Who does not want to be better informed about the golden retriever breed? Known for their intelligence, friendliness, gentleness, loyalty, and willingness to work, goldens are a favorite breed for families. Their strong attributes make them great hunting dogs, guide and service dogs, and search and rescue dogs. Their distinctive golden coat gives the golden retriever a natural glow. This versatile breed is famous for its high energy and playfulness.

The golden retriever is a member of the sporting group. They are large, robust dogs which stand 20-24 inches tall at withers and weigh 55-75 pounds. The American Breed Standard calls for a coat to be any shade of gold barring coats that are too dark or too light. The British standards allow for lighter shades of gold, known as cream colors. A red or mahogany ‘gold’ color is allowable under American rules, but not under British rules. American goldens are typically taller and more slender and have a longer coat. British dogs are stockier with shorter tails and legs.

Originally, the Labrador retriever came from Newfoundland. Fishermen brought the breed to England about 1800. In the 1800’s, golden retrievers were developed in Scotland at the highland estate of Sir Dudley Marjoribanks, later Baron Tweedmouth. Golden retrievers were originally used as hunting dogs to retrieve shot game birds and waterfowl. They were bred to be great hunting dogs with water-resistant coats, an excellent sense of smell, and soft mouths that do not damage game. The breed was first arrived at by the yellow retriever crossed with a tweed water spaniel, now extinct. Afterwards, the breed was infused with black wavy-coated retrievers, Irish Setters, Bloodhounds, and the St. John’s Water Dog of Newfoundland.

A dog legendary for its gentle, friendly ways, the golden retriever doesn’t make a good watchdog; they are known for their affection for both their owners and for strangers. This breed thrives on human companionship. Goldens are energetic and active dogs. Exercising everyday is important for their health. Bred to retrieve ducks and other waterfowl, goldens love to swim. Active, and large in size, this breed is not the ideal apartment dog. Though they are adaptable, a prospective owner should live near a park and be willing to spend a lot of time with his/her dog. Otherwise, goldens need sizable backyards to be healthy. Known for their intelligence, these dogs enjoy learning tricks, playing games, retrieving and catching balls, and exercising with their owners. It is not uncommon for goldens to win obedience and agility competitions. Energetic and devoted, this breed also makes great working and service dogs. Having an excellent sense of smell, goldens have been employed in alpine search and rescue, and as police dogs for drug detection. Very active, this breed may not be the best choice of dog for the elderly. However, golden retrievers are great with children and other pets, and make a wonderful family pet.

Typically, golden retrievers can expect to live about 10-15 years. Unfortunately, bad breeding for profit has led to a number of common health problems. The most frequently encountered of these afflictions is hip dysplasia. Cataracts is another common ailment. Cancer represents the leading cause of death for goldens. To help avoid these health problems for your golden retriever, it is important to know a dog’s pedigree and to purchase dogs from a reputable breeder. Each dog should be examined by the OFA or by PennHIP. These evaluations involve x-rays to test a dog for hip dysplasia and disease. Grooming (brushing) is recommended twice a week. They may not be a good choice for those with allergies because of shedding.

Golden retrievers are an energetic and enthusiastic breed who love and crave the company of humans. These qualities along with a gentle and friendly nature make this dog wonderful for families and active people looking for a companion.