The most important name in the early history of the Golden Retriever is Dudley Marjoribanks, the first Lord Tweedmouth, who developed the breed in the Scottish Highlands during the reign of Victoria. For the 50 years between 1840 and 1890, Tweedmouth kept scrupulous records of breeding’s effected to create an ideal gundog for use at his Guisachan estate in the Highlands, Inverness-shire, Scotland. Tweedmouth wanted a dog suited to the rainy climate and rugged terrain of the area, so he crossed his “Yellow Retriever” with a breed that is now extinct, the Tweed Water Spaniel. Irish Setter and Bloodhound were also added to the mix.
“Through several generations of clever breeding,” an admiring historian wrote, “Tweedmouth created a consistent line of exceptional working retrievers.” With a little more refinement after Tweedmouth’s time, the Golden Retriever came forth as an enduring gift to dogkind from a hunt-happy aristocrat.
The Golden was first seen at a British dog show in 1908, and good specimens of the breed began arriving in America, by way of Canada, at about the same time. Sport hunters appreciated the breed’s utility, show fanciers were enthralled by their beauty and dash, and all were impressed by the Golden’s sweet, sensible temperament.
The Golden was popular from the beginning of its American history, but the breed’s popularity really took off in the 1970s, the era of President Gerald Ford and his beautiful Golden named Liberty
- AKC Breed Popularity: Ranks 3 of 195
- Height: 23-24 inches (male), 21.5-22.5 inches (female)
- Weight: 65-75 pounds (male), 55-65 pounds (female)
- Life Expectancy: 10-12 years
They are serious workers at hunting and field work, as guides for the blind, and in search-and-rescue, enjoy obedience and other competitive events, and have an endearing love of life when not at work.
DIFFERENT TYPES OF GOLDEN RETRIEVERS
There is some confusion about whether Golden Retrievers come in different varieties.
The short answer is yes. But the distinction is more nuanced. Simply stated, there are two ways that Golden Retrievers can vary from one other. The first is by “type.” There are three different varieties of this dog: Canadian Golden Retrievers, British or English Golden Retrievers, and American Golden Retrievers.
The differences between these three are minimal. They are mostly physical (for example, there are differences in their coat types) and have emerged naturally over the course of breeding. They have no real effect on the temperament or health of the dogs.
AMERICAN GOLDEN RETRIEVERS
American Golden Retrievers are lankier and less muscular than the other varieties. Their coats are also typically dark golden, darker than their British cousins. They are just as long and wavy though.
Where their coats are darker, the American Golden’s eyes are generally lighter. They are also triangular or slanted-shaped rather than round.
CANADIAN GOLDEN RETRIEVER
The Canadian Golden Retriever looks somewhat different from the other two Goldens. Its hair is generally shorter and thinner than its counterparts’ coats. It is also not as feathery as the other two types.
These dogs might stand taller than the other varieties by as much as two inches. This makes this dog the most different among the three.
BRITISH GOLDEN RETRIEVERS
British or English Golden Retrievers have long, feathery cream coats that are characteristic of the breed. They are somewhat smaller than the Canadian variety, but not by much.
The difference between the British and American types of Golden Retrievers are small. They have similar sizes and coats. Their temperaments are roughly similar as well.
The largest difference between these two varieties is their physical build. British Goldens will have a broader skull and more powerful forequarters. They will also have rounder, darker eyes.
WHAT TO EXPECT FROM ALL VARIETIES?
No matter which variety you choose, Golden Retrievers have similar temperaments. In general, you can expect a dog that is:
That being said, when you think of a Golden Retriever, you likely think of an American or a British variety. This is because of the long wavy coats that are characteristic of the breed.
THE GOLDEN COLOR AND SHADES
The second way that Golden Retrievers can vary from each other is by color. Goldens are known for their luscious locks that come in a shiny golden color.
There is very little color variation between Goldens. Unlike Labradors, which come in three very distinct colors, Goldens tend to stay within a limited spectrum.
In general, there are three classifications of gold.
- Light Golden, including cream colored
- Dark Golden (but not red)
This spectrum is strict, especially for show dogs. If a dog falls outside of this color range, it cannot compete or be registered with the American Kennel Club.
Despite the desirability of the gold color, there are dogs that fall outside of this range. You can find Golden Retriever colors varying from pure white, mahogany, to even sometimes red or even black! They are not as common, but they can be found.
The beauty of these colors is that it is hereditary. Goldens will only have puppies within the same color spectrum. You can generally guess the color of the dog based off of the parents. They are not like Labrador litters where you can find all three colors.
So, if you are looking for a redhead or a pure-white Golden, you should find a reputable breeder for that exact shade. Keep in mind though that puppies with darker ears will generally have darker coats.
While there are different “types” of Golden Retrievers, the differences are mostly cosmetic. You can find both different colored options as well as different varieties. They might vary in size and shape, but they won’t vary in their loving demeanor kind-heartedness.
The truth is, no matter the color or type, a Golden Retriever will be the perfect pet for your family. They are smart, fun, and easy to take care of and train. They will quickly become your new best friend and will be a companion for years to come.