Brief History of the Golden Retriever

In the early 1800’s game was plentiful in England and Scotland, and hunting was both a sport and a practical way of obtaining food. Retrievers came into prominence because of the desire for a medium-sized dog that would do well in wild-fowling, both waterfowl and upland game. During the 19th century, gamekeepers at the Guisachan estate of Lord Tweedmouth at Inverness-Shire, Scotland, kept records of the development of the Golden.

Lord Tweedmouth bought his first Yellow Retriever in the mid-19th century. The location of Tweedmouth’s estate on the Tweed River had a direct bearing on the program pursued by the Lord to produce the characteristics he desired in his Yellow Retrievers. Along the shores of this river was the light-colored Tweed Water Spaniel, the hardy type of spaniel used for retrieving and known for their intelligence, courage and ability. The Tweed Water Spaniel had tremendous influence on Tweedmouth’s developing breed, as he bred his original stud “Nous” to “Belle,” a Tweed Water Spaniel, to produce four yellow puppies. Later on down the line, cross-breedings integrated Irish Setter, Bloodhound, and more Tweed Water Spaniel to obtain the Golden Retriever we recognize today.

Yellow or Golden Retrievers became popular in England toward the end of the 19th century, and they were first shown in England (listed as Golden Flat-Coats) in 1908. In 1913 they obtained separate status when the Golden Retriever Club (of England) formed, and the breed arrived in North America in the 1920’s. The first Golden was registered by the AKC in 1925, and the breed flourished in the 1930’s and ’40s. Used predominantly as hunters, Goldens proved strong in the show ring also, although unlike today, the darker gold colors were initially favored over the light. Over the years, the Golden Retriever has grown to become one of the most successful, recognizable, and popular breeds in history in all areas