Type: Bird Dog(Sometimes referred to as a Gun Dog)
Weight: Male dog – 29-34 kg
Female dog – 27-32 kg
Height: Male dog – 23-24 in / 58-61 cm
Female dog – 21-22 in / 55-57 cm
Appearance: The Golden Retriever is a large-sized dog with a long, straight or moderately wavy coat. The inner layer is thick and provides steady warmth. The outer layer is flat and repels water. The coat can be coloured in any shade of gold, yellow or blond. Golden Retrievers shed with every season, so require regular grooming.
Temperament: The Golden Retriever is a gentle and friendly dog, very intelligent and easily trained. This dog breed is perfectly suitable for a city household or a country environment and they’re one of the most popular family pets in the United States, Australia and the United Kingdom. Golden Retrievers have a natural instinct to roam, so any outdoor areas they have access to need to be well fenced. Retrievers are well known for their patience, they’ll sit for hours in a hunting blind. Despite being a ‘hunting dog’, aggressive or nervous behaviour is not a part of this breed’s character. This and their ability to “retrieve” shot waterfowl such as ducks and other birds makes the Golden Retriever one of the best hunting dogs.
Skills: As the Golden Retriever is a highly trainable breed, it has many roles guide dog for the blind, hearing dog for the deaf, hunting dog, detection dog, search and rescue dog (rescuing people from earthquakes and other natural disasters). The breed is also used as a mobility assistance dog, for drug or bomb sniffing at airports and because it’s a good swimmer it’s also used as a water lifesaving dog.
Behaviour Toward Other Animals and Children: The Golden Retriever is a loving and calm dog which does well in the company of other dogs, cats, and most livestock. It’s an extremely social pet with a great willingness to learn. The kindness, confidence and patience of this breed makes it perfect as a family pet and it’s one of the most popular choices for people with young children.
Common Health Problems: Cancer (hemangiosarcoma, lymphosarcoma, mast cell tumour, and osteosarcoma) – is sadly more common in Golden Retrievers than other dog breeds. They’re also susceptible to hip and elbow dysplasia, cataracts, subvalvular aortic stenosis, cardiomyopathy and joint diseases, allergy to fleas, seborrhoea, sebaceous adenitis, and self-inflicted lick granuloma.
Lifespan: The average lifespan is 11-12 years and the most common causes of death are: cancer, old age and cerebral vascular disease.
- Teach daily routines
Start with the basics: ensure your puppy knows where his food and dish bowls are. Establish eating and bed hours – a young pup needs to get used to what times of the day he gets up, eats, goes to the bathroom, plays, and goes to bed. It is essential that you set these as early on as possible to emphasise control and prevent behavioural problems. Even though Golden retrievers are easy-going dogs, they’re not originally bred for family pets, so if you don’t show your pup how you want him to fit into your routine, he will start making decisions on his own. This will lead to complications and unwanted surprises which you can easily prevent with basic obedience training, starting as early as possible.
- Teach words
Before you teach a young Golden Retriever commands, he first has to be accustomed to his name and the key “Good” and “No”. Your pup has to know the meaning of these praise and correction words at 2-3 months of age. Be consistent in their use and always watch for your tone and body language. Remember to be firm, but gentle.
- Teach Commands
Once your Golden pup recognises his name and has grasped the meaning of basic correction and praise words, you can start teaching commands. Golden Retrievers are great service dogs and learn commands easily. Start with “Come”. Have someone help you hold the pup on a long leash and let go as soon as you call the pup by name, followed by “come”. Once the dog comes up to you, praise him and give a treat. Next, teach him to sit by first holding a treat in your hand and slowly moving it towards the shoulders. Following the treat, the pup will sit. Say the word “Sit” and praise and reward. Once you’ve taught how to sit, you can move on to “Lie”. With the puppy sitting in front of you, lower a treat to the floor – the pup will follow it and lie down. Introduce the command and again reward and praise. You can easily teach “Stay” after the dog has got used to sitting and lying. This command usually requires repetition, so be patient. Get the puppy in the sit or lie position and say “stay” in a firm and loud voice. Step away while still facing him. Count to three. Then return and praise.
When training an adult Golden retriever, you should bear in mind that in nature all packs have an Alpha-dog that other dogs are submissive to. Choose an Alpha-leader from your family to teach all commands, while other members follow their lead. As with puppy training, start with the basic commands “Come”, “Sit”, “Stay”. They are the starting point of all follow-up training and help strengthen the Alpha relationship.
- Crate your dog
You may feel bad about crating your dog but dogs develop a sense of safety and comfort in enclosed spaces. Ensure the dog has enough room to move and keep him in the crate at night and while you’re away during the first stages of housebreaking. Dogs won’t like their crate soaked, so after one or two accidents, they will learn to relieve outside it.
- Reward with small treats
Food treats such as dog biscuits, cereal or cheese, and non-food ones – balls and toys, are always useful in training to work with the retriever’s natural hunting instincts. Be always prepared with one to reward good behaviour but don’t feed treats randomly or when the dog hasn’t behaved accordingly. He needs to know why he’s being rewarded. Use them to teach basic commands, as you would with a puppy.
- Communicate on his level
Use a combination of visual and short verbal commands. When you teach “Come”, point to your feet or pat your knees, lower your hand to the ground to emphasise “Lie” and hold your arms towards your chest to teach “Sit”.
Consistency is crucial in training a Golden Retriever. They are smart by nature but most of what they learn is a set of basic commands. Don’t scold your retriever, praise good behaviour, and make sure your dog socialises as much as possible. Provide enough time and space for proper physical and mental exercise.
The development of the Golden Retriever breed is attributed to Lord Tweedmouth. He had a vision of a dog of medium-size that would do well in retrieving upland game and waterfowl. Thus, the breed originated from a series of matings carried out by Lord Tweedmouth from 1864 onwards. The forerunners of the breed we know today were the result of initial mating between a yellow coloured Flat Coated Retriever and a Tweed Water Spaniel – now long-extinct, which was later out-crossed to an Irish Setter, a second Tweed Water Spaniel and a black Flat Coated Retriever.
The breed was first shown to the public in 1908 and created great interest at the Kennel Club Show. The greatest enthusiast the breed has ever had was Mrs Charlesworth who favoured the cause of the breed against all comers between 1910 and 1954 and formed a Golden Retriever Club in 1911, setting a breed standard, and campaigning for the breed to be registered with the Kennel Club as a separate breed. The breed gained separate status with the official recognition of the Golden Retriever Club (of Great Britain) in 1913. The AKC registered the first Golden Retrievers in the USA in 1925. The breed’s popularity grew steadily over the 1930s and ’40s, and Golden Retrievers became popular as hunting dogs and appeared at field trials, obedience trials, and shows.
Ever since, the breed has been recognised for its versatility, intelligence, and pleasant personality. Golden Retrievers suit many purposes, such as hunting dogs, guide dogs for the blind, hearing dogs for the deaf, detection dogs, and participate in search and rescue actions. Well-balanced in temper, today’s golden retrievers are easily accustomed to family settings and show a good degree of obedience. They are generally kind, affectionate, and loyal dogs, which are also favoured for their their beauty and kindly expression. Golden Retrievers come in all shades of gold, from light to dark gold. Some breeders have begun selling “rare white Goldens,” which is not an officially recognised breed. The breed is now one of the most successful, recognisable, and popular ones in all areas of competition.
Golden Retrievers are prone to genetic disorders and other diseases, so they need annual check-ups. The most common diseases among Golden Retrievers are:
- heritable conditions, such as hip and elbow dysplasia;
- eye diseases, such as cataracts and Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA);
- cancer: Hemangiosarcoma and Osteosarcoma particularly;
- Gastric Dilatation-Volvulus: commonly known as bloat.
Feed your Golden Retriever 2 to 3 cups of high-quality dry food a day, divided into two meals. Don’t leave food at all times. The dog needs to have established feeding times and keep to them. How much food you give him will depend on the quality of the food (the more nutritious the food, the less amount you should feed), the dog’s individual metabolism, build, age, and activity. Obesity is common among Golden Retrievers, so give your dog the eye and hand test. You should be able to see a waist and feel – but not see – the ribs. Golden puppies grow at rapid pace between the age of four and seven months and need to be put on a low-calorie diet that will prevent excessive weight gain and bone disorders.
Golden Retrievers need about half an hour twice a day of vigorous exercise to burn excess energy and prevent behaviour problems. Young puppies should be taken on short walks after feeding. Normal play on grass is perfect for agility but they should be kept away from hard surfaces such as pavement until at least two years old when their joints are fully formed.
Golden Retrievers’ thick coats need a lot of grooming. They shed profusely in spring and fall and moderately in winter and summer. Brush them daily and give them a bath at least once a month to keep them in a well-groomed condition. Check the coat for knots, particularly in the long fur on the neck and hind legs. Get your puppy used to being handled early on by touching his feet, cleaning his eyes and ears with grooming wipes or cotton balls.