Policy on Adopting to Families with Young Children

Adopt A Golden Nashville (AGN) does not adopt to families with children under the age of 5 years old. This policy is for the benefit of both our rescued Golden Retrievers and our adoptive families. We always strive for successful and safe adoptions.

One of the top reasons Goldens are surrendered to AGN is due to young children. While Golden Retrievers have a reputation as the perfect child-friendly dog, this is a generalization that does not take into account many factors. Unfortunately, the Golden Retriever breed is not the same as it was 20 or 30 years ago. Over-breeding and under-socialization have created many Goldens that no longer fit that wonderful “family dog” image. This is not to say that it is not a wonderful breed because it most certainly is. However, we are seeing many more temperament and behavior issues now than we did in the past. This has affected our placement policies accordingly.

These are some of the factors that we have considered in formulating this policy:

  • Statistics show dog bites by Golden Retrievers are surprisingly prevalent. Children and senior citizens are the most common victims of dog bites, regardless of breed.

  • Many of our dogs come in as strays. Consequently, we do not know their backgrounds... was he abandoned because he growled at a child who tried to take away his toy or chew bone? Was he an outside dog who was tormented by neighborhood kids? How will she react if a child steps on her tail or pulls her ears? Will he guard resources he deems precious, such as toys and food, putting tiny fingers or faces at risk?

  • Even if the dog was surrendered by a family or individual, we cannot always be sure the former owners have been completely forthcoming with us about the dog’s prior behavior. Some families are reluctant to disclose aggressive behavior because they are concerned the dog will be euthanized.

  • Many Goldens are surrendered each year, and amongst the most common reasons are: 1) the children in the home have developed allergies to the Golden; 2) the Golden is unfriendly/aggressive with the children; 3) their children have taken more time and attention than they anticipated and their Golden is no longer getting the time and attention he/she deserves; and 4) the Golden has too much energy and jumps on, knocks down, runs over, mouths, etc. the children.

  • Even a dog that loves children can be incompatible with small ones due to their size. Large, active, strong dogs like Golden Retrievers can easily prove to be unwelcome family members when they start knocking over little children or playing too roughly with them, simply out of over-exuberance, a common trait in adolescent Golden Retrievers.

  • Children left unsupervised around any pet can quickly make a wrong choice when it comes to interacting with the pet. Children often do not understand the “signals” a dog may be sending to “back off” and as a result, the situation can quickly escalate. Just as children cannot be expected to understand a dog’s language, dogs are not “little people.” They are driven by natural instincts and they have a different language.

  • The safety of the dog can be inadvertently compromised by young children. Children are known to leave doors open or unlatched, presenting an opportunity for the dog to escape, where it could be hit by a car, lost, or stolen. It is unrealistic to think that young children can understand the consequences of the dog getting out.

  • Thousands of pets are euthanized every year, often for doing something that comes very naturally to them – protecting themselves from what they fear is a threat or from what startles or hurts them. Our experience has shown that even with the most knowledgeable parents, the most dog-savvy children and the most child-friendly dogs, we can never be certain that an incident will not occur. We do not want to put the safety of family members or one of our rescued Goldens, at risk for such a situation.