Before we get started, I want to reiterate that most people have one dominate personality type and one (possibly two) secondary type(s). Even if you are an off-the-chart Lion or Otter, Golden Retriever might be one of your secondary types, so read on to see what you might can learn about that part of yourself. Please remember, these are generalities, not set in stone. :)
Golden Retrievers, also called Phlegmatic, are the "sweethearts" of the personality types. Calm, dependable, loyal, good-natured, easy to get along with...just like the dog breed. These individuals are patient, well-balanced, consistent, quiet but witty, sympathetic, and kind. When it comes to emotions, they typically keep everything hidden. They are very low-key, and love to putter around their house.
One who is phlegmatic is typically a very competent and steady worker. They get along well with coworkers, are good administrators, mediators, and conflict-avoiders (which can also be a problem, though!). They are good with routines, work well under pressure and deadlines, and usually find the "easy" way to do something. If working within a team, these are the people who will ensure follow-through and offer tons of support. As a leader, they will delegate daily decisions to others, support by listening and will always strive for harmony. They aren't going to consciously try to hurt anyone or ever stir up a controversy at work (or anywhere). To recover from stress, they typically just want to sleep, but they also will go for mindless "down time" to recover.
Their friends typically will call them pleasant, enjoyable to be around, inoffensive, good listeners, compassionate and concerned. A Golden Retriever usually likes to watch people and utilize their dry sense of humor. Typically, they have many friends because their are so reliable and committed to keeping the peace.
Spiritually, these people are the deep wells. They know how to be still and listen to God, so their relationship reflects a deeper understanding of matters of faith. They have depth and insight because of their great inner discipline to apply themselves to what they do. When a Golden Retriever surrenders to Christ, they do so only drawing a minimum of attention to themselves. Their commitment is solid and sincere and they give tremendously loyal and faithful years of service to God. These are the ones who love to serve the body of believers because they love the body of believers.
For all our personality types, when you have too much of a good thing, it can be a bad thing. When you take just about any characteristic to the Nth degree, you can have some pitfalls, so lets examine some of them.
Emotionally, the Golden Retriever/Phlegmatic is a bit selfish and unenthusiastic. They may be overly fearful or worried and usually are indecisive. They might fall more to the shy and reticent group, and usually are far too passive and compromising. The reason for this? They are so worried about keeping the peace. They will avoid conflict at whatever the cost--personal or professional. They find it difficult to express their emotions and can be too soft on other people.
At work, this individual is likely not too goal-oriented. They probably did okay in school, but just never did more than was required. Typically, they lack self-motivation and resent being pushed in any direction, even in one they know is good for them and were thinking about taking anyway. They can sometimes be lazy, careless, hard to get moving, and sideline watchers instead of doers. They don't like change and can be very stubborn. According to Smalley and Trent, to Christian counselors, the motto of the Golden Retriever is, "Let's keep things the way they are."
Couldn't resist the adorable pic of the kitty cat looking all lazy and unmotivated! I know it's not a Golden Retriever, but it just fit so well!
With their friends, the Phlegmatic can sometimes dampen the enthusiasm of others because they are so hard to get excited about anything. They are indifferent to plans and resist change. They also can be judgmental, sarcastic, and teasing.
Spiritually, these servant-oriented people will sometimes make martyrs of themselves due to all their service. "Woe-is-me-look-at-all-I've-done" type of attitude isn't uncommon. They can be a tad on the self-righteous side, as well. Their spirituality can be so deep that from their view, the spirituality of everyone else pales in comparison.
EXTRAS FOR WRITERS
Golden Retrievers work well in limited situations with a steady work pattern. As long as they receive steady affirmation and don't have a lot of changes, they'll thrive. If it fits your story better, though, throw a kink in their well-ordered day as the inciting incident for your book.
A Phlegmatic really needs time to prepare for changes--emotional, physical, geographical--so writers should give it to them if they want a well-adjusted character and don't give it to them if you really want to throw them for a loop.