Canine Breed Menu



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Breed Organization
Golden Retriever Club of America
Native Country
Great Britain
Other Names
Golden Retriever, Flat-Coated Golden
Life Expectancy
Approximately 10-12 Years
Litter Size
Average 6-10 Puppies
Breed Group
AKC Sporting
Breed Appearance
The Golden Retriever is a large, strongly-built breed with a dense water-repellant wavy coat. As a dog with origins in pedigree breeding, and due to its widespread historical popularity, some regional variations have emerged in the breed; therefore, there are three sub-types of the Golden Retriever that reflect the typical variations in dimensions and coat. However, all Golden Retrievers are blonde, yellow, or gold in color and all sub-types are susceptible to the same health problems.

British type Golden Retrievers are prevalent throughout Europe and Australia, and are distinguished from the North American lines by the official breed standards. The muzzle of the British dog is wider and shorter, and its forehead is blockier. Its legs are shorter, its chest is deeper, and its tail is slightly shorter. Due to these features, a British type usually weighs more than an American or Canadian. Males will be between 56 and 61 cm (22 and 24 in) at the withers; females will be slightly shorter, at between 51 and 56 cm (20 and 22 in). Acceptable or expected weights are not specified in the UK standard, but the KC standard calls for a level topline and straight hindquarters without the slight rear angulation found in American lines. The eyes of the European type are noted for their roundness and darkness, which is in contrast to the triangular or slanted composition of their American counterparts. A Golden Retriever of British breeding can have a coat color of any shade of gold or cream; red or mahogany are not permitted colors of coat. Originally, cream was an unacceptable color in the UK standard, but the standard was revised in 1936 to include cream. At the time of this revision, it was agreed the exclusion of cream as a color was a mistake, as the original "yellow" retrievers of the 19th century were actually lighter in color than was permitted by the standards that were used before 1936. As with American lines, white is an unacceptable color in the show ring. The British KC standard is used in all countries except the USA and Canada. Golden Retrievers have muscular bodies with great endurance, owing to their origins as hunting and gundogs.

American Golden Retrievers are taller than the British type, but retain its thick coat. The American Goldens are lankier and less stocky than British types. Males will stand between 23 and 24 in (58 and 61 cm) in height at the withers; females will be 21.5–22.5 in (55–57 cm). Their coat is dense and water-repellent, and comes in various shades of lustrous gold with moderate feathering. When trotting, they have a free, smooth, powerful, and well-coordinated gait; as the dog runs, its feet converge towards the centre of the line of balance. The American standard also makes requirements about the proportion, substance, head and skull, neck, body, topline, forequarters, and hindquarters; in these respects, the American type Retriever is the same as Golden Retrievers that conform to other national standards. American breeders of Golden Retrievers sometimes import their dogs from Britain, in order to take advantage of the temperament and appearance of the British types.

The Canadian Golden Retriever has a thinner coat and stands taller than other varieties of Golden Retriever. As with American Golden Retrievers, Canadians are often taller and leaner than their British counterparts. However, Canadian retrievers differ in the density and color of their coats, which are commonly thinner and darker than those of Americans.

Breed Description (British)
Head: Well-proportioned, finely chiseled. Broad skull. Pronounced stop. Powerful muzzle. Black nose. Strong jaws.
Ears: Set on at about eye level, medium in size.
Eyes: Widely spaced, dark brown. Dark edges of eyelids.
Body: Powerful, well-balanced. Neck moderately long, cleanly cut, and muscular. Chest well let-down. Well-sprung ribs. Short, strong back.
Tail: Set on and carried level with the topline. Reaching to the hock. Does not curl at the tip.
Hair: Flat or wavy with abundant feathering. Dense, waterproof undercoat.
Coat: Any shade of golden or cream. Should not be red or mahogany. Sparse white hairs allowed only on the chest.
Size: Dog: 56 to 61 cm. (22-24 in).Bitch: 51 to 56 cm. (20-22 in).
Weight: Dog: 26 to 31.5 kg. (57.5-69.5 lb).Bitch: 25 to 27 kg. (55-59.5 lb).

The Golden Retriever most likely descended from the same strain as the Labrador and was improved through various crosses (of the yellow Flat-coated Retriever from Newfoundland with Scottish water spaniels and other breeds). The breed was stabilized in England in the nineteenth century. Some believe that the Golden Retriever was created by crossing the Bloodhound with yellow dogs from the Caucasus Mountains - Russian Yellow Retrievers - used in Scotland to retrieve wounded game. The Golden Retriever was recognized by the Kennel Club in 1913. In the United States, the Golden is a very popular pet.

Hardy, vigorous, and active, the Golden Retriever has an excellent nose and works both in water and in thickets. He is a tenacious tracker, although less methodical than the Labrador. He excels at retrieving waterfowl and has a remarkable memory. Lacking aggressiveness, he rarely barks and is not a watchdog. Very gentle, intelligent, calm, and even-tempered, he makes a wonderful pet. He needs firm but gentle training.

Prone to cancer including mast cell tumors. Also prone to hip dysplasia, Von Willebrand's disease, heart problems and congenital eye defects. Skin allergies are common in Golden Retrievers and often require veterinary attention. Gain weight easily; do not overfeed.

He is not suited to apartment life because he needs lots of exercise. He hates being left alone. He requires brushing once or twice weekly, as well as combing during the shedding season.

Hunting Dog, Utility Dog: Guide Dog, Wreckage Search Dog, Drug Detection Dog, Companion Dog.

Horse Herd