It may be one of the largest dogs, but don’t let the canine’s size intimidate you. It’s otherwise friendly, enthusiastic, playful, obedient and highly trainable. It’s affectionate to almost all sorts of people – be they children, adults and even disabled persons, making the Golden Retriever the perfect guide dog. As a general rule, this breed of dog is a gentle giant and suitable for homes even with very small children.
The Golden Retriever got its name for its ability to retrieve items (game for instance), while keeping them intact and undamaged as it carries them to its master.
The dog was first originally bred during the 19th century Britain, particularly in Scotland. A mix of other dog breeds came into the development of the Golden Retriever, among them Tweed Water Spaniel (which is now extinct), the Irish setter, the Newfoundland and other spaniels that had the ability to adapt to water.
During those times, game hunting (or wildfowl hunting, or whatever you call it) was a popular sport of the wealthy Scottish aristocrats, but their main problem was not finding a suitable dog breed to retrieve drowned fowl back to land. Guns and other firearms improved during that century, meaning more chances to successfully shoot and kill game at greater distances. Unfortunately, many of the game birds being shot landed on more obscure terrains or got drowned in the water.
That’s why the cross-breeding of “ancient” retrievers and water spaniels was implemented in order to achieve the one desired breed, the Golden Retriever.
Baron Tweedmouth (Dudley Marjoribanks) is credited with having successfully developed the first Golden Retriever breed, as he had large kennels on his estate
He also took his Retriever to Canada in the early 1880’s, registering it as “Lady” with the American Kennel Club. (In 1927 the breed and its name, Golden Retriever, were first registered in that country)
When the breed was fully developed, it was first introduced in England as the Flat-Coated Retrievers (according to the registration of the Kennel Club). Its water-repellant coat made the dog suitable for tracking down fallen and drowned game birds. The first color of the first retriever, as you might expect, was golden. However, nowadays, the color can range from a light golden to a darker, almost brown golden color. All variations are acceptable, but the most prized is the original golden color.
Golden Retrievers were primarily used for hunting, but during the 1920s they began to be also exhibited as a show dogs. In 1925 the American Kennel Club also recognized the breed; since then the Golden Retriever has been one of the most popular American dog breeds, ranking on the national favorite doggie list at #3 at the moment. There have been clubs formed by devoted and responsible owners of this widely lovable breed, most notably the Golden Retriever Club of America.