Raise Your Hand If You Want a Golden Retriever Boyfriend (Or Least the Definition)

Have you been catnapping on this social media phenomenon?
golden retriever boyfriends
Getty | Design: Tiana Crispino
Jamie Cuccinelli the knot writer and wedding expert
Jamie Cuccinelli
Jamie Cuccinelli the knot writer and wedding expert
Jamie Cuccinelli
Senior Editor, Sex & Relationships
  • Jamie is a Senior Editor for The Knot where she oversees all sex and relationship editorial content.
  • Before joining The Knot Worldwide, she worked with an array of digital publications that include Brides, The Zoe Report, Bustle and MyDomaine.
  • Jamie graduated with a degree in English and Media, Culture & Communications from New York University.
Updated Mar 12, 2024

Ever since the first time Taylor Swift took Travis Kelce on a (pap) walk, TikTok has fallen head-over-tail for the Golden Retriever Boyfriend. Brooding bad boys? Emotionally stunted man-children? Send 'em to the pound—the Golden Retriever Boyfriend is the moment, and everyone (who isn't blissfully engaged or in a relationship or, ya know, attracted to men) seemingly wants one of their very own.

But what is a Golden Retriever Boyfriend? If you've been (cat)napping on this social media phenomenon, we're here to share the traits of a Golden Retriever Boyfriend, as well as some doggone good examples of IRL GRBs. So, sit…and stay awhile.

In this article:

What Is a Golden Retriever Boyfriend?

Named in reference to the beloved dog breed, a Golden Retriever Boyfriend is a partner who is wholly loyal, supportive and a pleasure to be around. They're often social butterflies whose upbeat, goofy energy can brighten anyone's day. But moreover, they're completely devoted to their person and aren't shy when it comes to showering them with affection.

"Golden Retriever Boyfriends are the best," says TikTok user Teresa James in a video that has garnered over 34,000 views. "Someone who balances out your chaos and wants nothing but to see you smile. When he's having a bad day, he surprises me with flowers just to see a smile," she says of her own GRB.

"They're very supportive and also require little to make them happy," adds TikToker Mhey in her popular video on the subject. "It's enough for them to know that they are loved and receiving attention."

It's also worth noting that although it appears to be gendered, the Golden Retriever Boyfriend term can be and is used by couples of all genders, and those both in heterosexual and LGBTQIA+ relationships.

Traits of a Golden Retriever Boyfriend

The typical traits of a GRB are quite similar to that of its namesake dog breed, the Golden Retriever. Think: friendly, loyal and eager to please its human—or, err, girlfriend or partner in the case of the GRB.

"Goldens are outgoing, trustworthy and eager-to-please family dogs," reports the American Kennel Club. "They take a joyous and playful approach to life and maintain this puppyish behavior into adulthood."

Similarly, Golden Retriever Boyfriends can typically make friends anywhere with anyone, love being with their person and are just the right amount of goofy. (Ahem, Kelce's 2011 squirrel tweet, anyone?)

Golden Retriever Boyfriends and Black Cat Girlfriends

Golden Retriever Boyfriends aren't the only animal-related archetype in the modern dating world: Black Cat Girlfriends have also entered the scene, with the discourse being that GRBs are oftentimes perfectly matched with Black Cat Girlfriends.

It's the ol' opposites attract theory at work: Urban Dictionary defines Black Cat Girlfriends as being anti-social except around their most cherished loved ones—and many on social media believe that their more aloof energy perfectly balances that of a GRB and vice-versa.

While TikTok user Shannon Detrick claims she's married to a Golden Retriever (in human form, OFC), she admits that she brings more of a feline feel to the relationship. "I'm more of like a cat," she says in a video with over five million views. "Some people love me, some people are dog people. I'm a little sassy. I do things on my own terms. I'm just more of an acquired taste."

Why The Golden Retriever Boyfriend Is Having a Moment

While the actual origin of the term is difficult to pin down, its popularity has been steadily growing on TikTok since around 2021. Since then, videos and reels discussing Golden Retriever Boyfriends have received millions of views, with the term 'Golden Retriever Boyfriend meaning' earning 129.1M views on TikTok, in particular.

So why is everyone now wagging their tails over GRBs? In short, pop culture. In recent years, famous Golden Retriever Boyfriends have been grabbing the spotlight—or better yet, eagerly passing it on to their partners—and fictional on-screen GRBs continuously pop up on TV and in movies. Exhibit A: Travis Kelce.

Probably the most well-known current example of a GRB, Kelce's excitability over his relationship with Taylor Swift is plain to see through his public grand gestures and vocal support for the songstress. From flying long hours to cheer her on in the audience of the Eras Tour to gushing about his love to the Washington Square Journal ("Being around her, seeing how smart Taylor is, has been f— mind-blowing. I'm learning every day."), his enthusiasm surrounding his relationship is peak GRB energy.

Golden Retriever Boyfriends in Pop Culture

Of course, the list of pop culture's Golden Retriever Boyfriends doesn't end with Kelce. From TVs to movies to IRL examples, here are some of social media's favorite famous GRBs:

  • Ryan Gosling: "She's Barbie and he's just Ken," was the tagline that took the world by storm last summer, as Gosling stole hearts everywhere as Barbie's not-so-leading man. When not crooning "I'm Just Ken," Gosling is hopelessly devoted to Eva Mendes (although they try to keep their relationship private).
  • Tom Holland: Tom Holland's affection for Zendaya is obvious to eagle-eyed fans who can't help but notice how protective he is towards the Emmy-winning actress.
  • Taylor Lautner: Kelce isn't the first GRB that Swift has dated. Actor Taylor Lautner also falls in the category. Always showing off his wife (also named Taylor) on Instagram, Lautner's support for his love is clear. He has also earned himself bonafide Golden Retriever ex-Boyfriend status, appearing in Swift's "I Can See You" music video and showing up onstage at the Eras Tour.
  • Dean from Gilmore Girls: In season one of Gilmore Girls, he doted on titular Rory Gilmore. Although he grew to be more possessive than supportive, building his girlfriend an entire working car is still worthy of shout-out. (We don't talk about season five Dean.)
  • Chandler from Friends: While initially afraid of commitment, Chandler's goofy personality and unwavering support of Monica and all of her quirks will go down in the pop culture history books.
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