The Golden Retriever dog breed, known for its highly affectionate and friendly nature, is almost always on the top 10 list in most countries it has been introduced, including the United States, UK and Australia. Intelligent and easy to train, these dogs are playful, and get along with everyone, both man and other animals, making them excellent family dogs and companions. They do very well in competitive dog sports and as working dogs too.
The Golden Retriever is a recent breed originating in Scotland in the 19th century. The Scottish hunters of wildfowl needed a dog that could retrieve birds from water as well as land as their marshy hunting grounds were dotted with several water bodies. Many land retrievers were crossbred with water spaniels to get the ideal dog for this job. Irish Setters, the now-extinct St. John’s Water Dog, and Bloodhounds were also involved. The credit of developing the Golden Retroievers goes to Baron Tweedmouth who was partial to dogs with yellow-colored coat. Selective breeding over several generations from 1835 to 1890 eventually resulted in a golden yellow retriever with gentle mouth hold, and equal ease both on land and in water.
The new breed became popular in England, and later in the United States too when it was introduced there. It got official recognition of AKC in 1927, and has been popular in the show circles and competitive sports ever since.
The Golden Retriever dog breed is large in size, measuring between 22 and 24 inches at the withers, and weighing between 60 and 75 pounds, even though slight variations occur between the British, American and Canadian subtypes. But, true to their name, all are more or less golden yellow or blonde in color. The double coat has a water resistant outer coat of medium long hair that shows some amount of feathering. They have a muscular body with medium-large, folded ears, and fluffy, plume-like tail.
The Golden Retriever dog breed is highly regarded for its easy-going and sociable nature. They are calm and confident, and go out of their way to please their owners and to make friends with one and all. They are patient with kids too, but their large size and quick movements may be a bit too much for very young children. Because these dogs are intelligent and highly trainable, they are used as service dogs in various capacities. However, the universal friendliness of these dogs makes them unsuitable as guard dogs.
The Golden Retrievers have a long puppyhood of about 3 years or more, some dogs retaining their playful ways well into adulthood. They have a definite need for “something to do,” and are at their most amiable when exhausted. But care should be taken not to overwork them. Early socialization with other dogs as well as with all kinds of animals is essential for this breed to show its full potential. These dogs love to be with their people at all times.
Grooming and exercise
The Golden Retriever dog breed is a heavy shedder, and requires regular grooming to keep its coat in good condition. Thorough brushing once or twice a week, but preferably everyday during the main shedding seasons, is necessary. Their ears have to be cleaned carefully, and the skin checked regularly for any potential infections and allergies.
This working dog requires daily physical exercise and activity to stay healthy and happy. Long walks on the leash, occasional runs, and vigorous games with the family members should help exhaust their energy stores. As the name suggests, these dogs love to retrieve, be it on land or from water, and it can be a great way to keep the dog engaged.
These robust dogs are capable of living outdoors round the year, but being a highly people-oriented breed, they love to spend time with their family. Staying indoors at night with family members is preferable when they are kept as family dogs.
Common health issues of Golden Retriever dog breed
The Golden Retriever dog breed is quite healthy, but is not without its share of inheritable disorders and other common canine health issues. These dogs are prone to several eye disorders such as retinal dysplasia, progressive retinal atrophy, corneal dystrophy, entropion, distichiasis and glaucoma. Heart problems include cardiomyopathy and aortic stenosis. Hip dysplasia is also common in this breed. They are affected by allergies, ear infections, and seizures too.
Gastric torsion is a potentially fatal condition that occurs in these dogs, as are several types of cancers such as hemangiosarcomas, osteosarcomas and lymphomas that are the major cause of death in this breed. The average life expectancy of this breed is about 10-12 years. With proper care and prompt medical attention, these dogs can lead a healthy life.