The Golden Retriever Breed

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The golden retriever breed is one of the most popular dog breeds in the world. Some say the golden retriever is the ideal family dog. They were bred to be the perfect hunting retriever. Goldens are often used as service dogs including guide dogs for the blind. Intelligent dogs, they are often trained to be obedience and agility competition champions.

One interesting thing to note is that Goldens’ and Border Collie training methods are the same.


The golden retriever is categorized as a sporting dog. Since they are retrievers, they were bred to retrieve game. Retrievers have ‘soft’ mouths that do not mar game, a strong sense of smell, and a water-resistant coat. Golden retrievers have a longer coat than the Labrador retriever. The coat can be any shade of golden brown. Goldens are adept swimmers and can withstand cold climates. They are known to be gentle dogs, possessing intelligence and a willingness to work. These dogs are a large, hardy breed. Males stand 22-24 inches (55-61 cm) at withers. They weigh 60-75 pounds (27-34 kg). Goldens are famously active dogs that thrive on human companionship. These dogs are friendly towards both their owners and strangers, and they are good with children and other pets. For these reasons, goldens are one of the most popular family dogs. However, because of their need for exercise, they may not be a good choice for the elderly. People with allergies should also beware due to shedding. They need regular grooming.

Breed Standard

The Breed Standard is a written set of guidelines which describe a model for the perfect golden retriever. In competitions, judges use this standard to judge individual dogs for trueness to the breed and for quality. This standard sets benchmarks for appearance, temperament, and characteristics. If an individual retriever deviates too far from any of the standards, it is considered a fault. Reputable breeders use the Breed Standard as a model for their breeding programs.  Prospective owners can use these standards as a way to judge a purebred golden retriever.

There are differences between the American and the British (European) Breed Standards. The most obvious difference is the color of a golden retriever’s coat. American standards allow for any shade of gold, while an extremely pale or dark coat is not acceptable. Pale shades, referred to as a cream color, are allowable under British rules. British standards specifically exclude a red or mahogany color. A red or mahogany shade of gold is generally acceptable for the breed in America. The American standards call for a taller height: 23-24 inches at withers for males, and 21½-22½ inches for females. British rules allow 22-24 inches, and 20-22 inches respectively.

Generally, American golden retrievers are more slender, while British dogs are stockier in build. The heads of British goldens are often referred to as having a ‘blocky’ shape. British dogs have a shorter and wider muzzle, and have shorter legs and tails. American dogs will frequently have longer coats.


Looking for the perfect hunting retriever, Sir Dudley Marjoribanks, later Baron Tweedmouth, first crossed a yellow colored Flat Coated Retriever with a Tweed Water Spaniel, now an extinct breed. This occurred in 1864 at his highland estate near Inverness. Inverness is near the mouth of Loch Ness in Northern Scotland. Later, there were crosses with an Irish Setter, and a black Flat Coated Retriever. The dogs were found to be obedient and excellent workers. Golden Retrievers originally were developed to retrieve shot waterfowl and birds, and often had to trek through cold water.

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