The Fascinating History of the Golden Retriever

The golden retriever is one of the most beloved dog breeds worldwide. They are popular as family pets and hunting companions for their gentle nature, high intelligence, and easy trainability.

Furthermore, the history that granted the golden retriever such iconic qualities is even more exciting than their outstanding breed characteristics. 

Coat colors

Golden retrievers’ famous coats are thick and can be either flat or wavy. Some varieties have darker gold fur, such as the Canadian golden retrievers. Others, like English Cream Golden Retrievers, have lighter coats

On the other hand, arker-coated Goldens can have traces of red in their fur derived from their red setter ancestors.


Like other Retrievers, Golden Retrievers were bred as hunting dogs. Between 1835 and 1890, the Scottish lord Sir Dudley Marjoribanks devoted his life to dog breeding. At the time, nobility bred only black-coated gun dogs, as they were believed to be naturally better for hunting and overall more fashionable. 

However, Marjoribanks selected a male flat-coated retriever with a golden coat from a darker-colored litter and bred him to a female of the now-extinct tweed water spaniel breed. The pups of this union were subsequently bred with Irish Setters and Labrador Retrievers.

Becoming an official breed

When choosing a breed, it’s essential to know their lineage—and Golden Retrievers have a rich history of becoming an officially recognized breed. Marjoribanks recorded his painstaking attempts to reproduce hunting dogs for submission to the Kennel Club, the only way to make the results official. 

Ultimately, they marked down the first successful example of the breed in 1868. This certification was only granted to the Golden Retriever in 1913 when the Kennel Club began recording the “yellow” Retriever as a variety of flat-coated retrievers. 

It took the Kennel Club another seven years to list the Golden Retriever as a distinct breed. But from there, the popularity of the Golden Retriever exploded across the United Kingdom, the United States, and Canada. They were prized as gun dogs, working dogs, and field trial competitors. 

As of 2021, Golden Retrievers are the third most popular dog breed in the United States, with only the French Bulldog and the reigning champion Labrador Retriever more beloved.


Golden Retrievers became famous for their friendliness and eagerness to please. Their soft mouths and trainability make them suitable for nearly everything, from gun dogs for bird hunting to service dogs. 

If you’re considering training your Golden, plenty of tools and resources exist to help you along the way.


The iconic look which Marjoribanks bred into Golden Retrievers is a considerable part of why Golden’s are so popular. Unlike other breeds, the Golden Retriever has remained unchanged in appearance since its inception. Their perpetually “kindly expressions” and big brown eyes are only the beginning.

Goldens have broad heads with wide straight muzzles, short ears, and black noses. They’re stocky and muscular, with long level tails and considerable feathering on the stomach, neck, legs, and tail. Additionally, they have steady, powerful gaits when running and climbing.

As medium size dogs, male Golden Retrievers will range from 23 to 24 inches high and weigh 65 to 75 pounds on average. Female Golden Retrievers, on the other hand, will run from 21.5 to 22.5 inches and weigh between 55 to 65 pounds.

Before you go

Golden retrievers are one of the most popular dog breeds in the world. Bred as hunting dogs, they’re not only beloved companions for hunters but family pets as well. Ultimately, Golden Retrievers are an excellent choice for nearly any dog-lover looking for a loyal, friendly, fun-loving pooch.  

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