Golden Retriever

Introduction | History & Health | Temperament & Personality | Breed Standard

Golden Retriever

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Introduction

The Golden Retriever, also known as the Golden, is one of the most loving and beloved of all canine breeds. Known for its loyal and outgoing personality, the Golden Retriever is called "the perfect dog" by its many admirers. The Golden has changed very little over the years, other than a lighter coat color becoming increasingly popular. Golden Retrievers were recognized by the American Kennel Club as a member of the Sporting Group in 1925.
The mature male Golden Retriever should stand from 23 to 24 inches at the withers; females should be 21½ to 22½ inches in height. Deviation in height of more than one inch in either direction is a disqualification under the American standard. Adults typically weigh between 55 and 75 pounds (the females are usually lighter and smaller than the males). Their lustrous double coat can be wavy or straight. They should be brushed regularly and need occasional bathing to eliminate a doggy smell. Their ears should be cleaned regularly as well to prevent accumulation of dirt and debris.

History & Health

The Golden Retriever descends from dogs bred in the 1800s in Britain, when sportsmen wanted efficient retrieving dogs for both waterfowl and upland game. It is thought that almost all retrievers go back to the Saint John's Dog of Newfoundland, an immediate ancestor of the wavy-coated retriever, which is behind both the Flat-Coated and the Golden retrievers. The best record of the breed's origin is contained in a journal kept from about 1840 to 1890 by Dudley Marjoribanks in the Highlands, Inverness-shire, of Scotland. He acquired the only yellow puppy in a litter of black wavy-coated retrievers in 1865 and named him Nous, which is Greek for "wisdom." Nous grew into a sturdy dog recognizable as a Golden. He was bred to a Tweed Water Spaniel (now an extinct breed) named Belle, resulting in four yellow puppies that became the foundation of the Golden Retriever breed. Over years of careful breeding, occasionally bringing in another Tweed Water Spaniel, several black Wavy-Coated Retrievers, a red setter and possible a Labrador retriever and a Bloodhound, Mr. Marjoribanks and his relatives created an exceptional and consistent line of yellow working retrievers with exceptional water abilities.
Golden Retrievers remained largely unknown until 1904, when one of the Marjoribanks dogs won the first field trial for retrievers. "Yellow retrievers" were registered thereafter with The Kennel Club (of England) as "Retrievers – Wavy or Flat-Coated" and were shown for the first time in 1908, in a class for "Flat-Coats of Any Other Color." In 1913, Goldens were recognized in their own right as"Retrievers – Yellow or Golden."
Golden Retrievers first came to the United States in the early 1900s and immediately became popular. The American Kennel Club registered its first Golden Retriever in 1925. The Golden Retriever Club of America was founded in 1938 and is one of the strongest AKC parent clubs. The most notable foundation sire, Am/Can Ch Speedwell Pluto, was born in England in 1929 and made enormous contributions to the breed worldwide. Golden Retrievers grew steadily in popularity in the United States both before and after World War II, with a surge in registration in the 1970s. Goldens are used as hunting dogs, assistance and service dogs, guide dogs for the blind, search-and-rescue dogs and as tracking and scenting specialists. They excel in obedience trials, hunting tests, field trials and agility, as well as in the conformation show ring. The Golden's grace, trainability and delightful temperament contribute to the breed's popularity as a family companion. They usually are among the top ten most popular breeds in AKC registrations.

Health Characteristics

The average life expectancy for the Golden Retriever is between 10 and 12 years. Breed health concerns may include the following:

Cancer (Various forms): Defined as any malignant, cellular tumor
Cataracts: Refers to any opacity of the lens of the eye. Dogs of either gender can develop cataracts
Elbow Dysplasia: Leads to malformation and degeneration of the elbow joint, with accompanying front limb lameness
Hip Dysplasia: Involves abnormal development and/or degeneration of the coxofemoral (hip) joint
Muscular dystrophy (Duchenne's X-linked muscular dystrophy cardiomyopathy)

Temperament & Personality

The Golden Retriever is the classic family companion. They are obedient, playful, intelligent, well-mannered, great with kids, and kindly to strangers. They are good watchdogs, but make lousy guard dogs as they love people far too much to be effective. Golden Retrievers are always at the top of their obedience classes and are often the champions of sporting competitions. Hunters find them to be reliable bird dogs, and their keen sense of smell and desire to work alongside people makes them sought-after narcotics sniffers. Golden Retrievers need people and are best suited for large, active families.

Activity Requirements

Golden Retrievers need a lot of exercise, but not as much as other Retrievers and their activity requirements can be met with a couple of daily walks and tossing a stick in the yard. They enjoy pretty much any outdoor activity their people participate in, whether walking, running, hiking, biking, swimming or playing chase with kids. Though they are naturally even tempered and don't need hours of exercise, their large size makes them unsuitable for apartments. They need a lot of room to move around, and confinement is unfair to a Golden Retriever.

Trainability

Golden Retrievers are a breeze to train. They are people-pleasers and will do anything for a bit of praise and some food. This makes them an excellent choice for first-time dog owners. Goldens should always be treated with a gentle hand, as they are sensitive creatures who don't respond well to harsh tones and discipline. The biggest problem people have in training this breed is walking on a leash. They should be taught proper leash etiquette early on, otherwise they can – and will – pull on a leash. Their trainability has made them a number once choice for service and therapy dogs, and in recent years they have been a favorite choice of police forces, who utilize them as drug and bomb sniffers and in search and rescue teams.

Behavioral Traits

While Golden Retrievers are generally even-tempered and well behaved, potential owners should do their research before settling on a breeder. Goldens are popular, and this has led to indiscriminate breeding practices which means puppies with unstable temperaments. All the exercise and socialization in the world can't undo a bad bloodline, so always adopt from a reputable breeder.
This is a social breed of dog who adores people and thrives on companionship. If left alone too long, especially without proper exercise, Golden Retrievers can develop Separation Anxiety which usually means destructive chewing. In fact, well-adjusted Goldens are big chewers, so they must be provided with plenty of their own chew toys and bones, otherwise they will run off with shoes, books, pillows and other household items.

Breed Standard

General Appearance
A symmetrical, powerful, active dog, sound and well put together, not clumsy nor long in the leg, displaying a kindly expression and possessing a personality that is eager, alert and self-confident. Primarily a hunting dog, he should be shown in hard working condition. Overall appearance, balance, gait and purpose to be given more emphasis than any of his component parts. Faults--Any departure from the described ideal shall be considered faulty to the degree to which it interferes with the breed's purpose or is contrary to breed character.

Size, Proportion, Substance
Males 23-24 inches in height at withers; females 21½-22½ inches. Dogs up to one inch above or below standard size should be proportionately penalized. Deviation in height of more than one inch from the standard shall disqualify. Length from breastbone to point of buttocks slightly greater than height at withers in ratio of 12:11. Weight for dogs 65-75 pounds; bitches 55-65 pounds.

Head
Broad in skull, slightly arched laterally and longitudinally without prominence of frontal bones (forehead) or occipital bones. Stop well defined but not abrupt. Foreface deep and wide, nearly as long as skull. Muzzle straight in profile, blending smooth and strongly into skull; when viewed in profile or from above, slightly deeper and wider at stop than at tip. No heaviness in flews. Removal of whiskers is permitted but not preferred. Eyes friendly and intelligent in expression, medium large with dark, close-fitting rims, set well apart and reasonably deep in sockets. Color preferably dark brown; medium brown acceptable. Slant eyes and narrow, triangular eyes detract from correct expression and are to be faulted. No white or haw visible when looking straight ahead. Dogs showing evidence of functional abnormality of eyelids or eyelashes (such as, but not limited to, trichiasis, entropion, ectropion, or distichiasis) are to be excused from the ring. Ears rather short with front edge attached well behind and just above the eye and falling close to cheek. When pulled forward, tip of ear should just cover the eye. Low, hound-like ear set to be faulted. Nose black or brownish black, though fading to a lighter shade in cold weather not serious. Pink nose or one seriously lacking in pigmentation to be faulted. Teeth scissors bite, in which the outer side of the lower incisors touches the inner side of the upper incisors. Undershot or overshot bite is a disqualification. Misalignment of teeth (irregular placement of incisors) or a level bite (incisors meet each other edge to edge) is undesirable, but not to be confused with undershot or overshot. Full dentition. Obvious gaps are serious faults.

Neck, Topline, Body
Neck medium long, merging gradually into well laid back shoulders, giving sturdy, muscular appearance. No throatiness. Backline strong and level from withers to slightly sloping croup, whether standing or moving. Sloping backline, roach or sway back, flat or steep croup to be faulted. Body well balanced, short coupled, deep through the chest. Chest between forelegs at least as wide as a man's closed hand including thumb, with well developed forechest. Brisket extends to elbow. Ribs long and well sprung but not barrel shaped, extending well towards hindquarters. Loin short, muscular, wide and deep, with very little tuck-up. Slab-sidedness, narrow chest, lack of depth in brisket, excessive tuck-up to be faulted. Tail well set on, thick and muscular at the base, following the natural line of the croup. Tail bones extend to, but not below, the point of hock. Carried with merry action, level or with some moderate upward curve; never curled over back nor between legs.

Forequarters
Muscular, well coordinated with hindquarters and capable of free movement. Shoulder blades long and well laid back with upper tips fairly close together at withers. Upper arms appear about the same length as the blades, setting the elbows back beneath the upper tip of the blades, close to the ribs without looseness. Legs, viewed from the front, straight with good bone, but not to the point of coarseness. Pasterns short and strong, sloping slightly with no suggestion of weakness. Dewclaws on forelegs may be removed, but are normally left on. Feet medium size, round, compact, and well knuckled, with thick pads. Excess hair may be trimmed to show natural size and contour. Splayed or hare feet to be faulted.

Hindquarters
Broad and strongly muscled. Profile of croup slopes slightly; the pelvic bone slopes at a slightly greater angle (approximately 30 degrees from horizontal). In a natural stance, the femur joins the pelvis at approximately a 90-degree angle; stifles well bent; hocks well let down with short, strong rear pasterns. Feet as in front. Legs straight when viewed from rear. Cow-hocks, spread hocks, and sickle hocks to be faulted.

Coat
Dense and water-repellent with good undercoat. Outer coat firm and resilient, neither coarse nor silky, lying close to body; may be straight or wavy. Untrimmed natural ruff; moderate feathering on back of forelegs and on underbody; heavier feathering on front of neck, back of thighs and underside of tail. Coat on head, paws, and front of legs is short and even. Excessive length, open coats, and limp, soft coats are very undesirable. Feet may be trimmed and stray hairs neatened, but the natural appearance of coat or outline should not be altered by cutting or clipping.

Color
Rich, lustrous golden of various shades. Feathering may be lighter than rest of coat. With the exception of graying or whitening of face or body due to age, any white marking, other than a few white hairs on the chest, should be penalized according to its extent. Allowable light shadings are not to be confused with white markings. Predominant body color which is either extremely pale or extremely dark is undesirable. Some latitude should be given to the light puppy whose coloring shows promise of deepening with maturity. Any noticeable area of black or other off-color hair is a serious fault.

Gait
When trotting, gait is free, smooth, powerful and well coordinated, showing good reach. Viewed from any position, legs turn neither in nor out, nor do feet cross or interfere with each other. As speed increases, feet tend to converge toward center line of balance. It is recommended that dogs be shown on a loose lead to reflect true gait.

Temperament
Friendly, reliable, and trustworthy. Quarrelsomeness or hostility towards other dogs or people in normal situations, or an unwarranted show of timidity or nervousness, is not in keeping with Golden Retriever character. Such actions should be penalized according to their significance.

Disqualifications
Deviation in height of more than one inch from standard either way.
Undershot or overshot bite.

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