This world popular and majestic looking gun dog has the perfect balance of energy, stability, intelligence and trainability to own both as a family pet and for the original purpose it was bred for which was to retrieve shot fowl during hunting and shooting. It's easy going nature and versatility makes it the ideal candidate to work as an assistance dog, PAT (Pets as Therapy) dog while its energy, drive and stamina in the field makes it a good choice as a search and rescue dog.
The roots of the Golden Retrievers are firmly embedded in 19th Century Scotland when the then Baron Tweedmouth decided to breed a dog which he claimed would fill a gap left in the hunting arena for a dog capable of retrieving game from water as well as land after attempts to train Pointers and Setters in the capacity had failed. The Barons breeding records clearly show that a yellow Labrador Retriever called Nous and a female Tweed Water Spaniel named Belle produced the offspring of the original cross to attempt to gain the traits the Baron desired. The 4 pups from this mating were then crossed with various breeds including the Irish Setter, the Bloodhound and St John's Waterdogs - the original founder of the breed we know today as the Labrador Retriever. The result of the Barons endeavours was a hardy, capable dog with a very soft mouth and an innate love of water. This breed was officially recognised by the Kennel Club in the early 1900's being first registered as Flat Coats (Golden) with the name Golden Retriever being settled on some 15 years later.
Average height to withers: Males from 23-24 inches, females between 21-22 inches
Average weight: 29-34kg for males, 27-32kg for femailes.
The noble mien of the Golden Retriever is one of its outstanding physical qualities enhanced by the lustrous dark or light golden coloured coat. The thick coat is weather resistant thanks to its dense undercoat. The coat itself can be straight or wavy but is much longer than the Labrador Retrievers with feathering on the front of the chest, the legs following through to a plume of a tail. The feathering on the body may be a lighter colour than the rest of the coat and while this is not frowned upon as per the breed standards, white patches on the body anywhere else are not. The Golden Retriever has a broad skull shape with a smooth profile. Physically, the face has a black nose, deep set, large round and dark eyes. Generally, this dog is well proportioned with a level and sleek topline, a deep ribcage and should be well muscled.
Probably one of the most trusting of all the breeds of dog, the Golden Retriever is a very friendly dog to every person it meets, making it a poor contender for a job as a guard dog! Such is the strength of this character trait that the KC breed standards refer to it as being 'kindly and friendly. It is very rarely an aggressive dog with either humans or other animals and would be considered very out of character for this dog. Intelligent, easy to train (especially through their love of food), Golden Retrievers generally love to work, and want to please their owner whether as a pet or as a working animal, however they are so keen to please their owner they will work until they drop but unlike the Border Collie or Spaniel they are not as motivated by work and will just as happily have a snooze in a comfortable bed.
If socialised from an early age the Golden Retriever will embrace family life and all members in the family whether on two legs or four. Their calm, nurturing side makes them excellent surrogate mothers - in fact it has been reported a Golden Retriever took over nursing duties to 3 white tiger cubs in a zoological park when they were rejected by their mother. Training is rarely a problem for Golden Retriever owners as they are very intelligent, usually in the top ten for intelligence in dog breeds, and their willingness to work with you is second to none.
The average life span of a Golden Retriever is around 11 years with certain cancers being the primary reason given as an illness in them. Because of this, it is a good idea to check with the breeder what has been done to limit these chances on a genetic basis. Obesity can also be an issue with Golden's as they are led by the stomach and given the chance, will overeat. When this is coupled with a lack of exercise Golden Retrievers will put on weight easily. To combat this, the careful owners needs to ensure a healthy and balanced diet, not to many treat based training rewards and walks of at least an hour each day, if not more.
The luxurious coat of a Golden Retriever will demand a lot of time from its owner to keep it in tip top condition. It needs attention each day when the coat is shedding and then, optimally, every other day. It may also benefit from a visit to a professional groomer from time to time. Due to the flop of the ears, the owner will also need to check them a regular basis to check for ear infections, lice and other detritus than can become easily lodged in the hair around them.