Golden Retrievers are among the most popular of family pets. This breed is has a reputation for being a loyal, playful family pet that is equally at home in the show ring and in the hunting fields.
Origin of the Golden Retriever
This wonderful sporting dog breed originated in the Scottish Highlands, having been developed by Sir Dudley Majoribanks on the grounds of his rural estate. The original 1868 cross that became the foundation for the breed was between an undetermined breed of yellow retriever stud named Nous and a Tweed Water Spaniel bitch named Belle. Majoribanks continued his breeding program, selecting his stock for intelligence and cooperative qualities as well as the beautiful golden coloration from which the breed takes it's name. In the end, his efforts produced an outstanding hunting dog that is as much at home in the field as the house.
Modern Golden Retrievers are recognized by the American Kennel Club (AKC) and they have their own breed standard. Beyond that, Goldens tend to fall into one of two major type categories: show or field. Goldens bred mainly to perform in the field tend to be slightly smaller than their show-strain cousins, and a little more reddish gold in coat color. Show bred Golden lines tend to be a little bigger and flashier than field retrievers and have brighter golden coloration and a longer coat and feathering.
Golden Retriever Personality
More endearing than the Golden's beautiful outward appearance is his wonderful personality and temperament. These dogs are extremely intelligent and patient. They also seem have the intuitive ability to sense their owner's moods and responding accordingly. Goldens are rather gentle for their size and do well with children who know the proper way to treat pets.
The Golden Retriever is one of the most fun breeds to train, responding easily to your time and attention. House training is usually accomplished with minimal trouble, as is other basic household etiquette training. These enthusiastic clowns love to learn tricks, so if you'd like to teach your Golden to balance a biscuit on his muzzle until you give the command to eat it, go ahead. He'll play along.
Retrievers also make exceptional obedience dogs because they are able to focus so intently on their trainers. Agility training is another available pastime that can be shared by these dogs and their owners. Think of agility training as a doggie track crossed with a field event at the Olympics and you've got the idea.
If that isn't enough activity for you, Goldens also make wonderful assistance and service dogs. They can be trained as guide dogs for the blind and as therapy dogs for nursing home visitations. They are often trained for search and rescue missions. Be aware though, while Goldens perform search and rescue admirably, this type of work is hard on their psyche due to their very close connections with humankind.
Grooming is much the same for any pet retriever, whether you have the field or show variety. Goldens need to be brushed a couple of times each week and bathed about twice a month. Expect shedding with this long-haired breed. Be sure to check your pet's nails and trim them if they aren't being worn down naturally.
Show specimen Goldens require more diligent grooming, especially if you want to keep those fringes in perfect condition. These dogs will benefit from more frequent bathing and brushing. They will also require a slight amount of trimming on the fringes and feathers to keep them from looking rough.
Unfortunately, Golden Retrievers are plagued by some hereditary health problems that can seriously affect their quality of life. Top notch breeders test their puppies and breeding stock to screen affected animals from future breeding programs in an effort to eliminate these afflictions. That is why you can expect to pay upwards from $800 for a healthy Golden puppy who comes with a future health guarantee against specific diseases.
Health problems common to Golden Retrievers include:
- Hip and Elbow Dysplasia
- Eye disease
- Heart disease
Is a Golden Retriever Right for You?
If you are looking for a playful, loyal and intelligent canine addition to your household, a Golden Retriever just might be the right choice for you. However, before bringing one of these dogs home, make sure that you are fully prepared to deal with the unique challenges of living with a large, energetic adult dog that sheds. If you are prepared to put in the time required to train your dog and keep him properly groomed - and you don't mind incorporating dealing with dog hair into your regular cleaning routine - a Golden just might be your ideal companion. To learn more about this lovely breed and to find reputable breeders in your area, visit the websites of the Golden Retriever Club of America and Golden Retriever Club of Canada.