Mulling over whether or not to add another dog to your family? If so, you aren’t alone; more Americans than ever are choosing to adopt dogs. People adopt for a wide range of reasons. Some people choose a pup so that their children can have the experience of being responsible for another life (with mum or dad’s help, of course), while others adopt just because they love animals. Still others seek out working dogs that can help them live a fuller life.
Whatever your reason for adopting a Golden in the past or in the future, we believe that the Golden Retriever is one of the smartest, loyal dogs you could possibly pick. This breed may be common, but they’re far from being boring or blasé. They’re one of the most capable and reliable dog breeds available in the world today.
Golden Retriever History
Golden Retrievers started out as a crossbreed, originally developed in the 1800s. The Lord of Tweedmouth Golden is credited with the creation of the breed, but there is newer research claiming they may have existed before he decided he needed a better dog for bird hunting. It is believed that Golden Retrievers were a cross between the Tweed Water Spaniel and a Yellow Flat Coated Retriever.
While these are the two main dogs associated with the crossbreed, there were other breeds of retriever believed to make up Goldens as we know them today. The England Kennel Club recognized the dogs as “Retriever — Golden” back in the 1920s. The American Kennel Club didn’t officially recognize the breed until 1932. There are now three main types of Golden Retriever — American, Canadian, and English.
The first breed of yellow Retrievers was raised in Scotland. European type Golden Retrievers are shorter and plumper than American breeds — they also have thicker coats of fur and weigh more. American and Canadian breeds are taller and leaner than the British types.
Golden Retrievers Are Friendly, People-Oriented Dogs
Golden Retrievers want to be friends with you — and everyone else they meet. While you can of course train them to your commands, and they’ll be loyal to you as their human being, they will be genuinely excited about any attention they receive. They love to please and aren’t necessarily the best guard dogs on the planet because of this (more likely to try to get the burglar to play, than chase them away). People are people to them — and that means they’re new potential playmates!
Golden Retrievers Are Incredibly Loyal
We’ve mentioned loyalty, but it’s important to point this out on its own. Golden Retrievers love their families and don’t like to be left alone. As a matter of fact, they get a little bit depressed when left for long periods of time (like a workday). They do really well with other animals, though — even cats. Make sure you have a plan for someone to visit or walk your pup if you have to be away longer than usual.
Golden Retrievers Are Amazing Work Dogs
While you’ll certainly have fun with your Golden Retriever, this breed is also particularly well-known for its work abilities. Goldens have an incredibly keen sense of smell; that’s exactly why you’ll often see them trained as search and rescue, drug detection, or arson dogs.
Goldens also make great therapy and service dogs. In fact, most seeing-eye dogs are Golden Retrievers or mixes containing the breed. You will also see them in settings where patients have mobility issues, as well as in classrooms with anxious, differently-abled, or sensitive children.
Golden Retrievers Have Two Layers of Fur
Golden Retrievers are double-coated, meaning their fur grows in two distinct layers, one over the other. The undercoat helps keep them warm during the cooler months. The outer layer is a bit protective, known for being waterproof. This does mean you’ll need to keep your pup brushed, especially when they shed that undercoat for the spring and summer months. But you’ll also be able to take your dog with you on vacations, hikes, and swim outings.
Golden Retrievers Love to Swim
Speaking of waterproof coats, Golden Retrievers LOVE to swim. They’re good at it, too. Take a close look at their paws and you’ll see some large webbing bands between their toes; long tails also help them steer themselves through the water. Your retriever will fall in love with your pool, the lake, and even the ocean. Just be sure you’re on dog-friendly beaches!
They Can Be Easily Trained
Golden Retrievers tend to have anywhere from six to eight puppies in each new litter. A good breeder will not allow puppies to leave their mother until the eight-week mark (some breeders believe 12 weeks is better). This is incredibly important because puppies learn socialization and personality development during these critical first few weeks of life. Breeders are better able to find the perfect home for each pup and their maturity levels make it a ton easier to train them.
House training isn’t the only important aspect of training, of course. Because they’re so eager to please, you’ll find it is easier to teach your new retriever a lot of basic commands. You’ll still see some regression during the “teen” months of your pup’s life, but the overall experience is easier than with some other breeds.
Keep in mind, retrievers are highly motivated. Incorporate food and games into your training for best results. Don’t worry, though. As the fourth smartest dog breed, you won’t have much trouble!
Golden Retrievers Love Exercise
Are you a health and exercise enthusiast? A Golden Retriever is the perfect companion. These dogs will let you throw balls and frisbees for them until you feel like your arms are about to pop off. When they’re old enough for the regular exercise, you’ll find they can be great hiking or running companions as well. They love to play and will make sure you stay active, too.
Goldens Are Over 200 Years Old
The Golden Retriever, as a breed, dates back as far as the early 1800s. It’s not hard to see why they’ve remained such a staple breed; in fact, it was common to find Goldens living with pioneers all across the Oregon trail. Writers like Laura Ingalls Wilder and other classic non-fiction history scribes make mention of them many times, both as farm dogs and as loyal companions in villages and cities across the prairies.
What makes the breed particularly interesting is not its age, but how the breed itself originally came to be. Details about their early creation are sketchy, but the Golden Retriever Club of America (GRCA) and most official sources believe that they originated in the Guisachan Estate of Lord Tweedmouth at Inverness-Shire, located in Scotland.
The Golden breed actually contains DNA from Bloodhounds, Water Spaniels, St. John’s Water Dogs, Irish Setters, and other Retrievers. You can see subtle hints to this lineage in your dog’s face and behavior; they have the joyful, loyal personality familiar to the setter with the motivation and energy of a Bloodhound when trained properly.
They Make Golden Buddies for Other Animals
A well-trained Golden Retriever isn’t just best buds with humans; he’s a great pal for other animals, too. In fact, several zoos, farms, and sanctuaries across the country and the world have successfully paired Goldens with animals like cheetahs, horses, elephants, goats, and even wolf hybrid pups. The Golden’s magnanimous nature makes it an especially suitable choice, but only if the dog is well-trained from birth; he or she must be calm, patient, and able to handle the other animal’s presence without reacting in fear.
The best example of this is at the San Diego Zoo, where Hopper the Dog and Amara the Cheetah live in (relative) bliss. Amara is an educational animal, so she’s particularly tame and therefore a good candidate for pairing with a dog. But Hopper is no stranger to roughhousing; the two play rambunctiously all the time and still remain in good cheer.
They’re Guinness World Record Holders for Loudest Bark
Golden Retrievers make excellent hunting and service dogs, and are well-known for their loud, firm signal bark when they’ve located danger or retrieved a bird. To anyone who has specifically trained their Golden to bark on command, this fact will perhaps be unsurprising.
The dog in question is Charlie, an Australia-based Golden whose bark comes in at a record-breaking 113 Decibels. To compare, the average chainsaw produces approximately 112 Decibels of sound at any given time. If you want your dog to notify you about intruders, game, or even just a ringing phone if you’re hard of hearing, you can trust that your Golden will do so loudly and proudly.
Despite the Golden’s characteristically loud bark, a well-trained Golden isn’t loud on a regular basis. There’s no need to panic if you’re considering the repercussions of adopting a pup with a loud bark. The Golden is also very receptive to training and mostly barks out of fear, anxiety, or stress. Obedience training and proper care will prevent this in nearly all dogs the vast majority of the time.
Golden Retrievers Hold a Degree in Mental Health Counseling
Spend a bit of time with your Golden when you’re feeling down and you’d swear he’s almost as helpful as a therapist. Well, that may be taking things a bit too far…but one Golden named Kirsch does hold an honorary degree in Mental Health Counseling. Kirsch, a service dog, faithfully attended every class alongside his owner at Johns Hopkins University. His owner, Carlos Mora, was the one officially attending classes, but the university wanted to recognize the enormous service Kirsch had provided in quietly guiding his friend to and from classes.
The university made good on its offer by giving Kirsch his own gown and hat and then bringing him on stage to accept his degree. Despite the fact that he may never get to put his newfound knowledge in action, both the Dean and the Vice-Dean signed, and therefore made official, the certificate.
Most Goldens Know Sign Language Signals
Goldens, being the fourth smartest dog in the world, are naturally excellent at picking up training methods and learning to communicate with their handlers. They’re also one of the only breeds that seems to have a natural ability to understand basic sign language, significantly benefiting not only those who are hard of hearing, but everyday companion pet owners, too.
To be clear, the chances of your Golden learning to read full sentences in American Sign Language are slim. That’s just beyond the capabilities of a dog, at least at this time. But simple signs like “stay” “come” “here” “get the ball” or even “bring me the shoes” certainly are within his capabilities with a bit of perseverance and patience. In fact, dogs that participate in athletic sports like obstacle courses and agility training often rely on handler sign language to know where to go and when to change direction.
Perfect For Bird Hunting
Golden Retrievers are a relatively large breed of canine. They were first raised for their bird hunting capabilities. Retrievers were used to fetch fallen Mallards and other game fowls. They were highly valued for their precise fetching abilities. They could bring back birds without damaging the body of the fowl.
Perform Well In Any Environment
Golden Retrievers are innately drawn to water and function well in that environment. Their thick coat of fur helps them retain body heat in cold weather, and their outer coat resists water for their wet adventures.
They Shed A Lot
Due to their abundant hair, they shed quite a bit. The amount of shedding decreases with consistent grooming. Their hair is usually straight or slightly wavy, and varies from pale cream to deep gold in color.
On average, males weigh around 65-75 pounds full grown, and are around two feet tall. Females are usually around 22 inches tall and do not usually weigh over 70 pounds.
One of the Most Sought After Family Dog Breeds in America
In fact, they are one of the most sought after family dog breeds in America. They are not well suited for use as security dogs, but far well as guide dogs for the blind and visually impaired. These kind and gentle giants often work as hearing dogs, police dogs, hunting companions, and they often assist in emergency explore and retrieve missions.
Your weird and wonderful Golden: if he was a gift, he’d be made of friendship and wrapped in ribbons of friendship, loyalty, and love. Keep him well and healthy and you’ll both enjoy many years of long walks, adventures outdoors, and lazy evenings on the couch together. Those memories are incredibly special – just as special as the Golden Retriever itself. Don’t have a Golden of your own yet? There’s no time like the present!
Golden Retrievers are a smart, gentle, and easily trained breed of dog. They may be the perfect choice for your hunting partner or family pet.