Top Ten Big Dog Breeds
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The Golden Retriever is a breed of British origin, developed in the mid-19th century by a Scotsman, Sir Dudley Marjoribanks, who later became Lord Tweedmouth. A medium-size hunting dog they excel at retrieving fowl for hunters. Strong to cover rough terrain and distance, the Golden was also bred for gentleness and trainability. Today Goldens are used in many capacities including serving as guide dogs and therapy dogs.
His classic good looks and sunny temperament make the Golden Retriever the quintessential dog for many pet owners. Easy to train with a biddable nature, Goldens are typically happy with just about any activity their owners choose – from agility and rally to therapy or obedience. The one exception may be watch or guard dog training; few Goldens can be convinced the world isn’t all fun and games.
Goldens enjoy interaction of almost any kind – from socializing at the local dog park to family walks or backyard romps. Although gentle and typically good with children, Goldens aren’t meant to sit around; they thrive on exercise such as swimming or ball-chasing.
About Golden Retrievers
Should I get a Golden Retriever?
Terrific for a person who:
Wants a people-oriented dog who can make new friends
Is interested in training a dog for therapy work
Wants a dog that can be sporty enough to hunt but gentle enough to hug.
Think twice if you’re a person who:
Will be aghast if your dog asks for attention from strangers.
Takes life seriously and wants your dog to do the same.
Wants your dog to bark (at least once) when someone new shows up.
Golden Retriever Dog Grooming
Goldens shed quite a bit, daily brushing can reduce hair around the house and will help keep your Golden tangle free.
The Golden Retriever Standard Look
A powerful and active dog, the Golden Retriever should appear, eager, alert and confident. Males measure from 23 to 24 inches at the shoulder and weigh from 65 to 75 pounds, with females being somewhat smaller. The Golden Retriever’s dense, water-repellent coat comes in various shades of gold and can be wavy or straight.
Possible Golden Retriever Health Concerns
Hemangiosarcoma and Lymphoma
Golden Retriever Fun
Should I Visit the breeder before I even plan to buy my Golden Retriever puppy?
“As with many popular breeds in high demand, there’s been some disreputable breeding of Goldens to make a quick buck, so potential owners should visit a breeder before they consider buying a puppy,” says Janet Peacock, corresponding secretary for the Golden Retriever Club of America. “Meet the dam if possible, tour the breeder’s home or kennels and ask an assortment of questions.” Additionally, notice what questions the breeder asks; good breeders care about their puppies’ potential homes. “Allocate enough time visiting to evaluate the level of care put into the breeding program,” Peakcock adds.
What health tests should be run on the parents?
“In the future, we may have advanced tests helping predeict and control cancern in the Golden, but for now, reputable breeders can only test for hips, elbows, heart and eyes,” says John Cotter, president of the GRCA. “Heredity is not conclusive by any means that the pup will live a long life, but potential owners should at least consider asking about longevity in their breeding lines.”
The Golden Retriever is a fabulous dog breed: intelligent, sensitive, devoted, talented and fun. It’s hard not to appreciate such positive qualities in a dog, however, what’s equally fantastic, say Golden Retriever enthusiasts, is training this dog breed. Achieving the goal of a well-trained, well-socialized Golden Retriever isn’t necessarily work, it’s a delight! “It’s a wonderful dog breed to work with and a wonderful dog breed to train,” says career army officer and AKC judge Thomas Kee.
Why are Golden Retrievers so great to train, and why do Golden Retriever enthusiasts gush when the topic of training comes up? It begins with a magic word: please. Golden Retrievers have an innate desire to please people. These dogs are born with it and carry it in their hearts until they die. The desire to please, say breed enthusiasts, makes the Golden Retriever “highly trainable” and a pleasure to work with. “They are so anxious to please, from the time they start walking and climbing out of the whelping box, they just want to please people,” says professional trainer and behaviorist Nancy Rinehart.
That pleasing nature has led the Golden Retriever into very special roles. In fact, it’s the reason Golden Retrievers (and Labrador Retrievers) are a favorite choice as guide dogs and assistance dogs, says Kee, “because they are so trainable. But it’s more than that. Some dog breeds are bred to be able to work with man, but away from man; for example, Australian Shepherds, which are a wonderful dog breed. Golden Retrievers and Labrador Retrievers are bred to work with man, by man. They have to be around people. Golden Retrievers are incredibly social — they seem very driven to please.”
It’s no accident that Golden Retrievers dominate the obedience ring. It’s a natural outlet for a dog breed that loves to please and loves to work. Also, they have a natural field ability and do well in hunt tests and field trials, and perform very well in other sports, especially agility. “Golden Retrievers take to it [agility] like you wouldn’t believe, and they love it,’’ says Kee.
These rave reviews should be encouraging. You are, you might say, the owner of a “gifted” companion. When it comes to schooling, Golden Retrievers are A students. Of course, it also means that the job of teaching your dog to be a well-mannered companion or skilled competitor is probably going to be harder for you than for your dog.
New Dog, New Tricks
Dogs learn to find pleasure in doing something with, and for, someone. Eventually, the dog performs the activity for the pleasure found in doing the activity, not the reward. However, Kee says he learned the hard way about how important early training is. As a novice owner, he confesses he did not begin training his Golden Retriever (or Labrador Retriever), early enough. “It took me three years to make up for that.”
Enthusiasts suggest enrollingyour Golden Retriever in a puppy kindergarten class as soon as the veterinarian gives the okay, usually at 12 to 14 weeks old, after the second set of puppy shots. If you have the puppy prior to that, spend a lot of time holding it, petting it and introducing it to people and socializing it.
Introduce your Golden Retriever puppy to new situations so it learns not to be afraid. Follow up puppy kindergarten with advanced puppy classes. Puppy training should always be short, fun and structured, says Kee. Emphasize fun and reinforce the positive; correct, but don’t punish. “It’s always a game, minimizing any kind of negativity.”
Adult Golden Retriever training should be the same, says Kee, but corrections are different. The adult dog looks at you as a pack member and may challenge your leadership. Golden Retriever owners must address those issues in training.
Sit, Stay, Come
Which training commands are essential for the successful companion or competitor? For many enthusiasts, “come” tops the list of the five basic commands recommended for every “civilized dog” in the AKC Complete Dog Book: “sit,” “down,” “stay,” “come,” “heel.” “Come” is especially important for Golden Retrievers, says professional trainer and behaviorist Nancy Rinehart. “They are so outgoing, and so friendly, they will go with anybody. You want a really reliable “come” here.”
The Golden Retriever is said to be so friendly, says Rinehart, that it might even welcome a robber into the house, show the robber where the jewelry is, then wave goodbye. “One of the funniest things I’ve heard about Golden Retrievers is they’re the best watchdogs — they will watch somebody come in and totally strip your house.”
That aside, a reliable “come” safeguards the dog. “The number one command I try to reinforce with my students is the ‘come’ command,” says Kee. “The reason is, that’s the one command that can save your dog’s life.” An immediate and unquestioned response to the “come” command could stop the Golden Retriever from walking into traffic or prevent a tangle with an aggressive dog.
Golden Retrievers have a tendency to be vocal dogs, according to Rinehart, so a bark only on command may be in order. “They’re very talkative. Some people that don’t understand Golden Retrievers are put off by that.”
Like Labrador Retrievers, Golden Retrievers are young at heart and remain puppyish for several years. The Golden Retriever is a late bloomer, maturing at about 3 years old. “Typically, sporting dog breeds like Labradors and Golden Retrievers don’t fully mature mentally until they’re about 3, 3 1/2,” says Kee. “And a lot of people aren’t willing to wait that long. Too bad, because there’s quite a reward at the end of that time if you’ve done the things you need to do.”
That puppyish approach to life isn’t necessarily bad, though. Enthusiasts enjoy it. Be that as it may, it does affect training. Golden Retrievers love to play, and they may not take lessons seriously.
“Sometimes they think this is a play period and we’re not training with a purpose,” says Kee. “So, you’ve got to kind of have what I call a velvet glove on your iron fist.” That is, emphasize fun and teamwork; correct, but don’t punish. Then, the owner obtains a training goal and, “the dog thinks it’s fun.”
Golden Retrievers are “mouthy” dogs (a natural instinct that makes them great retrievers), and are frequently obsessed with carrying something in their mouths. To satisfy this urge, keep plenty of dog toys on hand. “I recommend having lots of stuffed dog toys around; tennis balls, you’ve got to have a supply of tennis balls,” says Rinehart.
When it comes to dog training resources, today’s Golden Retriever owners have it made. There are dog clubs, professional trainers, books, magazines, videos, obedience classes and clinics and the Internet, all of which can provide owners with training information and guidance.
But first, says Kee, know what you want. “Know your goals before you start out,” he says. “If your goal is to be the national obedience champion, well that’s certainly going to color the way you’re going to approach training. If your goal is to have a wonderful companion, your priorities are going to change.”
If you’re more serious-minded about dog training, enthusiasts highly recommend finding a mentor, someone experienced in the type of competition in which you’re interested. For example, if agility is your ambition, locate Golden Retriever club members involved in the sport. Seek out an individual who is knowledgeable and willing to help you.
No matter the type of training, work with others. “Train with other people. Don’t train in a vacuum,” says Kee. It’s helpful, efficient, you’ll learn more quickly and it’s a great way to meet interesting people. “There’s an interesting side to all this; that is, dog people are fun. Golden Retriever people are a riot. They’re a lot of fun. That’s been my experience.”
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Medium length, dense undercoat and water repellent outer coat.
Brush daily during heavy shedding in spring and fall, otherwise two to three times weekly. Bathe as needed.