Golden Retrievers are gentle, smart, and happy! They are eager to please, and their tail is always wagging with joy and anticipation.
Goldens trace their lineage to 19th century Scotland, where they were bred to retrieve both water and land fowl. Although they've been around for nearly 200 years, they weren't officially recognized as a breed by the American Kennel Club until the early 1925.
Shadow, from the classic family film Homeward Bound, is probably the most famous golden retriever, but Liberty, Gerald R. Ford's pooch, was definitely the most presidential!
Golden Retrievers are gun dogs and were originally bred for retrieving water fowl and land game during hunting season and shoot parties. But this certainly isn’t the only thing this breed is good at! Because of their wonderful temperament with people and other animals, they are used for a variety of jobs, including search and rescue, mobility assisting, narcotics search, and therapy.
Goldens are a medium size breed that is muscular and sturdy.Their height ranges from 21 - 24 inches, and they weigh, on average, between 60-75 pounds.
There are three different types of Golden Retrievers: American, British, and Canadian. The primary differences between them are appearance-based - mainly in their coats and density. Height and weight can vary as well.
Goldens have two coats (their topcoats are water resistant and their undercoats provide a cooling system), and they do shed quite a bit, so regular grooming will be required. Daily brushings help reduce the fur flying off their backs during the shedding seasons.
Their coat colors vary considerably from shades of gold and cream to pure-white to red and black. Feathering around the neck, at the legs, tails, chest, and belly areas are characteristic of the breed.
Eager to Please
Golden Retrievers are a VERY intelligent breed. In fact, they're ranks 4th on the intelligence list in Stanley Coran’sThe Intelligence of Dogs. Known for their extreme patience with children, they are also fun loving and active. Unprovoked aggression towards people, dogs, or other animals is so rare that it's considered unacceptable in their breeding standards - meaning that breeding Goldens with this flaw is highly discouraged. Since they're usually so outgoing, timidity and nervousness are also considered faults in the breed’s standards.
Good breeding usually results in a naturally calm, intelligent, loyal, and all-around happy dog! Because of their gentle spirit, positive, affirming training is essential. They do not respond well at all to harsh training methods or techniques.
Also, don’t be surprised if you spot your Golden wandering around the house with a dirty sock in their mouth. As the name suggests, the retrieving instinct is in their DNA!
In my experience, I've found that Golden Retrievers are exceptionally quick learners, and they LOVE food, which helps to motivate them. However when not trained, or trained improperly, they can be a massive ball of uncontrollable energy. So make sure to train your new Golden properly in life.
Golden's activity ranges from moderate to high. They were bred to be hard workers, but unfortunately in their eagerness to please, they've been known to collapse from exhaustion rather than quit a job! Therefore, while it's obviously important to exercise your Golden regularly, but also be sure to schedule them plenty of down time.
This breed makes a GREAT running partner and will be totally unsatisfied if left lolling around the house all day. They thrive in an environment that gives them purpose and a job to do - a way to exercise both their body and their very intelligent mind!
They tend to be competitive, so they enjoy agility tests and dock diving where they are pitted against another dog. Also, remember what they were bred for! They have a strong drive to hunt, so a fenced-in yard should be considered if you're seriously considering a Golden.
A few health concerns to remember with Golden Retrievers include hip dysplasia, cataracts, ectropion (turning out of the eyelid), entropion (turning in of the edges of the eyelid), heart disease, PRA (Progressive Retinal Atrophy), and cancer. As with any breed, avoiding some of the nasty dog food out there and selecting a high-quality food instead should lengthen their lifespan and decrease their chances of developing these problems! Goldens usually live between 10 and 12 years.
Consider looking for a Golden Retriever through rescue organizations first. Every year, there are millions of dogs being euthanized - not because they are bad dogs, but because there is no home for them and insufficient resources to care for them at rescue agencies. By adopting a dog, you are truly saving a life!
At the very least, NEVER purchase any dog from a pet store. Unfortunately, those puppies almost always come from puppy mills. Instead, look for a reputable breeder to work with.
On a final note, it is important to spay and neuter your puppy by 6 months old to have a healthy and happy pet for many years to come!
Dog Bible, Edited by Kristin Mehus-Roe, 2005