The Golden Retriever is a sturdy, muscular dog of medium size, famous for the dense, lustrous coat of gold that gives the breed its name. The broad head, with its friendly and intelligent eyes, short ears, and straight muzzle, is a breed hallmark. In motion, Goldens move with a smooth, powerful gait, and the feathery tail is carried, as breed fanciers say, with a “merry action.”
The most complete records of the development of the Golden Retriever are included in the record books that were kept from 1835 until about 1890 by the gamekeepers at the Guisachan (pronounced Gooeesicun) estate of Lord Tweedmouth at Inverness-Shire, Scotland. These records were released to public notice in Country Life in 1952, when Lord Tweedmouth’s great-nephew, the sixth Earl of Ilchester, historian and sportsman, published material that had been left by his ancestor. They provided factual confirmation to the stories that had been handed down through generations.
Goldens are outgoing, trustworthy, and eager-to-please family dogs, and relatively easy to train. They take a joyous and playful approach to life and maintain this puppyish behavior into adulthood. These energetic, powerful gundogs enjoy outdoor play. For a breed built to retrieve waterfowl for hours on end, swimming and fetching are natural pastimes.
As with all breeds, early socialization and puppy training are recommended. Gently exposing the puppy to a wide variety of people, places, and situations between the ages of seven weeks and four months will help the Golden develop into a well-adjusted, well-mannered adult. Puppy training classes serve as part of the socialization process and help the owner learn to recognize and correct any bad habits that may be developing. Obedience training strengthens the bond between dog and owner—a Golden wants nothing more than to please his human. Golden Retrievers are outgoing, loyal, and eager to do your bidding, which makes them very easy to train.
Like most Sporting breeds, Goldens need plenty of daily exercise. A Golden who doesn’t get enough exercise is likely to engage in undesirable behavior. Goldens make great companions on long runs and bike rides, although consultation with a vet is recommended before starting strenuous or high-impact activities that might cause stress to the dog’s bones and joints. Many Goldens happily get their exercise on hunting trips or at field trials, as well as by participating in canine sports such as agility, obedience, and tracking.
Goldens are generally healthy dogs, and responsible breeders will screen their breeding stock for health conditions including elbow and hip dysplasia; eye conditions such as juvenile cataracts, pigmentary uveitis, and progressive retinal atrophy; and certain heart diseases, including subvalvular aortic stenosis. The Golden’s ears should be checked weekly for signs of infection, and the teeth should be brushed often.
Recommended Health Tests from the National Breed Club:
- Hip Evaluation
- Elbow Evaluation
- Cardiac Exam
- Ophthalmologist Evaluation