The Golden Retriever is a large-sized breed that is known for his friendliness and makes an excellent family pet. It is currently the third most popular family dog breed in the United States.
History of the Golden Retriever breed
The Golden Retriever was originally bred in Scotland around the year 1850 to be a gun dog, intended to retrieve fowl or game during hunting trips. Crossbred from the water spaniel and another retriever breed (the Russian tracker sheepdog), the Golden Retriever was bred to replace other dog breeds that were ineffective at retrieving fowl and game from the difficult terrain on hunting grounds. The Golden retriever was able to retrieve the shot birds undamaged, from long distances, and on mixed dry & wet terrain.
Appearance of the Golden Retriever breed
The Golden Retriever is a large dog breed, weighing 55-75 pounds (25-34 kg) and standing 20-24 inches (51-61 cm) tall. They have thick, wavy double coats of a light or dark golden color. The outer layer of the coat is wavy and repels water, while the inner layer of the coat is thick and helps regulate body temperature, keeping him warm in the winter and cool in the summer. he sheds throughout the year in small amounts, but a larger amount during spring and fall.
There are 3 subtypes of the Golden Retriever – the British, American and Canadian subtypes – differing mainly in their sizes and shades of their (golden) coats, but not in their temperament.
- the British subtype is popular in Europe & Australia. It has a more muscular front (legs & shoulder girdle), wider skull, lighter-colored coat and rounded eyes.
- the American subtype is leaner, darker-colored coat and has angular eyes.
- the Canadian subtype has a coat that is more sparse and of a darker golden shade.
Personality of the Golden Retriever breed
The Golden Retriever is well-known for his kind, friendly, calm and happy temperament. They get along well & bond with all members of the household, including other pets and small children, making them excellent family pets. They are very eager to please and are quite intelligent (they rank 4th most intelligent among all dog breeds), and are therefore also highly trainable.
The Golden Retriever is athletic and is a natural swimmer (this breed loves the water!), but also enjoys all other outdoor activities and playtime. Being a very hard-working dog breed, coupled with a great intelligence, makes him a frequent breed put to work as guide dogs for the disabled and police/rescue dogs. However, care must be taken that they don’t get overworked, as they often will work to exhaustion. Their gentle nature extends to strangers, making them poor guard dogs.
Caring for the Golden Retriever breed
Grooming. The golden retriever will need professional coat grooming once every 2-3 months (at least once in the hot, summer months), and frequent brushing of his coat (3x a week) to keep him clean and decrease the amount of shedding. He will need once a month cleaning of ears and, as with all dogs, at least once a week brushing of teeth.
Feeding. Puppies should get 3 cups of food a day, while adult Golden Retrievers should get 3-5 cups of food a day. This a general rule, and should be adjusted depending on the type of food he gets and how active his lifestyle is, specifically because Golden Retrievers are prone to obesity; working dogs, for example, should get more calories per day than a house dog.
Exercise. The Golden Retriever was breed to be a working dog and is naturally athletic, and as such will require more exercise than many other breeds. An average of 2 hours of playtime a day will keep them at optimal mental & physical health.
Health. Cancer is relatively common among this breed, particularly hemangiosarcoma (20% lifetime risk) and lymphosarcoma (12.5% lifetime risk). Elbow and hip dysplasia also occurs frequently among this breed, as they do among many large dog breeds. Eye diseases (particularly cataracts), ear infections and skin allergies are possible in this breed. The average lifespan of a Golden Retriever is 11-12 years, and they should be seen by a veterinarian at least once a year to catch any of the above health problems.