The history of the Golden Retriever breed begins with the legend that at the end of the 19th century, Dudley Tweedmouth visited a Russian circus, who came to Great Britain on tour, and there he saw shepherd dogs, which he bought for breeding a new breed. This legend was believed for a very long time, and at the beginning of the 20th century even the name “Yellow Russian Retrievers” appeared, they were presented at famous exhibitions.
But thanks to Elma Stonex, who studies the history of the breed, it became known that Russian Shepherds have nothing to do with Retrievers. It turns out that in 1865 the Lord acquired a Curly-Coated Retriever named Nous, he was distinguished by a golden color. It was then that Tweedmouth decided to breed yellow dogs for hunting.
In 1867 a Tweed Water Spaniel female was bought, from her and Nous, the dog breeder received the first litter of puppies with a dark yellow color. After the death of the lord, his son and grandson continued business.
In 1952, an article was published by the 6th Earl of Ilchester, where it was discovered that his famous uncle Lord Tweedmouth kept a studbook, where he personally recorded each dog, kept a record of matings and litters of his kennel since 1835. Today these recordings are kept at the Kennel Club, where they can be seen. In the first Golden Retrievers pedigrees, one could find a huge number of breeds – Irish Setter, Water Spaniel, Straight Coated Retriever, and Labrador.
As a result of numerous crosses, Prim and Rose were finally born in 1889 – the first representatives of the Golden Retriever breed.
The first most influential kennel in the breed, producing both working Retrievers and show dogs, was ‘Culham’, owned by Lord Harcourt, who took their lineage founders from Lord Tweedmouth and Lord Portsmouth. All modern lines of Golden Retrievers descend to the ‘Culham’ kennel bloodlines.
One of the most notable personalities among the Golden Retriever breeders was undoubtedly Mrs. Charlesworth, Normanby kennel. She worked tirelessly over the next several years and even used in her breeding a female without pedigree, named Normanby Beauty, which, when mated with Culham Brass, gave Normanby Balfour in 1908. And in 1912 Normanby Campfire was born, who took his place in history as the first Golden Retriever to become the Champion of Great Britain.
The breed’s popularity grew, and in 1909 eight Golden Retrievers were presented at Craft’s, and the next year – twice as many. And it must be recalled that during these years there was no separation of yellow Retrieves into a separate breed, all were registered as Flats. 1913 was the most important year in the history of the breed, Mrs. Charlesworth founded the Golden Retriever Club, with the foundations of the first Breed Standard. During these years, the Kennel Club classified the breed as independent from other Retrievers under the name Golden or Yellow Retriever. In 1920 the first double champion Dual Ch Balcombe Boy was registered in the breed. He was only two years old when he earned both of these titles. And he went down in history as the first Golden Retriever to become a Dual Champion and that would have been enough to keep his name in memory, but he also had a huge influence on the formation of the breed.
Since 1900, a huge number of nurseries began to form, which would not be enough for a whole book describing their field successes and breeding achievements. The first Golden Retrievers were quite dark in color, but after decades, the color, thanks to fashion and the efforts of breeders, began to lighten, and today in the Scandinavian countries you can see almost white Goldens. In the United States, dogs continue to breed rather dark golden tones and are considered a vice, the appearance of white puppies. Today there is a lot of controversy about the color of the Golden Retriever, but any expert will always give preference to the dog, first of all, with the best movement, type, and temperament, rather than color.
The Golden Retriever breed is divided into three types:
- American – has a rich golden color. Too light or dark colors are not typical for representatives of this type. In terms of growth, they slightly exceed the rest of the brethren.
- European – differ in lighter shades, up to a pure white color. They are slightly heavier in build.
- Canadian – combines the properties of the above two types.
Retrievers have a well-proportioned build, a wide muzzle, and drooping ears with rounded tips. The jaws are very strong, with a scissor bite. Wide-set, oval eyes of dark color. Dogs have well-developed limbs. The animal’s coat is straight or slightly wavy, the undercoat is particularly dense and waterproof. Standard sizes and weights are as follows: Male – height 56–61 cm, weight 26–42 kg. Female – height 51–56 cm, weight 25–37 kg. The color features of the breed are directly related to genetics, ranging from classic dark gold to solid cream shades or pure white.
As already mentioned, the breed was bred as a hunting one, mainly for taking a game from the water, therefore they have a very thick undercoat and membranes on their paws. However, nowadays, Retrievers are acquired mainly as dogs, companions, since the Golden Retriever is a friendly, loving, incredibly intelligent, endlessly loyal family dog.