Golden Retrievers have become one of the most popular dog breeds in the United States. Because of this, there are a lot of theories about how they were developed.
For many years it was generally accepted that Goldens were direct descendants of some Russian circus dogs purchased by a member of the English gentry. Pleased with their skills as hunters, the dogs were bred, and later out-cross to a sandy-colored Bloodhound to reduce their size and improve their scenting ability. It was said that all Golden Retrievers were direct descendants of this out-cross breeding.
This colorful story was accepted as the origin of the Golden Retriever breed until the early fifties when Lord Tweedmouth’s original studbooks were made available by a descendant of his. Research into these handwritten books lead to the publication of new information, which directly challenged the circus dog story.
The studbooks indicated that Lord Tweedmouth had purchased an unregistered Yellow Retriever named “Nous” from a cobbler in Brighton in the year 1865. After hunting this dog for a time, Lord Tweedmouth bred him to a Tweed Water Spaniel. This breeding produced a litter of four dogs from whom all Golden Retrievers today are descended. While there were several out-cross breedings done with descendants of this breeding, all Goldens today are direct descendants of Nous and Belle. This is the currently accepted theory of the development of Golden Retrievers.
Goldens are large-sized, athletic, symmetrically put together, powerful and energetic. Fully developed at around two years of age, males should be 23-24 inches at the withers with a weight of 65-75lbs while females are slightly smaller measuring 21 ½ – 22 ½ inches at the withers with a desired weight of 55-65lbs.
Probably the most noticeable feature of a Golden Retriever and the one for which it got its name is its rich and lustrous coat that comes in various shades of gold. Dense and water-repellent, the double coat of the Golden Retriever protects and insulates the dog from the elements.
The straight or slightly wavy outer coat should lie close to the body, be firm and resilient but not overly silk to the touch. Goldens have a natural ruff around the neck, while heavier feathering should be visible on the front of the neck, rear of the thighs and underside of the tail. The coat of the head, paws, and front legs should be uniformly short and even.
The color of the coat should be a nearly uniform shade of gold. The exceptions are that the featherings may be lighter in color than the rest of the coat and aging dogs may have graying or whitening of face or body due to age.
Golden Retrievers are naturally intelligent, friendly, reliable, and trustworthy. This personality has made them one of the most popular dog breeds in existence today; a loving breed that is loyal to its family and its master till the end. Golden Retrievers are friendly with those they know and those they have just met. This friendliness means that they make terrible guard dogs, as they do not have any inclination to bite or attack. However, they have been known to make excellent watchdogs and more often than not will sound the alarm to let you know someone is around.
This breed is great with children of all ages. Golden Retrievers are patient and loving; while not being prone to bouts of aggression as the result of being tugged on, pulled on, or shoved by youngsters. However, as with ALL breeds of dog, it is up to the parents to ensure that play between larger dogs and smaller children is closely supervised to prevent the dog from acting out.
Considered to be easily trainable for their eagerness to please; Golden Retrievers are quick to grasp concepts during training. However, sessions should be short and entertaining so as the dog does not become bored or lose interest. A Golden Retriever will tire of performing exceptionally monotonous commands without a break or injection of fun.
With an obsession for water, Golden Retrievers are natural swimmers and have been known to seize any available opportunity to do so. Unsurprisingly, this breed also excels at the canine sport of dock diving.
Golden Retrievers are also considered to be a livestock safe breed that is good with other dogs and cats. However, some owners with poultry or pet birds have reported that it is challenging to break this breeds bird obsession. As such, adult dogs or dogs that have not had to opportunity to be socialized around other species are not recommended for homes with birds.
Owners must provide a Golden Retriever with adequate exercise so as the dog stays not just physically healthy but mentally healthy as well. Games like catch, fetch, hide, and seek or other activities like jogging or walking together provide a mutually beneficial bonding experience between dog and owner. This is a breed that naturally likes to track, hunt, and retrieve objects; so play to this strength and create fun games you can do together that involve these attributes.
The Golden Retriever, like many other highly popular breeds of dog, has become a profitable and easily marketable commodity. From your primary backyard breeder to large scale puppy mills, many individuals see breeding Golden Retrievers and selling their puppies as a quick and easy way to make money.
Concerned with profit and unconcerned with proper animal breeding practices; these individuals perform no health screening on breeding pairs. This has lead to a rise in the number of congenital health defects currently being reported for the breed and a reported drop in the overall median life expectancy from 11.4 years to 10.5 years.
The most common cause of death for a Golden Retriever is cancer. The most prevalent type being Hemangiosarcoma, noted in 18.5% of cases; it is a rare, rapidly growing and highly invasive type of cancer that affects the lining of blood vessels.
Other diseases that are known to affect this breed include:
• Hip and Elbow Dysplasia
• Corneal Dystrophy
• Retinal Dysplasia
• Heart Disease
• Luxating patella