A gentle, loyal, family companion, the Golden Retriever is a favorite pet for all ages, and you may think you know Golden Retrievers well. Test your knowledge of the breed with these fun facts -- the Golden Retriever's versatility just may surprise you!
1. Despite their titled heritage, Golden Retrievers didn't win breed recognition until the 1920s.
Golden Retrievers were developed starting in 1850 by the Scotsman Dudley Coutts Marjoribanks, the Lord of Tweedmouth. Hunting birds was popular at the time, both as sport and as a practical way of obtaining food. Marjoribanks sought a medium-sized bird dog to support the hunt. The breed was developed by crossing a Retriever with a Water Spaniel, then crossing their offspring with Bloodhounds, Irish Setters, the St. John's Water Dog, and other Retrievers. Golden Retrievers were first shown in 1908, at the U.K.'s Crystal Palace. They were entered as "flat coats (golden)" rather than the name we know them by today.
It took until 1925 for the breed to win official American Kennel Club (AKC) recognition. Today, Golden Retrievers are still used for hunting and field trials, and they also perform obedience and guide dog work.
2. There are three types of Golden Retrievers.
While you might think all Golden Retrievers look very similar, the breed actually has three different colors -- golden, light golden, and dark golden -- as well as three different types -- English, Canadian, and American. There are subtle differences between the types of Goldens, but they all fall under the same breed.
How do you know what type of Golden Retriever you've got? Check their build and coloring. Canadian and American Golden Retrievers tend to have the same build; however, Canadians have a thinner coat than the Americans. English Golden Retrievers have a stockier build than the other types, and also tend to have a light golden to white color. To get an idea of what color coat your Golden Retriever puppy will have when it matures, take a look at its ears. The tip of the ears usually show what color the pup will be after they lose their puppy coat. No matter which type of Golden you have, they'll have an even, enjoyable temperament. Goldens are renowned for their calm, playful, and friendly disposition.
3. Two Presidents enjoyed Golden Retrievers as pets while in the White House.
Both President Ford and President Reagan enjoyed Golden Retrievers while in office. President Reagan's Golden Retriever, Victory, was one of six dogs the president owned. President Reagan also enjoyed a stable full of horses at his ranch.
President Ford had a Siamese cat and a mixed-breed dog in addition to Liberty the Golden Retriever and Liberty's puppy, Misty.
Goldens are also popular as celebrity pets. Celebs who own Golden Retrievers include Miranda Lambert, Jimmy Fallon, Emma Stone, Adam Levine, and Oprah.
4. Golden Retrievers are so popular in movies due to their obedient nature.
Golden Retrievers are often featured in movies and television shows, including Air Bud and Homeward Bound. While the breed is certainly cute, it's not their beauty that gets Goldens so many television spots. It's their mellow nature, combined with their trainability.
Golden Retrievers are easy to train, and they perform reliably and consistently. That's what makes them such popular guide dogs, and it's also what led the breed to take first in AKC obedience trials when they were introduced in 1977.
5. Golden Retrievers also make great working dogs.
It's not all fame and fortune for these pets. Many Golden Retrievers work as search and rescue dogs. Their tracking abilities and strong sense of smell help them find missing people. Perhaps the most well-known use of Golden Retrievers as rescue dogs was during 9/11, when a two-year-old trained rescue dog named Bretagne helped search for survivors. Bretagne went on to aid in the search and rescue efforts during Hurricanes Rita and Katrina as well.
6. Golden Retrievers are record holders.
A couple of Golden Retrievers have made it into the Guinness Book of World Records. An Australian Golden holds the world record for the loudest bark, measured at 113.1 decibels -- 3 decibels louder than a buzzing chainsaw. Another Golden Retriever holds the record for the most tennis balls held in the mouth, at five tennis balls.
Golden Retrievers are an impressive bunch, as any Golden lover knows. It's no wonder they are the third most popular dog breed in the U.S.