Golden Retrievers are so called because they love to retrieve things! This dog was bred – initially in Scotland – to help with wild fowl hunts, retrieving the birds from water and scrub-land. Today they may be used for other occupations, such as police work, search-and-rescue, blind or disabled ‘guide’ assistance, and as a companion pet in aged care facilities.
In appearance, the ‘Golden’ is medium to large in size, being between 25 and 34kgs and 51 to 61cm (20-24 inches) tall, with males being larger and heavier than females. They have a lovely shiny medium length coat which may come in a variety of shades of gold.
As far as temperament goes, the Golden should make a wonderful companion and family pet, being generally of gentle disposition and friendly, playful nature. He loves playing with children and will happily spend hours in a game of ‘fetch’. Goldens are known to be slow to mature and may retain their puppyish-ness well into adulthood. Being companionable and social they need to spend their time closely interacting with their owners to stay happy and content. They are also very intelligent and easy to train.
On the down-side, this breed sheds a lot of hair, which creates mess, and so they may not be suitable for someone who is very fastidious. They also love to regularly bring all sorts of objects to you, and to get muddy, but do not generally make a good guard dog, as they will most likely greet intruders with a wagging tail!
According to the Golden Retriever Club of Victoria, Goldens are susceptible to hip and elbow dysplasia, eye diseases, and subaortic stenosis of the heart. While these are genetic disorders they can be minimised in a good environment and care from the dog’s owners. Breeding from a dog with a serious genetic defect is discouraged. The National Golden Retriever Council states that all Goldens born after January 2002 must have their ‘Hip Grading Certificates’ lodged with DOGS Victoria, before registration can be issued for their progeny. If you want to breed Goldens, contact the Golden Retriever Club in your State for information.
How to care for your Golden Retriever
Grooming – Your Golden should be brushed to keep his coat’s lustre and health. This needs to be done regularly to avoid matting and knots, for skin health, and to reduce the amount of shed-hair. The Golden undergoes a major moulting of hair once a year.
Diet – Goldens love their food and can become overweight, which should be avoided as it can compromise their health, especially as they are prone to hip dysplasia. Your breeder or vet will be able to give more detailed information on diet for your dog.
Exercise – This breed need daily exercise such as good walks or a play at the park or beach, fetching a ball or other toy. Having been bred to retrieve waterfowl, they love to swim as well as play in muddy puddles.
Training – Goldens are intelligent and easy to train, which should start when are puppies at an obedience dog club, or at a puppy school. A well-trained dog makes a better companion for your household.
‘Showing’ your Golden Retriever
Your dog needs to conform to the Breed Standard in order to compete in dog shows. According to the Golden Retriever Club of NSW, this includes the following particular characteristics:
- General appearance – symmetrical, powerful and sound with “kindly expression”.
- Coat should be flat or waxy, have good feathering and with a dense undercoat.
- Colour can be any shade of gold or cream and a few white hairs on the chest are permissible. Red or mahogany colours not allowed.
- Size – 56-61cms for males and 51-56cms for bitches.
- Temperament should be friendly, confident and kind.
- Eyes – dark brown with dark rims.
- Ears to be of moderate size and on an approximate level with the eyes.
- Feet to be round and ‘cat-like’
- Tail should be carried level with the back and with no curl at the tip.
More information about owning, breeding or showing Goldens in Australia can be found at the Golden Retriever Club in your State.