The Golden Retriever consistently tops the list of most loved family pets. Usually associated with children and suburban life and with their love of water and natural retrieving ability, Golden Retrievers are also excellent companions to hunters. The Golden Retriever has been one of the top breeds based on the American Kennel Club (AKC) tallies for years. They currently rank as the third most popular breed!
History and Origin
Recorded history of the Golden Retriever dates to the early 1800s when the breed was a popular hunting dog in Scotland. As a rugged, middle-size dog, the breed was appreciated for the ability to hunt on land and in water. Sportsmen admired the dog’s athletic ability and diligence while their families enjoyed the gentle, friendly nature of the pet. By the late 1800s, the Golden Retriever was well known in North America and was registered with the American Kennel Club in 1925.
Over the years, Golden Retrievers have become useful as guide dogs for the blind, deaf, and other handicapped individuals because of their intelligence, trainability, well-rounded temperament, as well as their ability to get along well with people. They are trained as therapy dogs to perform a wide variety of tasks. The Golden Retriever is truly a jack of all trades when it comes to job capabilities.
Appearance and Size
The Golden Retriever is a strong, middle-size dog with a moderately round skull and medium to dark brown eyes. The breed’s ears are triangular and pendant (hanging) and fall approximately to the level of the jaw. The outer water-repellent coat is thick and soft, although not usually silky. The undercoat is moderately dense. As the name of the breed indicates, the coat color is golden or a close shade of golden. Longer hair of a lighter shade, known as feathers, is present on the back of the forelegs and thighs, underbelly, front of neck and underside of the tail.
The adult Golden Retriever is approximately 21 to 24 inches in height at the shoulder and weighs about 55 to 75 pounds.
The Golden Retriever is a playful, affectionate companion with an amiable personality. If not for the dog’s size, Golden Retrievers would be welcome lapdogs. Although not generally a boisterous breed, this pet will announce visitors.
Home and Family Relations
The Golden Retriever is an excellent family pet that is good with children and other pets. This breed is an appropriate choice for a first pet provided that the owner is capable of managing a dog of this size and strength.
The Golden Retriever is intelligent and highly trainable. In addition to being adept hunters, this breed has been trained to be companions for disabled persons including guide dogs for the blind and so much more. Golden Retrievers have also been trained to carried out drug detection and search and rescue work.
Golden Retrievers who hunt on land and are allowed to swim require special attention. Running in the woods can cause small foreign bodies such as burrs and other flora to become lodged under the eyelid or in an ear. The surface of the eye and the ear can become irritated and inflamed.
Golden Retrievers also benefit from regular brushing, once daily if possible. Brushing helps to promote a shiny, healthy coat and decreases shedding. This is also an opportune time to find those nasty mats that can be painful for your pet. It is safest to let a professional groomer or a veterinarian remove large mats from your pet’s coat.
Though they can be docile and lapdogs on occasion, Golden Retrievers require ample exercise such as long walks or runs. A Golden Retriever could make for a great apartment companion if one is dedicated to giving this breed the exercise it needs.
Famous Golden Retrievers
Liberty: Liberty was the famous pooch belonging to President Gerald R. Ford. Some claim that President Ford taught Liberty a hand signal that would prompt her to get up and interrupt his meetings in the oval office, allowing for the president to casually end the conversation.
Duke: If you’ve ever seen a Bush’s baked beans commercial you know Duke from his carefully constructed plans to steal the family recipe. While multiple dogs have play Duke throughout the filming of the company’s many commercials, the original Duke is very real and is owned by Jay Bush himself.
Buddy: If you’ve ever seen Air Bud then you’ve seen Buddy the Wonder Dog melting hearts of all ages. This full time movie star started off life as a stray and went on to star in both feature films and the wildly popular TV hit, Full House via a guest appearance in the episode “Air Jesse.”
Celebrities With Golden Retrievers
Golden Retrievers are in high demand in Hollywood, and it’s easy to see why! Here’s a list of some celebs who love their Golden Retrievers.
- Lisa Vanderpump
- Shawn Johnson
- Colbie Caillat
- Jackie Chan
Common Diseases and Disorders
In general, the Golden Retriever is a healthy dog with few medical concerns. However, the following diseases or disorders have been reported:
Gastric torsion, also known as bloat, is a life-threatening sudden illness associated with the stomach filling with air and twisting.
Hip dysplasia is a malformation of the hip joint that results in pain, lameness and arthritis.
Epilepsy is a seizure disorder that develops between the ages of 2 to 5 years.
Hot spots are areas of itchy moist skin irritation.
Hypothyroidism results when the thyroid gland does not function adequately.
Atopy is an itchy skin disease of animals that is caused by an allergy to substances in the environment.
Interdigital Dermatitis, also known as pododermatitis, is an inflammation of the paws involving the feet and nails.
Food Allergy can occur in some pets secondary to a variety of a food ingredients.
Lick granuloma is a condition in which the dog licks an area excessively, usually on the front leg, until a raised, firm ulcerated lesion is formed.
Cataracts cause a loss of the normal transparency of the lens of the eye. The problem can occur in one or both eyes and can lead to blindness.
Diabetes is a disease of the pancreas related to insufficient amounts of insulin production.
Osteocondrosis of the Shoulder is a congenital lesion that can cause degenerative joint disease.
Corneal ulceration is the loss of the corneal epithelium (the outermost cells of the cornea).
Glaucoma is a disease of the eye that develops when the pressure within the eye increases.
Laryngeal paralysis is a dysfunction of the larynx, or voice box causing respiratory distress. Most common is the acquired idiopathic form.
Entropion is a problem with the eyelid that causes inward rolling. Lashes on the edge of the eyelid irritate the surface of the eyeball and may lead to more serious problems.
Ectropion is a problem with the eyelid that causes eversion of the eyelid margin. It most commonly affects the lower central eyelid.
Distichiasis is a condition in which there is growth of extra eyelashes from the glands of the upper or lower eyelid.
Melanoma is a tumor arising from melanocytes, which are the cells that produce pigment.
Mast Cell Tumors are malignant tumors than can occur in the skin or within the body.
Hemangiosarcoma is cancer that can result in bleeding tumors of the spleen, liver or heart.
Progressive retinal atrophy is a disease that causes nerve cells at the back of the eye to degenerate. The condition usually begins in older pets and can lead to blindness.
Aortic Stenosis – is caused by stenosis of the aorta and causing symptoms such as weakness, collapse and sudden death.
Pericardial effusion – is an accumulation of fluid within the pericardial space. Most common caused by hemangiosarcoma of the heart.
Lymphosarcoma, also known as lymphoma, is a malignant cancer that involves the lymphoid system.
Ectopic ureter is an abnormality present at birth in which one or both of the ureters that bring urine from the kidneys to the bladder fail to open into the bladder in the normal way. The affected animal is born with this problem and the resulting urinary incontinence usually begins at birth.
The life span of the golden retriever is 10 to 13 years.
We realize that each dog is unique and may display other characteristics. This profile provides generally accepted breed information only.