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At one time, dogs like these could be top show dogs, as well as working dogs. Sadly, those days are long passed.

At one time, dogs like these could be top show dogs, as well as working dogs. Sadly, those days are long passed.

After World War II, the golden retriever began to make a name for itself in the United States and Canada. Originally, it was primarily owned by people of great wealth, who had the resources to import dogs from Britain. After World War II, the middle class expanded, and the dogs were accessible to the public at large.

One of the most important dogs born in America was CH AmCanOTC Lorelei’s Golden Rip**.  This dog was whelped in 1946, and he had Rockhaven, Yelme, Haulstone, and Noranby dogs in his background. His great  grandsire was FCh Rip ,  the first male golden to win a US field championship. This dog was descended largely from Noranby lines, which is why so many of his progeny were of the darker colors.

Golden Rip was a top obedience dog and show dog, but he also was handled in the field. Breeders today try to do the same with their dogs, but  it is often a very difficult enterprise. The traits that make a dog a good worker, a spry frame and moderate feathering, also go against the breed standard, which wants a broader head and “good bone.” (I think there’s a difference between good bone and excessive bone, and most show dogs have it in excess.)

Here is a picture of Golden Rip. He would not make it in the show ring today. He’s what we would call a field golden today. He is moderate in coat and bone. He is also very dark. He lacks the “bulbous” and “blocky” look we see too often in show goldens. Everything about him says “What do you want me to retrieve?”

Today, he would be laughed out of the show ring. He would be deemed “too dark.” His build would be called “racy,” while his body type would be called “flat-ribbed.” He would also be marked down for having a noticeable occiuput. We always sought this in our dogs because it is believed to be a sign of trainability. Some even call this the “bump of wisdom” or “bump of knowledge.”

Golden Rip was a widely used sire. He was the ancestor of my first golden, who was a dead ringer for a female version of him, except for her white-tipped tail. His bloodlines appear in many show and ffeld goldens on this continent. However, his show-type descendants don’t look like him in the least.

Even today, Rip is a very common name for a golden retriever. I know of at least four dogs with this name. Dogs of his type are the archetypal golden retriever.   If you mention  the worlds “golden retriever” to me, this is the image that enters my mind.

If you were to compare him with champion goldens of today, you’d notice how exaggerated these dogs are from the original form.  My father once called our dog a “red wolf,” because she was built true to that ancient lupine form that is designed for running long and hard for hours on end. The Russians say “The wolf is kept fed by its feet.”   That’s why wolves are built with so much leg and so much endurance. It is through that heritage that the retriever inherited its running and swimming gear, big feet and good legs for tearing through the brush and paddling through the water.

Today, the show golden is bred away from anything resembling the utility of either a wild wolf or a hard- working retriever. It is designed to be a teddy bear with excessive coat and excessive bone. It is a mere shadow of the old dual purpose golden that once existed. The fancy has made it so that they don’t make show dogs like Golden Rip anymore.

If we could get back to a functional breed standard in the golden, I guarantee you that dogs like Rip would exist once again. There would be less division between show and field strains, and our dogs might be considered a viable working breed once again.

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