Smart, friendly, and dashing
A glamorous member of the Retriever family, the Golden's kind nature and incredible intelligence have kept them among Canada's most popular purebreds for over a quarter century.
The Golden Retriever was developed in the mid-19th century by a Scotsman, Sir Dudley Majoribanks, later Lord Tweedmouth. Sir Dudley visited a circus and was so taken with a troupe of Russian sheepdogs that he bought them all. But when his breeding records were made public, they revealed the dogs he purchased were 100% sporting blood. They had been created by crossing the wavy-coated Retriever with the yellow Tweed Water Spaniel. The offspring were then crossed with the Irish Setter and the Bloodhound. Linebreeding eventually created the Golden Retriever that countless families know and love today. It was first granted breed status in Britain in 1913.
Gwen Giles Taylor was recently at the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair in Toronto, Ontario. When she realized we didn't have any Golden Retrievers at our Meet the Breeds booth, Gwen brought over one of her gorgeous Goldens named Kai, who was a huge hit! From introducing the breed to the public to getting children involved in helping her demonstrate Kai's impressive obedience skills, I knew I had to get Gwen to tell us all about her beloved breed.
What initially drew you to the Golden Retriever? I grew up in a household with Sporting dogs as my father and brothers hunted. A Sporting dog was an absolute requirement. When I was 15 years old, my parents got me a registered black Labrador Retriever as I was interested in doing obedience training and trialing. I loved my Lab, but loved the majestic look that a Golden has while still being a Sporting dog.
Describe the Golden Retriever's personality. Golden Retrievers have sweet temperaments and are loving, loyal dogs that make great family pets. They have animated personalities, can be goofy, and are smart, eager to please, and typically are not aggressive. No two golden retrievers have the same personality, contrary to many beliefs. They are all individuals.
How much exercise do they require? Goldens are a Sporting breed and need regular exercise, and this is most pronounced during puppyhood (up to approximately two years of age). While most Goldens can adapt to a less active lifestyle once they are mature and trained, puppies and adolescents often have lots of energy to burn. If not given an appropriate outlet, this energy may be channeled into behaviours that are destructive, and the young dog can appear "hyperactive." And even though the puppy is mentally still a youngster, physically, he may be a strong and sizeable dog that can be difficult to manage when energy is pent up. The rule to remember: A physically tired puppy is a well-behaved puppy.
Can they live in an apartment? My initial response was always "No," but I do have friends who have a Golden in an apartment, and she does very well. My friends work from home and lead a very active lifestyle which their Golden is included in. Many apartment dogs are pee pad trained, and this is definitely not something that would be reasonable for a larger dog such as a Golden Retriever.
Tell me about the coat and grooming requirements. Is shedding excessive? The Golden Retriever's thick, water-repellant double coat sheds moderately throughout the year and heavily once or twice a year (known as "blowing their coat").
For heavy shedding, brush with a pin brush or a rake once a day to remove the dead hair and keep the shedding under control. I also recommend wetting the coat with a spray bottle containing either just water or a mixture of 80/20 water and BROWN Listerine (the other Listerine products contain sugar and you'll end up with a sticky dog). Wetting the coat prior to brushing reduces breakage and hair flying everywhere. Make sure that while brushing, you don't just brush the outer coat - you HAVE to get to the undercoat. With regular shedding, brush once a week, but don't use a bristle brush as it won't get through the thick Golden coat.
Goldens have a tendency to get tangles or matting, especially behind the ears, under legs, and in the pants areas. Daily maintenance will reduce these tangles, but if they do happen, use a dematting tool to make your job easier and provide more comfort to your Golden. A dematting spray containing silicone also helps in this area.
I use a rake (NOT a Furminator, which is a huge NO NO for Goldens) while bathing to remove dead, loose coat. Goldens normally require bathing monthly, along with nail clipping. My best advice is to start early with grooming your dog and make it "normal". Do not ever shave your golden as the outer coat protects your dog from the elements, both heat, and cold.
As far as trimming the coat, there are lots of online tutorials to illustrate how to trim the feet, ears, and tail to make your pet look like a show dog. Just remember that you'll become better with practice. If you're not into that, find yourself a good Groomer to do that for you. A groomed Golden is also a happier Golden as matting can become painful, cause a place for hotspots, and is also smelly. Most pet Goldens will suffice with a quarterly grooming with regular touch-ups at home.
With regards to shedding, Golden Retrievers shed A LOT!
Any health issues? Cancer, hip/elbow dysplasia, pigmentary uveitis (eyes), heart disease, and ichthyosis 1 & 2 are prevalent in the breed. To reduce the chance of these issues, choose a reputable breeder. Many breeders use lines with health clearances that extend back to multiple generations of ancestors, and health clearances that include grandparents, great-grandparents, and even beyond offer additional layers of protection to the puppies. Risk can never be zero, and in some cases environmental influences also play a role, but health testing of several generations of ancestors offers the best possible chance that the puppy will not develop these genetic diseases. Obesity also tends to be a very serious issue in Goldens which can cause serious health issues and early death. A Golden Retriever will normally eat as much as you'll feed, and overfeeding/underexercising will quickly lead to a bad situation.
How long do they usually live? A Golden Retriever's lifespan is 10 to 12 years on average.
Which dog sports are they involved in? Golden Retrievers are known to excel in all dog sports, including field, obedience, rally, agility, scenting, dock diving, etc. Goldens are also a very popular dog in the show ring. Goldens are regularly used as therapy, service, and working dogs.
Are Golden Retrievers easy to keep with other dogs? The Golden Retriever is even-tempered, intelligent, and affectionate, and they tend to get along well with other pets and strangers.
How are they with children? Golden Retrievers can be great with kids. They're sweet, playful dogs that love being part of a family. They have the ability to be soft and gentle around babies and toddlers but can also play rough and jumpy. Obedience training for the dog and manners training for kids are a must.
Who makes an ideal Golden Retriever owner? Owners of this breed should be easygoing, active, love the outdoors and enjoy a Velcro dog. They should also be willing to put energy into training and grooming and not mind dog hair everywhere.
The Golden Retriever might be the breed for you if:
- You're active.
Are willing to train and groom; Goldens are normally easy to train.
Want a fun, family dog who is good with children.
Enjoy a dog who wants to be with you ALL the time.
Have lots of time and energy.
Don't mind a goofy dog who carries your slippers, shoes, and socks EVERYWHERE.
The Golden Retriever might not be the breed for you if:
- You want a watchdog.
You're not planning on being actively involved with your dog (Goldens want and need you).
You want an easy-maintenance dog.
Don't have much time.
Live a sedentary lifestyle
Anything else you would like people to know about Golden Retrievers? Because of their intelligence and strong need for social interactions, Goldens confined to a kennel, backyard, or chain tend to become hyperactive, noisy, and destructive. If you are a fastidious dresser, prefer a spotless house, or want a dog that lives outside--DON'T GET A GOLDEN!
This blog would not have been possible without help from CKC member Gwen Giles Taylor. Gwen has loved and been loved by Golden Retrievers for 40 years. Thank you for all your help and continued dedication to the Golden Retriever, Gwen.