The Golden Retriever is a hunting breed developed in Scotland during the 1800s. The breed was created due to a need for a specialist retriever following improvements to guns which left birds being downed at distances too far for most dogs to track. It loves water, and is excellent at retrieving killed waterfowl as well as upland game. Today it is not only used for hunting, but also for narcotics detection, search and rescue, guiding, as well as for companionship. Today, it is one of the most popular breeds worldwide.
The Golden Retriever began with a cross of a yellow-colored retriever and a now-extinct breed, the Tweed Water Spaniel. Their breeding produced four puppies, which were subsequently bred with the Irish Setter, the St. John’s Water Dog of Newfoundland, the sandy-colored Bloodhound, and two other wavy-coated black Retrievers. Its ancestry can be found in all sporting dogs.
The breed was first accepted for registration in England in 1903, but its final breed name was not recognized until 1920. The first Golden Retrievers arrived in Canada in 1881 and in America in 1894.
The Golden Retriever is a large dog which generally weighs 55 to 75 pounds and stands 21 to 24 inches high. The breed’s build is powerful and its coat soft, dense, and flat to wavy with some feathering. The breed’s coat can come in a variety of golden tones, usually darkening with age. It should be short to medium length, as a long coat can get in the way of the breed’s job.
The Golden Retriever is a friendly, calm breed, even around strangers, making it a less-than-desirable guard dog. The breed is incredibly intelligent and fairly easy to train, due to its eagerness to please and love of learning. The Golden Retriever is also known for its patience with children. The breed loves to play, and especially retrieve. It loves to fetch any sort of item thrown and can enjoy this activity for hours. The Golden often excels at dog sports. The breed’s patience allows them to sit quietly in a hunting blind, but its active nature gives it plenty of energy to work hard. The breed requires daily exercise in order to stay healthy and happy, so that it doesn’t become overweight or destructive. The Golden Retriever can also struggle with separation anxiety.
The breed is fairly high maintenance, needing weekly grooming. It sometimes even needs daily grooming during shedding season in the spring. Its ears need to be cleaned regularly as well.
The breed can generally live from 10 to 13 years, but the Golden Retriever may come up against one of many health problems. Health problems which plague the Golden include: cancer, hip and elbow dysplasia, eye diseases, heart problems, joint diseases, skin diseases, hemophilia, autoimmune diseases, bloat, Cushing’s disease, diabetes, ear infections, hypothyroidism, laryngeal paralysis, liver shunt, megaesophagus, myasthenia gravis, and von Willebrand Disease.