The Golden Retriever dog was originally bred as a working dog, a dog with great working ability, stamina, powerful, yet still gentle and trainable. Originally bred at Guisachan, Glen Affric, near Inverness by Lord Tweedmouth, from a series of matings which started with mating a good looking yellow Flat Coated Retriever with a Tweed Water Spaniel. (the Tweed Water Spaniel is sadly now extinct, but is believed to be a small liver coloured dog with a curly coat.)
Lord Tweedmouth then went on to breed from the offspring of this initial litter, using out crosses to the Irish Setter, another Tweed Water Spaniel, the St John’s Water dog of Newfoundland and two more black Flat Coated Retrievers. This careful inbreeding was deliberately chosen to create Lord Tweedmouth’s vision of the ultimate hunting dog – his vision was a dog more powerful and vigorous than other retrievers, yet retaining a soft gentle nature.
Over the years, breeders have bred to the KC breed standard – however the breed has branched into 2 distinct ‘styles’ – the heavier built, heavily coated ‘show’ style Golden Retriever and the lighter built, darker ‘working’ style Golden Retriever.
Looks may vary slightly nowadays, what is still key within the breed standard is that soundness is essential, and all Goldens must be bred to be fit for purpose – which in effect means that all Goldens irrelevant of colour, build and coat style can do the job Lord Tweedmouth intended they do – do a days work in the sporting field, find live game and/or retrieve game to hand that has been shot or wounded.
Temperament is as paramount now in our breeding, just as Lord Tweedmouth envisaged and strived to create, all those years ago. If your Golden loves to carry something – anything – he is full filling a breed instinct, carefully installed into the breed from the very first mating over 155 years ago.
Nowadays the The Golden Retriever tends to be a rarity in the shooting field, especially if you compare it to the ubiquitous Labrador, Fashion may have had a hand in this, because a well trained Golden is every bit a match for even the best of Labradors.
Goldens tend to mature later, therefore the sporting person who requires a dog to be trained quickly and be repetitive in its nature, will choose the Labrador over a Golden. For those who have time, patience and an understanding of the breed, a well trained Golden is a delight.