The History of Golden Retrievers

Do you want to know more about your Golden Retriever but can’t get them to share? Perhaps you need a short intro to ‘A History of Golden Retrievers’.

Known for their loyalty, kind eyes and general aura, Golden Retrievers are among the most popular choices of dog breeds in the US.

The History of the Golden Retriever Breed

Historically, however, these majestic creatures were preferred as hunting dogs by locals in the Scottish Highlands. Still, they made for great family entertainment and were known to be incredibly intelligent and affectionate, especially toward young children.

The History of Golden Retrievers

Since you’re very fond of your Gold pup, or are about to get acquainted with your first, you’re probably anxious about what to expect. Well, lucky for you, we’re about to take you along for a stroll in A History of Golden Retrievers.

A Wide Array of Golden Retrievers

Golden Retrievers were once considered to be hunting dogs in the Scottish Highlands and were often adopted or rescued by Scottish estate owners. Other than just to bring home a new friend for their lads, these estate owners preferred Golden Retrievers because they were excellent for hunting around grounds that had marshes and ponds.

While Golden Retrievers ‘retrieved’ birds and other game from land and water, Dudley Majoribanks, the Baron of Tweedmouth, set an aim to breed the perfect species. Using his expertise in dog breeds, he chose to bring together the traditional yellow-colored Golden Retriever and a Tweed water spaniel.

The 4 pups that came from this coupling were then used to breed with other similar lines such as Black Retrievers, St. John’s Water Dog, the Bloodhouse and Irish Setters. While doing so, the Baron kept detailed records of his findings and during the 19th century, finally showcased a breed that not only had a soft mouth that was perfect for retrieving game, but was much more strong and active.

America’s Companion

Shortly after Dudley Marjoribanks’ Golden Retriever was recognized as a holistic breed in 1911 by The Kennel Club in England, he passed away. It wasn’t until the 20th century that Golden Retrievers made another leap in history. During this time, these pups were introduced in North America as a mix of both – the best companion and an effective hunting dog.

It was in 1977 that AKC debuted its AKC Obedience Champion Title and the first-ever dogs to win this title were all Golden Retrievers. For this reason, there is no surprise that some of the most notable presidential pups were Golden Retrievers. Two of the most prominent in history were adopted by Presidents Ronald Reagan and Gerald R. Ford.

A History of Golden Retrievers As a Timeline

Late 1800’s – Dudley Marjoribanks

The Golden Retriever may have originated from the Highlands of Scotland, but pup owners today owe a lot to the man who devoted so much time to their development – Dudley Marjoribanks.

Keeping this in mind, the first known home of the Golden Retriever was the Guisachan House, which was also home to Lord Tweedmouth, a.k.a. Baron Dudley Marjoribanks.

The Oldest Known Picture of a Golden Retriever

In 1865, the Baron was gifted his first Golden Retriever, named ‘Nous’, by a cobbler in Southern England, allegedly in exchange for the money a local gamekeeper owed him. This puppy had gold fur as opposed to the common wavy black fur on Retrievers in 1864 and Marjoribanks was instantly very attached to his new friend.

Marjoribanks then took his new friend to Guisachan, which was his residence in Scotland, and also was home to a diverse litter of sporting dogs. The oldest known picture of Nous was, therefore, taken with new gamekeeper Simon Munro, in 1872.

A Tweed Water Spaniel Painting

If you wish to know where Tweed Water Spaniels (a now-extinct breed of Golden Retrievers) got their name, you should look up John Carlton’s depiction of the majestic creature in 1864.

Like most other dog owners back then, Marjoribanks was interested in breeding dogs to develop a suburb retriever, one that was better suited for Scottish terrain, climate and type of game. Keeping that in mind, the depiction of the Tweed Water Spaniel by John Carlton is a history of Golden Retrievers, in and of itself.

Always the Performer

During circa 1906, the breed of Golden Retrievers that we are more familiar with had made their first appearance in Canada and the US. These flat-coated or wavy breeds were very popular choices of entertainment for the general public and were some of the top performers at dog shows.

Around 1920, the Yellow or Golden Retriever had finally been given its name and had started receiving wide recognition in North America and was also recognized as a separate breed by The Kennel Club.

Our Final Thoughts

Throughout history, from their ancestral home in Scotland all the way to North America (and slowly all over the world), Golden Retrievers have always had a premier worker. Their sensible and calm demeanor earns them the love we all feel and this isn’t just limited to one particular area of endeavor.

More recently, Golden Retrievers were recognized as the 4th most intelligent breed of dogs in the world (as compared to a whopping 138 breeds). Their degree of intelligence was more specifically inclined toward work intelligence and obedience, however, if you look more closely at the data, you’ll be quite surprised.

With our stroll through a history of Golden Retrievers now finally coming to an end, we highly recommend our readers to browse through Stanley Coren’s research on Golden Retriever’s Intelligence.

In doing so, you will not only learn how to efficiently train Golden Retrievers, but also how these brilliant creatures aced their performance during training with a 95% success rate as opposed to the average 50% success rate.

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