Believed to have been developed by Lord Tweedmouth in the late 1800s, the Golden Retriever has its roots in the Scottish Highlands where it was selectively bred for the purposes of hunting, tracking and retrieving upland game, as its name would suggest. By crossing the original flat-coated Retriever with the Tweed Water Spaniel - a breed that is now extinct - the Golden Retriever came into existence, possessing a versatility unmatched by any other canine breed. Despite the general belief in Lord Tweedmouth's claim to the Retriever, analysis of paintings, studbooks and related sources suggests that the breed was in existence long before the 1800s. Today, the modern Golden Retriever is widely considered one of the most popular breeds, not only as a companionable house dog but in obedience, service and therapy.
Easily identifiable for its wavy golden coat, the Retriever is medium-sized with a straight muzzle, large brown eyes, feathering on ears, back of legs, underside of tail and front of neck. The dense, double-coat is common in colour variations of rich gold and cream. Due to its keen senses, gentle temperament and adaptability, the modern Golden Retriever is utilised in various services, including search and rescue, animal-assisted therapy, arson and drug detection and as a guide dog for the blind. As with all retrievers, the Golden Retriever loves water, whether in a pool, lake or the sea.
Highly trainable, the breed is the ideal choice for the modern family or dedicated sole owner. Whilst a Golden Retriever might make a good watch dog, alerting its owner to the presence of a stranger, its capacity to guard is easily matched due to the breed's inherent love of people. Compatible with children and other domestic animals, the Golden Retriever is affectionate, loyal, obedient and fun-loving, making a great addition to any home setting. On average, a Golden Retriever will weigh 27-40 kg depending on its gender, with a life expectancy of 10-12 years when shown the appropriate care.
Breed-specific health complaints include hip dysplasia, skin allergies and congenital eye defects. More serious ailments specific to the Retriever include von Willebrand's disease - a bleeding disorder, heart disease and cancer, with the Golden Retriever being particularly prone to developing mast-cell tumours. Procuring weight easily, the feeding of human foods is not encouraged for this breed as even the smallest amount of excess fat can lead to detrimental weight gain.