This is not an aggressive Golden, he was just play stalking when I got his shot.
An aggressive Golden Retriever, yes. Shocked? Many people are very surprised to hear anything negative about a well known and super friendly family breed like the Golden. It can and does happen. I have worked with several families who have had an aggressive Golden. I have worked with an aggressive Miniature Poodle who was very small, white and adorable. He was wonderful as long as you didn't tell him to do anything.
I met a woman in CT who's dog had been attacked by two Labradors who had been running loose. They did a great deal of damage emotionally to the dog. I ran into a very aggressive Labrador myself while in CT at the beach. He was a typical bully, his owners had not instilled the "not acceptable" lesson with him. Even his dog walker shrugged it off as "ya he does that." I was appalled as I watched him bully his way through the beach. I told the dog walker that the bully Labrador's behavior was very dangerous and that he was going to get into some serious trouble. The dog walker seemed shocked at my statement. The very buff bully Labrador had decided to pick on a young male Labrador at one point. The young Lab was a very cute and sweet tempered Labrador. The bully nearly drowned him when his owner and I decided to vacate the beach.
"No bad dogs." Do you remember this statement? Barbara Woodhouse coined the phrase years ago. Well I disagree, there are most definitely bad dogs just as there are bad people. But most dogs we might consider to be bad have had little or no proper guidance. Serious problems can be caused by lack of human intervention or incorrect intervention. People cause a lot of problems when they do not know what they are doing or don't do anything at all. Take the bully Labrador at the beach; had his owners stepped in and shown him that bullying is unacceptable he may have been an entirely different dog.
Too much of a bad thing causes really bad things. Take a dog who is overly excited by the presence of other dogs. If he is given severe and painful corrections through a choke or pinch collar; he will quickly associate that pain to the presence of other dogs making him reactively aggressive. The same problem could have an altogether different result by the use of positive reinforcement techniques to rectify the situation.
Am I picking on Labradors and Golden Retrievers this morning? Nope. I'm trying to get across that aggression issues are not breed specific. It can happen to any dog, even good dogs with the wrong training or lack there of. Just because you bring home a Golden Retriever or Labrador does not mean that you get off scott free. You have the same responsibility as those with a German Shepherd or Doberman to make sure that your dog is well adjusted and taught what is acceptable and not acceptable.
Poor breeding can create bad dogs, dogs with very severe temperament issues. This can happen with any breed or mix of breeds. With extensive work from an educated trainer many of the problems arising may be fixable. Sadly some dogs can never be helped, this is a fact. There are on occasion dogs that just cannot be fixed. Yes there are bad dogs out there but most of them are not bad dogs, they are uneducated dogs. Dogs who have been given either no guidance to help them live in our world or very bad guidance through the use of harsh training methods creating a bad dog situation.