Posts Tagged ‘English-type golden retriever’

This light cream golden has very little pigment and may approach the "Albino" description of St. Hubert's May.

This light cream golden has very little pigment and may approach the "Albino" description of St. Hubert's May.

Colonel le Poer Trench’s Russian retrievers were founded by a bitch named St. Hubert’s May. You can read about this line of goldens called Russian retrievers here. His dogs were much lighter in color than the other three lines of retriever derived from the Tweedmouth strain. They were heavier in build, too.

May was said to be an albino, but I think she was actually an unusually pale dog with brown skin pigment, like this dog. Most light colored dogs today do not have this skin pigment. They are really black dogs with cream colored hair.

Some of the Tweed water dog/tweed water spaniels were of this color. However, most of the original golden people never bred for this color at all. Even the 1st Baron Tweedmouth intentionally tried to avoid producing very light colored dogs.

It is likely that May was whelped in a litter and culled for being the wrong color. She was then given to Col. le Poer Trench, who according to  his contemporaries, actually knew very little about retrievers. He was told that her light color was a sign of her “pure-breeding,” which he believed whole-heartedly. She was a good worker, so we know that she was not a true albino. Albino dogs usually are useless, because they burn easily and often have poor movement. They are also blinded by direct sunlight, which means that an albino retriever would never be able to mark shot birds as they fell.

She was bred to St. Hubert’s Rock, a dog that had been given to a ghillie by the 1st Baron Tweedmouth. He was a mid-gold color or a light gold in color.

All of their progeny, except for a very few, were light gold in color. None were as pale as their matriarch, however.

This line was kept separate from the other lines of Tweedmouth’s strain, registered as the yellow Russian retriever. It remained until the colonel’s death, and it is believed to have disappeared.

May’s light color is not the origin of the current fad of cream colored dogs, which much more of a fad in Europe than North America. Her line died out, and it was not interbred with the Ingestre, Noranby, and Culham lines.

Light colors appeared into those lines but were originally culled, because it was believed that light colored dogs were unable to work as well as dark ones. I disagree with this assessment, but light colored dogs are nearly absent from working lines of golden. If you find a light colored one, it is more than likely going to be a show dog, so a dark one is more likely to be a worker than a light one. However, color does not affect working ability, but the perception has greatly affected how these lines have developed.

Breeding for exreme palor in the golden, though, really only exists in the mid-50’s, when these dogs became in vogue in the UK. By the 1980’s, they had largely replaced the darker colors in Britain and much of Europe.


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