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Golden Retriever History

Golden Retriever Ontario Canada

Ph: 705-440-7644

History of the Golden Retriever


UNTIL 1952, the history of the Golden, the most glamorous of the retrievers, reads like a fairy-tale. This is how it went: In 1858 Sir Dudley Majoribanks, later Lord Tweedmouth, a Scotsman, was on a visit to the English seaside town of Brighton. While there he attended a circus and was so taken by a troupe of performing Russian sheepdogs he tried to buy a pair. The dogs’ trainer would not sell a pair, claiming that this would break up the troupe. Whereupon Majoribanks bought the lot, took them home to his estate, “Guichan,” in Scottish Border country, bred them and thus created the Golden Retriever.

The public loved the story but knowledgeable sporting dog people had their doubts. Well founded as it turned out, because in 1952 Majoribanks’ breeding records from 1835 to 1890 were made public and they contained no mention of the Russian dogs. They did reveal that the Golden was all sporting blood, having been developed by crossing the wavy-coat Retriever with a yellow-coloured Tweed Water Spaniel, a breed common in the Border country. The first litter of four puppies was whelped in 1868 and named Crocus, Primrose, Cowslip, and Ada. In turn these dogs were crossed with the Red Setter and sandy-coloured Bloodhounds. Eventually line breeding created the Golden.

The breed was first exhibited in Britain in 1908 and was granted separate breed status in 1913. First classified as the Retriever (Golden and Yellow) in 1920, the name was changed to Golden Retriever. Since that year the breed has continued to grow in popularity around the world. Breeders have succeeded in retaining the Golden’s sporting instincts as well as promoting it as a beautiful, top winning show dog. Mild mannered and extremely trainable, the Golden has excelled in obedience and has an outstanding record as a guide dog for the blind. It is reported that at the guide dog training schools there are fewer rejects among Golden Retrievers than there are for any other breed. The Golden Retriever was first registered in Canada in 1927.

Breed Standard:


General Appearance

A symmetrical, powerful, active dog, sound and well put together, not clumsy or long in the leg, displaying a kindly expression and possessing a personality that is eager, alert, and self-confident. Primarily a hunting dog, he should be shown in hard working condition. Over-all appearance, balance, gait, and purpose to be given more emphasis than any of his component parts.

Friendly, reliable, trustworthy. Hostility or aggressiveness towards other dogs or people, undue timidity or nervousness in normal situations is not in keeping with the character of the Golden Retriever. Dogs displaying poor temperament should be excused from the ring.

Males 23 – 24 inches (58-61 cm) in height at withers; females, 21-1/2 – 22-1/2 inches (55-57 cm). Length from breastbone to buttocks slightly greater than height at withers in ratio of 12:11. Weight for dogs, 65-75 lb. (29-34); bitches, 60-70 lb. (27-32 kg).

Coat and Colour
Dense and water repellent with good undercoat. Texture not as hard as that of a short-haired dog nor silky as that of a setter. Lies flat against body and may be straight or wavy. Moderate feathering on back of forelegs and heavier feathering on front of neck, back of thighs and underside of tail. Feathering may be lighter than rest of coat. Excessive length, open coats or limp, soft coats are undesirable. The natural appearance of coat or outline should not be altered by cutting or clipping, other than the trimming of the feet and neatening of stray hairs. Colour lustrous golden of various shades. A few white hairs on chest permissible but not desirable. Further white markings to be faulted except for greying or whitening of the face or body due to age. Any noticeable area of black or other off-colour hair is to be faulted.

Broad in skull, slightly arched laterally and longitudinally without prominence of frontal or occipital bones. Good stop. Foreface deep and wide, nearly as long as skull. Muzzle, when viewed in profile, slightly deeper at stop than at tip; when viewed from above, slightly wider at stop than at tip. No heaviness in flews. Removal of whiskers for show purposes optional. Nose black or dark brown, though lighter shade in cold weather not serious. Teeth scissors bite with lower incisors touching inside of upper incisors. Full dentition. Obvious gaps created by missing teeth to be faulted. Eyes friendly and intelligent, medium large with dark, close-fitting rims, set well apart and reasonably deep in sockets. Colour preferably dark brown, never lighter than colour of coat. No white or haw visible when looking straight ahead. Dogs showing evidence of a functional abnormality of the eyelids or eyelashes (such as, but not limited to, trichiasis, entropion, ectropionise or distichiasis) are to be excused from the ring. Ears rather short, hanging flat against head with rounded tips slightly below jaw. Forward edge attached well behind and just above eye with rear edge slightly below eye.

Medium long, sloping well back into shoulders, giving sturdy muscular appearance with untrimmed natural ruff. No throatiness.

Forequarters muscular well co-ordinated with hindquarters and capable of free movement. Shoulder blades wide, long, and well laid back, showing angulations with upper arm of approximately 90 degrees. Shoulder blade and upper arm (humours) should be approximately equal in length, setting close-fitting elbows back beneath the upper tip of the shoulder blades. Legs straight with good bone. Pastern short and strong, sloping slightly forward with no suggestion of weakness.

Top line level from withers to croup, whether standing or moving. Well balanced, short coupled, deep through the heart. Chest at least as wide as a man’s hand, including thumb. Brisket extends to elbows. Ribs long and well sprung but not barrel shaped, extending well to rear of body. Loin short, muscular, wide and deep, with very little tuck-up. Croup slopes gently.

Well bent stifles (angulations between femur and pelvis approximately 90 degrees) with hocks well let down. Legs straight when viewed from rear. Feet medium size, round and compact with thick pads. Excessive hair may be trimmed to show natural size and contour.

Well set on, neither too high nor too low, following natural line of croup. Length extends to hock. Carried with merry action with some upward curve but never curled over back or between legs.

When trotting, gait is free, smooth, powerful, and well co-ordinated. Viewed from front or rear, legs turn neither in nor out, nor do feet cross or interfere with each other. Increased speed causes tendency of feet to converge toward centreline of gravity.

White markings beyond a few hairs on chest. Dudley nose (pink without pigmentation). Low, hound-like ear-set. Slab-sidedness, narrow chest, lack of depth in brisket, excessive tuck-up, roach or sway back. Cow-hocks and sickle hocks. Open or splayed feet.

1. Deviations in height of more than 1 inch (2.54 cm) from standard either way.
2. Undershot or overshot jaws. This condition not to be confused with misalignment of teeth.