For many people, Golden Retriever is the friendliest and most beautiful dog in the world. Certainly, it is a wonderful, brisk dog and it loves its owner with its whole heart. Although it is similar to Labrador, its body structure is more subtle and it has longer hair. It is a great swimmer and is very intelligent. It is then helpful in many different fields, from guarding, through Field Trials competition, to sports like dock jumping or flyball.
- Group 8: Retrievers, Flushing dogs, Water dogs.
- Section 1: retrievers
- With working trial
The history of the breed
Golden Retrievers were bred in Scotland in the mid-19th century. At the time, wildfowl hunting was a popular sport among wealthy Scottish elites. However, existing retrievers did not manage well to retrieve downed preys from the water and in the land. Taking into consideration that the hunting grounds were pocketed with marshy ponds and rivers, retrieving skills were essential. As result, existing retrievers were crossbred with the best water spaniels and the Golden Retriever breed developed.
Improvement of the weapon in the 19th century enabled hunting from a long distance and on the more difficult ground what led to increasing in the number of downed fowls. As a result, more dogs were needed to help and as setters did not manage to do this, a new breed started to develop.
The original cross was made between now extinct Tweed Water Spaniel breed female called Belle and yellow retriever called Nous. Four pups that were born constituted the basis of a new breeding program. They were crossbred with Irish Setter, the sandy-colored Bloodhound, St John’s water dog from Newfoundland and two black retrievers with a wavy coat. Inbreeding was practiced as well.
Golden Retrievers are big, have a strong body and a thick, waterproof, wavy coat. The breed got very popular and spread around the world, therefore there are some differences in appearance between the dogs, depending on what part of the world they come from. What they have in common is that they are all very intelligent, friendly and loyal. Moreover, all the blond representatives of the breed are prone to similar health problems.
British Golden Retriever
This type occurs in the whole of Europe and Australia. It has a wider and shorter muzzle, shorter limbs, nose and deeper chest than the American type. Moreover, it is heavier than both the American and Canadian types. Males reach from 56 to 61 cm (22″ to 24″) of height at shoulders and females from 51 to 56 cm (20″ to 22″). UK Kennel Club does not set any standard body mass.
British Golden Retrievers have round and dark eyes while the American has triangular or oblique eyes. Its coat is golden, cream, red or mahogany. Other color variations are not allowed for shows. Although at first the cream coloration was not recognized, it changed in 1936. White color is not allowed though. The dogs are very strong and resistant as they originated from flushing and retrieving dogs.
American Golden Retriever
It is thinner than the British type. Males achieve from 58 (22,8”) to 61 cm (24”) and females from 55 (21,6”) to 57 cm (22.4”) of height at shoulders. Its coat is dense and waterproof and has different shades of golden. This variety meets the breed standard established by other countries. However, British scientists crossbreed them with the British type so that they inherit its temperament and appearance.
Canadian Golden Retriever
Just like American Golden Retrievers, the Canadian type is higher and thinner than the British variety. However, the Canadian type has various coat densities and coloration. The coat is also usually darker than the American’s is.
Coat and coloration
As its name indicates, the coat may have different shades of golden. The topcoat is waterproof and is slightly wavy. Golden Retriever shed little hair for a whole year. The undercoat is soft and helps to regulate body temperature. It is shed in spring and in fall.
The coat should not be too long or too short. On the limbs, around the neck, on the back and the tail, it should have „fringes.”
The American Kennel Club established that Golden Retrievers’ coat coloration should be intensive, shiny and has different shades of golden. The judges may not allow showing a dog that has a pink nose or lacks pigment. Apart from golden shades, Golden Retrievers may as well be mahogany or have different shades of red. The most frequent colorations are dark golden and yellow.
Golden Retrievers are said to be self-confident and friendly towards children and other animals. They are not distant towards strangers, but rather trust people both strange and familiar. It would not make a good guide dog, as it is very docile and open. It should not be aggressive as well. It should not also be too shy or nervous. Typical Golden Retriever should be calm, obedient, intelligent and hardworking.
Golden Retriever is very devoted. It loves playing with other animals. It is very patient and does not bark often. It takes part in the so-called hunting blind. Adults like working and are able to focus on a task. As a result, it may easily get overloaded. It loves water, which was inherited from its ancestors. It is very intelligent, therefore it may easily be trained. It is great in different competitions and obedience tests. It likes learning and reacts to new and friendly stimulus, therefore its training does not have to be strict.
It feels comfortable among other animals and cats. As a friendly, calm and intelligent dog, it is great as a guide dog, a mobility assistance dog and a search and rescue dog.
Its average lifespan is 11 – 12,5 years. It is prone to serious diseases, therefore it should be thoroughly examined by the vet once a year. It tends to struggle with genetic diseases such as hip dysplasia or obesity (it loves eating). Their food intake should be controlled (puppies should not have more than 3 cups of food a day and adults should eat 3 to 5 cups of food a day, depending on their level of activity).
Golden Retriever often has tumors, including hemangiosarcoma, lymphosarcoma, mast cell tumors and osteosarcoma.
They are also prone to hip and elbow dysplasia, eye diseases (cataract, retinal atrophy, glaucoma, distichia, corneal dystrophy, retinal dysplasia), heart diseases (aortic stenosis, cardiomyopathy), as well as patella luxation and crucial ligament rupture.
They may have problems with the skin – mostly allergies that lead to acute dermatitis called a hot spot. The allergies are usually caused by fleas. Moreover, they may suffer from seborrhea and hemophilia. They may as well suffer from lyme disease, which is usually diagnosed when the kidneys start to fail.
Detailed information / size
- Height at shoulders:
- males: from 56 (22”) to 61 cm (24”)
- females from 51 (20”) to 56 cm (22”).
- males: 29 (64 lbs) to 40 kg (88 lbs)
- females: 24 (53 lbs) to 29 kg (64 lbs)
- Lifespan: 11 to 13 years
Golden retriever – curiosities
- Pure white, red or black Golden Retrievers are not allowed to shows.
- It is ranked 4th in Stanley Coren’s ranking of the most intelligent dogs – see the article The most intelligent dogs.
- It is very effective as a lifeguard and it helps saving people during natural disasters. It is as helpful as Newfoundland, Labrador or Leonberger.
- Golden Retriever Club of America established that in 1998 61,4% of deaths were caused by the tumors that have been mentioned in the article. The research conducted by the UK Kennel Club in 2004 showed that tumors contributed to the mortality of 38,8%.
- Apart from the breed clubs, there are as well many associations devoted to Golden Retrievers – as for example, the Golden Retriever Club of Scotland established in the same house where the first golden retrievers were born. It was founded in August 2013 and there are 222 dogs.
- Golden Retrievers’ owners must bear in mind that they will not skip any puddle 🙂
- An American writer Dean Koonz is a big fan of Golden Retrievers.