How the Golden Retriever Came to Be
The Golden Retriever was "created" by Lord Tweedmouth in Britain in the 1800s. Tweedmouth wanted a dog that would live to retrieve, especially waterfowl. He wanted a dog that was loyal and kind, with much spirit and enthusiasm. Many breeds are believed to be used to produce the Golden Retriever, such as the Tweed Water Spaniel (now extinct), Newfoundland, Irish Setter, wavy-coated retriever, Bloodhound, and a wide variety of water spaniels. His breeding records from 1835 to 1890 were made public in 1952. The first official litter of four Goldens was born in 1868 and were named Crocus, Primrose, Cowslip, and Ada. These Goldens were continuously line-bred to produce the Golden Retriever that we know today. With some deep digging, I have been able to trace Rylee's pedigree back to the original Primrose!
Male Goldens are usually slightly larger than females. Males should weigh 65-75 pounds and be 23-24 inches at the shoulders. Females should be 55-65 pounds and be 21.5 to 22.5 inches at the shoulders.
Goldens can live for many years. You can expect your Golden to live 10-14 years! The longest that we've had a Golden was 14 years.
While the Golden was originally bred to be a retriever, it is a very versatile breed. The Golden excells in obedience trials, in the field, and in agility. They are used as guides for the blind, for narcotics and bomb detection, as dock dogs and for tracking. Of course, they make the perfect family pet!
The Golden Retriever may be registered with three different coat colors: Light Golden, Golden, or Dark Golden. But it's plain to see there are many shades of gold out there, not just three! Each dog's coat must be grouped as closely as possible into it's own category. A dog with a cream colored coat would be in the same Light Golden category as the blonde dog. These dogs are very different in color, but both are Light Golden. Goldens can vary from white to a deep rust color. While most kennel club standards shy away from either extreme of these colors, many people love it, so the tradition continues of a wide variety of golden shades to choose from!
There is only one Golden Retriever. They are not long-haired Labrador Retrievers; they are their own breed. However, there are variations within the breed that is often referred to as type. If one has seen several Goldens in pictures or in life, one will notice there are a wide variety of colors and "styles" of Goldens out there. Most Goldens can be identified as to fitting into one of three types: Field/Hunting Golden, American Golden, and the English Cream/British White Golden. These are not official titles, they are just common terms used among Golden fanciers. All are Golden Retrievers. Any may be bred with each other and still receive purebred Golden Retriever puppies. Most believe that by "blending" two types together, a more-rounded Golden Retriever is achieved by widening the gene pool. Most refrain from calling this "mixing" types as it may cause the general public to believe it is a mixed-breed dog and not a purebred. You may see advertisements for English/American blend Golden puppies. This shows the type of Golden of the parent dogs.
So why are there different types of Goldens? For the same reason there are hundreds of dog breeds. Breeders want to achieve what they want out of a dog by breeding dogs with desirable characteristics for that particular person. An avid hunter is going to breed Goldens who excell in the field. Over time, these dogs evolve into a type of dog somewhat different to what a breeder of show dogs wants in a dog. The hunter wants to see what kind of work a dog can do, while the dog shower cares more about appearance. You will rarely find a Golden that excels in both the field and the show ring for this reason.
The Field/Hunting Golden Retriever: This Golden is usually of the Dark Golden color scheme. They are generally smaller-framed dogs, with more energy, drive, and of course, hunting/retrieving instinct. This is where the name comes from. The dog's smaller size makes it quick and great for going through thick brush in the field.These dogs are well-suited for Agility, drug detection, and search and rescue work. Many people in America have these as pets as well. The American Golden Retriever: These Goldens range from Light Golden to Dark Golden, but most tend to be the Golden color. They are larger than the Field Golden, yet slightly smaller than the English Golden. This is the Golden Retriever you see in AKC dog shows on tv. This is also the Golden you will find in many backyards. The English Cream/British White Golden Retriever: These Goldens are mostly of the Light Golden color scheme. These dogs are often white or cream. Some are referred to as Platinum Blonde. These dogs are usually larger than the AKC standard, often weighing close to 100 pounds. They are big-boned, have larger, blocky heads, and dark pigmentation to the skin and around the eyes. These dogs have a calmer disposition compared to the American Golden (and especially compared to the Field Golden) and are often referred to as laid-back or big babies. While still referred to as "rare" here in the US, the English type of Golden Retriever is gaining popularity in America. For more informartion on English Goldens, please read this very informational article.
The Golden is a great family pet. Sometimes owners choose a particular type of Golden based on their activity level and temperament, and others just want a certain color or size of Golden. Any way you go, you will have a great dog!
The Golden Temperament
The temperament of the Golden Retriever is one to be admired by all. They are sweet, affectionate and gentle. They are extremely loyal, obedient, and always aim to please. They love to be with their humans, other dogs, and animals in general. They are not aggressive, nor have a temper. They are the best dogs with children! They don't mind having their tails pulled or a toddler climbing over them (although this should be avoided). They love to learn, and are quick on their feet. They are active in the backyard, and somewhat lazy in the house. They love to swim whether it be in a pond or a swimming pool. They are not barkers, meaning the average Golden won't keep you or you neighbors up at all hours on the night barking. They also don't make good watch dogs, as they'll happily greet and accept most strangers.
The Golden is a sporting breed. They do have energy that needs to be released everyday. A long walk will work or a few games of fetch each day. The great thing about a Golden is that they do adapt to your family's lifestyle. If you are a jogger, he will be too. If you go camping and hiking, so will she. If you enjoy a nice stroll through the park each day, your Golden will enjoy it more. If you do not exercise much or at all, this breed is not for you. If not properly exercised your Golden may become hyper, lazy, fat, or high-strung. A daily exercise regimine will do wonders for you, your dog's body, and his mind!
The ideal exercise routine would a long morning walk or jog, many games of fetch in the afternoon, and another walk in the evening before bedtime. The breed needs at least an hour of exercise each day. This breed is extremely smart, and needs to have their brain exercised as well. Daily "refresher courses" of training makes a big difference in one's attitude. Dog toys that require the dog to think is also a big plus!
The Golden Retriever is an active sporting breed. They do have energy to burn, and do require room for exercise. An average-sized house with a medium to large yard is perfect for a Golden. Goldens can be happily raised in smaller quarters, as long as special consideration is taken to exercise the dog. For example, a Golden living in an apartment with no yard will require much more and/or longer walks than one who can run and play fetch in his own backyard.
The Golden prefers to live wherever his owners live. They thrive on human companionship, so prefer to lay with you, or at your feet, most of the time. This means when you are in the house, they want to be in the house. When you're outside, they want to be outside. The breed is a hunting dog, however, and should have access to the outdoors everyday. Goldens love cold weather, especially if snow is involved. They can happily be an outdoors dog, tolerating cold very well as long as the proper shelter and bedding is provided. They do great in the heat of the summer as well, but special caution should be taken not to overheat them by offering cool water at all times and not to over exercise them in the heat of the day.
The Golden has a thick, long double coat. To reduce shedding, it should be brushed out daily. If shedding isn't a big concern for you, such as if the dog lives primarily outdoors, a weekly brushing will do. This will remove tangles and mats they may develop if left ungroomed. A groomed Golden is a beautiful Golden.
The Gender Differences
Many people are undecided on whether to get a male or female Golden Retriever. Other than the obvious that males are slightly larger than females and will obviously hike their legs to mark territory, there is little difference between the sexes. Everyone has their own opinion on which is the better sex to have. I, personally, prefer a female as a pet. I also think they are easier to housebreak than males. I have found a website that "tells it how it is" when it comes to gender differences in Goldens. I highly recommend you read this!
In a nutshell:
"Females Love You, Males are IN LOVE with You!"
"You Own a Female Dog, but a Male Dog Owns You!"
The Golden is the perfect "starter dog". Even if someone has never had a Golden before, they are very easily loved and cared for. They housetrain quickly, and are fast learners, and won't leave the first time dog owner with a bad taste in their mouth, so to speak. I must warn you however, once you own a Golden, you won't ever want another breed of dog!
If you do not like dog hair and/or can't handle the responsibility of a good brushing, the Golden is NOT for you.