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History of the Golden Retriever: Origins, Facts & More

Written by: Kathryn Copeland

Last Updated on May 15, 2024 by Dogster Team

Golden retriever standing on the grass

History of the Golden Retriever: Origins, Facts & More

The Golden Retriever has been a longtime favorite dog for families around the world since the 1800s. They are the third most popular dog out of 200 breeds at the American Kennel Club (AKC)! Goldens are popular family dogs but are also commonly used as search-and-rescue and service dogs.

So, other than being one of the most lovable dogs around, what else do we know about Goldens? We’ll discuss the history and interesting facts about the amazing Golden Retriever.


Where Do Golden Retrievers Come From?

The short story is set in Scotland, or more specifically, the Scottish Highlands. The long story is that Golden Retrievers were created in 1868 through Dudley Coutts Marjoribanks. He came from a wealthy family and was the second son of a Scottish banker but was without a title. He developed a strong interest in dog breeding as a teenager.

The story goes that in 1865, Marjoribanks was walking with his son in Brighton, England, and crossed paths with a cobbler. This cobbler had a golden-colored and wavy-coated retriever dog named Nous.

Marjoribanks purchased Nous from the cobbler and used him as a hunting dog for three years. During this time, he bred his dog with a Tweed Water Spaniel (now extinct) named Belle. The resulting puppies had the hunting instincts of both land and water dogs, and this is where the first Golden Retrievers appeared. The puppies were Crocus, Cowslip, and Primrose. In 1881, Marjoribanks received the title of Baron Tweedmouth.

golden retriever with bird
Image by: Linn Currie, Shutterstock

Those Golden Colors

Golden Retrievers are famous for their golden color, which can range from the palest yellow to a deep golden red. It’s thought that one of the original Goldens, Crocus, was bred with an Irish Setter, which is where the rarer red-gold color originated.

There are four official colors—cream, light golden, golden, and dark golden—but the AKC recognizes only the latter three.

The Different Golden Retrievers

You may not know that there are three kinds of Golden Retrievers: American, Canadian, and English Golden Retrievers.

Group of golden retrievers sitting on grass
Image Credit: Piqsels

There are minor differences between these types of Golden Retrievers.

  • American Golden Retriever: The American Golden has a smaller build with a lankier body type and smaller, triangular eyes. Their coat color is darker than the other Goldens.
  • Canadian Golden Retriever: These Goldens are taller than the others and have eyes that are not dark or light but somewhere in the medium range. Their coats tend to be denser, but the hair is shorter and thinner.
  • English Golden Retriever: The English Golden has a stockier build that is usually larger than the other types. Their eyes are darker and rounder. Their coats are generally lighter and brighter than the other Goldens.

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The 8 Facts About Goldens

There’s a good chance you will be familiar with a few of these facts about Golden Retrievers, but you might learn something new!

Golden Retriever
Image by: Lars_Nissen, Pixabay

1. Energetic

Golden Retrievers are incredibly energetic! They need plenty of exercise and love hiking, playing fetch, and frolicking in the water. Goldens are athletic dogs and do their best with active owners.

2. Service Dogs

Golden Retrievers are commonly used as service and therapy dogs. They are highly intelligent dogs that can provide unconditional love and affection, are reliable, and are devoted. They can effortlessly comfort children and seniors.

3. Hard-Working

Goldens are used as search-and-rescue dogs and hunting and tracking dogs. All their energy goes a long way in these kinds of jobs!

golden retriever running
Image by: Piqsels

4. Excellent Competitors

Due to their energetic and hard-working nature, Goldens are excellent competitors. They excel in dog sports such as agility, dock diving, and obedience.

5. Food-Oriented

Goldens love to eat! They will eat anything and everything if given a chance. Goldens are susceptible to obesity for this reason, so they need their meals measured out. They also love to chew, and if they don’t have enough toys, they’ll look for other inedible items.

6. Mouthy

Golden Retrievers are mouthy dogs. They enjoy carrying things around in their mouths, like toys, sticks, and almost anything else they can.  They also have soft mouths, so they don’t bite down hard.

golden retriver carrying tree branch in his mouth
Image by: Piqsels

7. Forever Young

Goldens are forever puppies in their hearts. They mature more slowly than other breeds and tend to carry that puppyish exuberance for most of their lives.

8. Always Popular

The AKC officially recognized Golden Retrievers in 1925, and they’ve only become more popular over the years. They have been among the top 10 dogs in North America for decades and have long held the number-three spot for years.

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More Interesting Tidbits About Goldens

  • Goldens are considered the fourth smartest dogs, behind the Border Collie, Poodle, and German Shepherd. They are also lovable goofballs.
  • When Golden Retrievers are around 7 or 8 years old, their faces will start to gray.
  • Their wavy double coats help regulate their body temperature and protect their skin, so never shave a Golden!
  • Goldens get along beautifully with everyone and everything. They are sweet and loving dogs that make perfect pets for families with children and all kinds of pets.
  • Golden Retrievers are not good guard dogs since they greet everyone with adoration and kisses.
  • About 62% of Goldens are overweight, which should come as no surprise given their love of eating.
Golden retriever standing on the grass
Image by: Piqsels

Record Breakers

  • The oldest Golden Retriever was Augie from Tennessee, who lived until she was 20 years and 11 months old. Sadly, she passed away on March 31, 2021.
  • A Golden Retriever, Finley from New York, broke the record in 2020 for holding 6 tennis balls in his mouth! Goldens are certainly talented!
  • A Golden called Charlie from Adelaide, Australia, broke the world record for loudest bark in 2012. The bark was measured at 113.1 dB. Just to give you an idea of how loud this is, a chainsaw is measured at 110 dB! However, rest assured that Golden Retrievers are generally not known to be barkers.



We hope that you’ve enjoyed this information about the Golden Retriever and learned something new. They’re one of the country’s most beloved pets because they are affectionate, playful, and good around children. If you’re interested in adopting a Golden Retriever, visit the local shelters and rescue centers. You may not find a puppy, but you’re likely to find a loving adult!

See also:

Featured Image Credit: tanatat, Shuttertock

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