Working Wednesday: The Golden Retriever

The Golden Retriever is the second most popular retriever in the field, after the Labrador, however it is a mystery as to why because a well trained Golden can match even a Labrador in every way and are outstanding game finders.

Golden Retrievers are relatively new, only being separated from Labradors in 1920 from Retrievers (Golden or Yellow) - causing much confusion with Labradors. Perhaps some of the reasons they are less popular than the Labrador is that they have a long coat which needs plenty of attention and moults frequently, which makes them less than ideal on a muddy shoot.

However they do have a reputation for being straight forward to train and have been used as guide dogs for many years - showing they can be trained to do many things and have a placid nature.

Golden Retriever Fun Facts:

  • When working they often use air scent, which causes them to carry their head higher

  • Goldens make great family pets as they are very pack orientated

  • They often have a life span of 12-14 years!

  • They instinctively LOVE to swim

  • They have water-repellent double coats

Golden Retriever History

The Golden Retriever was originally bred in Scotland in the mid 19th Century by Lord Tweedmouth. It was thought that he once saw Russian Performing dogs in 1858 that were around 30 inches to the shoulder, had thick wavy coats that varied from cream to a deep yellow/ fox red, and were very intelligent. He was so impressed that he bought all eight of the dogs he saw which were then transported to his Estate at Guisachan, where he used them to track deer.

This colorful story was accepted as the origin of the Golden Retriever breed until the early 1950’s when Lord Tweedmouth’s original studbooks were made available by a descendant of his. Research into these handwritten books by Elma Stonex lead to the publication of new information, which directly challenged the circus dog story.

The studbooks indicated that Lord Tweedmouth had purchased an unregistered Yellow Retriever named “Nous” from a cobbler in Brighton in the year 1865. After hunting this dog for a time, Lord Tweedmouth bred him to a Tweed Water Spaniel (a now extinct breed from Scotland) that had been purchased. This breeding produced a litter of four bitches from whom all Golden Retrievers today are descended. While there were several out-cross breedings done with descendants of this breeding, all Goldens today are direct descendants of Nous and Belle. This is the currently accepted theory of the development of Golden Retrievers.

Goldens As Assistance Dogs

Golden Retrievers possess several characteristics and trails that makes them excellent service dogs.

Here are some things that make the Golden Retriever an excellent assistant dog:

  • Goldens are strong enough to provide a person with physical support

  • These dogs can pick up and carry heavier objects

  • Golden Retrievers are active dogs

  • These dogs are also affectionate and loyal to their owners

  • Goldens are highly intelligent, easy to train, and quite obedient

Together, all these qualities come together to create an awesome service or assistance dog who will always be there for you.

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