The Golden Retriever is a medium-sized, long-haired, water-repellent retriever of Scottish origin.
Widespread in both Europe and North America, it differs into two types: British and American. Sometimes the latter is further divided between the US and Canadian. The breed is classified as unique and was first entered on an official register in 1903, in England. His FCI code is 111 (28.10.2009), the Italian National Dog Association (ENCI) classifies him, according to the standard of the International Dog Federation, in group 8 section 1: retriever (with working trial), therefore a utility dog (hunting dog), which by nature and characteristics is at ease both outside and inside the water.
The body is quite muscular, medium-long ears, large eyes, long tail covered with fringed hair; the typical color of the coat is cream / golden. They are mild-tempered dogs, sociable with humans and other dogs, extremely docile and trainable, very voracious. Their ever growing and successful diffusion also lies in the fact that they also find the home environment comfortable. In fact, their nature, although playful and faithful, can also be lazy enough for an apartment. The dog is also quite long-lived and if treated well can exceed 15 years of age.
According to tradition, it is said that the breed was born from the crosses between the Flat coated retriever and the Tweed water spaniel, on the banks of Loch Ness, under the direction of the Duke of Tweedmouth Lord Dudley who, around 1858, wanted to combine the qualities of the retriever. to those of the spaniel obtaining an elegant, robust dog, with high hunting and retrieving aptitudes, and then transferring it to the American continent, first in the United States and later, at the gates of the twentieth century, also in Canada.
Today the Golden is a multipurpose dog, used with excellent results by the police for the search for explosives and drugs, by the Civil Defense as a rescue unit on rubble and avalanches, as a guide dog for the blind and above all as a dog from company, although he prefers to be surrounded by a whole family rather than solitary people. In this field it is enjoying great success, even if in many countries the similar Labrador is still preferred; in Europe, especially in Italy, the number of Golden Retrievers is on the rise.
The Golden Retriever has its roots in Scotland. In the mid-18th century, game hunting was very popular with aristocrats. In a country like Scotland and Great Britain in general, a dog was needed that could retrieve objects from water and land, as the land was covered with ponds and rivers. The first retrievers were crossed with the best individuals of the Water Spaniel, giving rise to the dog known today as the Golden Retriever. The Golden Retriever was bred in Scotland in Guisachan, near Glen Affric, the highland estate owned by Sir Dudley Marjoribanks and later by Tweedmouth. For many years there was controversy over which breeds were actually crossed. In 1952 the publication of some documents on breeding by Marjoribanks from 1835 to 1890 dispelled the myth concerning the purchase of an entire troupe of Russian sheepdogs from a visiting circus.
The improvements in the field of weapons during the nineteenth century meant that during the hunts many birds, frightened, flew far away, or, if hit, fell to the ground in inaccessible places. Precisely because of the increasingly overbearing introduction of firearms, it was necessary for men to find a retriever breed that would avoid making every hunting trip ineffective or completely in vain. It was thought to train some types of setters, but the results obtained left something to be desired, so the focus was on a specific breeding of a new dog breed capable of satisfying these needs.
The original cross was of a yellow colored Labrador, Nous, with a female Tweed Water Spaniel, Belle. The Tweed Water Spaniel is a now extinct breed, but it was common in the frontier country at the time. Marjoribanks had purchased Nous in 1865 from an unregistered litter of otherwise black coated wavy puppy retrievers. In 1868 this cross produced a litter that included four puppies, which quickly became the basis of a breeding program that included the Irish Setter and the Sand-colored Bloodhound, a St. John of Newfoundland water dog. The bloodline is also consanguineous and selected to be exact to Marjoribanks idea of the ultimate hunting dog. His vision included a more vigorous and powerful dog than previous retrievers, one who might still be sweet and trainable, but also loved by children. Russian Sheepdogs are not mentioned in such records, nor are other working dog breeds. The ancestry of the Golden retriever affects all sporting dogs, in line with the Marjoribanks goals. The Golden Retriever was active and powerful and had a penchant for retrieving toys or animals that were shot down while hunting.
The temperament of the Golden Retriever is a hallmark of the breed and is usually described as “gentle, friendly and confident”.
Golden retrievers make good family pets, particularly thanks to their patience and playfulness with children.
They are not dogs related exclusively to one person and are generally equally lovable with both strangers and familiar faces.
Their reliable and gentle disposition makes them unsuitable guard dogs.
Any form of unprovoked aggression or hostility towards either people, dogs or other animals, in the ring or within a community, is considered unacceptable in a Golden Retriever and is not in keeping with the personality of the breed. A Golden retriever doesn’t have to be overly shy or nervous.
The typical Golden Retriever is calm, docile by nature, with exceptional enthusiasm. The Golden are also known for their intelligence. According to what is written in the work The Intelligence of Dogs , written by Stanley Coren, the Golden are in fourth place after the Border Collie, Poodle and the German Shepherd as the brightest dogs sorted by obedience-command-training.
Typical Golden Retrievers are active, fun-loving animals with the exceptionally patient demeanor of a dog bred to sit quietly for hours on a meager hunt. Adult ones love to work and have a strong ability to focus on a certain task. They are willing to work until they collapse if necessary, so care must be taken to avoid overloading them with a ton of lenses. Other characteristics are the proportions that allow them to climb up and jump out of a boat and an inordinate love of water, not always found in all dog breeds. Golden Retrievers are extremely trainable, given their intelligence, physical performance, and a desire to please their owners. They are also very competitive in agility and other exhibition events. It is not normally necessary to forcefully impose a particular action on the dog, as it will act at our command only with an optimistic and docile upbringing.
Golden retrievers get along well with other dogs, cats, and most livestock. They are particularly appreciated for their high level of sociability towards people, their calm and willingness to learn. It is even known that in some cases they have become excellent surrogate mothers to different species.
The average lifespan of a Golden Retriever is between 12 and 14 years but, if treated well, and if you are lucky enough to avoid the frequent cancers that particularly affect the breed, it can reach 15.
Unfortunately, Retrievers are susceptible to particular breed-specific ailments or diseases, often debilitating health problems.
A responsible breeder must know how to minimize the risk factors of a certain disease and must take all appropriate precautions to avoid a possible contagion of other individuals, a general dilation of the problem or hereditary transmission, which can be evaluated with visits to the veterinarian during the generic annual checks. Often in the Golden there are recurrent or genetic diseases such as hip dysplasia, very common, often ignored and therefore easily inherited.
Obesity is another common health problem in the Golden Retriever breed because they love to eat.
In cases where your Golden was overweight
helps to keep weight under control, while continuing to satisfy the palate of your four-legged friend
There are some differences between the British type of Golden retriever prevalent throughout Europe and Australia and those of US lines; these differences are reflected in the breed standard. The muzzle of the British type dog is wider and shorter, its forehead is more flattened. It has shorter legs, with a slightly deeper ribcage, accompanied by a smaller tail than the American one. Its characteristics and the environment in which it lives make it generally heavier than the American type. Males tend to be between 56 and 61 cm in size and females slightly shorter at 51–56 cm. Their weight, however, is not specified in the British standard.
The eyes of the European type are known for their roundness and darkness in contrast to the triangular or slanted composition of their US counterparts. A British-bred Golden Retriever can have a coat color of any shade of gold or cream; however, red or brownish variants exist, but they are not recognized as purebred alternatives. Originally cream was not an acceptable color based on the UK standard, but since 1936 the standard has been revised to include that shade along with other color mixes. This exclusion was considered to have been a mistake, as the original retriever tended to be yellow and in the 19th century they were lighter in color than the current standard allowed. As for the US lines, The English KC standard is used in all countries, with the exception of the United States and Canada, where the AKC standard applies. Some breeders of this type in the United States may import their dogs to improve the temperament and health noted in those bloodlines. Golden Retrievers have muscular bodies with great stamina, ability due to their marked ability to hunt.
A US-born Golden Retriever is lankier and less robust than its British counterpart. A male should be 56–61cm tall at the withers while females should stand between 51–56cm tall. The coat is dense and water repellent, in various shades of bright gold, with moderate fringes. The gait must be free, smooth, powerful and well coordinated.
Quite similar to the type mentioned above, Canadian Golden Retrievers are often taller and leaner than their British counterparts, but differ in the density and color of their coat, which is commonly thinner and darker than that of US dogs.
As underlined by their name, the coat of this dog breed can vary from bright gold to darker and amber shades. Some exceptions tend to brown and red, but these are isolated cases and not officially recognized by the British standard. The coat hair is different:
- the most visible hairs are water resistant and slightly wavy, but fall in tufts during the winter period;
- the undercoat is soft and keeps the retriever cool in summer and warm in winter, but it reduces considerably in autumn while in spring and, although it continues to thin out, it is still more visible after the winter period.
The coat of a Golden must not be too long, both in order not to cause unnecessary inconvenience to the animal and because this could hamper the dog’s efficiency, for example by making him tired in recovering a game.