How to Draw Golden Retriever Dogs

Updated July 20, 2017

Golden retrievers are popular with families because they are fun-loving and have a solid track record of being gentle with children. They enjoy being part of the family dynamic. So when you are drawing a Golden Retriever, it's important to capture the essence of this breed's congenial and vivacious personality. Since drawing a constantly moving dog is very difficult, take a series of photographs of your Golden Retriever in different poses to serve as reference photos. If you do not have a Golden Retriever, use the photos in this article to make your drawings.

Study the characteristics of your Golden Retriever and draw small thumbnail sketches of the dog in your notebook, making notations alongside the drawings for reference. This helps train your mind to identify and visually remember the characteristics that differentiate the Golden Retriever from other dogs. Note how Golden Retrievers have boxlike, squared off bodies and heads. Draw detail sketches of their huge paws and straight, stocky legs. If you are drawing your own Golden Retriever, study the individual qualities that differentiate your dog from other Golden Retrievers. For instance, your dog may have smaller, floppy ears, or a larger, more angular nose. Remember these observations as you are creating your large drawing.

Decide on a pose for your large drawing after you have made all of your smaller sketches. Lightly sketch in the shapes of the dog on your grey-blue drawing paper with the grey pastel stick. Do not oversimplify. The shape of the dog's body may look a little like a rectangle, but look closely and you will see that it is not a perfect rectangle, but rather a rectangle with bumps or hard edges where there are bones underneath. Draw this imperfect rectangle as you see it. Look very closely for the variations in the simple shapes when first roughing in your drawing.

Lightly rough in the head, legs, paws and tail after completing the body shape with the grey pastel stick. Keep the proportions correct, by constantly referring to your photo, and then comparing it to the drawing. Don't forget your notations from your notebook. For instance, if you have noted in your sketchbook that your Golden Retriever has large paws with long nails, draw them in, and make sure you draw them large so they properly express the characteristics of your dog.

Lightly sketch in the forms of the dog's body by holding the pastel stick on it's side while gently pressing down on the side of the stick as you draw. By using the side of the stick, you will be able to regulate how much pastel you want on the dog's body. To replicate smaller areas of the body, such as the paws of the dog, break the pastel stick in half and once again, draw with the side of the stick, gently pressing down while turning your wrist. Use this same technique with other pastel sticks from your set to create various fur colour effects.

Sketch in the fur with the flesh-coloured pastel stick using the same technique described in Step 4. Use broad sweeps of movement of the pastel stick to create larger fur areas of the body, such as the back, hind quarters and tail. Rough in the head with the full stick, then break it in half to create smaller shapes in the head. In essence, you are painting with these pastel sticks, layering colours over each other on a cold-toned paper to create effects of depth. Don't overwork the drawing. Allow colours that are underneath to show through. Complete the drawing by adding grey, blue and black tones for the nose, whiskers, eyes and claws.


Do not spray your pastel drawing with commercial art sprays. These are dangerous to use because of the fine sprays and chemicals involved when using them. Store your finished pastel drawing with a protective tissue on top, or have if framed under glass to protect the surface.

Things You'll Need

  • Notebook, 9 x 12 inches
  • Drawing pencil
  • Gray pastel stick
  • Sepia pastel stick
  • Flesh-tone pastel stick
  • Pastel set
  • Gray-blue pastel paper, 16 x 20 inches
  • Drawing board, 20 x 24 inches
  • Digital camera
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About the Author

B. Ellen von Oostenburg became a full-time writer a decade ago. She has written features for local and state newspapers, as well as magazines, including Milwaukee Magazine, Wisconsin Trails and German Magazine. A graduate of the University of Wisconsin - Madison, von Oostenburg holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in fine art.