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5 Things You May Not Know About Goldens

Wednesday, November 18th, 2020

Mercola Healthy Pets

Analysis by Dr. Karen Shaw Becker
golden retrievers

STORY AT-A-GLANCE

  • Golden Retrievers are hugely popular dogs, but many people don’t realize there are three different types — American, Canadian and British
  • The differences among them are subtle, involving coat colors and body size
  • Earlier this year, the world celebrated Augie, the first Golden to reach the amazing age of 20
  • One of the reasons for the popularity of GRs is their eagerness to please; another is their extraordinary work ethic

Unless you’ve been living on another planet, you can probably pick out the Golden Retriever in a crowd of dogs, because they’re everywhere you look — on TV, in the movies, in videos, in pictures, posters and print advertisements, and in nearly every neighborhood across the globe.

Not only is this breed wildly popular with dog parents (#3 out of 196 according to the American Kennel Club),1 but Goldens are also among the most photographed, videoed and written about dogs anywhere.

Interestingly, a little factoid about GRs that not many people know is there are actually three varieties of the breed: American, Canadian and British. The differences among them are subtle, but they exist!

  • American Golden Retriever — The American GR coat comes in a range of shades from blonde to red, is very dense and neither coarse nor silky. The coat lies close the body, with heavier feathering on the neck, thighs, and tail. The average male American Golden is 23 to 24 inches, and females usually measure 21.5 to 22.5 inches in height.
  • Canadian Golden Retriever — The coat of the Canadian Golden is typically shorter and thinner than its American and British counterparts, with a texture that is neither wiry nor silky, and with less feathering. Like their cousins to the south, the average male Canadian GR is 23 to 24 inches tall; females are typically 21.5 to 22.5 inches tall.
  • British Golden Retriever — The British (aka English) version of the breed has a long, feathery coat like the other two varieties, but unlike them, the British GR is usually cream-colored and slightly smaller. Males typically stand 22 to 24 inches in height, and females an average of 20 to 22 inches.

World’s Oldest Golden Turns 20

Augie (short for August), an American Golden Retriever, became the oldest GR on record when she turned 20 in April of this year. This is quite remarkable when you consider that so many Goldens live only about half as long.

After being rehomed twice (through no fault of her own), Augie was 14 when she found her third and true forever family, Jennifer and Steve Hetterscheidt of Oakland, Tennessee. Jennifer was working as the intake director at a GR rescue in southern Nevada, and she fell in love with Augie the second she laid eyes on her.

“She’s just darling,” Hetterscheidt told CNN. “There’s nothing to not love about her. She’s happy doing something and happy doing nothing. I can’t imagine life without her.”2

The Hetterscheidts have taken Augie on RV trips around the country along with her three Golden siblings — Sherman, Belle and Bruce. She also enjoys playing fetch in the pool and taking daily walks around the yard.

On her big day, though the coronavirus pandemic canceled the 100-person party planned by the Hetterscheidts, Augie still celebrated her 20th with a dog-friendly carrot cake, blueberries and a few other goodies. And decorations, of course. Pics of the birthday bash.

Here’s a short but fascinating interview Rodney Habib and I did with Augie’s dad, Steve Hetterscheidt:

5 More Fun Facts About Goldens

1.The breed originated in Scotland — The Golden Retriever was born in the Scottish Highlands, developed by a man named Dudley Marjoribanks, later known as Lord Tweedmouth. In 1865, Marjoribanks purchased Nous, the only yellow puppy in a litter of black wavy-coated retrievers.

Within a few years, Nous was bred to Belle, a Tweed Water Spaniel (a breed that is now extinct), and several of their yellow puppies became the foundation for a line of yellow retrievers.

2.These dogs have an extraordinary work ethic — Originally bred to be biddable (easy to train and eager to please), calm, and sensible for use as hunting dogs, the Golden Retriever’s physical and mental traits also lend themselves to more modern activities. The breed excels as obedience competitors, tracking dogs, show dogs, guide and assistance dogs, and search and rescue dogs.

3.Goldens are exceptionally eager to please — There’s probably no better proof of this than that the first three AKC obedience champions were Golden Retrievers. This breed is extremely easy to train and comes in fourth in The Intelligence of Dogs by Stanley Coren,3 as one of the brightest dogs ranked by obedience-command trainability.

4.They require lots and lots of exercise — To avoid boredom and weight gain, and to maintain their large, heavy frames in good condition, Goldens need at least one brisk long walk, jog or run each day. Games of fetch (retrieving) can be great exercise, as can swimming. Given the opportunity, this breed is sure-footed on hiking trails and loves the opportunity to explore nature.

5.Not every Golden Retriever is a born retriever — If you want to exercise your Golden with games of fetch, it’s a good idea to introduce him to the sport at a young age. It’s possible he’ll know instinctively what to do as soon as you throw the ball the first time, but some dogs need to learn through repetition and lots of praise each time they return the ball or other toy.

Most quickly learn that in order for the game to continue, they must bring the ball back and drop it. Keep in mind, though, that once your Golden gets the whole retrieving thing down, it can quickly become an obsession!