Thursday, 3 July 2008


My friend Briagha is a Golden Retriever so I thought I would do a blog posting about them. Apart from the picture of Endal, at the ATM machine, the photos are of Briagha.

The Golden Retriever is a large breed of dog, historically developed as a gundog to retrieve shot waterfowl and upland game during hunting. As such they were bred to have a soft mouth to retrieve game undamaged and an instinctive love of water. Their versatility sees them employed in a variety of roles including illegal drug detection, search and rescue, as hunting dogs and as guide dogs. The Golden Retriever's friendly, eager-to-please nature and patient demeanor has also made it one of the most popular family dogs (by registration) in the world today.

The Golden Retriever breed was originally developed in Scotland at "Guisachan" near Glen Affric, the highland estate of Sir Dudley Marjoribanks (pronounced "Marjebanks"), later Baron Tweedmouth. For many years, there was controversy over which breeds were originally crossed. In 1952, the publication of Majoribanks' breeding records from 1835 to 1890 dispelled the myth concerning the purchase of a whole troupe of Russian sheepdogs from a visiting circus.

A Golden Retriever of British breeding can have a coat colour of any shade of gold or cream, however, red or mahogany are not permissible colours. Originally cream was not an acceptable colour in the UK standard, however, by 1936 the standard was revised to include cream. The coat is dense and waterproof, and may be straight or moderately wavy. It usually lies flat against the belly. As a Golden grows older, its coat can become darker or lighter, along with a noticeable whitening of the fur on and around the muzzle. Puppy coats are usually much lighter than their adult coats, but a darker colouration at the tips of the ears may indicate a darker adult color. A golden's coat should never be too long, as this may prove to be a disservice to them in the field- especially when retrieving game. Like other dogs, Golden Retrievers will shed their hair throughout the year and more in the spring - no matter how many times you brush them a day.

The Golden Retriever is described in the standard as "kindly, friendly and confident", and a very smart dog. They are not "one man dogs" and are generally equally friendly with strangers and those familiar to them. Their trusting, gentle disposition therefore makes them a poor guard dog. Goldens are also noted for their intelligence, and can learn up to roughly 240 commands, words and phrases. These dogs are also renowned for their patience with children. They also are affectionate and like to give wet kisses - which is hard luck on GB who prefers his wet kisses from something less canine.

The typical Golden Retriever is calm, naturally intelligent and biddable, with an exceptional eagerness to please. As the name suggests, the Golden Retriever loves to retrieve. Whether the object is a thrown stick, tennis ball, or flying disc, retrieving can keep a dog of this breed occupied and entertained for hours, particularly if water is also involved. Goldens might also pick up and "retrieve" any object that is near to them upon their masters' arrival, all of this lending to their retriever name.

They also like to be in and near the water, similar to Labs. If you have any type of water on or near your property, your Golden Retriever will be in it, and tend to be either wet or muddy quite a bit...

Who Me? Muddy? Never!

In a dog's world, Golden Retrievers are simply the fatal attraction. They are a very popular dog breed, making great pets, hunting dogs, obedience competitors, show dogs, and even a combination of all these traits. No matter what your intent may be to own a Golden Retriever, you'll have an excellent dog that will live up to it's potential and then some.

Initially I confused Labrador Retrievers and Golden Retrievers and mentioned in this posting one of many famous Labradors - Endal, a service dog in England. Among other distinctions, "the most decorated dog in the world" (including "Dog of the Millennium" and the PDSA’s Gold Medal for Animal Gallantry and Devotion to Duty), the first dog to ride on the London Eye and the first dog known to work a 'chip and pin' ATM card. As of 2007 some three hundred camera crews from several countries have interviewed Endal and his owner/handler Allen Parton, and a film of a year in his life is in production. Since I got such a super comment from Endal and Allen I have left this reference in.

Briagha is quite happy without fame, so long as she has humans to wait on her hand and foot (and a big stick with which to play)...