Within golden retrievers, one can see the influence of the various breeds in its make-up. These dogs are sometimes though of as throwbacks to that ancestral type, but virtually all goldens show some type influence of the constituent breeds. The following type influences can be seen: the Tweed water spaniel, the St. John’s water dog and Newfoundland, and the setter.
Goldens of the Tweed water spaniel type typically have shorter hair with a distinct waviness that approaches curliness. The dogs tend to be smaller, often weighing as little as 40 pounds. Dogs of this type were more common in the early foundation of the breed, but they can be found in field lines. The curly, close coat is an asset in a water dog, because the curls are not as easily bogged down in water. The water runs along the curl and off the body. These dogs are not very common, but they do exist in limited numbers.
Below is an historical photograph of some early Tweedmouth strain dogs, including the black ones. All have something approaching this type of coat. However, they do come with more curl than than this. In temperament, these dogs tend to be very clever and trainable. They are typically active dogs, but they are very intelligent. Unfortunately, they are not very common.
Here’s a black wavy coat or a black water spaniel with these characteristics:
Dogs with the St. John’s water dog characteristics or even Newfoundland characteristics are quite common. These are the heavily built dogs also have very broad skulls. The European show type really resembles this type well. In fact, it surpasses the mass and blockiness of the original dogs. These dogs tend to be sedate, often advertised as “mellow.” The American show type resembles the Newfoundland because its coat is greater in length than the English type.
George Teasdale-Buckell did not like dogs of this type, because they were coarse animals with a great deal of lumber. His advice was followed in the flat-coat, but it virtually ignored in modern bench goldens of both types.
The final type that appears in goldens is the setter type. This type has essentially taken over the flat-coated retriever, and it is the only type of flat-coat that currently exists. In goldens, this type was common when it was split off from the flat-coat, and it still pops up in field type goldens today.
A modern dog of this type:
This type of golden tends to be very setter-like in looks, but they are more biddable than the modern Irish setter. They often naturally quarter with long casts, which is something that modern retriever trial people do not like. However, they tend to have very good air scenting abilities that exceed virtually all the other retriever breeds.
The setter type is essentially the working type of golden, while the St. John’s dog/Newfoundland dog makes up the European and American show lines. Some working types also approach the St. John’s water dog/Newfoundland type, but these dogs are not the majority of the field lines. The Tweed water spaniel types do not exist in very high numbers these days. Most people want a larger retriever with a lot more coat.
I personally prefer the setter type over the others. Some of the early dogs were a blend of setter type and water spaniel type:
Most of the field line dogs have a blending of setter and water spaniel types. It often common for a field line dog to have the setter type body and the water spaniel type coat.
All of these dogs represent the original variance in the wavy-coated retriever, except that virtually no dogs were as lightly-colored as the European show type.
These type variances are nothing to be ashamed of. After all, it gives the individual a choice as to which type fits his or her lifestyle. The dogs of the setter type are often too active for the average person, while those of the water spaniel type have a coat that is rather hard to care for. Many of the water spaniel type and setter dogs have the high energy level and obsessiveness and high energy level one would expect to see in a performance bred dog, because a dog of either of these types is useful in the field. However, the St. John’s water dog/Newfoundland are more accepted in the show ring.