The working Golden Retriever in the UK.
Golden Retrievers have always been popular pets in the UK, but they are still not as common as Labradors and other gundog breeds, both in the pet and working world. Holidays4Dogs takes a look at the popularity of Golden Retrievers as working dogs in Britain and whether these gorgeous dogs make good pets.
Golden retrievers are stunning dogs to look at, but they are also highly trainable and easy to handle, so it is strange that the breed are less popular in the shooting world as other breeds, such as Labradors.
It might come as a surprise but golden retrievers are a fairly new breed; only being registered with the UK Kennel Club in 1920. Generally speaking, golden retrievers tend to be more expensive to purchase than Labradors and there are relatively few breeders of working dogs in the UK.
Perhaps another reason for them being less popular as working dogs is their long and beautiful coat – while they are stunning to look at, having a long coat is less favourable in the field; particularly in wet and muddy weather. There is also an opinion amongst some dog enthusiasts that the golden retriever takes longer to mature and retains his puppyish character for longer, which has the potential to make training take longer.
These factors may account for why golden retrievers are much less common in the shooting field and even less so when it comes to higher levels of field trials. Many gundog enthusiasts might agree that a good golden retriever is as good, if not superior to a Labrador; its just that they are harder to find and do need to be handled slightly differently than a Labrador.
There also seems to be a difference in show and working bred golden retrievers. Working dogs tend to be slightly finer and have darker coats whereas dogs from show lines can be heavier, have thicker coats and are quite often much lighter coloured dogs – some being very pale blonde; almost white.
As pets, dogs from working or show lines are generally good tempered, biddable dogs that are generally easy to train, but it is advisable to do your homework and make sure any puppy you intend to purchase comes from health tested stock. Hip Dysplasia, for instance, is prevalent in this breed and it is essential parents of puppies have good hip scores.
If you are looking for a working bred dog – the Castlemans kennel seem to have a an excellent reputation amongst enthusiasts. Philippa Williams has breeding golden retrievers (and Labradors) for twenty years and her dogs excel in the field as well as obedience, agility and as family pets in an active household. Philippa breeds for health and temperament and she has been feeding her dogs the BARF diet for the last forty years.
Golden retrievers make great companions and if they come from the right lines can make wonderful hunting dogs too. They are active, sociable and a pleasure to work with in any of the dog sports as well as being easy going family pets with fantastic personalities. Like many working dogs however, they do need some sort of activity – if only long walks and companionship within an active family. Do you own a working golden retriever? Holidays4Dogs would love to hear from you.