Thesis statement: The Golden Retriever is one of the most versatile dogs in the world.

I. Introduction.

II. History of the Golden Retriever

A. "Tale of the Breed"

1. Russian circus dogs

2. Bloodhound

B. Accepted Origin

1. Wavy-coated Retriever

2. Tweed Water Spaniel

3. Newfoundland

III. Popularity of the Golden Retriever

A. Hunting

1. Duties

2. Natural Characteristics

B. Shows

1. Bench Competition

2. Field Competition

3. Obedience Competition

C. Work

1. Guide dog for the blind

2. Other fields

D. Family

1. Pet

2. Breeding

3. Watch dog

IV. Conclusion

A noble head . . . a gentle twinkle of the eye . . . a smiling face . . .a vibrant burst

of energy, running free as the wind ... a wagging tail, happily beating from side to side . . .

a thundering splash into icy waters in quest of game on a cold November day . . . a shiny

coat, glistening like a nugget of gold . . . a proud stance winning him the best of the show .

. . a guiding nudge to the blind . . . an enthusiastic search for snowballs tossed by the

family . . . and, most of all, a contented ball of loyal, unquestioning devotion curled up at

your feet at the end of a busy day: this is the essence of the Golden Retriever. They are

beautiful, intelligent, and very talented. The Golden Retriever is one of the most versatile

dogs in the world (Syder 30).

The heritage of the Golden Retriever has been in dispute for decades. The

less-believed tale with little evidence supporting the Golden's origin is that of the circus

dogs. A British sportsman known as Lord Tweedmouth had visited the seaside resort of

Brighton where he saw a troupe of performing dogs. He was so fascinated with the

intelligence and skill of these dogs that Lord Tweedmouth promptly decided he must have

a pair to breed and train for field work at his estate in Scotland. The Russian trainer,

however, refused to break up the troupe, saying that to do so would ruin his entire act.

So after discussion, Lord Tweedmouth agreed to purchase the entire group of eight. He

then took them back to his estate and was said to have them started on a breeding

program. The dogs were believed to come from a breed known in their country as

Russian Retrievers, or Russian Trackers. The Russian Retrievers were noted for the

superior intelligence, but at the same time they were big and cumbersome, so many of

Lord Tweedmouth's fellow sportsmen were not impressed with them. Lord Tweedmouth,

after long thought and consideration, decided to try a Bloodhound outcross for the

purpose of further developing the good tracking tendencies of his dogs. The result was

said to be a smaller dog, a more refined coat texture, and a slightly darker shade of coat,

with general build and conformation similar to that of a Foxhound. The outcome was the

Golden Retriver (Nicholas 13).

The accepted origin is the account according to Lord Tweedmouth's

grand-nephew, Lord Ilchester. He claims that Lord Tweedmouth bought a yellow-wavy

coated Retriever during his trip in Brighton from a cobbler who had taken him in

settlement of an unpaid debt. The Golden Retriever is believed to be the cross breeding of

the yellow-coated Retriever and a liver-colored Tweed Spaniel in 1868. The goal of this

new breed was to make a breed that would only be used to find and bring back wounded

and dead game (Nicholas 14). The aim for this working dog's make-up were brains, keen

nose, tender mouth, biddability, stamina, and pace, but with less disposition to hunt than

Spaniels (AKC 66). In various outcrosses the smaller Newfoundland was introduced

because they make the best retrievers (Fischer 19). The Golden Retriever was created by

breeding these dogs to bring out the best qualities of working dogs (Fischer 21).

Over the years Golden Retrievers have steadily grown in popularity, and today

they rank 7th in A.K.C. popularity (Tortora 49). Both beauty and brains are combined in

a Golden. Their size, their biddable temperament, and their desire to please, are all part of

why they have increased so rapidly in notoriety (AKC 67). They are valued workers and

are held in high esteem by people from many walks of life. The responsibilities of caring

for a Golden Retriever are a joy to fulfill for such a versatile breed of dog (Nicholas 437).

The Golden Retriever has a natural instinct for hunting. As sporting dogs, they

discover and fetch killed or wounded game, principally aquatic birds such as the duck, and

land birds such as pigeons, or pheasant (Walsh 32). Golden Retrievers have uniquely

water-resistant coats which assist them in retrieving water fowl. Their mouths are

characterized as "soft" which prevents them from damaging the game (Fischer 155).

They are highly obedient and easily-trained dogs with a keen nose. Retrievers are

considered one of the best hunting dogs in the world.

Golden Retrievers also compete in Show Ring Competitions. There are three

major forms of competition in which the Golden may participate in. They are the bench

competition, the field trial, and the obedience trial. The bench competition refers to

competition in the show ring in which the Golden is shown against others of the same

breed to evaluate its beauty and closeness to the standard (Fischer 196). The official

standards for the Golden Retriever when judging includes their general appearance, size

and proportion, shape of the head, neck, topline, body, forequarters, and hindquarters,

placement of the ears, color, gait, texture of the coat, and temperament. The Retriever's

appearance needs to be symmetrical, powerful, and well put together. They should display

a kindly expression and possess a personality that is eager, alert and self-confident. The

Golden Retriever's temperament must be friendly, reliable, and trustworthy. Hostility,

timidity, or nervousness towards other dogs or people in normal situations is not keeping

with the character of the Golden Retriever (AKC 69). The field trial is to test the hunting

ability of the dogs. They are designed to simulate the conditions of actual hunting.

Retriever trials test the ability of trained hunting dogs to find fallen birds and to fetch them

from both land and water locations. Depending on the type of trial, the dog may or may

not be allowed to observe the bird's fall. When the fall is blind, the handler directs the dog

to the bird's general location by means of various signals. The dog depends on scent to

find the bird (Fischer 196). The obedience trials are competitions that test the ability of

dogs to obey a series of verbal or nonverbal commands (Woodhouse 70). Six basic

obedience skills are tested at novice trials. These skills include heeling on the leash, heeling

free, the stand for examination, the recall, the long sit, and the long down. In heeling

exercises, the dog paces along beside its handler, keeping its shoulder and head even with

the handler's left hip. To stand for examination the dog must remain perfectly still on

command and allow a judge to examine it closely. To execute the recall the handler

orders the dog to sit, withdraws to a distance of twenty feet, and commands the animal to

come. The long sit and long down exercises require a dog to sit or lie still for varying

periods in the absence of its handler. The open and utility trials require mastery of more

difficult skills. Among these are retrieving, tracking of scents, jumping over hurdles, and

responding to hand signals. A dog receiving qualifying scores from three separate judges

in authorized obedience competition progresses toward a title in its competition category.

Goldens have proven in the show ring for centuries that they possess the championship

qualities to capture the winning titles of these competitions over and over again. (Fischer

196). The first three dogs of any breed to achieve the AKC Obedience Champion title

were all Golden Retrievers (AKC 67).

Goldens also exhibit the qualities which make this breed excel specialized fields of

work. Golden Retrievers are one of the three most popular breeds for guiding the blind

(Nicholas 433). They have proven to be calm, trainable, and have an excellent

temperament for the work (Fischer 256). Goldens enjoy a close personal relationship with

their owners, yet are successfully trained by both owners and professionals. They are also

adaptable to changes in ownership (Tortora 228). Their intelligence, stamina, and

temperament have also included them in the fields of police dogs, watch dogs, narcotic

detection dogs, and explosives detection dogs. An explosives detection dog has to be

correct one-hundred percent of the time throughout their training. One such dog, a

Golden Retriever named Talli, is the guardian of the Statue of Liberty in New York

Harbor (Nicholas 373).

The Golden Retriever's temperamental characteristics make them excellent dogs

for families. They are easily trained, obedient, problem-solving, emotionally stable, and

devoted to their family. They are extremely sociable with people, as well as other dogs,

cats, and various other household pets (Tortora 308). Children find that Goldens make

great pillows, are fun to play a game of ball with, and are super companions on land or in

the water, and parents can be assured that the Goldens will safeguard "their" kids. Golden

Retrievers are good travelers and enjoy being in the car on short errands or long trips.

They also enjoy sailing and make great companions on boats. A Golden Retriever is at

home wherever he may be (Walsh 41).

A family can also choose to breed their Golden Retriever. It takes a lot of hard

work, time, and effort. A popular dog such as the Golden Retriever could turn out to be

financially rewarding (Walsh 64).

Golden Retrievers are alert dogs and may be one of the best watchdogs for a

family. They will bark at unfamiliar noises. They learn to adapt to repetitive hall noises in

an apartment and select for attention only those noises and people they find peculiar.

They will give alarm and then will quiet down when told (Tortora 370).

Ask any Golden owner what he or she likes best about the breed, and on the

majority of occasions the reply will be "its versatility" (Nicholas 433). Not only is this

breed beautiful in physical appearance, but it also is one that possesses superior

intelligence, stamina, patience and good temper, liking for other pets, alertness as a

watchdog, and many more good qualities. This dog really is an ideal all-around family

companion, hunting comrade, show dog, or worker.

Works Cited

American Kennel Club. The Complete Dog Book. 18th ed. New York: Howell, 1992.

Fischer, Gertrude. The Complete Golden Retriever. New York: Howell, 1980.

Nicholas, Anna Katherine. The Book of the Golden Retriever. New Jersey: T.F.H.

Publications, 1983.

Syder, Edward C. "Golden Retrievers." Encyclopedia Americana 1993 ed.

Tortora, Daniel F. The Right Dog for You. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1980.

Walsh, James E., Jr. Golden Retrievers. New Jersey: T.F.H. Publications, 1984.

Woodhouse, Barbara. Encyclopedia of Dogs and Puppies. New York: Berkley, 1970.

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