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 gun dog breeds.  Holidays4Dogs takes a look at the popularity of Golden Retrievers as working dogs in Britain and asks – do they make good pets?

Golden retrievers are stunning dogs to look at, but they are also highly trainable and easy to handle. Therefore, it may seem strange that retrievers are less popular than Labradors or springer spaniels when it comes to field trials.

working golden retrieversIt might come as a surprise, but golden retrievers are a relatively new breed. They were first registered with the UK Kennel Club in 1920. There are relatively few breeders of working golden retrievers dogs in Britain.

Perhaps one reason why they are 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. He is said to retain his puppy-like character for longer, which can make training take longer.

dog sitting, pet sittingThese 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 gun dog enthusiasts might agree that a good golden retriever is as good, if not superior to a Labrador. However, they are harder to find 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. Dogs from show lines can be heavier, have thicker coats which are quite often much lighter in colour. Some show type dogs are very pale blonde; almost white.

As pets, dogs from working or show lines are generally good tempered, biddable dogs.

However, 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.

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. In addition, they are 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.