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Welcome to the Golden Retriever dog microsite. This page contains detailed information on the breed. From this point you can use the above tabs to navigate to the other Golden Retriever pages.

- Kitt Killion

Golden Retriever Breed Information

Country of origin - UK - Scotland

Common nicknames - Golden, Yellow Retriever, Goldie

Classification and breed standards

FCI:|Group 8 Section 1 #111|Stds
ANKC:|Group 3 (Gundogs)|Stds
CKC:|Group 1 - Sporting Dogs|Stds
KC (UK):|Gundog|Stds
UKC:|Gun Dog|Stds

The Golden Retriever is a large breed of dog, historically developed as a gundog to retrieve shot waterfowl and upland game during hunting. As such they were bred to have a soft mouth to retrieve game undamaged and an instinctive love of water. Their versatility sees them employed in a variety of roles including narcotics detection, search and rescue, as hunting dogs and as guide dogs. The Golden Retriever's friendly, biddable nature and patient demeanour has also made it one of the most popular family dogs (by registration) in the world today.

1. Quick Facts

Golden Retriever Quick Facts

Weight: | 25-36 kg | 55-80 lb
Height: | 51-61 cm | 20-24 inches
Coat: | Double coat, feathered, may be wavy or flat
Group: | Sporting/Gundog
Activity level: | Medium-High
Learning rate: | High
Temperament: | Friendly, confident, biddable. Never timid or aggressive
Guard dog ability: | Low
Watch-dog ability: | Medium
Life span: | Median 12-13 years
Country of Origin: | UK - Scotland |

2. Appearance

2. 1. American type

The ideal Golden is athletic, and well balanced. It is a symmetrical, powerful, and active dog. An American Golden is less stocky and lankier than a British. A male should stand from 23 to 24 inches (58 to 61 cm) in height at the shoulders, and females should be 21.5 to 22.5 inches (55 to 57 cm) at the shoulders. The males weigh 65-75 lbs. and the females weigh 55-65 lbs. The coat is dense and water repellent, in various shades of lustrous gold, with moderate feathering. Excessive length, lightness, or darkness is undesirable. The gait should be free, smooth, powerful, and well-coordinated.

Field line Golden Retrievers tend to be smaller and have less coat than their show line counterparts.

2. 2. English type

There is some variation between the English type Golden Retrievers prevalent throughout Europe and Australia and those of American lines and theses differences are reflected in the breed standards. This type is bigger-boned, shorter, with a more square head and/or muzzle and are generally slightly heavier. Males should be between 56 to 61 cm (22 to 24 ins) at the withers and females slightly shorter at between 51 to 56 cm (20 to 22 ins). Weight, however, is not specified in the UK standard. The KC standard calls for a level topline and straight hindquarters without the slight rear angulation found in American lines. The eyes of American line dogs tend to be set further apart than those of English lines and can appear to be slanted and triangular in shape by comparison. A Golden Retriever of English breeding can have a coat colour of any shade of gold or cream, however, red or mahogany are not permissible colors. Originally cream was not an acceptable colour in the UK standard, however, by 1936 the standard was revised to include cream. It was felt this exclusion was a mistake as the original "yellow" retrievers of the 19th century were lighter in colour than the then current standard permitted. The British KC standard is used in all countries with the exceptions of the US and Canada. Some breeders of this type in America may import their dogs to improve bloodlines.

2. 3. Coat and colour

The coat is dense and waterproof, and may be straight or moderately wavy. It usually lies flat against the belly. The American Kennel Club (AKC) standard states that the coat is a "rich, lustrous golden of various shades", disallowing coats that are extremely light or extremely dark. This leaves the outer ranges of coat colour up to a judge's discretion when competing in conformation shows. Therefore, "pure white" and "red" are unacceptable colors for the Golden coat. The Kennel Club (UK) also permits cream as an acceptable coat color. Judges may also disallow Goldens with pink noses, or those lacking pigment. The Golden's coat can also be of a mahogany color, referred to as "redheads", although this is not accepted in the British show ring. As a Golden grows older, its coat can become darker or lighter, along with a noticeable whitening of the fur on and around the muzzle. Puppy coats are usually much lighter than their adult coats, but a darker colouration at the tips of the ears may indicate a darker adult color.

3. Temperament

The Golden Retriever temperament is a hallmark of the breed and is described in the standard as "kindly, friendly and confident". They are not "one man dogs" and are generally equally friendly with stangers and those familiar to them. Their trusting, gentle disposition therefore makes them a poor guard dog. Any form of unprovoked aggression or hostility towards either people, dogs or other animals, whether in the show ring or community, is completely unacceptable in a Golden Retriever and is not in keeping with the character of the breed and as such is considered a serious fault. Nor, should a Golden Retriever be unduly timid or nervous. The typical Golden Retriever, is calm, naturally intelligent and biddable, with an exceptional eagerness to please. They are excellent with children and this along with their other qualities has made them a favorite family pet.

As the name suggests, the Golden Retriever loves to retrieve. Whether it's a thrown stick, tennis ball, or flying disc, retrieving can keep a dog of this breed occupied and entertained for hours, particularly if there is also water involved. Goldens are also noted for their intelligence, and can learn up to roughly 240 commands, words and phrases. These dogs are also renowned for their patience with children. However, as with any breed of dog, if not appropriately trained and supervised, a Golden may accidentally injure a child in play, due to their high-spirited nature.

Typically, Goldens are fairly unruly as puppies and may chew and retrieve everything in sight. This is something you should accept going in, so as not to overreact when it happens.

By the time they reach maturity however, Goldens will have become active and fun-loving animals with the exceptionally patient demeanor befitting a dog bred to sit quietly for hours in a hunting blind. Adult Golden Retrievers love to work, and have a keen ability to focus on a given task. They will seemingly work until collapse, so care should be taken to avoid overworking them.

Other characteristics related to their hunting heritage are a size suited for scrambling in and out of boats and an inordinate love for water. Golden Retrievers are exceptionally trainable -due to their intelligence, athleticism and desire to please their handlers- and generally excel in obedience trials. In fact, the first AKC Obedience Trial Champion was a Golden Retriever. They are also very competitive in agility and other performance events. It is important to note that harsh training methods will typically cause Goldens to shut down, therefore positive reinforcement is a more effective way to train this breed.

Golden Retrievers are compatible with children and adults and are good with other dogs, cats and most livestock. Golden Retrievers are particularly valued for their high level of sociability towards people, calmness, and willingness to learn. Because of this, they are commonly used as guide dogs, moblility assistance dogs, and search and rescue dogs.

4. Care

Golden Retrievers tend to be crepuscular- more active in the mornings and at the evenings. Between these times, many retrievers are happy to sleep providing they get a good burst of exercise each day. Golden Retrievers are moderately active dogs, and require a reasonable amount of exercise each day, although the extent of the exercise is determined by gender (males are more active); by individual temperament (some Golden Retrievers are less active than others); whether the dog has a companion animal (a pair of dogs will burn a lot more energy through play); and by age (puppies tire quickly; adolescent dogs are more energetic). As with any breed of dog, the owner needs to make a responsible determination of the amount of exercise required based on these factors. They are a breed that is prone to obesity, even more so than the Labrador Retrievers, so the average Golden Retriever should never be treated like a small dog, or sedentary housepet. Some dogs may be too active to be easily exercised by elderly owners.

Goldens should be groomed at least once a week, and every day during heavy shedding. Their coats shed heavily the entire year, and even more excessively during shedding season, which is normally in the spring as the dog loses its thick winter coat. They also need to have their ears cleaned regularly, or otherwise an ear infection might occur. While shedding is unavoidable with Golden Retrievers, frequent grooming (daily to weekly) lessens the amount of hair shed by the animal. Severe shedding that results in bald patches can be indicative of stress or sickness in a Golden Retriever.

Golden Retrivers are very attached to their owners. Leaving them alone in a room can cause the dog to become very sad and distressed. They have a need to always have something in their mouth, and like to carry things around. They are great athletes and must be walked daily, or they will become restless and anxious.

5. History

The Golden Retriever breed was originally developed in Scotland at "Guisachan" near Glen Affric, the highland estate of Sir Dudley Majoribanks (pronounced "Marshbanks"), later Baron Tweedmouth. For many years, there was controversy over which breeds were originally crossed. In 1952, the publication of Majoribanks' breeding records from 1835 to 1890 dispelled the myth concerning the purchase of a whole troupe of Russian sheepdogs from a visiting circus.

Improvements in guns during the 1800's resulted in more fowl being downed during hunts at greater distances and over increasingly difficult terrain. This led to more birds being lost in the field. Because of this improvement in firearms, a need for a specialist retriever, arose as training setter and pointer breeds in retrieval was found to be ineffective. Thus work began on the breeding of the Golden Retriever to fill this role.

The original cross was of a yellow-colored Retriever, Nous, with a Tweed Water Spaniel female dog, Belle. The Tweed Water Spaniel is now extinct but was then common in the border country. Majoribanks had purchased Nous in 1865 from an unregistered litter of otherwise black wavy-coated retriever pups. In 1868, this cross produced a litter that included four pups; these four became the basis of a breeding program which included the Irish Setter, the sandy-colored Bloodhound, the St. John's Water Dog of Newfoundland, and two more wavy-coated black Retrievers. The bloodline was also inbred and selected for trueness to Majoribanks' idea of the ultimate hunting dog. His vision included a more vigorous and powerful dog than previous retrievers, one that would still be gentle and trainable. Russian sheepdogs are not mentioned in these records, nor are any other working dog breeds. The ancestry of the Golden Retriever is all sporting dogs, in line with Majoribanks' goals.

Golden Retrievers were first accepted for registration by the The Kennel Club of England in 1903, as Flat Coats - Golden. They were first exhibited in 1908, and in 1911 were recognized as a breed described as Retriever (Golden and Yellow). In 1913, the Golden Retriever Club was founded. The breed name was officially changed to Golden Retriever in 1920.

The Honorable Archie Majoribanks took a Golden Retriever to Canada in 1881, and registered Lady with the American Kennel Club (AKC) in 1894. These are the first records of the breed in these two countries. The breed was first registered in Canada in 1927, and the Golden Retriever Club of Ontario, now the Golden Retriever Club of Canada, was formed in 1958. The co-founders of the GRCC were Cliff Drysdale an Englishman who had brought over an English Golden and Jutta Baker, daughter in law of Louis Baker who owned Northland Kennels, possibly Canada's first kennel dedicated to Goldens. The AKC recognized the breed in 1925, and in 1938 the Golden Retriever Club of America was formed.

6. Health

The typical life span for Golden Retrievers is 10-13 years. In many lines of Golden Retrievers, life-threatening health problems are so common that it can be difficult to find an individual that you can count on remaining healthy for a normal lifetime. When not taken care of (not exercising GRs can cause them to become obese) a large number of Golden Retrievers live less than 10 years.

Breeding Goldens can be profitable for puppy mills and backyard breeders. As a result of careless breeding for profit, Goldens are prone to genetic disorders and other diseases. Hip dysplasia is very common in the breed; when buying a puppy its parents should have been examined by the OFA or by PennHIP for hip disease.

6. 1. Common diseases

* Cancer, the most common being hemangiosarcoma, followed by lymphosarcoma, mast cell tumor, and osteosarcoma. Cancer was the cause of death for 61.8% of Goldens according to a 1998 health study conducted by the Golden Retriever Club of America, making it the breed's most deadly disease.
* Hip and elbow dysplasia.
* Eye diseases, including cataracts (the most common eye disease in Goldens), progressive retinal atrophy, glaucoma, distichiasis, entropion, corneal dystrophy and retinal dysplasia
* Heart , especially subvalvular aortic stenosis and cardiomyopathy are major problems in this breed.
* Joint diseases, including patella luxation, osteochondritis, panosteitis, and cruciate ligament rupture
* Skin diseases, with allergies
(often leading to acute moist dermatitis or "Hot Spots"), particularly flea allergies, being most common. Others include seborrhea, sebaceous adenitis, and lick granuloma.
* Haemophilia

6. 2. Other diseases

* Autoimmune hemolytic anemia
* Bloat
* Cushing's Disease
* Diabetes (occasionally)
* Ear Infections
* Epilepsy
* Hypothyroidism
* Laryngeal paralysis
* Liver shunt
* Megaesophagus
* Myasthenia gravis
* von Willebrand Disease

7. Activities

7. 1. Dog sports

The Golden Retriever's eagnerness to please has made them consistent, top performers in the obedience and agility rings. The first three dogs ever to achieve the AKC Obedience Champion title, were Golden Retrievers, the first of the three a bitch by the name of Ch. Moreland's Golden Tonka.

Their natural retrieving ability also sees them excel in flyball and field trials.

8. Rescue efforts

Because of the prevalence and prominence of the breed, high demand results in many Goldens being abandoned each year by owners who can no longer care for them. Puppy mills are another source of orphan Golden Retrievers. These dogs, often old or in need of medical support, may end up in animal shelters.

In response to the numbers of orphan Goldens, volunteer organizations work to rescue, care for, and adopt abandoned Golden Retrievers. These rescue groups usually accept dogs from owners and establish agreements with local animal shelters to ensure that dogs will be transferred to their care rather than euthanized. Once rescued, Golden Retrievers are placed in foster homes until a permanent home is found. It is common for rescue groups to screen prospective adopters to ensure that they are capable of providing a good home for the dog. Golden retriever rescue groups have utilized the world wide web to raise funds and advertise rescued Goldens to adopters. The Golden Retriever Club of America has a permanent standing committee, the National Rescue Committee.

9. Famous Golden Retrievers

* Abbey, pet of Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd
* Alex from Stroh Brewery Company ads
* Antoinette from Ouran High School Host Club
* Yuujiro from Hanazakari no Kimitachi e
* Bonnie, as seen on Blue Peter
* Brandon, companion of Punky Brewster
* Buddy in Air Bud and its sequels
* Charlie the Wonderdog from the Australian television series The Late Show
* Chuutaro from Futari wa Pretty Cure
* Chase, mascot of the Trenton Thunder minor league baseball team
* Comet from Full House
* Einstein from Dean Koontzs' The Watchers
* Digby from Pushing Daisies
* Duke from Bush's Baked Beans commercials
* Goldie, as seen on Blue Peter
* Puppikins Dogchild aka Bill Griffin aka Gryphon
* Hunter from Road Rovers
* J.D. from Dead Like Me
* Klaus Von Puppy - Jack McFarland's puppy in the sitcom Will & Grace
* Levi from Sue Thomas: F.B. Eye
* Liberty, pet of Gerald Ford and Betty Ford
* Lucy, as seen on Blue Peter
* Maise, pet of Trent Reznor
* Mel from Ginga Densetsu Weed
* Napoleon from movie Napoleon.
* Shadow from Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey and Homeward Bound II
* Shelby AKA Krypto from Smallville
* Speedy from The Drew Carey Show
* Star owned by Pamela Anderson appeared in the TV show Baywatch
* Stogie from Mission Hill.
* Steeler the Stink Dog of Colorado
* Sun Dance, from Adam Sandler's Click
* Trixie Koontz a retired service dog who died on June 30th, 2007, purported author of Life is Good: Lessons in Joyful Living and Christmas is Good, companion of Dean Koontz

Copyright (c) 2008 Kitt Killion Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2 or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation; with no Invariant Sections, no Front-Cover Texts, and no Back-Cover Texts. A copy of the license is included in the section entitled "GNU Free Documentation License".

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