Posts Tagged ‘golden retriever history’

I don’t know who this dog was, but I like it.

Does anyone know anything about this dog’s identity?

It’s very unusual to see a photo or a painting of a dog of any sort wearing a collar. And this is a fairly nice collar.

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Ch. Haulstone Dan’s sire was Dual Ch. Balcombe Boy, who belonged to a Mr. Hermon and was bred by 1st Viscount Harcourt. Judging from the appearance of both dogs, Dan very much took after his sire. Dan would become a Crufts Gold Cup winner and eventually earned 6 challenge certificates, achievements that a dog like him today simply wouldn’t win. He would probably be deemed a “red” and be penalized severely– perhaps more so than the KC standard requires. And never mind that his type is very different from virtually all European conformation dogs.

He was the maternal grandsire of the best known Haulstone golden, Ch. Haulstone Marker.

The Haulstones were an early line of goldens that were kept by a Mr. Joseph Eccles at the Halston Estate in Shropshire. Their initial golden retriever had been purchased as  a “liver flat-coat,” but the dog was definitely a golden.

The Eccleses’ breeding program was quite notable because of their experimental outcrossing to FT. CH. Haylers Defender, a yellow Labrador.


I don’t need to tell you that I really like this type of golden. They are the Robert Redfords of the dog world. Rugged but handsome,  perhaps even a bit elegant, but still without extremity or vanity. Something like a drop-eared, feathered dingo.



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From William Nelson Hutchinson’s Dog Breaking (1869) :

When recently salmon-fishing on the upper part of the Tweed, I occasionally met on its banks a totally blind man, and who, in spite of this great disqualification, continued a keen and successful trout-angler. He had been for some years entirely sightless, and was led about by a large brown Tweed-side spaniel, of whose intelligence wonderful stories are told. M—r travelled much round the country ; and it is certain, for he would frequently do so to show off the dog’s obedience, that on his saying (the cord being perfectly slack), ” Hie off to the Holmes,” [Holms Water] or, ” Hie off to Melrose,” &c., &c., the animal would start off in the right direction without an instant’s hesitation. Now, this Tweed spaniel was not born with more brains than other Tweed spaniels, but he was M—r’s constant companion, and had, in consequence, acquired a singular facility of comprehending his orders, and doubtless from great affection was very solicitous to please (225).

This was the regional working-type retriever that was native to the Scottish Borders and Northumberland. It was a mixture of St. John’s water dog and some regional water spaniel type and was quite commonly used in hunting waterfowl and helping fishermen set and retrieve nets and lines.

This dog was also an ancestor of the golden retriever, which is currently used as a guide dog for the blind, and is quited noted for being eager to please.

So it was probably a wise choice for the 1st Baron Tweedmouth to use this breed to help found his strain of yellow wavy-coated retrievers that would be at the root of the modern golden retriever breed.

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From a Life magazine article on the national retriever trial in Herrin, Illinois. The date of publication was 30 December 1946.

Three golden retrievers were among the Top 20 Retrievers in the nation that year.  Two of them were Tonkahof Esther Belle and Stilrovin Nitro Express, which I have featured on the blog before.

I think this golden is Stilrovin Nitro Express. His shtick appears to have been leaping fences with a bird in his mouth, but I can’t see the chest in this photo.  This particular dog had an extensive white mark on his chest, but the bird’s wing is obscuring the chest. So I cannot say for certain that this dog is Stilrovin Nitro Express, but that is my educated guess.

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This is an early French golden retriever. This photo was taken around 1930.

I call this type either “The 1930’s model golden retriever” or the “Bush’s Baked Bean Dog.”

This dog appears to have a dark gold base with some moderate gold shadings, which is quite attractive.

I am slightly biased toward these dogs.

I have often wondered how these dogs fit into the French system. The French have a gun dog culture that celebrates regional dual purpose dogs. They also have the barbet, which although not as common now, is the national retrieving dog of France.

I’d hate to think that the retrievers from the Anglo-Saxon world wound up hurting the barbet. The barbet was there first, but a faster swimming retriever with an easier to care for coat would be more advantageous than a dog of this type.

Of course, the retrievers did largely replace the various water spaniels and water dogs of the British Isles; only one remains– the McCarthy strain of the Southern Irish water spaniel.

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The taller man shooting the gun is the Rev. Hamilton Upcher,  who was a Norfolk parson with the C of E.  He was the “Parson Upcher” who hooked Winifred Charlesworth up with her first goldens. I don’t know his exact connection to the Marjoribanks or Fox-Strangways families, but he used his goldens to shoot in Norfolk, where he developed a reputation for being a very skilled marksman.

This particular dog is small and quite dark. These images come from an article on shooting in Country Life Illustrated from 24 August 1901.

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The 5th Earl of Ilchester.

From Country Life Illustrated (1897):

One of the most successful portraits shown at the recent exhibition at the Haymarket, by Miss Fairman, was that of Hector, the favourite red retriever belonging to the Earl of llchester, who owns a fine kennel of this choice variety, and the only one in England. They are very keen and thoroughly good sporting dogs, and Lord llchester is understood to prefer them to any other breed for working. Hector, by the way, is the home favourite, and spends most of his happy life lounging in the beautiful saloon of Holland House, wherein he had undisputed away, until one day a little mongrel terrier strayed in from the streets. The poor little beastie, being allowed to remain—-because, owing to the muzzling order,expulsion simply meant sentence of death—has assumed a quite unwarrantable air of authority over Hector, whose dignity does not allow him to argue with a small dog. There is one thing, however. Hector will not permit the newcomer to do, and that is to vex the soul of Lady Ilchester’s pet Yorkshire Venus, who is Hector’s own chosen chum ( pg. 326).

Hector and the particular strain of “red retriever” referred to here are the same strain that gave us the modern golden retriever. Henry Edward Fox-Strangways, 5th Earl of Ilchester, is the Earl of Ilchester referred to in this text. His mother was the Dudley Marjoribanks’s sister. Dudley Marjoribanks, 1st Baron Tweedmouth, was of course the founder of the this strain at Guisachan. The Ilchester (“Melbury”) dogs were derived from Ada, one of the bitch puppies from that Nous/Belle litter.

Hetor’s behavior toward small dogs is very golden.

“You’re small. You’re cocky. I could flatten you in eight seconds. But I am too big to be paying much attention to you. So I’m going to ignore you now.”

I’ve seen them have that conversation with terriers– sans the words, of course.

If the terrier is a dog and the retriever is a bitch, the terrier will then spend the better part of an afternoon trying to impress the retriever or trying to hump her.

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I have seen this particular photograph many times in golden retriever history publications and website. It is always pointed out that the yellow retriever on the far left is Nous, the foundational sire of the yellow wavy-coated retriever strain at Guisachan. He looks almost exactly like a golden retriever of today, and at the time, he would have been considered a very typical wavy-coated retriever that had a lot of St. John’s water dog ancestry. He may have been entirely of this ancestry. His breeder, Lord Chichester, left no record of Nous’s ancestry. He was a “sport” in a litter of black wavy-coat pups, and he was given to cobbler at Brighton in lieu of a debt. (I don’t know what sort of debt a landed gentleman would owe a cobbler, but that is the story.) Dudley Marjoribanks, 1st Baron Tweedmouth, encountered the yellow retriever at Brighton in 1864.  We all know his story fairly well.

The dog at the far right is the dog that now Scottish nobleman could be without– a Scottish deerhound or “Highland deer greyhound.” This particular dog appears to be a fawn– a color that has since disappeared in modern deerhounds. Every Scottish sportsman tried his hand a deer-stalking or deer coursing.  In both activities, a wiry deerhound would be necessary. With coursing, it is self-explanatory, you have to have a sight hound for that activity. In deer-stalking, if the hunter merely wounded the deer, he would sent forth a brace of deerhounds to bring down the wounded stag– an action somewhat reminiscent of retrievers. (Stonehenge would classify retrievers and deerhounds together for this reason).

I think it is likely that the second dog from the right is a black and tan wavy-coated retriever. It could be a Gordon setter, but I am a bit skeptical for another reason. The Marjoribanks family used their retrievers to hunt deer. The dogs generally tracked the wounded ones, but there is a least one account of a retriever named Mars jumping into a bog to “retrieve” a wounded stag. Because of their use in deer-stalking, it would make sense that the family’s retrievers would be displayed with the deerhound.

The final dog in this photo is a bit nebulous. From a distance, the second dog from the left looks like a young golden retriever or a maybe a smaller individual. However, at this time, the majority of all wavy-coated retrievers were on the larger, more heavily boned side. Most looked like Nous and the black-and-tan dog– except that the vast majority of these dogs were solid black in color. Most of these dogs were broad-headed and very “Newfoundlandly” or perhaps very much like  the “English Labradors” of today, just with long hair.

This dog’s head is all wrong to be a typical wavy-coat of the day. Its ears are more low-set, and the head is almost conical in shape.

When I first saw this photo, I thought nothing of it, except that this dog looked like a different type of yellow wavy-coat than Nous.

A well-known golden retriever historian pointed out to me today that this dog could have been a “Tweed water spaniel.” Then I remembered a description of the Tweed water spaniel’s head, and I realize that this dog has something like the conical shape that was ascribed to this extinct breed from the Scottish Borders and Northumberland.

Every description of this breed I’ve come across points to the similarity between this breed and other retrievers, so wouldn’t one expect a Tweed water spaniel to look something like a golden retriever?

If this dog is a TWS, then it might be Belle. Belle was born at Ladykirk in the Scottish Borders country, which near the Nothumbrian town of Berwick-upon-Tweed, where the 1st Baron Tweedmouth had been the MP. The Marjoribanks family had roots in the Scottish Borders, and the family had an estate in the region. It would have made sense that the 1st Baron Tweedmouth would have been familiar with this yellow or liver water dog.

By the way, I do not know when this photo was taken. It could have been before 1868, when Nous and Belle were bred together to produce the foundational litter for the strain. If so, then Nous would have had the golden retriever trait of developing a white muzzle in middle age. Perhaps he is the source for the premature graying that is so common in the breed!

Nous also has something in his mouth.I have no idea what it is. He was very much a retriever, and this trait was defintely passed on to his offspring, as this painting of Mary Marjoribanks and either Cowslip or Primrose, bitches that Nous and Belle litter, would suggest.

Judging from the appearance of either Cowslip or Primrose  in that painting and that of Ada, another bitch pup from that litter and the foundational bitch of the Ilchester strain of these yellow retrievers, the Tweed water spaniel used in that cross had to have strongly resembled a golden retriever or a “yellow wavy-coat.”  The golden retriever phenotype was established early on in the breeding program. Indeed, Nous himself could easily have passed for a modern golden retriever.

The Tweed water spaniel or Tweed water dog didn’t closely resemble McCarthy’s strain of Southern Irish water spaniel at all. And this confusion, I think has led more than a few people astray. Everyone has scoured the old paintings and photographs looking for something like a yellow version of that breed, but they should have been looking at those of small yellow retrievers instead.

I don’t know if this dog is Belle or even a Tweed water spaniel. It could be, judging from the fact that it doesn’t resemble the typical early wavy-coat of that day.

But one would expect that this bitch would have not been radically different from Nous or the modern golden retriever.

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Major Davies and Winifred Charlesworth at the 1938 Golden Retriever Club Field Trial.

It was held at Salisbury in Wiltshire.

This is a place I have visited. I’ve seen where Prime Minister Edward Heath’s ashes are buried at Salisbury Cathedral!

It’s not too far from Stonehenge, which is also in Wiltshire.

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This is a photo the 1934 Golden Retriever Sanction Show near Pangbourne, Berkshire.

(That’s pronounced “Barkshur,” and it’s in the South East of England.)

The image come from a book called The Death of Rural England: A Social History of the Countryside Since 1900 (2003) by Alun Howkins.

I think the guy in the kilt is Sir Bufton Tufton.


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