Before you consider bringing a particular dog into your life and home, it is important you understand as much as humanly possible about the breed. Where do they originate, what is the typical temperament and what kind of daily care do they require are all great first questions. Responsible pet ownership demands knowledge.
In the early 1800s, firearms saw a marked improvement, meaning hunters could down waterfowl at greater distances, leading to more lost birds in the field. In an effort to combat this problem, Lord Tweedmouth took up the mission to breed a better hunting dog.
Golden retrievers began their history in the mid-19th century near Glen Affric, Scotland. Lord Tweedmouth purchased the only light colored pup in an unregistered litter of black wavy coated retrievers and named him Nous. It would be the offspring of Nous and a tweed water spaniel named Belle that would form the foundation of the golden retriever breed.
There are three basic types of goldens, British, American and Canadian, and though they are very similar, there are a few differences.
British- Lighter coat than American, level top-line, straight hindquarters, round dark eyes and coat of any shade cream or gold.
American- similar in height to British goldens, but lankier and less muscular overall. Typically darker coats, triangular or slanted eyes and a slight rear angulation.
Canadian- Thinner and darker coat than American or British varieties, they are taller as well.
Golden retrievers are considered a large sized dog due to their weight, more so than height.
Males – 23-24 inches and weight between 65 and 75 pounds
Females – 21.5- 22.5 inches tall and weigh between 55 and 65 pounds.
These dogs are well put together, somewhat compact for their size and not clumsy or long in the leg. They are active, eager and alert, which has made them great hunting companions as well as service animals for multiple disabilities.
Golden’s are notoriously friendly and easy to get along with, which means as a guard dog, they are not at the top of the list. They are intelligent, obedient, playful and great with children and people in general. This special Golden Retriever temperament has helped the breed climb to and maintain the third position in AKC’s list of most popular dogs in USA.
As far as working dogs go, the golden retriever needs a moderate amount of exercise. This means they will not require hours of daily interaction like say a weimeraner, but they should have access to a large outdoor area to run and jump. You can fulfill most of their exercise requirements with normal walks, stick tossing or playing with the kids.
Breeding golden retrievers is not difficult, but you should carefully consider why you would like to breed them. Reputable breeders put a lot of time and effort into finding quality males and females in an effort to maximize the good physical and emotional traits of the breed while weeding out common health and breed issues. Before starting a breeding program, it is important to fully understand the bloodlines, registrations and needs of the breed as a whole.
If you have decided to breed your golden, congratulations, you are about to embark on a wonderful journey filled with joy and work. Even in the best of situations, raising a litter of puppies is not for the faint of heart. A typical golden retriever litter will range between 8 and 12 pups, all of which will require vet checks and shots at regular intervals.
Typical Health Issues
Overall, this is a healthy dog breed. The Golden Retriever lifespan is in the range of 10-13 years. They are prone to a few health issues as follows:
- Hip Dysplasia
- Elbow Dysplasia
- Skin Problems
Obtaining your pet from a reputable breeder will minimize the risk for these common health problems and routine vet visits will help with early intervention.
Should You Get a Golden?
Golden retrievers are large, energetic yet friendly dogs, which is probably why they are the third most popular breed in the United States, according to American Kennel Club statistics. They are always ready to play and spend time with the family and are very eager and willing to learn new things.
If you are an active family who loves doing things outdoors such as hiking, biking, swimming and of course, hunting, the golden retriever is a perfect companion pet. Goldens rarely meet a stranger, whether you are talking about the two legged or four legged variety, so it is important you keep your pet in a secure yard when you must be away and on a leash when you are out and about.
If you are a more laid back family who prefers weekends inside, reside in an apartment or have little to no yard, this may not be the best breed for you. Instead of a golden, you might want to consider a pug or a Cavalier King Charles spaniel.
Hunting or active family life is the perfect situation for the typical golden retriever. They particularly love running and retrieving (as the name suggests) but you do not have to be a waterfowl hunter to enjoy the breed. Take time to fully assess your available time and willingness to exercise your pet before obtaining a golden or any active breed dog. Overall, these animals are very easy to care for and have a temperament perfect for young families and those who like to socialize on a regular basis. If you do decide this is the right breed for your family, take care to carefully consider the breeder you will obtain your pet from. Check references of the breeder and registration of the sire and dam to ensure you are getting a quality dog.