Field line Golden Retrievers tend to be smaller and have a less dense coat than their conformation line counterparts. And usually, they are darker in color.
The coat is dense and waterproof, and may be straight or moderately wavy. It usually lies flat against the belly. The American Kennel Club (AKC) standard states that the coat is a "rich, lustrous golden of various shades", disallowing coats that are extremely light or extremely dark. This leaves the outer ranges of coat color up to a judge's discretion when competing in conformation shows. Therefore, "pure white" and "red" are unacceptable colors for the Golden coat. The Kennel Club (UK) also permits cream as an acceptable coat color. Judges may also disallow Goldens with pink noses, or those lacking pigment. The Golden's coat can also be of a mahogany color, referred to as "redheads", although this is not accepted in the British show ring. As a Golden grows older, its coat can become darker or lighter, along with a noticeable whitening of the fur on and around the muzzle. Puppy coats are usually much lighter than their adult coats, but a darker colouration at the tips of the ears may indicate a darker adult color. A golden's coat should never be too long, as this may prove to be a disservice to them in the field- especially when retrieving game.
The temperament of the Golden Retriever is a hallmark of the breed and is described in the standard as "kindly, 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. Any form of unprovoked aggression or hostility towards either people, dogs or other animals, whether in the show ring or community, is completely unacceptable in a Golden Retriever and is not in keeping with the character of the breed and as such is considered a serious fault. Nor should a Golden Retriever be unduly timid or nervous. The typical Golden Retriever is calm, naturally intelligent and biddable, with an exceptional eagerness to please. As the name suggests, the Golden Retriever loves to retrieve. Whether the object is a thrown stick, tennis ball, or flying disc, retrieving can keep a dog of this breed occupied and entertained for hours, particularly if water is also involved. Goldens might also pick up and "retrieve" any object that is near to them upon their masters' arrival, all of this lending to their retriever name.
Goldens are also noted for their intelligence, and can learn up to roughly 240 commands, words and phrases. 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, and that Golden Retrievers respond 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 tricks 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.
Golden Retrievers are moderately active dogs, and require a reasonable amount of exercise each day, although exercise needs may vary depending on the individual dog and its age. They are a breed that is prone to obesity, and as such the average Golden Retriever should never be treated like a small dog, or sedentary house pet. Some dogs may be too active to be easily exercised by elderly owners.
Goldens should be groomed at least once a week, and every day during heavy shedding. Their coats shed somewhat during the year, but are known to "blow coat" twice a year when they shed profusely. They also need to have their ears cleaned regularly, or otherwise an ear infection might occur. While shedding is unavoidable with Golden Retrievers, frequent grooming (daily to weekly) lessens the amount of hair shed by the animal. Severe shedding resulting in bald patches can be indicative of stress or sickness in a Golden Retriever.
Golden Retrievers are very attached to their owners. Leaving them alone in a room can cause the dog to become very sad and distressed. They have a need to always have something in their mouth, and like to carry things around. They are great athletes and must be walked daily, or they will become restless and anxious. This makes them an ideal family pet.
Improvements in guns during the 1800s resulted in more fowl being downed during hunts at greater distances and over increasingly difficult terrain. This led to more birds being lost in the field. Because of this improvement in firearms, a need for a specialist retriever arose as training setter and pointer breeds in retrieval was found to be ineffective. Thus work began on the breeding of the Golden Retriever to fill this role.
The original cross was of a yellow-colored Retriever, Nous, with a Tweed Water Spaniel female dog, Belle. The Tweed Water Spaniel is now extinct but was then common in the border country. Majoribanks had purchased Nous in 1865 from an unregistered litter of otherwise black wavy-coated retriever pups. In 1868, this cross produced a litter that included four pups; these four became the basis of a breeding program which included the Irish Setter, the sandy-colored Bloodhound, the St. John's Water Dog of Newfoundland, and two more wavy-coated black Retrievers. The bloodline was also inbred and selected for trueness to Majoribanks' idea of the ultimate hunting dog. His vision included a more vigorous and powerful dog than previous retrievers, one that would still be gentle and trainable. Russian sheepdogs are not mentioned in these records, nor are any other working dog breeds. The ancestry of the Golden Retriever is all sporting dogs, in line with Majoribanks' goals.
Golden Retrievers were first accepted for registration by the The Kennel Club of England in 1903, as Flat Coats - Golden. They were first exhibited in 1908, and in 1911 were recognized as a breed described as Retriever (Golden and Yellow). In 1913, the Golden Retriever Club was founded. The breed name was officially changed to Golden Retriever in 1920. The Honorable Archie Majoribanks took a Golden Retriever to Canada in 1881, and registered Lady with the American Kennel Club (AKC) in 1894. These are the first records of the breed in these two countries. The breed was first registered in Canada in 1927, and the Golden Retriever Club of Ontario, now the Golden Retriever Club of Canada, was formed in 1958. The co-founders of the GRCC were Cliff Drysdale an Englishman who had brought over an English Golden and Jutta Baker, daughter in law of Louis Baker who owned Northland Kennels, possibly Canada's first kennel dedicated to Goldens. The AKC recognized the breed in 1925, and in 1938 the Golden Retriever Club of America was formed.
Breeding Golden Retrievers can be profitable for puppy mills and backyard breeders. As a result of careless breeding for profit, Goldens are prone to genetic disorders and other diseases. Hip dysplasia is very common in the breed; when buying a puppy in the US the parents should be examined by the OFA or by PennHIP for hip disease.
The Golden Retriever's eagerness to please has made them consistent, top performers in the obedience and agility rings. Plus with their excellent swimming ability they are great at dock jumping. Their natural retrieving ability also sees them excel in flyball and field trials.
The first three dogs ever to achieve the AKC Obedience Champion title were Golden Retrievers; the first of the three was a female named Ch. Moreland's Golden Tonka.
In response to the numbers of orphan Goldens, volunteer organizations work to rescue, care for, and adopt abandoned Golden Retrievers. These rescue groups usually accept dogs from owners and establish agreements with local animal shelters to ensure that dogs will be transferred to their care rather than euthanized. Once rescued, Golden Retrievers are placed in foster homes until a permanent home is found. It is common for rescue groups to screen prospective adopters to ensure that they are capable of providing a good home for the dog. Golden retriever rescue groups have utilized the world wide web to raise funds and advertise rescued Goldens to adopters. The Golden Retriever Club of America has a permanent standing committee, the National Rescue Committee.
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