Golden Retrievers are an iconic dog breed known for their retrieving abilities, ability to be trained in many disciplines, and making a great family or service dog. The AKC ranks the Golden Retriever as the 3rd most popular breed out of 197. They grow to be 23-24 inches tall for males and 21.5 to 22.5 inches tall for females. Males normally weigh 65-75 pounds and females are usually 55-65 pounds. On average, they live up to 10-12 years. Golden Retrievers are best known for their dense, lustrous coat of golden fur, as well as their high level of intelligence.
History of Golden Retrievers
Golden Retrievers first began around 1840 with Dudley Marjoribanks, the first Lord Tweedmount, began breeding the now extinct “Yellow Retriever” with Tweed Water Spaniels. There were also Irish Setter and Bloodhounds added into the mix as well. Dudley was trying to create the ideal gundog for use at his Guisachan estate in the Highlands, Inverness-shire, Scotland. He wanted a dog well-suited to the rainy climates and rugged terrain of the area. By 1890, Dudley had created a consistent line of exceptional working retrievers.
In 1908, the Golden Retriever breed seen its first dog show at a British dog show. Soon after, they began being bred in the Americas; coming first to Canada, and then quickly moving down to the United States. Golden Retriever rapidly became a favorite amongst both sport hunters and show fanciers for the breed’s utility, beauty, and sensible temperament.
Three Types of Golden Retrievers
British-Type – The British-type Golden Retrievers are prevalent throughout Europe and Australia. The key difference is that their skulls are broader and their bodies are generally more muscular. Their coats are often lighter than those of American types. Another key difference is the shape of their eyes; the British-type has round and darker eyes, whereas American-type has more triangular or slanted composition.
American-Type – American-type Golden Retrievers are lankier and less muscular than other types. Their coats are also darker and occur in shades of lustrous golds.
Canadian-Type – Canadian-type has the darker coats like those of American-type, but is thinner and taller than all of types of Golden Retriever breeds.
Hunting Strengths of Golden Retrievers
As their name suggests, Golden Retrievers are excel at retrieving. This leads to them being great for waterfowl and upland hunting. They also have a great sense of smell, making them great for scent hunting game birds in cover.
Golden Retrievers in upland hunting are usually trained as a flushing and retrieving, rather than pointing and holding on scent of the game bird. This leads to a close ranging hunting style when using Golden Retrievers. So hunters have trained their Golden Retrievers to hold on sight of the bird, a “pseudo-point,” and then flush on command, making the Golden Retriever a very versatile upland dog.
When it comes to waterfowl hunting, the Golden Retriever has many traits that make them excel in water. Their thick, water repellant double coat keeps their bodies warm in cold water. In colder months, we recommend adding additional protection with hunting vests, like the Avery Neoprene Dog Vest or the Avery Boater’s Parka.
Golden Retrievers’ size also makes them powerful swimmers capable of several hundred yard retrieves. Also, due to their size, Golden Retrievers are easily able to retrieve waterfowl that would leave other breeds struggling to swim. They are also known for their soft-mouthing, making them perfect for retrieving game birds.
Training Golden Retrievers
Training a Golden Retriever can be a great experience for both the handler and dog. Golden Retrievers are driven by their eagerness to their owners. Often, praising your Golden Retriever is better than providing food treats. On that topic, if you are going to use treats as a reward mechanism, do so in limited amounts because high amounts of treats will lead to weight gain.
As with most breeds, early life of a Golden Retriever should include socialization with other humans and other dogs. This is very important to prevent any hostility as the dog gets older. Throughout the socialization process, the owner or handler should closely observe the socialization process to recognize and correct any bad behaviors that may develop.
Generally, Golden Retrievers are one of the most loyal and eager dogs while training when there is a strong bold between the owners, making Golden Retriever easy and enjoyable to train.
Grooming of Golden Retrievers
Golden Retrievers are known for their long golden coat. They actually have a double coat of water-repellant fur, a top coat and an under coat. This coat unfortunately is also known for its high rate of shedding. Golden Retrievers shed a moderate amount most of the year, but they will heavily shed their coats once or twice per year. Most of the year, weekly combing and bathes will help reduce the amount of shedding on furniture and throughout the house. We recommend of the use of Furminatorand Undercoat Rake to get deep into the under coat to remove any dead hair. During periods of high shedding, daily grooming is recommended.
With their thick coat, it is important to bathe them regularly. This will both help with shedding and also ensure that their coats are clean of dirt and debris that could cause odor. Also, as with all breeds, it is important to regularly trim their nails.
Golden Retrievers are a sporting breed and as such, they require daily exercise. Without exercise, Golden Retrievers will have unhealthy weight gain and will also engage in unwanted behaviors in an effort to release energy. Exercising can consist of hiking, long walks, retrieving exercising, swimming, or hunting trips and hunt trials. With large breed dogs, it is important to monitor hip and joint health; we will cover health concerns in more depth later in this article. With this in mind, we recommend consulting a vet before engaging your Golden Retriever is high impact and strenuous activities.
Golden Retriever Temperament and Behavior
Golden Retrievers have very charming personalities. They are gentle, outgoing, and often are very well-behaved. Because of these traits, Golden Retrievers are frequently used as service dogs and therapy dogs. It is not uncommon to use Golden Retrievers being used in Children’s Hospitals, doing their best to cheer up and comfort child patients. With their high level of intelligence, they are a capable of incredible things when properly trained. Service Golden Retrievers can be taught to open and close doors, turn on and off lights, respond to noises for those with hearing impairments, and work as eyes and ears for those with vision impairments. Golden Retrievers can become very attached to their owners, often showing great signs of depression when they outlive their owners.
Golden Retrievers normally do not make the best guard dog. They can be taught to bark and alert the owners to an intruder, but are often joked about likely “showing the burglar around the house and especially where the treats are hidden.”
As with all dogs, socialization is the key to having a well-behaved dog. Never assume how a dog is going to react to strangers or small kids. Golden Retrievers are one of the best family dogs, but please always show caution when introducing new family members and guests.
Golden Retriever Health
Golden Retrievers on average live 10-12 years and are generally a healthy breed. Like most medium and larger breeds, they are at a higher risk for hip dysplasia. Golden Retrievers have also been known to be at a higher risk for cancers compared to other breeds. Other health problems that can occur, generally in older Golden Retrievers, are elbow dysplasia, cataracts, progressive retinal atrophy, hypothyroidism, gastric dilation-volvulus (bloat), and allergies.
There have been two Golden Retrievers to live at the White House, President Gerald Ford had a Golden Retriever named Liberty and President Ronald Reagan had a Golden Retriever named Victory.
The movie series “Air Bud” was named and loosely based off a real-life Golden Retriever that starred in the original film. Air Bud was a stray dog found by Kevin DiCicco in 1989. Kevin would go on to teach Buddy to play several sports, his favorite being basketball. Buddy made his first appearance on America’s Funniest Home Videos and would go on to make three times on the Late Show, and starred in the Air Bud movie. Buddy passed away at the age of 9, and since his passing, 7 more films were made based off the story line from the Air Bud movie.
Golden Retrievers are the fourth smartest dog breed according to a study by American Psychological Association.
Golden Retrievers make great working dogs, being trained as search and rescue dogs, for use with the seeing impaired, and bomb dogs. One of the more famous search and rescue dogs, Bretagne, at two years old searched through the rumble of the World Trade Centers and later went on to aid to rescue efforts during Hurricanes Rita and Katrina.
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