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Golden Retriever: History and Appearance

History

The Golden Retriever’s history begins with the popularity of hunting in 1800’s England and Scotland. It is believed that all retrievers can be traced back to the St. John’s Dog of Newfoundland, as it is the ancestor of the wavy coated retriever.

Retrievers were valued at the time for their ability to retrieve waterfowl from both land and water, and several breeders began improving or developing the breed. The first records of the Golden Retriever come from the 1800’s, when a single yellow pup from a litter of black wavy coated retrievers was purchased. The pup was purchased by the first Lord of Tweedmouth, and was named Nous. Nous was bred to a Tweed Water Spaniel, resulting in four yellow dogs. It is believed that these four yellow dogs are the foundation of the breed.

The Tweed Water Spaniel is a breed that is now extinct. It was native to Scotland and used to retrieve game and assist fishermen. The Tweed Water Spaniel was a “light liver’ color, but featured a short, somewhat curly, feathered coat.

Through several generations of careful breeding, a line of working retrievers was developed. Tweedmouth was careful to keep the breeding to the main line that descended from Nous. He crossbred this line with another Tweed Water Spaniel, several black wavy coated retrievers, and a red setter. Only the yellow pups were kept; with working ability, retrieving aptitude, obedience, and ability to withstand the rough terrain and deep cold considered the desired traits.

The retrievers that Tweedmouth bred were given to friends and family members, but the strain remained unknown until after 1900. In 1904, one of the Tweedmouth dogs sired the winner of the first field trials for retrievers.

“Yellow retrievers” were then registered with the Kennel Club of England as “Retrievers (wavy or flat coated.) They began appearing at dog shows in 1908, but were classed as “Flat Coats of any other color.” It was a Mrs. W.M. Charlesworth who recognized the “Goldens” and helped to change their classification.

Golden Retrievers were soon brought to America, and the breed was finally recognized in 1925 by the American Kennel Club. Golden Retrievers continued to be imported to the United States from England. They were established in several pockets of the United States before World War II. After the war, the breed’s U.S. population grew steadily. In the 1970’s, there was a surge of AKC registered Golden Retrievers, and the breed has continued to be desired as a pet since... Read More

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