golden retriever

Golden Retrievers are one of the most popular breeds of dog in the United States and in many other countries. They make great family dogs and they love children.

History

The Golden Retriever is a relatively young breed. They were developed in the 19th century in Scotland by the Earl of Tweedmouth. He crossed yellow retrievers of the time with Tweed Water Spaniels (now extinct) to produce the first Golden Retrievers. Later he added Irish Setters, Bloodhounds, and more Tweed Water Spaniels to perfect the dogs.

Temperament

Golden Retrievers are active, energetic dogs. They require lots of exercise. They can adapt to living in many different circumstances as long as they have plenty of daily exercise. They are loving and affectionate dogs who are devoted to their families. They are gentle and love children. They are exceptionally intelligent and easy to train. Many of the most outstanding obedience and agility dogs are Golden Retrievers. They love to earn your praise and please you. They make a great dog for an active family or individual. They are friendly, reliable, trustworthy dogs. They are usually outgoing and they don’t make very good guard dogs.

Appearance

Golden Retrievers are members of the Sporting group. They weigh between 55 and 75 pounds and stand between 21 ½ and 24 inches tall at the withers. They have a dense, water-repellant coat with a good undercoat and they have feathering on their legs, chest, and tail. They are usually recognized by their coat which is a rich lustrous gold. It can range from a light gold to a darker gold.

Health

Golden Retrievers are generally healthy dogs and they have an average lifespan of about 11 years, but there are some health problems that are known in the breed. Hips, elbows, eyes, and hearts are considered the “big four” for Golden Retrievers in terms of health. Goldens rank #34 among 168 breeds in the OFA database for canine hip dysplasia. In years 2006-2010 they had 9 percent of dogs test with Excellent hips; and 13.3 percent of dogs test with some degree of dysplasia out of 12,805 dogs reported tested during this time period. The breed has made great progress since testing began some 40 years ago.

For elbow dysplasia, Golden Retrievers rank #29 among all breeds in the OFA database. Eighty-eight percent of dogs that have been tested over the years (elbow testing began in 1990) were rated with Normal elbows. While 11 percent of the total were rated as having some degree of elbow dysplasia.

Eye diseases, such as cataracts and progressive retinal atrophy (prcd-PRA), can also affect Golden Retrievers.

They can also be affected by heart diseases such as subvalvular aortic stenosis and cardiomyopathy.

Cancer does seem to be very common in Golden Retrievers. The most common forms of cancer in the breed are hemangiosarcoma, followed by lymphosarcoma, mast cell tumour, and osteosarcoma. According to a 1998 health study conducted by the Golden Retriever Club of America, 61.4 percent of Goldens died from some form of cancer. A 2004 health study conducted by the Kennel Club in the UK found that 38.8 percent of Goldens died from cancer.

Hypothyroidism and allergies are also found in the breed.

If you are thinking of getting a Golden Retriever, especially a puppy, be sure to talk to the breeder about the health of their dogs. Ask about the health of the parents and ask if the dogs have been evaluated for hip and elbow dysplasia; had their hearts examined by a board-certified veterinary cardiologist; and had their eyes examined by a board-certified veterinary opthalmologist within the last 12-18 months. The breeder should also be able to answer your questions about other health issues. Don’t worry. These tests are not hard for breeders to obtain. They are routinely offered by many veterinarians, by vet schools, veterinary teaching hospitals, and even at clinics at some dog shows. Good breeders have their dogs health tested before breeding. This is how breeders work to improve the health of their breeds. Note that these particular tests apply to Golden Retrievers. Other breeds may require different tests.

Even with all the testing and good care in the world, dogs are not perfect. Just like people, a puppy or dog may get sick at some point. But a good breeder will have a contract that will spell out their obligations and yours. Breeders will usually be responsible for genetic health problems and for some other issues for a certain amount of time. Go over the contract carefully with the breeder before you sign it and buy the puppy. (Obviously, there are limits. Don’t wait until your dog is 14 years old to claim that he has a genetic health problem. That’s a long life for most dogs and the breeder probably won’t take you seriously.)

Training

Golden Retrievers are extremely intelligent and easy to train. They do well with clicker training and positive reinforcement. Many of them are food-motivated so you can train with treats. Goldens do very well at almost any kind of activity. They excel at obedience, agility, rally, hunting and field work (they’re natural retrievers), water activities such as dock jumping; flyball and frisbee are also fun with this breed. They are active, intelligent dogs and they love to please and do things with their owners. They can learn to do almost anything.

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