May: Golden Retriever

  • Highlights
  • Golden Retrievers shed profusely, especially in the spring and fall. Daily brushing will get some of the loose hair out of the coat, keeping it from settling on your clothing and all over your house. But if you live with a Golden, you’ll have to get used to dog hair.
  • Golden Retrievers are family dogs; they need to live indoors with their human “pack,” and shouldn’t spend hours alone in the backyard.
  • Golden Retrievers are active dogs who need 40-60 minutes of hard exercise daily. They thrive on obedience training, agility classes, and other canine activities, which are a great way to give your dog physical and mental exercise.
  • Although they’re gentle and trustworthy with kids, Golden Retrievers are boisterous, large dogs that can accidentally knock over a small child.
  • Goldens love to eat, and will quickly become overweight if overfed. Limit treats, measure out your dog’s daily kibble, and feed him in regular meals rather than leaving food out all the time.
  • Because the Golden Retriever is so popular, there are many people breeding Goldens who care more about making money out of the demand for puppies than in breeding happy, healthy dogs. To get a healthy dog, never buy a puppy from an irresponsible breeder, puppy mill, or pet store. Look for a reputable breeder who tests her breeding dogs to make sure they’re free of genetic diseases that they might pass onto the puppies, and that they have sound temperaments.
  • History

For many years, there was a legend that Golden Retrievers were descended from Russian sheepdogs bought from a circus. In fact, the breed was developed in Scotland, at the highland estate of Sir Dudley Majoribanks, later known as Lord Tweedmouth.

Tweedmouth, like many gentry of his day, bred animals of all kinds, trying to perfect different breeds. Tweedmouth’s breeding records from 1835 to 1890 show what he was aiming for with the Golden: A talented retriever — Tweedmouth was an ardent waterfowl hunter — with a superb nose, who would be more attentive to his human hunting companion than the setters and spaniels used at the time for retrieving. He also wanted the dog to be loyal and even-tempered in the home.

Tweedmouth took Nous home to Scotland, and in 1868 and 1871, bred him to Belle, a Tweed Water Spaniel. Tweed Water Spaniels (now extinct) were known for being eager retrievers in the hunting field, and exceptionally calm and loyal in the home — characteristics you’ll find in today’s Golden Retrievers.

Nousand Belle’s descendants were bred with Wavy- and Flat-coated retrievers, another Tweed Water Spaniel, and a red setter. Tweedmouth kept mostly the yellow puppies to continue his breeding program, and gave others away to friends and relatives.

Not surprisingly, Tweedmouth’s breed first attracted attention for their skills in the hunting field. One of the most well-known was Don of Gerwyn, a liver-coated descendent of one of Tweedmouth’s dogs, who won the International Gundog League trial in 1904.

The Kennel Club in England officially recognized the Golden Retriever as a distinct breed in 1911. At that time, they were classified as “Retriever — Yellow or Golden.” In 1920, the breed name was officially changed to Golden Retriever.

The American Kennel Club recognized the breed in 1932. Today, the Golden Retriever is the second most popular breed in the U.S.

  • Size

Males are 23 to 24 inches tall and weigh 65 to 75 pounds. Females are generally 21.5 to 22.5 inches tall and 55 to 65 pounds. Golden Retrievers usually reach their full height by one year of age, and their mature weight by two.

  • Personality

A sweet, calm nature is the hallmark of the breed. The Golden was bred to work with people, and is eager to please his owner. Though hard-wired with a good disposition, like all dogs the Golden must be well-raised and well-trained to make the most of his heritage.

Like every dog, the Golden needs early socialization — exposure to many different people, sights, sounds, and experiences — when they’re young. Socialization helps ensure that your Golden puppy grows up to be a well-rounded dog.