Lovable, patient, intelligent and eager to please
Males 22-24 inches; Females 20-22 inches
Males 60-80 lbs; Females 55-70 lbs
Cream to golden
Medium length, feathered and water-repellent outer coat, with a soft and dense undercoat
Consistent year-round, seasonally heavy
Golden Retrievers are the quintessential family dog. Easy-going, lovable and patient, they are wonderful with children and other pets. They are easily trainable and intelligent, and very happy to please their owners. They are very affectionate and need plenty of Athenian from people; if isolated from the family or left alone for extended periods, they can become quite mischievous and destructive. They are active and need sufficient exercise, so a house with a yard is best, but they can do well in an apartment if exercised regularly.
Obedience is their strong suit, given their devotion and willingness to learn, and many Goldens excel in obedience trials. Without proper training, however, they can be quite energetic and rambunctious. One of the most endearing qualities of a Golden Retriever it’s effervescent personality, always happy and loving and playful: they keep their puppy-like energy well into mid-life or later. But this can sometimes be a nuisance to neighbors or older dogs, or owners who aren’t prepared to give the dog the attention it needs.
They may bark when visitors or strangers arrive, but this is generally just their way of saying “Hello!” and they will never attack (unless, possibly, if they are severely provoked, and even then it’s highly unlikely they will bite). Hence, they might make good watch dogs, but are not suitable for actual guarding. Their versatility allows them employment in a variety of roles including narcotics detection, search and rescue, hunting, and as therapy and guide dogs.
Like many of the sporting breeds, the Golden Retriever originated in Britain in the 1800s. Improvements in gun design during the 1800's resulted in more fowl being downed during hunts at greater distances and over increasingly difficult terrain, which led to more birds being lost in the field. Training the established setter and pointer breeds in retrieval proved to by ineffective, and thus arose a need for a specialist retriever, and work began on the breeding of the Golden Retriever to fill this role. Exact ancestry is difficult to determine, but it is believe that creation of the Golden included the now extinct Tweed Water Spaniel, a small Newfoundland, the Irish Setter and other water spaniels, and possibly even a bloodhound.
The Golden Retriever first accepted for registration at the Kennel Club of England as “Flat Coats - Golden” in 1903. The name was officially changed to Golden Retriever in 1920.
Body Structure and Composition
The Golden Retriever is a sturdy and well-proportioned dog with a feathered, medium-length, water-resistant coat. The head is broad with but wide but tapering muzzle. Although they have strong jaws, they are generally have a soft bite, owing to their history as a bird retrieving dogs (they had to have a gentle touch in order to not mangle the downed prey). The floppy ears are medium sized and lay flat against the head. A Golden’s neck and thighs are muscular and the chest is broad. The tail is long and fringed, never curled, and almost always wagging.
There is some difference between the American Golden and the British Golden, with the latter being a bit shorter and stockier than it’s American cousin.
The most deadly disease facing Golden Retrievers is cancer. According to a 1998 study, over 60% of Goldens reportedly died from various forms of this disease. But the average life span for this breed is 10-13 years, which suggests that the disease generally doesn’t hit until later in life.
Popularity of this breed has unfortunately lead to questionable breeding practices and “puppy mills.” As a result, many Goldens are prone to various inherited diseases, one of the most common of which is Hip Dysplasia, a condition in which the head of the thigh bone no longer fits firmly in the "cup" provided by the hip socket, causing loss of mobility and arthritis-like symptoms. A reputable breeder will have the parents of a litter examined for hip disease before the puppies are sold. Golden Retrievers also often encounter various eye diseases, such as cataracts, glaucoma, and Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA, a condition which leads to degeneration of the retina and eventual loss of sight), among others.
Skin allergies are also a common problems in this breed, although once identified, they can be largely controlled through medication and diet. Other skin conditions are also prevalent in this breed, including Dermatitis (also known as Seborrhoeic eczema or Seborrheic dermatitis) and Lick Granuloma. Lick Granuloma occurs when a dog compulsively licks the lower half of one or more of their extremities, sometimes leading to lesions on the skin. This is largely considered to be a form of canine obsessive-compulsive disorder, although there may be other physical causes.
Blood disorders such as Von Wildebrand’s Disease (VWD) are also present in this breed. VWD is an inherited blood clotting condition which causes hemorrhaging from a simple injury or illness. This condition can be identified through a blood test when the dog is a puppy, and reputable breeders will provide this information to you prior to purchase. (A variety of other hemophilic conditions can also affect this breed.)
Heart problems, primarily subvalvular aortic stenosis (SAS) and cardiomyopathy, are major problems in this breed. SAS is described as a partial obstruction to the flow of blood as it leaves the left side of the heart (the left ventricle) through the main blood vessel (the aorta) that carries blood to the rest of the body. The obstruction ranges from small nodules to a fibrous band, most commonly just below the aortic valve ("subvalvular aortic stenosis"). Due to the obstruction, the heart must work harder to pump out an adequate blood volume, a condition which can create a heart murmur in the more affected dogs. Cardiomyopathy is the deterioration of the function of the myocardium (the actual heart muscle), which an result in arrhythmia or sudden death.
Other diseases sometimes experienced by Goldens include Epilepsy (recurrent seizures) and Hypothyroidism (underactivity of the thyroid gland causing lethargy, weight gain, skin infection and hair loss, cold intolerance, chronic ear infections or severe behavioral changes).
The Golden Retriever’s medium-length coat is relatively easy to care for: simply brush regularly with a bristle brush to minimize mats and shedding. Exercise and properly controlled diet is very important to Goldens in order to prevent obesity.
The Golden Retriever has enjoyed an illustrious career in the television and film industries, owing largely to it’s intelligence, trainability and lovable nature. “Ben” has appeared in many films, including Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey, Maybe Baby, Purely Belter and Made in Hong Kong. “Tango” starred in the film Bailey’s Billion$. “Buddy” starred in the 1997 film Air Bud, as well as several episodes of the television show Full House, but died in 1998 from cancer. Other Goldens have been featured on the television shows Will & Grace, Sue Thomas: F.B. Eye, Punky Brewster, Smallville, and The Drew Carey Show, as well as the film Click with Adam Sandler.
Commercial for Bush’s Baked Beans feature a Golden Retriever named Duke who tries to thwart the company’s efforts to keep their recipe a secret.
Former U.S. President Gerald Ford had a Golden Retriever named Liberty, who gave birth to eight puppies in the White House in 1975.
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