By Paul Kramer
Golden retrievers became increasingly popular in Britain in the 1800s with the growth of the sport of bird hunting. Retrievers were considered the elite of the sporting breeds, as they were so versatile and could be used for waterfowl and upland game.
There were many crosses of breeds used during this time, and there is no doubt that several retrievers very Golden like in appearance existed prior to the actual development of the Golden as we know him today.
It is Sir Dudley Majoribanks, later Lord Tweedmouth, who is credited with the actual creation of the Golden Retriever due to his breeding program in Scotland in the mid to late 1800s.
All modern day Goldens can trace their origins to Lord Tweedmouth’s breedings. Lord Tweedmouth acquired a young male yellow Wavy (Flat) Coated Retriever in 1866. The yellow color is recessive, and to this day occurs occasionally in the Flat Coated Retriever breed.
Existing photos of this dog, which was names Nous, show a large, wavy coated dog that looked very much like a Golden Retriever. Also acquired was a Tweed Water Spaniel bitch names Belle, a member of another popular hunting breed of the region.
These dogs were known for their swimming ability, superior intelligence and wonderful temperaments. They were medium in size, liver colored (any shade of yellow to brown) and had a tightly curled coat with very little feathering.
When one considers that all retriever breeds share a similar genetic base, and that the major difference in the Golden’s development from the others is the Tweed Water Spaniel, it is understandable how some of the traits that make the Golden unique from other retriever breeds are derived.
The Golden Retriever’s ancestry includes a long history as a hunting dog and therefore makes him great outdoor company.