If you do an online search for “best dog in the world,” which breed will come up as number one? When I searched, “mixed breeds” came in first. The Golden Retriever was in the top 10, but for purebred dogs, the Labrador Retriever was on top. The Lab is a great dog, but Golden Retriever owners will most likely argue that the Golden should really get that honor.
Golden Retrievers consistently rank as one of the most popular dog breeds in the United States AKC rankings. If you have ever met a Golden Retriever, you can understand why it is such a popular dog. Goldens are beautiful, playful, reliable, and eager-to-please family members.
History of Golden Retrievers
Like another great dog breed, the Border Collie, the history of the Golden retriever begins in the Scottish Highlands. The Scots must have a special talent for developing great dog breeds!
A Scotsman, Dudley Marjoribanks, 1st Baron Tweedmouth, developed the Golden Retriever breed between 1840 and 1890. Tweedmouth kept detailed records of his efforts to create an ideal gundog for use at his estate in the Highlands. Bird hunting was a popular pastime, and he wanted a dog that could retrieve on land and in the water. He bred a yellow-colored retriever with a Tweed Water Spaniel and later also included an Irish Setter and Bloodhound in the mix.
For more detailed information on the early history of the Golden Retrievers, read Mrs. Elliot’s article “Early Ancestors of the Golden Retriever.”
Why Golden Retrievers Are So Popular
The Golden Retriever ranks as one of the top 3 most popular dog breeds in the United States. Only the Labrador Retriever and the German Shepherd are more popular. These 3 breeds have dominated the popularity rankings for many years.
The Golden is so popular because it is such a good looking and good-natured dog. It is extremely rare for a Golden to show aggression toward any person or other animals. If any dog understands or lives by the golden rule, the Golden Retriever is that dog.
Goldens are easy to train and are often used as guide dogs, mobility assistance dogs, and in search and rescue. They are not good guard dogs because they are so friendly to everyone, including strangers.
Golden Retriever’s Health and Grooming
Goldens are usually healthy and have a lifespan of 10-12 years, comparable to the lifespan of another medium to large dog breeds. The main genetic condition they may inherit is hip dysplasia, a common problem with dogs.
Goldens have a dense light to dark gold fur coat, and they shed heavily during the shedding season and moderately throughout the year. You will need to brush them frequently to keep hair off the furniture and rugs.
Famous Golden Retriever Owners
The Golden Retriever has been popular in the United States for a long time. Still, its popularity really took off in the 1970s because of President Gerald Ford and his beautiful Golden named Liberty. Gerald Ford was not the only President to admire Goldens. President Reagan owned a Golden Retriever named Victory.
Other famous persons who owned Goldens:
- Adam Levine — Charlie & Frankie Girl
- Nick Jonas — Elvis
- Oprah Winfrey — Gracie & Luca
- Jackie Chan — JJ
- Pamela Anderson — Jojo
- Jackie Chan — Jones
- Betty White — Pontiac
- Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone — Renn
Golden Retrievers have also starred in movies. Here are a few:
- Parker (Enzo) from The Art of Racing in the Rain (2019)
- Beau from Wargames (1983)
- Shadow from Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey (1993)
- Fluke from the movie Fluke (1995)
- Bud from Air Bud (1997)
- Brinkley from You’ve Got Mail (1998)
- Rosebud from Air Buddies Series (2006)
- Mud bud from Air Buddies Series (2006)
- Dug from Pixar’s Animated movies Up and Dug’s Special Mission (2009)
- Bingo from Salt (2009)
The Golden Retriever is a medium-large (55 to 75 pounds) gun dog with a life expectancy between 10 to 12 years. It is an intelligent dog bred for hunting and used as a guide dog for the blind and a hearing dog for the deaf. They are good at detecting dogs and search and rescue. They are too friendly and gentle to be guard dogs, but that also makes it a great family pet. They are not a “one-man dog” and are generally equally friendly with strangers and their owners.
Golden Retrievers and “Designer Dogs”
The “Goldendoodle” is a designer dog created by breeding a Golden Retriever with a Poodle. They are a fairly popular mixed-breed dog but are also a bit controversial. Devotees of the purebred Goldens offer this opinion:
The Golden Retriever Club of America is opposed to cross-breeding of dogs and is particularly opposed to the deliberate crossing of Golden Retrievers with any other breed. These crossbreds are a deliberate attempt to mislead the public to think that they are advantageous to these designer dogs. The crossbred dogs are prone to all of the genetic diseases of both breeds and offer none of the advantages of owning a purebred dog. — Golden Retriever Club of America
While I understand their opinion, it is also, to me, a bit ironic. After all, the Golden Retriever would not exist today if Lord Tweedmouth had not mixed several dog breeds.