Breed breakdown: An in-depth look at the golden retriever
The vet’s office
By Dr. Beth Engelbert, DVM
Wildwood Animal Hospital and Clinic LLC
Golden retrievers have been one the most popular breeds for many years. They are a breed that has been used for hunting, service, family companionship, and more. One thing any golden owner will tell you is that they are not long-haired Labradors.
Goldens were developed in Scotland in the late 1800s for retrieving upland game and waterfowl. The breed was originally grouped with the flat coated retrievers, but it was quickly realized they are very different. It was also quickly discovered that this amiable breed was good for more than just retrieving.
According to the breed standard, a golden retriever should be “a symmetrical, powerful, active dog, sound and well put together, not clumsy nor long in the leg.” In fact, the breed standard gives height and weight ranges where males should be no taller than 23 to 24 inches at the withers and weigh 65 to 75 pounds. Females can be up to 21 ½ to 22 ½ inches and weight 55 to 65 pounds.
The fur on the golden retriever is one of its distinguishing characteristics. The coat is “dense and water-repellent with (a) good undercoat,” and the outer coat is “neither coarse nor silky, lying close to body (and) may be straight or wavy.” Goldens are known for their “moderate feathering on back of forelegs and on underbody” with “heavier feathering on front of neck, back of thighs, and underside of tail.”
Goldens can vary in color, ranging from a cream to a rich red. The feathering, however, may be a lighter shading.
Perhaps the best feature is the golden retriever’s personality. They should display “a kindly expression and possessing a personality that is eager, alert, and self-confident.” They should be “friendly, reliable, and trustworthy. Quarrelsomeness or hostility towards other dogs or people in normal situations, or an unwarranted show of timidity or nervousness, is not in keeping with golden retriever character.”
Like any breed, golden retrievers or their mixes can be prone to certain health conditions. Like many large-breed dogs, hip dysplasia and elbow dysplasia can occur, leading to mobility problems and painful arthritis. Goldens can develop progressive retinal atrophy (PRA) that leads to blindness. Goldens can have icthyosis, a disease that leads to scaly skin.
Dysplasia, PRA, and icthyosis have a genetic component. Screening of the parents can help decrease the odds of your puppy developing these conditions.
Goldens can unfortunately be likely to develop certain types of cancer, including lymphoma and hemangiosarcoma. Many studies are being done to look for risk factors such as genetics, lifestyle, and neutering status.
As with obtaining any puppy, doing your homework is important. Local kennel clubs and rescue organizations can be great resources to helping you find a wonderful, golden-haired friend.
Wildwood Animal Hospital and Clinic LLC is located at 210 Airpark Road in Marshfield and online at wildwoodanimalhospital.net.