Dog Breeds Articles

This wavy coated breed is the youngest of the retriever and continues to be one of the most popular breeds for families and fanciers.


Those new to the breed may have heard the lively tale about the beautiful Russian tracking dogs that toured England with the circus. Dont believe a word of it. The real credit goes to a Scottish Nobleman, the former Sir Dudley Marjoriebanks, who became the first Lord Tweedmouth of Guisachan at Inverness, Scotland. Lord Tweedmouth was a ardent waterfowl enthusiast who hunted the rugged waters of the English seacoast. He dreamed of a canine hunting partner possessed of a superb nose that would hunt more closely than the commonly used Setters and Spaniels of that time.

He also fancied a dog that would not only retrieve his birds, but deliver them to his hand, a dual talent that was lacking in the bird dogs of that era.

To that end, in 1868, he bred a wavy-coated retriever named Nous, who was reportedly a gift from the Earl of Chichester, to a liver-colored Tweed Water Spaniel named Belle, given to Tweedmouth by his cousin David Robertson. Nous, the greek word for wisdom had been born the only yellow pup, then called a sport, out of a litter of all blacks, which was the standard color for the wavy coat, an ancestor of todays Flat Coated Retriever. This mating was no accident; Tweedmouth had a passion for yellow dogs. Belle produced four fuzzy yellow pups and thus launched Tweedmouth on his Golden journey. He kept his favorite pup, Cowslip, and gave little Ada, Primrose and Crocus to a few good friends who joined him in his breeding venture.

These Golden fanciers persisted breeding yellow dog to yellow dog, despite the fact that linebreeding of this nature was most uncommon in those times. Ocassionally, they did experimental outcrosses to the Irish Setter, the yellow Labrador and the Bloodhound (Where do you think that expert Golden nose came from). The kennels at Guisachan were sold in 1905, but by that time two historic kennels had emerged: Ingestre and Culham which were eventually registered with the Kennel Club of England. Lord Harcourts Culham Goldens continued Tweedmouths legacy of excellence, producing the great sires Culham Brass and Culham Copper, who are behind the Modern Golden Retriever. In 1909, Lord Harcourt was joined in his breeding endeavors by Mrs William Charlesworth, who later established her own line of influential Goldens under the kennel prefix of Noranby (originally Noramby). Mrs Charlesworth became an icon in the breed, devoting the next 50 years to perserving the breeds working ability, always with an eye toward true type and soundness. Her Noranby Goldens not only worked in the admirably in the field, but also claimed the highest honors on the bench, achievements we have not witnessed in the Golden for many decades.

In 1913, she and a few other breed enthusiasts successfully formed the Golden Retriever Club of England. The early 1900s were flagship years for the Golden in England. Goldens became a popular hunting dog and the breed earned field trial wins and produced several dual champions. Bench champions wore a darker red coat in those days until about 1936 when the lighter colors became fashionable with judges and exhibitors. The Yellow or Golden, Retriever offically recognized by the English Kennel Club in 1913 became the Golden Retriever in 1920. The breed began migrating to Canada and the United States around 1900 when the British military and other professionals traveled to those countries with thier hunting dogs. By 1931, Goldens had also been exported to Uruguay, Belgium, Holland, India, South America, Kenya and Aregentina- true testimony to the breeds versatility and universal appeal. In the United States, these talented and willing retrievers naturally became popular in areas rich with waterfowl and upland game, and thier delightful dispositions earned high marks with non-hunters as wll. In 1925, the American Kennel Club (AKC) granted them offical breed status.

So the original Golden was a hunting dog. With its handsome looks and winning personality, however, this versatile animal was destined to become much more. Those early Golden hunters have evolved into the do-it-all dogs we know and love today.


The Goldens general appearence is that of a symmetrical, powerful, active dog, sound and well put together, not clumsy nor long inthe leg, displaying a kindly expression and possessing a personality that is eager, alert and self confident. Primarily a hunting dog, it should be shown in hard working condition. Overall appearence, balance, gait and purpose are to be given more emphasis than any of its component parts.

In size, a male Golden Retriever should stand 23 to 24 inches at the withers, or shoulder, with females standing 21 1/2 to 22 1/2 inches. A variation of 1 inch above or below the standard is permitted but penalized proportionately in the show ring. A dog that deviates in height more than a inch either way must be disqualified. In accordance with its height, the typical male Golden weighs 65 to 75 pounds, a female 55 to 65 pounds. Proportion is important as well. The standard calls for the length from breastbone to the point of the buttocks to be slightly greater than the height at the withers (top of the shoulder) in a ratio of 12 to 11. Those dimensions make for a dog that is beautifully angled front and rear, able to carry itself with the smooth, powerful gait needed by a hardworking hunting dog.

A proper Goldens skull is broad, slightly arched laterally and longitudinally, but without a prominent forehead or occipital bones. The stop- the indentation between the eyes where the nasal bones and cranium meet- is well defined but not abrupt. The foreface is deep and wide, nearly as long as the skull, and the muzzle is straight, blending smoothly and strongly into the skull. When viewed in profile or from above, the muzzle is slightly deeper and wider at the stop than at the tip. The flews – the hanging sides of the upper lip- should not be heavy. Whiskers may be removed, but this isn’t a preferred look.

The Goldens eyes can be descrided as friendly and intelligent in espression, medium large with dark, close fitting rims, set well apart and reasonably deep on the sockets. The preferred color is dark brown, but medium brown eyes are acceptable. When the dog is looking straight ahead, no white or haw- the third eyelid- should be visable. Slant eyes and narrow triangular eyes are faulted because they detract from the correct expression.

Soft and floppy, the Goldens ears are rather short, with the front edge attaached well behind and just above the eye and falling close to the cheek. When pulled forward, the tip of the ear should just cover the eye. Low houndlike ears are faulted.

The nose should be black or brownish black. Some noses fade to a lighter shade in cold weather, which isn’t a serious flaw, but a pink nose or one seriously lacking in pigmentation is faulted.

It goes without saying that a Golden should have all of its teeth. They should meet in a scissirs bite, in which the outter side of the lower incisors touches the inner side of the upper incisors. This breed is meant to carry large fowl, so it needs to have a strong jaw. Irregularly placed incisors are undesireable, as is a level bite- one wich the incisors meet each other edge to edge. Goldens with overshot or undershot bites are disqualified.

Supporting the head is a medium-long neck that merges gradually into well laid back shoulders, giving the dog a sturdy muscular appearence. The neck needs to be of a length that allows the dog to be a pickup dog but not so long that it appears elegant or sighthoundlike. Too much loose skin under the throat, described as throatiness is undesireable.

Whether a Golden is standing or moving, it should have a well put together body, starting with a topline that is strong and level from the withers to a slightly sloping croup (the region of the pelvic girdle). Faults include a sloping topline, a roach (rounded) or sway back or a flat or steep croup. The body should also be well balanced, short coupled and deep through the chest. What does that mean? The standard goes on to explain that the chest between the forelegs should be at least as wide as a mans closed hand including thumb, with a well developed forechest.

The brisket should extend to the elbow. The ribs should be long and well sprung, but not barrelshaped, extending well toward the hindquarters. The short muscular loinis wide and deep with very little tuck up. Powering up the Golden are muscular forequarters and hindquarters. At the front end, the shoulder blades are long and well laid back, with the upper tips farely close together at the withers. The 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.

Viewed from the front, the legs should be straight with good bone, although they shouldn’t appear coarse. Pasterns are short and strong, sloping slightly with no suggestion of weakness. Medium sized feet are round, compact, well knuckled with thick pads. To show the natural size and contour of the foot, excess hair may be trimmed. Front dewclaws may be removed, but most people leave them on. Faults are splayed or hare feet. At the rear are broad strongly muscled hindquarters. Legs are straight when viewed from the rear. In a natural stance the femur joins the pelvis at approximatly a 90 degree angle. The stifles are well bent and the hocks well let down with short strong rear pasterns. Goldens with cow hocks, spread hocks, and sickle hocks are to be faulted.

The merrily carried tail is thick and muscular at the base with a feathered underside. It should be carried level or with some moderate upward curve but never curled over the back. The Golden is a swimmer and uses its tail as a rudder, so its important that the tail not be carried too high.

The crowning glory of this breed is, of course, its coat, but again moderation is the key. A proper Golden coat is dense and water repellent with a good undercoat. The texture of the outer coat is neither coarse nor silky but instead should be form and resilient, lying close to the body. Where the coat shines is in its rich, lustrous golden color of various shades. Like the Golden as a whole, the dogs predominat body coloring should be moderate, neither excessively pale or excessively dark. Take into account, however, that the coat of a light colored puppy may deepen with maturity. The feathering may be lighter in color than the rest of the coat, but with the exception of graying or whitening due to age, white markings are penalized unless they are limited to a few white hairs on the chest. It’s important not to confuse allowable light shadings with white markings. The hair can be straight or wavy, with a natural ruff at the neck, moderate feathering on the back of the forelegs and the underbody, and heavier feathering on the front of the neck, the back of the thighs and the underside of the tail. The coat on the head, paws and front of the legs should be short and even. In no case should the natural appearence of the coat be altered by cutting or clipping, except as noted above to display the feet.

Looks are well and good, but this is a sporting breed we are talking about and in the final analysis, performance is what counts. Even if your Golden never sees a field, it should still be built to move or gait in a certin way. When trotting, its movement should be free, smooth, powerful and well coordinated, showing good reach. Viewed in any position, the legs neither turn in or out and the feet shouldn’t cross or interfere with each other. Show a Golden on a loose lead to best display its gait.


The Golden Retriever is more than just a pretty face and a beautiful coat. It exemplifies the old saying “Pretty is as pretty does”. The description of temperment in the Golden standard could just as easily appear in the Boy Scout Handbook. This dog is to be friendly, reliable and trustworthy. Quarrelsomeness or hostility towards other dogs or people in normal situations or an unwarrented show of timidity or nervousness are not typical Golden traits and should be penalized accordingly.

Gentle, kind, and affecionate: The breed of dog that most comes to mind at the sound of these adjatives is the Golden Retriever. The Golden comes by this reputation with good reason. Of all the hundreds of dog breeds in the world the Golden is one of the most giving and sweetest dogs on earth. Goldens work as Therapy dogs, service dogs, search and rescue dogs and they provide loyalty and companionship to children and adults alike. And as most people know Golden Retrievers have a smile and a wagging tail for just about everyone they meet.

Often they are comical and entertaining and they make up games. They are also very intuitive and sense many things. They try very hard to communicate with their owners and the closer the bond the more successful they are. They are also very observent and notice the strangest things. They are a willing worker, eager to please, lives to be with his or her people, and has the think it through mentality of many great sporting dogs. By and large most Goldens are unflappable, love people, kids and other animals and will gladly run through fire for you if that is what you ask of them, also they are well known for being a benevolent and sofhearted dog. The Golden is considered one of the most tolerant dog breeds around, a trait which makes them uniquely suited to being a excellent companion and also fulfilling some of the most challenging canine jobs around.

Another distinctive facet of the Goldens temperment is versatility. Goldens can work hard in the field one hour and be the perfect childs companion the next. Because the Golden is such a friendly and forgiving dog, the breed is well known among those who provide pet assisted therapy to patients in nursing homes, hospitals or other institutions, because Goldens have a natural love of people many of them seem to thrive in this environment.


Very high

The numbers speak for themselves. Proving the breeds trainability and unwavering desire to please. Golden Retrieves consistantly amass more titles in obedience and tracking than any other breed. During the year 2000 they claimed the following:

635 Companion Dog titles (CD)

310 Companion Dog Excellent (CDX)

111 Utility Dog (UD)

56 Utility Dog Excellent (UDX)

40 prestigous Obedience Trial Champion titles (OTCh)

71 Tracking Dog titles (TD)

24 Tracking Dog Excellent (TDX)

1,319 Agility titles second only to the Border Collie

49 now call themselves Master Hunter (MH)

238 became Junior Hunter (JH)

88 claimed Senior Hunter titles (SH)


The following is a list of health concerns that Goldens can be faced with

Hip Dysplasia

Subvalvular Aortic Stenosis (a form of congential heart disease)



A Golden is most happiest to be wherever you are. It would be best to get your dog out for at least an hour a day, or you can take up one of the many canine sports, or take a hike in the woods. It is all dependent on the dog as to what type of excersise they need, some may be happy to just lay on the couch with a walk every now and then, others may need to have a job to do.


Goldens are notorious shedders and regular brushing cuts down on the amount of hair left on floors and furniture. It also prevents painful mats from forming in thier coats. These dogs tend to shed moderatly year round and blow coat (shed thier entire haircoat profusly) in the spring and fall. I would groom every day but you can groom every week, it is up to you. I would use a pin brush, slicker, double sided comb, a shedding blade, etc. Pay close attention to the ears and teeth


* Youngest of all the Retriever breeds

* President Gerald Ford owned a Golden Retriever named Liberty

* They actually smile by curling up the corners of thier mouths and showing some teeth

* A Golden can easily carry 10 to 25 pounds of equipment, depending on the size and fitness of the dog on a mountain trail

Additional Resources

View Golden Retriever Pictures in our photo album.

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Breed Profile submitted by GreenLeafKennelClub