As one of the most popular dogs in the United States, you have most likely seen Golden Retrievers around your neighborhood, in a show or movie, and perhaps on the news or social media performing some fantastic feat. Why are they so popular?
Golden Retrievers have many innate qualities that make them great family dogs but also ideal choices for many roles, including service animals, search and rescue dogs, athletic competitors, and show dogs.
Goldens, as they are affectionately known, have a unique history to go along with their distinctive personality and appearance.
The Earliest Records of Goldens in History
A bronze statue of a Golden Retriever stands proudly along the road to Guisachan in Tomich, Scotland. Guisachan was once a massive mansion and the prized home of Dudley Marjoribanks, a wealthy man with many interests.
He was fond of dog breeding and kept careful records of every litter that still exists today. In 1865, he found Nous, a gold-colored sporting dog that had escaped being disposed of at birth. At the time, black dogs were deemed more fashionable and better hunters.
Several years later, Nous was bred with a Tweed Water Spaniel, similar to an Irish Water Spaniel, to create an effective hunting dog on land and water. The first litter of Golden Retrievers was born in 1868. Cowslip, Crocus, and Primrose were all given to close family and friends who carefully bred them into what we know today as Goldens.
How Golden Retrievers Gained Popularity
Although the first Goldens were born in 1868, the breed wasn’t seen by the public until the 1908 Kennel Club show. Once the world caught a glimpse, Goldens quickly grew in popularity, first within the UK and Europe and then eventually in the US and Canada. They weren’t only known as beautiful purebred show dogs but wonderfully loyal and well-mannered pups that were gentle and caring in any number of unique situations.
Because they are easily trained natural hunters, you often see them used in search and rescue missions. Their loyalty and trainability also make them ideal as service animals. Even their soft hair and sweet faces make them easily recognizable. Their many outstanding qualities make the Golden Retriever the third most popular dog in the United States, according to 2021 AKC registrations.
Formal Recognition of Golden Retrievers
Because Goldens were bred within a small circle of Marjoribanks’s family and friends, much of the public had not seen one until the UK Kennel Club show in 1908. There was no formal recognition at the time, so the dog was registered as “any variety of retriever.” It wasn’t until 1913 that they were recognized as a breed all their own, thanks to the Golden Retriever Club of Great Britain.
The American Kennel Club formally recognized the Golden Retriever in 1925, and the American Golden Retriever Club was formed in 1938. In Canada, the breed was registered in 1927, but it wasn’t until 1958 that the Golden Retriever Club of Ontario was formed. The Golden Retriever Club of Ontario would later become the Golden Retriever Club of Canada.
Top 10 Unique Facts About Goldens
Being the third most popular dog in the United States means there are some pretty interesting facts about Golden Retrievers. These lovable pups have certainly made a reputation for themselves!
- President Gerald Ford served his time in the White House with his Golden Retriever, Liberty, who was a gift from his daughter, Susan.
- A Goldens’ coat is water repellent and helps make them excellent swimmers, keeping them from getting weighed down.
- They are popular in event competitions because of their athletic ability and easy training.
- Golden Retrievers come in all shades of gold, from deep red to light yellow. Their coat will change as they age.
- The Golden Retriever Club of Scotland gathers Goldens and their people yearly at Guisachan to celebrate the breed. In 2013, there were 222 dogs and 350 people.
- They are very aware of their surroundings due to their instincts as hunters. Bailey, a rescue pup, is even known to hunt ghosts as he takes guests on tours.
- Goldens are not known for barking. Most dogs seldom bark, especially with good training. However, a Golden Retriever holds the world record for the loudest one.
- The first Golden Retrievers were known as Golden Flat Coats. Their official name is credited to Lord Harcourt at the 1908 Kennel Club show.
- Goldens are one of the fastest growing dogs as puppies, requiring a nutritious diet and adequate exercise to ensure long-term health.
- The average litter of Golden Retriever puppies is eight, but the largest litter ever recorded is seventeen.
Do Golden Retrievers Make a Good Pet?
Goldens have a unique personality that is always gentle but never entirely “grown up.” You’ll find that they are very caring toward other dogs, humans, and even other animal species, making them ideal family pets. They are often used as service or emotional support animals within families.
They can be playful at times and need plenty of exercise, which may encourage children to get outside and play as well. Like all dogs, Goldens love to eat, but they add on weight quickly, so it’s essential to follow a vet-approved maintenance diet and monitor treats.
They like to carry things around, like a toy or anything else they find but are rarely destructive. Golden Retrievers are easily trained but don’t like to be left alone for long periods.
Despite all these lovely attributes it should still be remembered that these are large energetic dogs
A Golden Retriever can offer a hug or a laugh, a spirited morning at the dog park, or a quiet afternoon. They enjoy being a part of busy chaos, even thriving in the environment, but also know when it’s time to relax with the group. If you are considering a new family dog, a Golden Retriever might be just the breed for your home.
Featured Image Credit: Neelsky, Shutterstock