Golden Retriever is a symmetrical, powerful, active dog, sound and well put together, not clumsy nor long in the leg, displaying a kindly expression and possessing a personality that is eager, alert and self-confident. Primarily a hunting dog, he should be shown in hard working condition. Overall appearance, balance, gait and purpose to be given more emphasis than any of his component parts. Faults-Any departure from the described ideal shall be considered faulty to the degree to which it interferes with the breed’s purpose or is contrary to breed character.
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.
The Golden Retriever is the classic family companion. They are obedient, playful, intelligent, well-mannered, great with kids, and kindly to strangers. They are good watchdogs, but make lousy guard dogs as they love people far too much to be effective. Golden Retrievers are always at the top of their obedience classes and are often the champions of sporting competitions. Hunters find them to be reliable bird dogs, and their keen sense of smell and desire to work alongside people makes them sought-after narcotics sniffers. Golden Retrievers need people and are best suited for large, active families.
Golden Retrievers need a lot of exercise, but not as much as other Retrievers and their activity requirements can be met with a couple of daily walks and tossing a stick in the yard. They enjoy pretty much any outdoor activity their people participate in, whether walking, running, hiking, biking, swimming or playing chase with kids. Though they are naturally even tempered and don’t need hours of exercise, their large size makes them unsuitable for apartments. They need a lot of room to move around, and confinement is unfair to a Golden Retriever.
Golden Retrievers are a breeze to train. They are people-pleasers and will do anything for a bit of praise and some food. This makes them an excellent choice for first-time dog owners. Goldens should always be treated with a gentle hand, as they are sensitive creatures who don’t respond well to harsh tones and discipline. The biggest problem people have in training this breed is walking on a leash. They should be taught proper leash etiquette early on, otherwise they can – and will – pull on a leash. Their trainability has made them a number once choice for service and therapy dogs, and in recent years they have been a favorite choice of police forces, who utilize them as drug and bomb sniffers and in search and rescue teams.
While Golden Retrievers are generally even-tempered and well behaved, potential owners should do their research before settling on a breeder. Goldens are popular, and this has led to indiscriminate breeding practices which means puppies with unstable temperaments. All the exercise and socialization in the world can’t undo a bad bloodline, so always adopt from a reputable breeder. This is a social breed of dog who adores people and thrives on companionship. If left alone too long, especially without proper exercise, Golden Retrievers can develop Separation Anxiety which usually means destructive chewing. In fact, well-adjusted Goldens are big chewers, so they must be provided with plenty of their own chew toys and bones, otherwise they will run off with shoes, books, pillows and other household items.
The long, distinctive coat of the Golden Retriever requires a lot of elbow grease to maintain. Daily brushing is required to prevent tangles and to help reduce the amount of hair that lands on the floor or furniture. Goldens shed year round, and shed heavily in the spring and fall. Monthly bathing is a must, as Goldens are prone to emit a “doggie odor,” and many owners find they need to bathe the dog more frequently. Check the dogs ears on a weekly basis for signs of irritation, infection or wax buildup. Cleanse with a cotton ball and a veterinarian-approved solution. Monthly nail trimmings are required of dogs who do not wear down their nails naturally. Brush teeth at least once per week to prevent tartar buildup, keep gums healthy and keep bad breath at bay.
The Golden Retriever was originally bred in Scotland in the mid-19th century. At that time, wildfowl hunting was a popular sport for the wealthy Scottish elite, but the existing retriever breeds were inadequate for retrieving downed game from both water and land. Retrieving from both land and water was necessary because the hunting grounds of the time were pocketed with marshy ponds and rivers. Consequently, the best water spaniels were crossed with the existing retrievers, resulting in the establishment of the breed today known as the Golden Retriever. The Golden Retriever was first developed near Glen Affric in Scotland, at “Guisachan”, the highland estate of Dudley Marjoribanks, 1st Baron Tweedmouth. For many years, what breeds were originally crossed was disputed, but in 1952, the publication of Marjoribanks' breeding records from 1835 to 1890 dispelled the myth concerning the purchase of a whole troupe of Russian tracker sheepdogs from a visiting circus, instead it details a careful line-breeding program. Commonly, the breed is said to have originated from the Russian tracker.
Improvements in guns during the 1800s resulted in more fowl being downed during hunts at greater distances and over increasingly difficult terrain, leading 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 was 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. Organisations other than clubs are dedicated to Golden Retrievers, such as breed-specific adoption sites. One such organisation is the Golden Retriever Club of Scotland, which in August 2013 assembled 222 Golden Retrievers at the historical home of the first Golden Retrievers.
In England. 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 referred to as Retriever (Golden and Yellow).
In the United States. It took another 14 years for the breed to be recognized in America, and in 1925, the American Kennel Club did so. In 1938, the Golden Retriever Club of America was founded. Golden Retrievers are ranked number two for American Kennel Club Registrations. As of the year 1999, 62,652 have been registered and the only breed above them is the Labrador Retriever. According to the purebred dog guide recognized by the American Kennel Club, Golden Retrievers are judged based on a variety of traits: color, coat, ears, feet, nose, body, etc.
In Canada. 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 (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.
In Scotland. In July 2006, the Golden Retriever Club of Scotland organized a gathering of Golden Retriever enthusiasts at the ancestral home, Guisachan House. A photograph taken by photographer Lynn Kipps to commemorate the occasion captured 188 Golden Retrievers, and so holds the record for the most Golden Retrievers in one image.