AKC MEET THE BREEDS®: Golden Retriever
The Golden Retriever, with its intelligence and eager to please attitude, is one of the most popular
breeds in the United States according to AKC® registration statistics. The working ability that has made
the Golden Retriever such a useful hunting companion also make him an ideal guide, assistance and
search and rescue dog. The golden-colored coat is one hallmark of this versatile breed, and can range
from light to dark gold.
A Look Back
The Golden Retriever originated in the Scottish Highlands in the late 1800s and was used predominantly
for hunting. The breed was developed by Lord Tweedmouth, whose goal was to create a superb
retriever suited to the Scottish climate, terrain and available game. He crossed his original "Yellow
Retriever" with the Tweed Water Spaniel (now extinct) found on his estate. Later integrations of Irish
Setter, Bloodhound, and more Tweed Water Spaniel produced the retriever we know today.
- Sporting Group; AKC recognized in 1925.
- Average size: from 55 to 75 pounds.
- Devoted companions, hunting dog.
More about the Golden Retriever:
The temperament of the Golden Retriever is another hallmark of the breed and is described in the
standard as "kind, friendly and confident. They are not "one man dogs" and are generally equally
amiable with both strangers and those familiar to them. Their trusting, gentle disposition therefore
makes them a poor guard dog. A Golden Retriever should not be unduly timid or nervous. The typical
Golden Retriever is calm, naturally intelligent and biddable, with an exceptional eagerness to please.
Golden Retrievers are also noted for their intelligence. The Golden Retriever ranks fourth in Stanley
Coren's The Intelligence of Dogs, being one of the brightest dogs ranked by obedience command
trainability. These dogs are also renowned for their patience with children.
By the time they reach maturity however, Goldens will have become active and fun-loving animals with
the exceptionally patient demeanor befitting a dog bred to sit quietly for hours in a hunting blind. Adult
Golden Retrievers love to work, and have a keen ability to focus on a given task. They will seemingly
work until collapse, so care should be taken to avoid overworking them.
Other characteristics related to their hunting heritage are a size suited for scrambling in and out of boats
and an inordinate love for water. Golden Retrievers are exceptionally trainable—due to their
intelligence, athleticism and desire to please their handlers—and generally excel in obedience trials. In
fact, the first AKC Obedience Trial Champion was a Golden Retriever. They are also very competitive
in agility and other performance events. Harsh training methods are unnecessary as Golden Retrievers
often respond very well to positive and upbeat training styles.
Golden Retrievers are compatible with children and adults and are good with other dogs, cats and most
livestock. Golden Retrievers are particularly valued for their high level of sociability towards people,
calmness, and willingness to learn. Because of this, they are commonly used as guide dogs, mobility
assistance dogs, and search and rescue dogs. They are friendly and tend to learn commands easily.
They are also known to become excellent surrogate mothers to different species. Kittens and even tiger
cubs from zoos are well taken care of by golden retrievers. In some cases, a retriever may produce milk
for its adopted even though it may not have been pregnant or nursing recently.