Posts Tagged ‘Mrs. Charlesworth’


Noranby Campfire was the one of the first Noranby dogs.

Mrs. Charlesworth’s Noranby goldens were among the three foundational lines that make up the modern golden’s pedigree. Noranby Campfire was the first stud she bred.  His type is of a lithe, dark-colored dog with a somewhat wavy-coat, very typical of Mrs. Charlesworth’s breeding, although most of her later dogs had straighter coats.

Her line was founded with a bitch named “Normanby Beauty.” The name was originally “Normanby,” but a snafu at a dog show changed the name to “Noranby.”

Beauty was bred to Lord Harcourt’s “Culham Copper.” This breeding produced the foundation stud, Noranby Campfire.  Copper’s sire was Culham Brass, and this line, the Culhams, is well-documented in terms of pedigree and photos. This line is originally came directly from Guisachan’s kennels.

Culham Copper, Camfire’s sire:

Culham Copper

Culham Copper

And Culham Brass:


Culham Brass, b. 1904.

Here’s the pedigree for Culham Brass. Notice that there is an obvious black dog in that pedigree with what we would definitely regard today  as a politically incorrect name. The Culham dogs were interbred with black way/flat-coats, and that name is a definitely of a dog of that color.

Notice what features these dogs all possess. They are all moderately boned and feathered. They are all dark dogs, but not as dark as Dual Ch. Balcombe Boy, also of Lord Harcourt’s breeding. This dog was the breed’s first dual champion, but he wouldn’t win a thing today in the show ring. He was what we call a mahogany golden. This color is as dark as the darkest Irish setter, and I think it is rather attractive. I used to see a few goldens of this color as late as ten years ago, but today, this color is strictly verboten. And because of the inheritance of coat color in goldens is such that light colored dogs cannot carry the darker color, you will never see this color return. It is something that dog shows cannot capture, for it is something that only generations of functional breeding can create.

If you’d like to see  a good photograph of Balcombe Boy, check out Marcia Schehlr’s book. His photo is in the early breed history section, which are de rigueur in the dog books. Most of these are total nonsense, but this book is really good in its historical analysis. In fact, that’s where I found out about the Cao de Castro Laboreiro’s influence in the St. John’s water dog. I use the history in that book, along with a cribbed section of Elma Stonex’s expose on the history of the golden retriever that appears in Gertrude Fischer’s book, The New Complete Golden Retriever. Both of these books have really good analysis of the conformation, including a critique of people who breed dogs solely to be flashy and “trendy” in the ring, rather than breeding for a more consistent and functional type. Neither book goes as far as I do, of course, and neither is as blatant as I am. But if you want my idea of what a golden is supposed to look like, go to the last sketch in Schlehr’s book. It’s one of her own pieces of artwork, and it features a field bred dog, with a moderate coat and lithe frame carrying a duck in its mouth. It is well-muscled but not cobby. It is designed to do what it is supposed to do. It is an attractive dog, but not in the way show dogs are. It is an elegance that one might see in the working collies and huntaways of New Zealand or of coyotes mousing in a freshly mowed hayfield.

I hope that this post gives you an idea of what the original goldens were like in the years that they first were split off from the flat-coat. The big, “white,” coarsely built “retrievers” are nothing like these dogs. They are a caricature of this formerly strong working retriever.  Their conformation is designed for slowness and lumber, not for efficient movement on land or in water. (And Raymond Coppinger uses the exact word  that I do in his book on dog evolution when he writes about these pseudo-retrievers–“caricature.” I have criticisms of that book, but I think much of it is really an asset to our understanding of dogs, especially when he talks about what we’re doing to destroy the genetic base and working abilities of our dogs.)

So which breeders are conserving the golden retriever?  The ones breeding the lithe, red field dogs? Or the ones breeding “white” and blond dogs with lots of hair and bone?  I think the answer is pretty clear. The pictures speak for themselves.

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