Why Do Golden Retrievers Carry Things?

Quick Answer

Golden retrievers carry things because the behavior is largely a bred trait. They have a natural instinct to carry objects that can be traced back to their history as hunting companions.

why do golden retrievers carry things? golden retriever carrying a package of coffee filters
Luna helpfully carrying some coffee filters around (don’t worry we took them away right after the picture!)

Golden retrievers carrying things is one of the hallmark behaviors of the breed. Our golden frantically looks for something to pick up and carry over to us the second we enter the house, and throughout the day we’ll see her just happily carrying things around.

It doesn’t seem to matter what it is – some of her favorites are toys, the drain plug from a sink she’s not supposed to jump up to, socks, and even a rock or two that she snuck back inside without us noticing. Other than just being adorable, it turns out there are several reasons behind this charming behavior.

Carrying Things As A Bred-in Trait

Golden Retrievers were originally bred in Scotland in the mid-19th century for the purpose of retrieving game, both on land and in water. They were often used as hunting companions, assisting their owners in tracking and retrieving fowl. As a result, they were specifically bred to have a “soft mouth,” meaning they could grasp and carry game without causing any harm.

The ability to carry objects gently and carefully was an important trait for hunting dogs to have, ultimately leading to the Golden Retriever’s instinctive desire to carry things today.

Carrying Is Inherited

Golden Retrievers aren’t the only breed that has a natural inclination towards carrying objects. Many other retriever breeds, as well as some herding breeds, have been known to carry objects in their mouths.

This behavior is often an inherited trait, passed down from generation to generation. It’s rare to come across a golden that does not love carrying objects around with them.

Carrying Something Can Provide Stimulation

In addition to the breed’s genetic predisposition to carrying, there are some other reasons why Golden Retrievers love carrying things.

For one, they have a natural instinct to explore and play. Carrying objects around is an easy and fun way for them to satisfy this need for stimulation. Dogs, like humans, can get bored easily, and carrying around a toy or a stick provides a sense of entertainment and adventure (especially if it’s something they know they shouldn’t have).

Additionally, carrying objects can provide a sense of comfort and security for some dogs, who feel more at ease with something in their mouth. It goes hand in hand with chewing or mouthing, which many dogs do to self-soothe (similarly to many human babies).

Turn It Into A Bonding Experience

For many Golden Retriever owners, the habit of carrying objects can become a bonding experience between you and your dog. Playing fetch or teaching your dog to carry specific objects can help strengthen the bond between you and your pup, which in turn reinforces the behavior for them going forward.

Like I mentioned before, it’s a great, easy way to provide your dog with exercise and mental stimulation, which can improve their overall health and well-being.

Potential Risks

While it’s generally harmless for Golden Retrievers to carry objects, there are some potential risks you’ll want to keep in mind.

For one, dogs can accidentally ingest objects that are too small or sharp, leading to choking or internal damage.

Additionally, if your dog becomes possessive of a particular object that they love carrying around, they may become aggressive or territorial if you or someone else ever needs to take it away from them.

It’s important to teach your dog a command like “drop it” or “leave it,” and to keep an eye on them while they are carrying objects to prevent any accidents or injuries.


Golden Retrievers have a natural instinct to carry objects that can be traced back to their history as hunting companions.

While this behavior can be endearing and even helpful at times, it’s important to be aware of the potential risks and to supervise your dog while they are carrying objects.

If you’re a Golden Retriever owner, you can use this behavior as a fun bonding experience with your dog while providing them with the stimulation and exercise they need to stay happy and healthy.

I personally will always laugh when Luna runs up to me with something like a drain stopper in her mouth when I walk through the door – just one of the many small joys that comes with owning a Golden!

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roger stanley site owner and primary author
Meet The Author Roger Stanley

Co-owner of goldenretrievergoods.com. 15 years of experience living life with Golden Retrievers and 15 years of experience spending way too much money on them – I believe life’s not worth living without a Golden involved!

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