There is probably not a single person who hasn’t heard of the Golden Retriever. And it’s understandable; it’s consistently in the top five most popular breeds, and is renowned for its intelligence and gentle demeanor. But there’s more to the Golden Retriever than just a chill couch potato.
From 19th century Scotland to the world
The Golden Retriever originated in Scotland, namely at the Guisachan estate of Lord Tweedmouth at Iverness-Shire. We know this because the gamekeepers there kept records between 1835 and 1890, which included repeated mentions of the breed. Tweedmouth’s goal was to develop a talented retriever with an amazing nose, as he himself was an avid waterfowl hunter. He also wanted a dog that would pay closer attention to their human companions, more so than the spaniels and setters of the time, and favored a calm temperament. Eventually, through cross-breeding dogs like the (now extinct) Tweed Water Spaniel, the Red Setter, and the Flat-Coated Retriever, the Golden Retriever as we know it came to be. In 1911, the breed was officially recognized by the Kennel Club of England. It wasn’t until 1932 that the Golden Retriever was recognized by the AKC.
The Golden Retriever was originally intended for hunting, or more specifically, for retrieving shot-down fowl. They developed a keen sense of how to locate this prize as quickly as possible, and were excellent at working alongside their human. Unlike other hunting dogs, retriever breeds don’t possess as much of a prey drive, and the Golden Retriever is still one of the best and most adaptable allround dogs out there. They love to work, and are serious about whatever task they may be assigned, whether it’s hunting, search-and-rescue, or guiding the blind. Today, you’ll find them excelling in agility competitions, as well.
Size and appearance of the Golden Retriever
The first word that might come to mind upon seeing a Golden Retriever is “friendly”. It’s hard not to be instantly charmed and reassured by that big smile, those gentle eyes, and that soft, golden coat. The coat can be anything from copper-toned to so light that it almost appears white. The Golden Retriever stands 22 to 24 inches tall, with a broad head and a straight muzzle. Their coat has a bit of a wavy quality to it ― which honestly just adds even more to the sense of gentle softness of this breed.
When it comes to grooming, the Golden Retriever is known for its excessive shedding, especially in spring and fall. Daily brushing is required to keep your house mostly hair-free, but you’ll never be truly without a few blonde strands lingering on clothes, furniture, and in the air. Gaining weight can be an issue for Goldens, as they love to eat. Keep an eye on their food habits, and preferably measure up their servings of kibble, rather than let them have free access to it all through the day.
Temperament and personality
The Golden Retriever is a friendly, boisterous dog that loves to be with their family. In fact, it’s hard to keep a Golden Retriever happy without having them at your side, or in your home, at almost all times. Despite their playful, sometimes puppy-like nature, this dog is still definitely on the calmer side. They were bred to work well with humans, and are eager to please, so they’re intelligent and very susceptible to training. Like every other dog, the Golden Retriever needs proper socialization from an early age, with both humans and other dogs, but they’re pretty chill overall. A Golden would make a terrible watchdog, for instance, as they’d much rather just be friends with every new person they meet.
A Golden Retriever likes to be given something to do, as it is a dog bred for work. A popular task is carrying things for their human; all retrievers are meant to carry dead prey without damaging it, so they’re great with learning bite inhibition. There are cases of a Golden Retriever carrying a fragile egg in their mouth without damaging it, which is saying a lot. Basically, if you ask your dog to carry the newspaper, a light grocery bag, or anything else you might need a hand with, you’ll likely get your stuff back without a scratch on it.
Things to consider
There’s a reason the Golden Retriever is so immensely popular all over the world, and it’s an understandable one. A versatile dog with a love for family and a friendly, intelligent disposition? Who wouldn’t want that? That said, they need proper training, just like every other dog out there, in order to stay happy and calm and reach their full potential. They’re great with kids, but can also be a little too playful, which along with their size can accidentally knock over a small child or two. If you’re looking for a loyal, hardworking, and friendly dog, the Golden Retriever might just be the fit for you.