|Country of origin||Scotland|
|Dog (Canis lupus familiaris)|
The Golden Retriever is a medium-sized breed of dog. They were historically developed as gundogs to retrieve shot waterfowl such as ducks and upland game birds during hunting and shooting parties. They were named retriever because of their ability to retrieve game undamaged. Golden Retrievers have an instinctive love of water. They have a dense inner coat that provides them with adequate warmth, and a water repellent outer coat that lies flat against their bodies. These dogs are well suited to suburban or country environments. Although they need substantial outdoor exercise, they should be kept in a fenced area because of their instincts as hunting dogs and tendency to roam.
The Golden Retrievers' intelligence makes them versatile, allowing them to fill a variety of roles, including guide dog for the blind, hearing dog for the deaf, hunting dog, illegal-drug detector, and search and rescue participant. Because of their loyal and gentle temperament, Golden Retrievers are also popular family pets.
Golden Retrievers possess friendly, eager-to-please demeanours, and are the third most popular family dog breed (by registration) in the United States, the fifth most popular in Australia, and the eighth most popular in the United Kingdom.
The Golden Retriever has its roots in Scotland. In the mid-18th century, wildfowl hunting was very popular among the wealthy. In Scotland, a dog was needed that could retrieve from water and land because the land was covered in ponds and rivers. Early retrievers were crossed with the best of water spaniels, giving rise to the dog known as the Golden Retriever. The Golden Retriever was first developed in Scotland at "Guisachan" near Glen Affric, the highland estate of Sir Dudley Marjoribanks later Baron Tweedmouth. For many years, there was controversy over which breeds were originally crossed. In 1952, the publication of Marjoribanks' breeding records from 1835 to 1890 dispelled the myth concerning the purchase of a whole troupe of Russian sheepdogs from a visiting circus. See Russian tracker.
Improvements in guns during the 1800s resulted in more fowl being downed during hunts at greater distances and over increasingly difficult terrain. This led to more birds being lost in the field. Because of this improvement in firearms, a need for a specialist retriever arose, as training setter and pointer breeds in retrievals were found to be ineffective. Thus, work began on the breeding of the dog to fill this much-needed role.
The original cross was of a yellow-coloured Retriever, 'Nous', with a Tweed Water Spaniel female dog, 'Belle'. The Tweed Water Spaniel is now extinct, but was then common in the border country. Marjoribanks 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 pups; these four became the basis of a breeding program which included the Irish Setter, the sandy-coloured Bloodhound, the St. John's water dog of Newfoundland, and two more wavy-coated black Retrievers. The bloodline was also inbred and selected for trueness to Marjoribanks' 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 Marjoribanks' goals. The Golden Retriever was active and powerful and had a gentle mouth for retrieving games while on hunts.
Organizations other than clubs are dedicated to Golden Retrievers, such as breed-specific adoption sites.
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).
It would take another 14 years for the breed to be recognized in America, and in 1925, the American Kennel Club (AKC) did so. In 1938, the Golden Retriever Club of America was founded.
The Honourable Archie Marjoribanks took a Golden Retriever to Canada in 1881, and registered 'Lady' with the AKC in 1894. These are the first records of the breed in these two countries. The breed was first registered in Canada in 1927, and the Golden Retriever Club of Ontario (the GRCO) was formed in 1958. The cofounders of the GRCO were Cliff Drysdale, an Englishman who had brought over an English Golden, and Jutta Baker, daughter-in-law of Louis Baker, who owned Northland Kennels. The GCRO in later years expanded to become the Golden Retriever Club of Canada (GRCC).
In July 2006, the Golden Retriever Club of Scotland organized a gathering of Golden Retriever enthusiasts at the ancestral home of Guisachan House. A photograph was taken by photographer Lynn Kipps to commemorate the occasion. It captures 188 Golden Retrievers, so holds the record for most Golden Retrievers captured in one image.
Some variations do exist between the British type Golden Retrievers that are prevalent throughout Europe and Australia, and those of American lines; these differences are reflected in the breed standard. The muzzle of the British type of dog is wider and shorter, and its forehead is blockier. It has shorter legs, with a slightly deeper chest, and shorter tail. Its features make it generally heavier than the American type. Males should be between 56 and 61 cm (22 and 24 in) at the withers and females slightly shorter at 51–56 cm (20–22 in). Their weight, however, is not specified in the UK standard. The KC standard calls for a level topline and straight hindquarters without the slight rear angulation found in American lines. The eyes of the European type are noted for their roundness and darkness as contrasted with the triangular or slanted composition of their American counterparts. A Golden Retriever of British breeding can have a coat colour of any shade of gold or cream; however, red or mahogany are not permissible colours. Originally, cream was not an acceptable colour in the UK standard, but by 1936, the standard was revised to include cream. It was felt this exclusion was a mistake, as the original "yellow" retrievers of the 19th century were lighter in colour than the then current standard permitted. As with American lines, white is an unacceptable colour in the show ring. The British KC standard is used in all countries with the exceptions of the USA and Canada. Some breeders of this type in America may import their dogs to improve the temperament and health noted in those bloodlines . Golden Retrievers have muscular bodies with great endurance built for hunting.
An American Golden is lankier and less stocky than a British type. A male should stand 22–24 in (56–61 cm) in height at the shoulders, and females should be 20–22 in (51–56 cm). The coat is dense and water-repellent, in various shades of lustrous gold, with moderate feathering. The gait should be free, smooth, powerful, and well-coordinated.
As with American Golden Retrievers, Canadians are often taller and leaner than their British counterparts. However, Canadian retrievers differ in the density and colour of their coats, which are commonly thinner and darker than those of Americans.
As indicated by their name, their coats come in light golden to dark golden colours. They have two different types of hair on their coats:
- The topcoat is water-resistant and slightly wavy. It sheds in small amounts throughout the year.
- The undercoat is soft and keeps the retriever cool in summer and warm in winter. The undercoat sheds in the spring and fall. It usually lies flat against the belly.
A Golden's coat should never be too long, as this may prove to be a disservice to it in the field, especially when retrieving game.
Golden Retrievers have mild feathering on the backs of their forelegs and heaver feathering on the fronts of their necks, backs of their thighs and the bottoms of their tails.
The American Kennel Club (AKC) standard states the coat is a "rich, lustrous golden of various shades", disallowing coats that are extremely light or extremely dark. This leaves the outer ranges of coat colour up to a judge's discretion when competing in conformation shows. Therefore, "pure white" and "red" are unacceptable colours, as is black. The Kennel Club (UK) also permits cream as an acceptable coat colour. Judges may also disallow Goldens with pink noses, or those lacking pigment. The Golden's coat can also be of a mahogany colour, referred to as "redheads", although this is not accepted in the British show ring. As a Golden grows older, its coat can become darker or lighter, along with a noticeable whitening of the fur on and around the muzzle. Puppy coats are usually much lighter than their adult coats, but a puppy with a darker colouration at the tips of the ears may indicate a darker adult colour.
The temperament of the Golden Retriever is a hallmark of the breed, and is described in the standard as "kindly, friendly and confident". Golden Retrievers make good family pets, particularly as they are patient with children. They are not "one man dogs" and are generally equally amiable with both strangers and those familiar to them. Their trusting, gentle disposition makes them a poor guard dog. Any form of unprovoked aggression or hostility towards either people, dogs or other animals, whether in the show ring or community, is considered unacceptable in a Golden Retriever and is not in keeping with the character of the breed. Nor should a Golden Retriever be unduly timid or nervous. The typical Golden Retriever is calm, naturally intelligent and biddable, with an exceptional eagerness to please.
Golden Retrievers are also noted for their intelligence. The breed ranks fourth in Stanley Coren's The Intelligence of Dogs following the Border Collie, Poodle, and German Shepherd, as one of the brightest dogs ranked by obedience-command trainability.
Typical Golden Retrievers are active and fun-loving animals with the exceptionally patient demeanour befitting a dog bred to sit quietly for hours in a hunting blind. Adult Goldens love to work, and have a keen ability to focus on a given task. They will work until they collapse, so care should be taken to avoid overworking them.
Other characteristics related to their hunting heritage are a size suited for scrambling in and out of boats and an inordinate love for water. Golden Retrievers are exceptionally trainable—due to their intelligence, athleticism and desire to please their handlers—and excel in obedience trials. They are also very competitive in agility and other performance events. Harsh training methods are unnecessary, as Golden Retrievers often respond very well to positive and upbeat training styles.
Golden Retrievers are compatible with other dogs, cats and most livestock. They are particularly valued for their high level of sociability towards people, calmness, and willingness to learn. Because of this, they are commonly used as guide dogs, mobility assistance dogs, and search and rescue dogs.
They are also known to become excellent surrogate mothers to different species. Kittens and even tiger cubs from zoos are well taken care of by them. In some cases, a retriever may produce milk for her adopted young, though she may not have been pregnant or nursing recently.
The average life span for a Golden Retriever is about 11. Golden Retrievers are susceptible to specific ailments. A responsible breeder will proactively minimize the risk of illness by having the health of dogs in breeding pairs professionally assessed and selected on the basis of complementary traits. They should be taken to a veterinarian for yearly checkups.
Golden retrievers are known to have genetic disorders and other diseases. Hip dysplasia is common in the breed; when buying a puppy, the pedigree should be known and be examined by the OFA or by PennHIP for hip disease. Obesity is also common in the breed because Golden Retrievers love to eat. Puppies should eat about three cups of food a day and adults three to five cups, depending on the food and how active the dog is.
- Cancer, the most common being hemangiosarcoma, followed by lymphosarcoma, mast cell tumour, and osteosarcoma, was the cause of death for 61.4% of American Goldens according to a 1998 health study conducted by the Golden Retriever Club of America, making it the breed's biggest killer. A 2004 survey by the UK Kennel Club puts this number at 38.8%.
- Hip and elbow dysplasia afflict 19.8% of dogs.
- Eye diseases, including cataracts (the most common eye disease in Goldens), progressive retinal atrophy, glaucoma, distichiasis, entropion, corneal dystrophy and retinal dysplasia
- Heart disease, especially subvalvular aortic stenosis and cardiomyopathy
- Joint diseases, including patella luxation, osteochondritis, panosteitis, and cruciate ligament rupture
- Skin diseases, with allergies (often leading to acute moist dermatitis or "hot spots"), particularly flea allergies, are most common. Others include seborrhoea, sebaceous adenitis, and lick granuloma.
- Lyme disease commonly is not noticed until the late stages of kidney failure in the breed.
Golden Retrievers require regular grooming and an occasional bath. They should be groomed at least once a week, and every day during heavy shedding. They should be bathed every two months. Their coats shed somewhat during the year, but are known to shed profusely twice a year. They also need to have their ears cleaned regularly, or ear infections might occur. While shedding is unavoidable, frequent grooming (daily to weekly) lessens the amount of hair shed by the animal. Severe shedding resulting in bald patches can be indicative of stress or sickness in a Golden Retriever.
The Golden Retriever's eagerness to please has made it a consistent, top performer in the obedience and agility rings. Its excellent swimming ability makes it proficient at dock jumping. A natural retrieving ability means it is also competitive in flyball and field trials.
The first three dogs ever to achieve the AKC Obedience Champion title were Golden Retrievers; the first of the three was a female named 'Ch. Moreland's Golden Tonka'.
Since Golden Retrievers are so trainable, they are used for many important jobs, such as guide dogs for blind people, drug or bomb sniffing at airports, or helping to rescuing people from earthquakes and other natural disasters. This breed is also used in water rescue/lifesaving, along with the Leonberger, Newfoundland and Labrador Retriever dogs; they are used at the Italian School of Canine Lifeguard.
'Liberty', the presidential pet of President Gerald R. Ford, was a Golden Retriever. The breed has also featured in a number of films and TV series, including: Air Bud and Air Bud: Golden Receiver, Full House, Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey and Homeward Bound II: Lost in San Francisco, Fluke, Napoleon, Up, Pushing Daisies, The Drew Carey Show, and Cats & Dogs. Cash from The Fox and the Hound 2 was also a mix of this breed, as was Whopper from Pound Puppies.
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- Remarks at a Dinner Honoring William W. Scranton in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania - The American Presidency Project at UCSB
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Golden Retriever|
- Golden Retriever breed standard at the official American Kennel Club website
- Golden Retriever at the Open Directory Project