The Golden Retriever, often shortened to “Goldie”, is a popular dog breed, originally developed to retrieve downed fowl during hunting.
Golden Retrievers are easy to handle, very tolerant, and normally very happy and friendly. They are particularly valued for their high level of sociability towards people and willingness to learn. Because of this, they are commonly used as Guide dogs and Search and Rescue dogs.
Golden Retrievers are low-maintenance dogs and thrive on attention, regular exercise, a balanced diet, and regular veterinary check-ups.
Golden Retrievers are usually compatible with all people and other dogs. They typically bark when startled, but generally, their friendly nature makes them poor watchdogs.
Appearance of the Golden Retriever
Weight: male: 32 – 37 kg, female: 27 – 32 kg
Height: male: 56 – 61 cm, female: 51 – 56 cm
colour(s): various shades of gold
A healthy Golden Retriever is athletic, well balanced, and symmetrical. Its appearance reflects its merry and outgoing temperament and is usually never sulky or aggressive.
This large breed is similar in appearance to the yellow Labrador Retriever, especially when young. As shown in their breed history they do share some ancestry with the Labrador Retriever.
The most obvious difference is the Golden Retriever’s luxurious coat, which varies in shades of goldish yellow and plumed tail.
Today’s Golden Retrievers fall into two groups: English and American. These two types are merely variations of the Golden Retriever breed as a whole and differ only in aesthetics.
English Golden Retriever
English Golden Retrievers are easily recognized by their longer, light cream-coloured coats, which sometimes appear white.
A Golden Retriever of English breeding can have a coat across the range of all shades of gold or cream, but not including red or mahogany. A few white hairs on the chest are acceptable.
The English type is also bigger-boned, shorter, with a more square head and/or muzzle.
They are more common in Europe, so breeders of this type in America may import their dogs to improve bloodlines.
American Golden Retriever
American Goldens retain the standard of their field-hunting ancestors and appear lanky with a tall body and long limbs. Their coats come in much darker shades of gold than the English Golden and more similar in colour to the Irish Setter.
Temperament of the Golden Retriever
Typically, Golden Retrievers are fairly unruly as puppies. However, once they reach maturity, they remain active and fun-loving while developing an exceptionally patient demeanor.
Other characteristics related to their hunting heritage are a size suited for scrambling in and out of boats and an inordinate love for cool water.
They are noted for their affection for people, and their tolerance of children. Because of their gentle temperament, they are great therapy dogs to use in hospitals or retirement homes.
In The Book of Lists, the Golden Retriever is at the top of a list of nine breeds of dogs that are least likely to bite.
Most Golden Retrievers require lots of companionship to be happy. Due to their intelligence, they do well in obedience trials and make excellent assistance dogs.
This intelligence and longing for companionship also means that they can get bored and upset, which may result in chewing or other undesirable behaviours.
As the name suggests, the Golden Retriever loves to retrieve. Retrieving a thrown stick, tennis ball, or flying disc can keep them occupied and entertained for hours, particularly if there is also water involved.
Health and well being of the Golden Retriever
The typical lifespan for Golden Retrievers is 10-13 years.
Unfortunately, due to quite a lot of inbreeding in many lines of Golden Retrievers, life-threatening health problems are so common that it can be difficult to find an individual that you can count on remaining healthy for a normal lifetime.
This means that a disproportionate number of Golden Retrievers live less than 10 years.
A DNA test is strongly recommended to give you the best chance of finding a Goldie that will be healthy through its lifespan.
The Golden Retriever breed was originally developed in Scotland, at “Guisachan”, near Glen Affric, the highland estate of Sir Dudley Majoribanks (pronounced “Marchbanks”), later Baron Tweedmouth.
For many years, there was controversy over which breeds were originally crossed.
In 1952, the publication of Majoribanks’ breeding records from 1835 to 1890 dispelled the myth concerning the purchase of a whole troupe of Russian sheepdogs from a visiting circus.
The original cross was of a yellow-coloured dog, Nous, with a Tweed Water Spaniel female dog, Belle. The Tweed Water Spaniel is now extinct but was then common in the border country.
Majoribanks had purchased Nous in 1865 from an unregistered litter of otherwise black wavy-coated retriever pups.
In 1868, this cross produced a litter that included four bitch pups. These four became the basis of a breeding program which included the Red Setter, the sandy-coloured Bloodhound, the St. John’s Water Dog of Newfoundland, the Springer Spaniel, and two more wavy-coated black Retrievers.
The bloodline was also inbred and selected for trueness to Majoribanks’ idea of the ultimate hunting dog. His vision included a more vigorous and powerful dog than previous retrievers, one that would still be gentle and trainable.
Russian sheepdogs are not mentioned in these records, nor are any other working dog breeds. The ancestry of the Golden Retriever is all sporting dogs, in line with Majoribanks’ goals.
Golden Retrievers were first accepted for registration by The Kennel Club of England in 1903, as “Flat Coats-Golden”. They were first exhibited in 1908, and in 1911 were recognized as a breed described as Retriever (Golden and Yellow).
In 1913, the Golden Retriever Club was founded. The breed name was officially changed to Golden Retriever in 1920.