The Golden retriever is a very beautiful large dog breed with a long, flowing coat, kind face, and gentle, fun-loving nature. While they have always been a popular large breed dog in the UK, they’ve increased in popularity significantly over the last year – back in March 2017 they were ranked as the 35th most popular breed overall in the UK, but a year on, they’re now in the 23rd position – a steep increase of 12 places in just one year!
There is a lot to recommend the golden retriever as a dog for active owners who are seeking a large dog breed that is personable, lively and pleasant to train – but they are also quite high maintenance dogs too in a lot of respects.
In this article, we will shine the spotlight on the golden retriever dog breed, and look at what makes them so popular – and ask why they’re currently going through something of a renaissance. Read on to learn more.
The golden retriever is a large dog breed from the gundog group, and not only are they objectively physically large with dogs of the breed potentially reaching weights of up to 34kg and heights of up to around 61cm, but they also have very thick, long coats that help to add to their imposing appearance!
They are a native UK dog breed with a recorded history going back to around the mid 1800’s, when they were first prized for their skills as gundogs, able to sniff out and retrieve downed game over both land and water.
Their high energy levels coupled with high intelligence meant that even as their historical working roles began to become sparser, the breed quickly found other niches – as sporting dogs, assistance dogs, working with the police and military and of course, as popular pets.
Dogs of the breed are renowned for being very kind and gentle, as well as fun-loving and with a streak of mischief a mile wide – they are comical, personable and get on really well with both people and other dogs.
There are a huge number of positive traits to the breed that have led to their being in much demand today, both as pets and working dogs.
Golden retrievers are very handsome dogs with long, flowing coats and kind faces, and they have very expressive faces that are both attractive and easy to read.
They are highly personable and keen to make friends with both dogs and people whilst out on walks, while still remaining loyal to their owners. They are also gentle and trustworthy, and what is known as an honest dog – one whose body language is clear and easy to interpret, and not prone to being unpredictable or unreliable in terms of their responses to stimulus.
They are also highly intelligent – which means that they can learn and execute a wide range of training commands with ease. However, unlike many other very smart dog breeds, they are also very easy and intuitive to train, rather than being a little too smart for their own good!
This intelligence, trainability and kind nature, as well as the dog’s inherent willingness to please, saw them become very popular very quickly as assistance dogs for people with vision or hearing problems, a well as making them great emotional support and therapy dogs as well as pets.
They are also lively and active, and love to play – as well as trustworthy with children, who they tend to love.
The golden retriever is among the most high-energy of dog breeds, which means that they are more than up to the task of keeping up with active families and dog owners who like to jog, but this also makes providing for all of their requirements in terms of physical activity something of a challenge.
If they aren’t walked enough or don’t get enough mental stimulation, they can be hard to manage and may become destructive within the home.
Their long, flowing coats are one of their most distinctive and beautiful features – but there are downsides to this too. The golden retriever coat is very high maintenance, requiring daily brushing and grooming to keep it in good condition. As a very active dog breed that has a long history of retrieving on land and water, they aren’t afraid of getting their paws dirty either, and are apt to cheerfully splash through all of the muddy puddles on wet days, to the despair of their owners!
Few things smell worse that a wet or dirty golden retriever either, and so regular baths are a must, which can be challenging given the size of the dog and the amount of hair they have.
Their coats also shed very heavily too, tending to shed all year round and then once or twice a year, kicking things up a notch and blowing their coats in large clouds at the change of the seasons. This means that clearing up shed hair from around the home requires a sturdy hoover and a large time commitment!
Finally, their large physical size means that they’re not really a good fit for smaller homes, and that they are physically very strong dogs too.
The golden retriever has always been one of our most popular large dog breeds, and they have been a common sight all over the UK for many decades. However, over the last year, they’ve moved up twelve places in the ranking of the UK’s most popular dog breeds, which is no mean feat.
The reason for this significant jump up the rankings over the course of last year doesn’t really have an obvious explanation – the breed didn’t take home a major Crufts win in 2017, which is something that often causes a steep jump in popularity, and the breed hasn’t received any more attention than normal in the media either.
Have you bought or adopted a golden retriever in the last year? What made you choose a dog of the breed? Tell us in the comments!