|Receive our Free Newsletter|
Golden Retrievers, Sporting Dogs and Companions
All Our Pets magazine features Golden Retrievers. Photos are of our own Golden, Genevieve. For more information on Golden Retrievers visit Golden Retriever Resources. For more photos of Genevieve, who left this world on July 7, 2005 at almost 14 please visit her memorial page.
of the most popular of all breeds, the Golden Retriever has maintained
its position as number two breed in registrations with the AKC for the
last ten years, and understandably so. Its temperament, intelligence,
and adaptability make the Golden an ideal companion, family dog, sporting
dog, therapy dog; goldens are frequently used for search and rescue as
well as guide dogs and for other assisted living needs. In spite of their
beauty and lovable personalities, Golden Retrievers have never won BIS
accolade at Westminster. If this article sounds prejudiced, it is influenced
by over 25 years of being owned by golden retrievers.
This gentle breed resulted from a crossing of a light-colored Flat-Coated Retriever with the now extinct Tweed Water Spaniel in the late 1800s. Goldens were first shown in 1908.
Bruce Fogle, DVM in his "Encyclopedia of the Dog" eloquently says it all: "Relaxed but responsive, calm but alert, sensible and serene, the Golden Retriever is, in many ways, the ideal family companion. This affection-demanding, multipurpose, easy to train, and attractive breed is even more popular in North America and Scandinavia than in its native Great Britain. Bred to retrieve waterfowl, it has a gentle mouth, and is especially patient with children."
The following three paragraphs on the origins of the Golden Retriever are by Rick Beauchamp, a freelance writer who resides in Cambria, California. He is the author of numerous books on canine breeds and is a judge licensed with the American Kennel Club and the United Kennel Club.
The golden retriever's many virtues were originally assembled by Sir Dudley Marjoriebanks, the first Lord Tweedmouth of Scotland. In 1865 Lord Tweedmouth purchased a yellow retriever named Nous from a cobbler in Brighton, England. Nous, whose name means "common sense" or "alertness" in British usage, was the only pup of his color in an otherwise black litter of wavy-coated retrievers. The litter had been bred by the Earl of Chichester, and Nous, according to some accounts, had been given to the cobbler as payment of a debt. In other accounts Lord Tweedmouth bought Nous directly from the earl. Lord Tweedmouth's estate, Guisachan, was located on the Tweed River. For many years the lord and his family hunted the rugged countryside there with a breed of water dog known as the Tweed water spaniel, which is now extinct. Eventually Tweedmouth wanted to produce a dog with greater versatility than Tweed water spaniels possessed, so he bred one to Nous sometime in 1867-68. That breeding produced four bitches -- Ada, Cowslip, Crocus and Primrose -- that were fundamental to the development of golden retrievers. One of those bitches, Cowslip, was especially important in that regard.
Lord Tweedmouth's recipe for the ideal retrieving dog included a handful of this, a dash of that and a soupcon of the other. His thoroughly detailed records, made available by his descendants for publication in Country Life magazine in 1952, revealed that Lord Tweedmouth outcrossed to black wavy-coated retrievers to improve the hunting instincts of his dogs. To the love of water, already present in Tweed water spaniels, he added upland-hunting ability and color, courtesy of the Irish setter. For improved tracking skill he consulted a sandy-colored bloodhound.
Lord Tweedmouth's ideal retriever was a dog with an outer coat that sheds thorns and brambles in the field, and an undercoat that offers protection from icy waters; a balanced, symmetrical dog that works equally well on land and water, while remaining highly pleasing to the eye; a dog strong enough to perform as a retriever of upland game and good-sized water fowl, yet not so big and clumsy that it rocks the boat from which it works. Above all, Lord Tweedmouth wanted a dog that was cheerfully ready to do all this for every member of the family. He was spectacularly successful in attaining his goals, and as a result the golden retriever became one of the British Isles' most highly respected multipurpose field dogs.
Due to the breed's enormous popularity one should be very selective in a acquiring a Golden, since inherited defects in some lines may be an issue. Eye problems, mainly inherited retinal atrophy, must be screened for, as also hip displasia. Every reputable breeder must provide evidence of sound hips and eyes via certificates of parents and grand parents. Allergic skin dermatitis is a common problem with Goldens, partly due to the light pigmentation of the coat.
In Great Britain the color range of Golden Retrievers varies from cream to gold, while in the US it is not uncommon to find darker colors reaching a copper tone and even approaching the color of the Irish Setter, especially in the South and West; the lighter colorations would appear to be more desirable for show. The Golden's coat may be flat or wavy, with a dense, waterproof undercoat, and requires regular grooming to maintain its best condition.
Golden Retriever puppies tend to mature a bit more slowly than other breeds, require constant attention, and may chew everything in sight. Be sure to provide plenty of chew toys and play time if raising a Golden puppy. You will be rewarded with many years of loving companionship, since the life expectancy of Golden Retrievers can be 13 to 18 years. At thirteen (as of 10/12/2004), my current Golden Genevieve is still an energetic swimmer, hiker, and ball chaser. The many years of obedience work have resulted in a well-mannered, dignified yet exuberant friend, always ready to jump in the car and go anywhere I go. (note: she was active until the very end - July 7 of 2005, when at almost 14 she succumbed to cancer.) After waiting nearly one year I have acquired another Golden Retriever puppy named Madeleine from Bonanza Golden Retrievers.)
We encourage our readers to consider the fine quality natural dog and cat foods from Flint River Ranch.