Many people used to believe that Golden Retrievers were descendants of Russian Sheepdogs bought from a circus. That theory has since been proved false when it was discovered that the breed was actually developed in Scotland in the mid-19th century. According to the records that were found, the breed was developed near Glen Affric at the highland estate of Sir Dudley Majoribanks, later known as Lord Tweetmouth.
During this time, wildfowl hunting was quite a popular sport for the elite of Scotland. As guns improved during the 1800s, existing retriever breeds like the pointer and setter were found inadequate for retrieving downed game from both the water and land over greater distances. As a result, the best water spaniels were crossed with existing retrievers to create the ultimate duel purpose retriever.
One of the many crossings that were tried was a yellow-colored retriever named Nous, with a Tweed Water Spaniel (now extinct) female named Belle. Nous came from an unregistered litter of otherwise black wavy-coated retriever pups and was purchased in 1865 by Tweetmouth. Nous and Belle had a litter of four pups in 1868 which became the basis of the mix that will eventually lead to the breed we know as the Golden Retriever.
The Golden Retriever bloodline was crossed with an Irish Setter, sandy-colored Bloodhound, St. John’s water dog of Newfoundland, and two more black wavy-coated retrievers. The bloodline was also inbred and selected for the abilities needed in this new, specialized gun dog role. The idea was to create the ultimate hunting dog that is loyal and even-tempered at home.
Tweetmouth wanted his new breed to be stronger than any other retrievers as well as trainable. For this reason, the Golden Retriever only has sporting dogs in line with Tweetmouth’s goals in its ancestry. The Golden Retriever turned out to be powerful and very active with a “soft” mouth, excellent at retrieving game without damaging them.
As you would expect, Tweetmouth’s new breed first attracted attention in the hunting field. One of the most well-known descendants of Tweetmouth’s dogs was a liver-coated dog called Don of Gerwyn. Don of Gerwyn won the International Gundog League trial in 1904.
Flat Coats – Golden was the first name Golden Retrievers were registered as in 1903, by The Kennel Club of the United Kingdom. In 1908 They were exhibited and finally recognized as a breed in 1911. This newly registered breed was referred to as Retriever (Golden and Yellow) and renamed in 1920 to become the Golden Retriever as we know it today.
It took America another 14 years to recognize this breed and it was finally accepted by the American Kennel Club in 1925. A few years later in 1938, the Golden Retriever Club of America was founded. As of the year 1998 through to 2005 the Golden Retriever was the second most registered dog in the American Kennel Club, only outranked by the Labrador Retriever.
In 1881, a Golden Retriever named Lady was brought into Canada by Archie Majoribanks. In 1894 she was registered with the AKC by Archie himself. These were the first known records of the breed in Canada and America. The breed was officially registered in Canada in 1927 with the Golden Retriever Club of Ontario (GRCO) coming into existence in 1958.
Cliff Drysdale, an Englishman who imported a Golden to Canada, and Jutta Baker, daughter-in-law of Louis Baker, who owned Northland Kennels at the time were the cofounders of the GRCO. As the GRCO expanded, it was renamed the Golden Retriever Club Of Canada.
In July 2006, there was a gathering of Golden Retrievers and their owners organized by the Golden Retriever Club of Scotland in the ancestral home of Goldies, house Guisachan, in Scotland. This gathering holds the record for the most Golden Retrievers in one picture after a photographer, Lynn Kipps, took a picture to commemorate the occasion. 188 Golden Retrievers were captured in this image.
Golden Retrievers, like most dog breeds, have some health issues you should be aware of. Generally, responsible breeders screen their breeding stock for health conditions to ensure healthy puppies are born. In Goldies, you should request health clearances for the following:
- Hip dysplasia
- Elbow dysplasia
- Von Willebrand’s disease
- Clearance that the eyes are normal
You can confirm any health clearance certificates given to you by checking the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) website (https://www.ofa.org/). Here is a list of common health problems in Golden Retrievers:
Elbow and hip dysplasia is quite a common condition in Golden Retrievers and should be screened in breeding stock. This condition causes joints to grow abnormally which leads to the development of arthritis. Both elbow and hip dysplasia are heritable conditions.
Cataracts are cloudy spots on the eye lens that grow over time. This is known to be a genetic problem in Golden Retrievers bred from low-quality stock. In severe cases and if left untreated, the dog may go blind. Cataracts can be surgically removed with good results.
Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA) is another eye disease breeding dogs should be screened for. This condition progresses with age, initially leading to night blindness and then progress to full-on vision loss. Many dogs adapt well to the loss of vision, but it is not ideal.
Golden Retrievers are quite prone to skin allergies and infections. These can be caused by anything ranging from fleas, food, or environmental allergens like pollen. Allergies and infections can cause hair loss, red itchy skin, and injury due to excessive scratching.
Von Willebrand’s disease
Von Willebrand’s disease is an inherited blood disorder that interferes with the blood’s ability to clot. There is no cure for this disease. Blood transfusion is currently the only treatment.
Hypothyroidism is characterized by an underactive thyroid gland. This condition leads to weight gain without diet changes, hair loss, lethargy, skin, and coat changes as well as mental dullness or epilepsy.
Due to the floppy ears of the Golden Retriever, they are predisposed to recurring ear infections. Ear infections are characterized by red, itchy, smelly ears with increased discharge.
Cancer is a very common plight in Golden Retrievers. The most common types of cancer reported are hemangiosarcoma (cancer of blood vessel walls and the spleen) osteosarcoma (bone cancer), and lymphosarcoma (blood cancer).
Caring for a Golden Retriever is fairly easy. The most important time in your Golden puppy’s life is between the age of four and seven months. During this time your pup will grow very rapidly making them susceptible to bone disorders. Avoid over-exercising your puppy until it is around two years old and fully grown.
It is important to start training from an early age if you want a trustworthy, well-behaved adult dog. Golden Retrievers are incredibly smart and want to learn. Teaching this excitable pup how to properly behave will save you a lot of headaches in the future. Socialisation from an early age will also avoid any behavioral problems linked to aggression or being overly shy and scared of loud noises leaving you with a well-rounded adult dog.
Golden Retrievers are very high-energy dogs. They need a lot of playtime in the yard, vigorous walks, or a jog to keep them in line. Under exercised dogs are prone to obesity and destruction of your home. Avoid over-exercising puppies and keep them off of hard surfaces while growing.
It is recommended to feed your Golden Retriever a dog food appropriate for its age (puppy, adult, or senior) and breed size (medium-sized breed). Some Goldens are prone to obesity so should not be free feeding. If treats are fed, make sure they are healthy and fed in moderation.
Table scraps should be fed very sparingly, if at all. Avoid cooked bones and other foods with high-fat content. It is recommended to divide your dog’s daily amount of food into two meals to avoid overeating.
You will need to make sure your growing puppy gets the nutrition it requires to grow. Puppies grow very quickly between the age of four and seven months. A high-quality, low-calorie diet should keep them from developing any nasty bone disorders during this stage.
Golden Retrievers are seasonal shedders. They will shed heavily in spring and fall, but only moderately during any other time of the year. Due to their thick coat, Goldies need a lot of grooming.
Daily brushing is recommended to prevent matting. You could get away with grooming once a week, but any less than that will result in some severe snarls and possible skin issues. Golden Retrievers need a bath at least once a month to keep them clean and looking great.
Veterinarians recommend brushing your dog’s teeth at least two times a week to remove tartar buildup. If you have the time, daily brushing will prevent bad breath and gum diseases.
If your dog only has access to soft surfaces, make a point to trim nails once or twice a month. If you can hear any clicking on the floor, the nails are too long. Make it a point to check your dog’s ears daily. Floppy ears create the perfect environment for fungus and bacteria which cause ear infections.
It is best to get a puppy from a reputable breeder, or a rescue organization. Reputable breeders will charge more for their dogs, but you will have fewer problems in the future. Dogs from rescue organizations are cheaper to adopt but may cost more to maintain due to their health concerns.
Besides the cost of the dog, you will need to consider veterinary bills, vaccinations, and general expenses on food and other accessories. If you have a healthy dog from reputable breeders, your upkeep cost should be fairly low.
The most important cost you need to consider is time. You will need to give your dog lots of your time since they require daily exercise and attention to be happy and healthy.
- Golden Retrievers have an exceptionally “soft” mouth. They can carry a raw egg in their mouths without cracking the shell.
- This breed has water-repellent double coats. The inner coat keeps them warm while the outer coat keeps the water out unless they take a dip in the river or pool of course.
- There are three types of Golden Retrievers: British, American, and Canadian Golden Retrievers. All three vary in color and size.
- Golden Retrievers often adopt other animals, even cats!
- Golden Retrievers often star in movies and television shows due to being so easy to train.