The history of the Golden reads like a fairy tale. In 1858, a Scotsman named Lord Tweedmouth attended a circus in the British seaside town of Brighton. While there, he was so taken by a troupe of performing Russian sheepdogs that he tried to buy a pair. The dogs' trainer refused, claiming this would break up the troupe. So Tweedmouth bought the entire lot, took them home to his estate, bred them, and created the Golden Retriever.
There is a twist, however. Knowledgeable sporting dog people had their doubts about the story—and with good reason, it turned out. When Tweedmouth's breeding records were made public, they made no mention of the Russian dogs. They revealed that the Golden had been developed by crossing the wavy-coat Retriever with a yellow Tweed Water Spaniel, a hardy breed used for retrieving, and known for its intelligence and courage.
Later on down the line, cross-breedings integrated Irish Setter, Bloodhound, and more Tweed Water Spaniel to obtain the Golden Retriever we recognize today.
A hit in the USA
In the early 1900s, the Golden Retriever was introduced to North America by way of British military officers who often traveled with their hunting dogs. It did not take long for this beautiful animal to become popular with American hunters as well.
Today, the Golden Retriever remains an extremely popular and versatile breed. They are as skilled in conformation, obedience and agility trials, and field and hunting trials as they are in narcotics detection and search and rescue operations. They also make excellent service dogs for the visually and hearing impaired.
A golden pet
The Golden Retriever's strength and intelligence, combined with its gentle disposition, also made it a wonderful family dog. In 1974, even President Gerald Ford's First Family included a Golden Retriever named Liberty. Not long afterward, Goldens were in the top ten breeds listed by the AKC. Today, it remains in the top five year after year.