What Were Golden Retrievers Bred For? Original Role, Jobs, History, and More

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iStock.com/Tatyana Kalmatsuy

Written by Angie Menjivar

Published: May 1, 2023

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Each dog breed has a rich history. Take pit bulls, for instance, which were initially bred for bull baiting. Great Danes were bred for boar hunting, while chihuahuas were bred for companionship. Discover what golden retrievers were bred for, including their original jobs, history, and more!

Golden Retriever Introduction

Golden retrievers are Scottish gundogs recognized for their beautiful long coats and their status as loyal working dogs.

Fact TypeValue
SizeMales: 23 – 24 inches tall, 65 – 75 pounds Females: 21.5 – 22.5 inches tall, 55 – 65 pounds
Energy LevelEnergetic
Exercise NeedsRequires at least two hours of play per day
Social NeedsOpen to strangers, needs to be closely bonded with family
SheddingDouble, medium coat; sheds a lot
IntelligenceAdaptable, highly trainable, and needs a lot of mental stimulation
Life Span10 – 12 years
Health IssuesHip dysplasia, cancer, cardio and respiratory conditions, skin conditions
Fun FactGolden retrievers make fantastic service and therapy dogs

Evolution and Origins of a Golden Retriever

Golden retrievers were developed in the Scottish Highlands by Dudley Marjoribanks. He was the first lord of Tweedmouth and for half a century, Tweedmouth kept detailed records of all breeding. The ultimate goal was to breed just the right dog for use at the Guisachan Estate in Scotland. The environment had rocky terrain and it was an area with high precipitation. The right gundog would not only need to endure the environment but thrive in it.

The final mix included the yellow retriever, Irish setter, bloodhound, and a now-extinct breed called the Tweed water spaniel. Tweedmouth was thorough, following through with an incredibly reliable line of remarkable retrievers that displayed outstanding work ethics. It took a bit more refining over the years before the golden retriever you know and love today emerged. When they did, they proved happy-to-hunt and noble companions. In 1908, the golden retriever made its first appearance at a British dog show, and it started showing up in both Canada and America as well. Obviously impressing their human counterparts, they readily joined many homes.

Golden Retriever Overview

Golden retrievers are Scottish gundogs recognized for their beautiful long coats and their status as loyal working dogs. Not only do they fiercely complete fieldwork, but they’re also incredibly gentle and intelligent, even serving as guide dogs for the blind. They love work as much as they love play and family time. These are large pups with muscular builds. They have sturdy bodies and wide heads. Their expression can be described as friendly, and they move confidently with an energetic gait.

Different Types of Golden Retrievers

Although there is a single golden retriever breed, there are three main subtypes that fall under this same general category. They include:

  • American golden retrievers
  • British golden retrievers
  • Canadian golden retrievers

Golden Retriever Fun Fact!

Golden retrievers are friendly, affectionate dogs that enjoy socializing and can put a smile on just about anyone’s face. They have a gentle, caring nature and because they’re highly intelligent, training them for different tasks like therapy and service work is a breeze.

Pros and Cons of Owning Golden Retrievers

Sweet, gentle temperamentLarge dogs with hefty appetites
Easy to trainEnergetic, requiring at least two hours of play per day
Loves big families, including childrenLots of shedding

The Best Food for a Golden Retriever

Since golden retrievers grow to be rather large dogs, they need the proper food from the time of puppyhood. You should avoid dog food that has too much calcium, as it can be detrimental. The food they get should be formulated specifically for large-breed dogs. These dogs keep growing after the one-year mark, with many continuing to grow through the age of two. Their food should contain calcium and other nutrients with plenty of protein.

Size and Weight of a Golden Retriever

golden retriever

They are highly energetic, relishing each day as if it were both their first and last.

Male golden retrievers grow bigger than females. They usually stand tall at about 23 or 24 inches and weigh anywhere between 65 and 75 pounds. The females reach up to 22.5 inches tall and generally weigh between 55 and 65 pounds.

Golden Retriever Common Health Issues

Unfortunately, golden retrievers are prone to developing hip dysplasia. The appropriate diet along with supplements and plenty of veterinary follow-ups can keep you abreast of any issues to ensure you treat any issues before they worsen. Other common health issues include epilepsy, cardiovascular disease, hypothyroidism, and cancer.

Golden Retriever Temperament

These pups are gentle souls in big, lustrous bodies. They’re playful, silly, and love without bounds. They have not a single care in the world when they’re out running, working, or just playing with their favorite friends or humans. They are highly energetic, relishing each day as if it were both their first and last.

How to Care for a Golden Retriever

To properly care for your golden retriever, ensure they receive the following:

  • Nutrient-dense diet specifically for large breed dogs
  • Plenty of daily exercise and play
  • Regular teeth brushing
  • Brushing out the coat daily
  • Vet prevention and treatment

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About the Author

Angie Menjivar is a writer at A-Z-Animals primarily covering pets, wildlife, and the human spirit. She has 14 years of experience, holds a Bachelor's degree in psychology, and continues her studies into human behavior, working as a copywriter in the mental health space. She resides in North Carolina, where she's fallen in love with thunderstorms and uses them as an excuse to get extra cuddles from her three cats.

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