Breed Information

English Golden Retriever Breed History

To completely see the beauty of the English Golden Retriever, you must first take a step back and revel in the history of this beautiful dog. Where did they come from? How did they start?

Whether you know it or not, understanding this history is the key to understanding the breed and your puppy’s or dog’s instincts. A great pet parent knows what to expect from their dog and how to safely and positively curb unwanted behaviors while understanding the breed history and breed instincts.


The Golden Retriever Breed got its start in Scotland around the mid-19th century. During this time, it was well known for a man of wealth to hunt game and fowl. The retriever breeds that were currently available did not suit the needs of retrieving game and fowl from water and land. Therefore, it became necessary to interbreed to create a dog that would be ideal for this task.

Over a long span of time, hunters tried various breeds to make this task easier. As weapons grew more powerful and were able to reach longer distances, the need for a bigger and better dog arose. From this breeding, one type of dog was noted to be the most effective hunting dog to suit the needs of people who enjoyed hunting or needed to hunt for food.

The Golden Retriever was created by Sir Archie Marjoribanks, who had purchased two unregistered dogs. One was named Nous, purchased in 1865 from a litter of black Wavy-Coated Retriever puppies and in 1868, Nous sired a litter of puppies with the other dog he had purchased, a female Tweed Water Spaniel named ‘Belle’. These puppies were used as the basis of the breed. The lines were later inter-mixed with the Irish Setter, the sandy colored Bloodhound, the St. John’s Waterdog, and two additional black retrievers.

The result; a very active, powerful and gentle mouthed dog that was perfect for retrieving game and foul. The Golden Retriever was accepted by the Kennel Club of England in 1903. They were accepted by the American Kennel Club (AKC) in 1925, and the Golden Retriever Club of America was founded in 1938.

Sir Archie Marjoribanks brought one of his Golden Retrievers to Canada in 1881. He registered this dog, “Lady” with the AKC in 1894. This was the first record of an Golden Retriever being registered in either the United States or Canada.

The Golden Retriever was registered in 1927 in Canada, and the Golden Retriever Club of Ontario (GRCO) was formed in 1958. Over time, this group expanded to become the “Golden Retriever Club of Canada (GRCC).


The English Golden Retriever is considered a large breed dog. They were originally bred to be gundogs alongside their hunter but eventually their breed was noticed to be a great house dog. The reason their primary focus was hunting is because they were great at retrieving game, in water and on land, while leaving it undamaged for their owner. Golden Retrievers instinctual love water and are easy to train to respond to basic and even advanced obedience standards in and outside of the water.

The breed is also considered a long haired breed, which is great to keep them warm while they are outdoors. They have very thick fur with two layers. The inner layer keeps them warm when they are out in the cold. The outer layer of their coat repels water to keep them dry.

English Golden Retrievers are well suited to be a household dog. They enjoy being around family, friends, and company. While they are suited for the indoors, they need regular exercise and something to occupy their mind at various times of the day outdoors. It is recommended, if you are to own an English Golden Retriever, that you have a fenced in yard. This is because the breed as a whole is known to roam instinctively.

An English Golden Retriever can fill a variety of roles. It can be a family pet, a guide dog, a hearing dog, a hunting dog, a detection dog, a search and rescue dog and they have been known to take on many more active roles in society.

The breed is known as friendly, which means that as a whole, it is not meant to be a guard dog. This breed loves to play, but also needs a “job” as well. Something as simple as a reward ball that deposits toys after certain actions, can keep their mind working out concepts, is a great job. English Golden Retrievers are very intelligent and in turn, they need to have their intelligence challenged on a daily basis to keep them happy.

Because of the widespread love of the retriever dog, there are many regional variations of the breed. Today, there are three main sub types that reflect the typical variations. The differences between these variations are the dimensions, coat, and some physical appearances.

The Golden Retriever Appearance

The appearance of a golden retriever’s coat differs depending on whether it is an English Golden, an American Golden, or a Canadian Golden. Their coat can vary from light to dark golden. The top coat is considered water resistant and this portion sheds in the summer. Typically, the fur lays flat against the stomach. At times, their stomach fur may become too long and require grooming as it can be uncomfortable if it grows too long.

The rules of coat color in show vary depending on where you are. The AKC standard states the coat should be a “rich, lustrous golden of various shades.” They do not allow extremely light or extremely dark coats. The outer ranges of the coat are up to the judge’s discretion. However, pure white, red, and black are unacceptable show colors.

A Golden’s coat becomes darker or lighter as it grows. So the color of the coat at birth or even when it is weaned will not give way to the coat color value. Over time, the puppy’s coat can become darker or lighter. Puppy coats are typically much lighter than the coat will be during adult hood. As a rule of thumb, you can tell by looking at the tips of a pup’s ears. If the coloration at the tip of the year is dark, it could mean that this puppy will yield a darker adult color. However, even this is not 100% flawless and many times a puppy’s genetics will change its mind before the true coat color has a chance to show.


The lifespan of a Golden Retriever is an average of 11 to 13 years. Like many popular breeds, some health problems are inherent in the breed due to irresponsible and over-breeding throughout the years. For this reason, you may notice breeders of English Cream Goldens are very particular on health clearances, certifications, and genetic background testing. This makes the English Cream Golden one of the healthiest and hardiest breeds of retrievers. Compared to their brethren, the American Goldens, they have longer lifespans and are less prone to serious cancers.


While it is possible for you to groom your new English Golden Retriever at home, it is not recommended. Groomers are specially trained to look for certain problems that may develop and they are trained to know specific problems by breed.

  • Fleas
  • Ticks
  • Skin Conditions
  • Lumps
  • Bumps
  • Joint Problems
  • Discomfort your Dog may be Feeling
  • Allergies
  • Ear mites
  • And many more problems that you may not notice while grooming at home.

As a groomer washes your dog and trims their hair, they are able to look for health problems that would typically go unnoticed by the average home groomer. They check for various problems that can become serious very quickly, such as infection. Since your dog sees a groomer more often than they see a vet, serious medical problems can be caught a lot faster and a vet visit can be made immediately for any concerns you or your groomer have.


English Golden Retrievers have long, thick coats. Because of this, it is recommended to brush your dog daily and thoroughly. This will prevent your dog’s hair from becoming tangled, matted, or knotted and provide quality bonding time for you and your companion.

In the spring and summer months, it becomes more important to brush your dog daily and bathe them more often with a mild shampoo. This is because they are shedding and the loose hair can become trapped, create mats, and begin tugging on your dog’s skin. It also prevents your dog from shedding on your carpet, floors, beds, or other parts of your home they come into contact with on a regular basis.