Do Golden Retrievers Bite? (& Why Bite Inhibition Is So Important)

If you’ve just bought a golden retriever, or you’re thinking about buying one, you may be wondering “do golden retrievers bite?” If so you’ve come to the right article! Not only will find out whether golden retrievers bite or not, you’ll also learn the importance of bite inhibition, why golden retrievers bite, and most importantly, if they do bite, what you can do about it!

So keep reading to find out everything you need to know!

First Of All, Do Golden Retrievers Bite?

To answer the question, it’s unlikely that a golden retriever will bite, unless they’ve been provoked. However, they are still animals, and you can never predict their behavior exactly, so there will always be the possibility of them biting. But they’re much less likely to bite compared to other breeds of dog.

As well as this, even if your golden retriever does bite, the chances are their bite isn’t going to be as severe as a other dogs.

Why Do Golden Retrievers Bite?

There are a whole bunch of reasons why your golden retriever may bite. And a lot of the time, even when they do bite, they’re not doing it to be spiteful or to hurt you on purpose. Here are the most common reasons your golden retriever may bite.

They’re Bred To Be Mouthy

As their name suggests, golden retrievers are bred to retrieve. This means there’s a certain level of mouthing that occurs with this breed, that can be very similar to biting.

However, the different between mouthing and biting is that mouthing doesn’t hurt (unless your retriever is still a pup).

These instincts are hardwired into your pup, however, with the right training and guidance, you can definitely stop them from biting in this manner.

They’re Teething

As well as because they’re used to being mouthy, another reason that your golden retriever might bite is that they’re teething. If they’re teething they’re pretty much going to bite and chew on everything in your home… Including you.

(Do you know how much your golden retriever puppy should be getting fed?)

You May Have Been Encouraging Them

Without realizing it, you may have been encouraging them to bite. If you rough house with your golden retriever, or let them bite you when they’re playing, then they’ll begin to think that biting is normal.

They’re Defending Themselves

If your golden retriever is in a situation where the need to defend themselves, they’ll end up biting. If someone is acting aggressively around them then they may end up biting. This is a lot more common in golden retrievers that have been rescued as they may have come from a broken home.

(Have you ever wondered whether golden retrievers make good guard dogs?)

They’ve Been Startled

If you’ve woken your dog up or made them jump, then they may bite out of instinct without meaning too. This is why you shouldn’t just teach your golden retriever not to bite. You should also teach them bite inhibition as well.

They’re Excited

Your golden retriever may end up biting ever so slightly when they’re excited as well. You may notice this when you’ve just got home from work, or when you tell them you’re going to take them on a walk.

You’ll also notice that when they do bite like this, it’s never hard, and it’s more of a light nip. However, even though it’s just a light nip, you should still train them to stop doing it, because they may begin to think that biting is okay.

You Never Trained Them Not Too

Have you ever trained your golden retriever not to bite? It sounds too simple, but if you haven’t this could be the reason they’re still biting even now. Training is paramount as well, not just to stop them from biting. But also to make sure they’re disciplined when they need to be.

They’re Trying To Get Your Attention

If you ignore your golden retriever for long enough, they may bite you to try and get your attention. You may think that shouting at them will get them to stop, but this might not be the case.

Some dogs like attention even if it’s negative attention. So by shouting at them you’re still giving them exactly what they want.

Things To Consider If Your Golden Retriever Bites

If your golden retriever does bite, there are definitely some other circumstances you need to consider before choosing the right method to stop it. After all, everything listed above can still be affected by certain circumstances.

How Old They Are

A golden retriever that bites as a puppy is actually completely normal. All puppies bite, and it’s in the early days that they learn when they should and shouldn’t bite, and more importantly, how hard they should bite.

How Aggressively They Do It

If your golden retriever is biting out of aggression rather than biting because they’re playing then you’ll need to get the behavior addressed right away. However, if your golden retriever is biting because they’re playing, you can definitely give them a little bit more time.

As well as this, if they’re biting out of aggression then you should also seek the help of a professional to decide what the best course of action for your dog is.

The Circumstance Behind Why They Do It

You should also consider the circumstance behind them biting. If you’ve changed something in their environment, or if someone acts in a way that startles them, then biting could be in their instinct.

As well as this, if they’re naturally nervous dogs and something around them is freaking them out, it could also result in them being bitten as well.

(Find out whether your golden retriever’s drooling is normal or not.)

How Do You Stop Your Golden Retriever From Biting?

Fortunately, there are plenty of ways you can stop your golden retriever from biting, but one way, in particular, is paramount. The most important thing you can do is teach retriever bite inhibition. So even if they do bite, they’re not going to bite as hard as they might do if they hadn’t learnt it.

Teaching Your Golden Retriever Bite Inhibition

When your golden retriever is still a pup, they have no idea how hard they should bite. This is why you often noticed puppies nip incredibly hard. In fact, a puppies bite is often a lot harder than an adults. Here’s how they’ll naturally learn bite inhibition.

Their Mom Teaches Them

Up until they’re 8 weeks old, a golden retrievers mom is going to teach them how soft or hard their bites can be. From the moment she’s born she won’t be afraid to let a puppy know if they’re being too rough when they bite, and she’ll happily put them in their place if they are.

You And Your Family

From the 8 – 12 week mark, you and your family will need to teach your puppy how hard they should bite. To do this, every time your golden retriever bites any of you, you should yelp and slowly pull your hand away.

In some cases, your puppy may become even more playful when you do this. When this is the case, you’ll need to move away from them and ignore them completely. Ignore them for a minute and once they’ve calmed down begin playing with them.

If they continue to bite keep doing this. If they bite two or three more times, just pull away from them, and stop playing altogether. This is what their litter mates would do, and they’ll soon be learn that playing aggressively doesn’t work.

They should learn after 12 weeks, however, even after then you should get multiple people to show them how hard they can and can’t bite. While doing this won’t stop them biting, it can reduce the damage done from bites massively. And it’s important that every dog learns it.

Give Them Things To Chew On

As well as this, you should also give a golden retriever puppy lots of things to chew on. A part of the reason your golden retriever will bite so much is that they’re teething. By giving them lots of things to chew on, it’s a lot less likely that they’ll mouth and bite you.

Nyla bones, Kong’s and other chew toys are all great choices.

Exercise Them Enough

If you’re not dealing with a puppy, but a full grown adult, then once of the most important things you can do is exercise them lots. An adult golden retriever needs about 2 hours worth of exercise a day, and if they’re not getting this they may end up biting.

Keeping them tired is one of the best things you can do to help reduce their chances of biting, and keep them happier in general.

Always Stimulate Their Minds

Make sure your keeping your golden retrievers mind stimulated by providing them with lots of new toys.

Dogs explore everything through their mouths, so by keeping them stimulated with lots of new toys is a great way to stop them from biting you or your family. Once again, this works especially well with puppies, but it’s also necessary for adult dogs as well.

Carry A Toy With You

If your golden retriever bites at your feet and ankles it can be a good idea to carry a toy around in your pocket. Once they start biting your ankles you can use the toy to distract them and draw their attention away.

As well as this, you should also stop moving, and definitely avoid pulling your feet away from them because you’re only going to entice them to chase and bite your feet more. You should also do this when you don’t have a toy but you want them to stop biting your feet.

Play With Them In Non Contact Ways

Encouraging non contact forms of play is also one of the best ways you can get them to stop biting as well. Tug of war and fetch are a couple of great games that most golden retrievers absolutely love. And they’re also going to get enjoyment from training as well.

As much as it’s fun to rough house with your golden retriever, you’re only going to encourage them to continue biting.

Let Them Play With Other Dogs

Dogs are some of the best teachers for your golden retriever, and it’s even better to let them play with other dogs while they’re still a puppy. Dogs will clearly let your retriever know when they’re biting too hard. Not only this, but it’s another way to tire them out, which means it’s less likely they’ll bite you.

Just remember, if your golden retriever hasn’t had their vaccinations you should make sure that they’re playing with other dogs that have been vaccinated.

Put Taste Deterrents On Things

Another great method is to put taste deterrents on things. Grannick’s Bitter Apple Spray is what I recommend and used when my golden retriever used to chew things, however, it’s also great for anything they bite as well.

Simply spray it on your hands and anywhere else your golden retriever bites before you know they’re going to start biting. Once they taste the spray, they’ll begin to associate the bite with a horrible taste, and they’ll stop biting you.

Once they do stop biting, make sure you praise them to let them know that’s the behavior they should be exhibiting.

Train Them

If you haven’t trained your golden retriever 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 border collie 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!)

Make Sure You Stay Consistent

You should also make sure that you’re staying consistent when you train your golden retriever. Whatever rules you set for them you and everyone else should follow. If everyone is doing different things then your golden retriever will begin to become confused with how they should and shouldn’t act.

Don’t Be Afraid To Get Help

Lastly, if you think you can’t control your golden retrievers biting, if they’ve already bitten someone, or if they’re aggressive, you should definitely make sure that you’re getting help. A behavioral therapist or a vet are your best choices to go to for this.

(Check out the 26 pros and cons of owning a golden retriever!)

What Should You Avoid Doing?

While there are a lot of things you should do, there are definitely some things you’re going to want to avoid doing as well. Here are all the main things you want to avoid doing.

Never Hit Your Dog

First of all, the most important thing you should definitely avoid doing is hitting your dog. When you hit your dog, you may stop them from biting, but they’ll only end up fearing you. This often causes other bad behaviors to manifest, and they may end up biting someone out of fear.

Never Shout At Them

You should also avoid shouting at your golden retriever as well. A lot of the times, you golden retriever won’t understand why you’re shouting and they may try to join in by barking back. If this happens, you’ll now have two problems you need to deal with.

(Find out more about golden retriever barking.)

Avoid Making Fast Movements Around Them

If you’re moving too fast around your golden retriever then you may be triggering their chasing instinct and they’ll want to bite you. Instead, you should make slow controlled movements whenever you’re around them to reduce the chance of them trying to bite you. Especially if you’ve been playing with them.

Don’t Stop Playing With Them

You may think about avoiding play with them altogether, but you definitely shouldn’t stop. When you play with them you build a bond with them. And this is will strengthen your relationship and cause them to end up loving them more.

So instead of not playing at all, just make sure you’re using non-contact forms.

Don’t Ignore The Problem

When your golden retriever has a problem make sure you address it as soon as possible. If you don’t address it fast, then the problem is only going to be made worse.


Now you know that while it’s uncommon for golden retrievers to bite out of aggression, it’s still possible they may be playing too rough. If you think your golden retriever is biting because they’re overly rough during play, then it can be treated by you. However, if you think they’re biting due to aggression you should seek the help of a professional immediately.

And if you liked this article, make sure you check out the rest of the website! Otherwise have a great day!