easy bruising.

  • Hypoglycemia

Hypoglycemia can also cause dogs to become lethargic. Lethargy is one of the beginning signs and is followed by lack of coordination, trembling or weakness in the limbs, uncontrolled muscle twitching, seizures, and discoloration of the gums. Take your dog to the vet immediately if they show any of these signs.

  • Medications

Medications can also cause dogs to be lazy or lethargic. Sometimes it is a common side effect, and your vet will let you know about it. Other times it could be a sign that your dog is having a bad reaction to the medication. 

  • Food Poisoning

If your dog starts acting tired or lethargic right after eating something, it may be a sign that they ate something their body does not agree with or food poisoning. If this is the case, take them to the emergency animal hospital immediately. 

  • Pain

It is often hard to tell if a dog is in pain. However, if they are having trouble moving and seem extra tired, it may be because they are in pain. If you think this may be the cause, you can take your dog to the vet for some tests to determine what kind of pain and how to treat it.

If it is a broken bone, the vet will likely recommend you let your dog rest and relax until it heals.

  • Tumors

Tumors can also cause a dog to act lazy or lethargic. 50% of dogs over the age of 10 get cancer. If your dog is older than 10 and you think they might have cancer, you should take them to the vet for testing and treatment.

  • Hypothyroidism

Hypothyroidism is a health condition that affects the dog’s thyroid. It can cause tiredness and a lack of energy. Other symptoms include obesity, unexplained or unexpected weight gain, and an intolerance for the cold.

  • Depression

Depression can cause a dog to act lazy and uninterested. Depression can be caused by the loss of a loved family member, abandonment, mistreatment, or not having their needs met. Talk to your vet about ways to help your dog deal with depression.

  • Narcolepsy

If your dog suffers from Narcolepsy, it may collapse or fall asleep rapidly. If it is a rare, occurring thing, your vet will ask you to keep an eye on it. If it starts happening more frequently, interventions and treatment may be needed.

  • Insomnia

Insomnia can cause lethargy and laziness. If your dog is not getting enough sleep at night, it will seem lazier and sleepier during the day. Insomnia is often a sign of an underlying health condition. If you notice that your dog is having trouble sleeping, take them to the vet to get checked.

  • Sleep Apnea

Mild sleep apnea may cause your dog to be sleepier during the day. Sleep apnea often interferes with a dog’s ability to sleep soundly. If your dog’s sleep apnea gets worse or becomes increasingly more common, take them to the vet.

  • REM Behavior Disorder

REM behavior is the random movements dogs make during sleep. If your dog is especially active while sleeping, it may suffer from a lack of deep sleep. This will cause them to be more tired during the day. There is not much you can do except to safely try and wake them up so they can try and sleep more peacefully.

Why Is My Golden Retriever Puppy Lazy?

First off, puppies always need more sleep than adult dogs. You may notice your puppy suffers from Narcolepsy and falls asleep instantly at times. This is completely normal.

However, puppies, just like adult dogs, can suffer from the above illnesses. They may be less likely to have some of the long-term illnesses, but it can happen. Your vet can run tests if you think your puppy may have health problems.

The Most Common Puppy Illnesses

  • Parvovirus: Attacks puppies from age 12 weeks to 3 years

  • Food Poisoning

  • Narcolepsy

  • Hypoglycemia

Want To Train Your Dog With Peace Of Mind?

If you haven’t trained your dog properly, then this is the perfect time to start. Whatever bad behavior your shepherd has, whether it’s barking at night or other bad behaviors, using the right training program is the key to having an obedient and happy pup.

The training program I love and highly recommend is Brain Training For Dogs.

With Brain Training For Dogs, you’ll save yourself a ton of time and effort. Instead of banging your head against the wall trying to figure out why your dog won’t listen, you’ll follow a path that has been tried, tested, and most importantly, that’s given proven results. Not to mention the fact, you’ll be able to fit the course around your schedule, not fit your schedule around a trainer or obedience class.

So instead of worrying about whether they’re going to be well-behaved or not, you’ll only have to worry about how much fun you’ll have with them!

And in most cases, it’s still going to be:

  • Cheaper than hiring a professional.
  • Cheaper than replacing everything they might break.
  • And definitely cheaper than a lawsuit against you, if they decide to bite someone.

Just imagine how great it will feel to finally be able to trust your dog completely and never worry whether they’ll be naughty or not. Instead, you’ll have the peace of mind that you have a well-behaved pup, and the boundaries you set for them will always be there, EVEN IF YOU’RE NOT.

And the best part is it also has a 60-day money-back guarantee! So there’s no reason not to give Brain Training For Dogs a try!

So if you’re tired of your dog’s bad behavior or how they react around other people and pooches, then give it a try! You’ll be amazed by the results!

(You can also check out a full review here to learn exactly what the course has to offer!)


Is It Normal To Have A Lazy Puppy?

Your puppy should be equal parts sleepy and energetic. Puppies often take this to the extreme. They can be super energetic and playful one minute and then tired and sleepy the next. This is completely normal.

Do Dogs Sleep When Bored?

Yes, dogs do sleep when bored. If this becomes a habit, it can cause health problems, including weight gain, which will lead to other health problems, and depression. 


Golden Retrievers may seem lazy because they sleep so much, but 12 hours of sleep is natural for them. If they sleep while we sleep, they will get 7-9 hours of sleep. They will still need another 3-5 hours of sleep during the daytime. 

They are not lazy dogs. They are high-energy and love to play. Make sure you spend lots of time playing with them to keep them from becoming lethargic, as this can cause health problems if it isn’t caused by health problems.

In the end, the choice is yours. Are you active and around the home during the day? Can you provide a good home for an energetic Golden Retriever?