Linda Simon
Dr Linda Simon (MVB MRCVS, University College Dublin)
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Not to be confused with the city in Washington, America, the Goldendale is a rare hybrid that is composed of the much-loved Golden Retriever and the largest terrier in existence, the Airedale Terrier. Combining the Retriever’s kind and sweet disposition with the courageous and independent nature of the Airedale has resulted in an interesting designer dog that has yet to gain much of a following.

A tall and athletic mixed breed, the Goldendale is well-muscled and built to be active. Their coat is often wiry and wavy and may be the traditional golden shade of the Golden Retriever or the classic black & tan of the Airedale. Some, however, may be all black or all brown.

About & History

The Goldendale is a rare crossbreed about whose history little is known. It cannot be more than a few decades old and may have originated in America, though this has not been proven. Their ancestors, however, have a well-documented history and we can discuss this in detail with a lot more confidence.

The Golden Retriever

Golden Retrievers are now recognised as one of the most popular breeds of all time worldwide. This is down to their handsome looks and their tolerant and loving personality. Developed in Scotland about 200 years ago, they were used as hunting dogs that could excel when tracking prey over land and in water.

A defining trait of theirs was that they had to have a ‘soft mouth’, so has not to damage the prey that they retrieved. The Kennel Club in the UK first recognised the breed at the start of the 20th century and they belong in their Gundog group.

The Airedale Terrier

The Airedale Terrier is far less popular than the Golden Retriever but is no less an impressive specimen of a dog. This breed originated not too far from Scotland, in Yorkshire, northern England when Otterhounds were bred with the now extinct Black & Tan Terrier.

As with the Golden Retriever, these dogs were well able to hunt confidently over both land and water, giving them a competitive edge in the field. As well as their work hunting, these multi-purpose dogs were employed on farms as general workers who would guard property and livestock, as well as herd the cattle. The Airedale Terrier enjoyed a short-lived peak in its popularity after the First World War, when the people appreciated the brave work it carried out as a messenger dog.


The Goldendale is tall with muscular, long limbs. They are well-proportioned and should not have any exaggerated features. Their skull is medium in size and their muzzle is long and square, ending in a large patent black nose. Their neck is strong and sturdy but not overly wide and their body is rectangular in shape. Their tail is carried upright and may or may not be plumed in fur.

Weighing between 22kg and 34kg and measuring from 53cm to 58cm, the Goldendale tends to weigh more than the Airedale but is often slightly shorter. The coat of the Goldendale may be as long and wavy as that of the Golden Retriever but is usually shorter and more wiry. It is a double coat that offers protection in colder weather and allows for quicker drying time after swimming. Potential fur colours include golden, fawn, brown, black and tan.

Character & Temperament

The Goldendale should have a gentle disposition and be tolerant in most situations, however, they also possess the spirit of a Terrier, so may be more boisterous than an owner would first expect! They can be rather independent and need a firm hand and an owner with plenty of patience to keep them level-headed.

Bred from hunting stock, the Goldendale maintains its prey drive and enjoys scenting and tracking. Due to this, they cannot be homed alongside pets, such as rabbits. They can, however, do well with other dogs and generally enjoy their company.

An individual that needs a good deal of both mental and physical stimulation, failing to provide this results in a chronically unhappy dog that will act out by becoming destructive and badly behaved. Tail chasing, digging and chewing are all common behavioral vices in a bored Goldendale.


The Goldendale is naturally good at retrieving and hunting and will take well to training sessions that incorporate this. They are equally capable of learning a variety of basic cues and are not lacking in intelligence. They thrive on routine and benefit from frequent training sessions that are familiar but also incorporate new material from time to time.

The best results will be achieved when training starts from as young an age as possible – eight weeks old is a good starting point! At this age, these clever chaps can be taught simple tasks, such as to sit and lie down, and will respond particularly well when treats are on offer. Training should be steadily built as the dog matures and owners must appreciate that it is a lifelong process, rather than being something that ‘finishes’ at one year old.


Owners and breeders should be vigilant and watch out for the following health conditions, which are seen with more frequency in the Goldendale than the average dog:

Hip Dysplasia

The sad truth is that the majority of the taller, athletic dogs are prone to this debilitating condition and it can dramatically affect their quality of life, oftentimes resulting in a shortened lifespan.

As we know that it is an inherited condition, it is imperative that breeding stock are screened for it and those that have it are neutered and not bred from. This may seem harsh but it is the best way to reduce the incidence of this potentially devastating disease within the Goldendale population.

Allergic Skin Disease

Dogs with allergies tend to first present with symptoms between the age of six months and six years. Symptoms can vary but typically include scratching, licking and red skin. For some, their allergy will be seasonal while others will suffer all year round.

There are tests (including blood tests and intradermal tests), which can be performed to determine what a dog is reacting to. Where possible, the trigger would be avoided at all times. When not possible (for example in the case of grass), immunotherapy injections may be recommended to help control symptoms.

GDV (Gastric Dilatation Volvulus)

Gastric Dilatation Volvulus or bloat is usually seen in larger breeds and those with deep chests. It is a condition that occurs with little to no warning and a dog that was playing with its owner at breakfast time may be close to death by lunch.

We don’t know exactly why it happens, but dogs with a GDV will have a stomach that suddenly bloats up with air and fluid and rotates on itself, trapping everything inside. Emergency treatment is required to rectify the problem and give the animal any chance at surviving.

Exercise and Activity Levels

It’s no surprise that a dog bred from working stock needs copious amounts of exercise to keep it happy. A good 2 hours a day is recommended once they are fully matured and it is not advised to skip this; even for a day! Inquisitive, these dogs relish any opportunity to be allowed off lead and also benefit from access to a large back yard if available.

Keen swimmers, Goldendales will jump into rivers and lakes at any opportunity, regardless of the weather. They are also good hikers and are the perfect companion for those with active lifestyles who like to explore new areas.


These dogs like to shed and they can do so excessively when the weather is warmer. This means that they should be brushed on a daily basis – sometimes even twice a day. It is advisable to brush them outside of the home to reduce time spent vacuuming! Failure to brush them adequately can result in tangles, especially in areas, such as their armpits and groin.

Dogs with pendulous ears that enjoy swimming are extremely prone to developing otitis externa (ear infections) and owners need to be proactive to prevent these from occurring on a regular basis. Ears should be dried thoroughly after any bath or swim. Similarly, owners should clean ears on a weekly basis. At this time, they can also inspect them for any early signs of infection, such as a large amount of wax or reddened skin.

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