Posts Tagged ‘red golden’

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.


European show-type


American show-type

 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.

Some of Mrs. Charlesworth's Noranby dogs from the 1930's. Clearly of a setter type.

Some of Mrs. Charlesworth's Noranby dogs from the 1930's. Clearly of a setter type.

A modern dog of this type:


And another:


And another:


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:

Culham Brass, a mixture of setter and water spaniel types.

Culham Brass, a mixture of setter and water spaniel types.

 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.

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A Golden retriever named “Blue” retrieves an uphill triple with one blind. This video was shot in Vermont.

Yes, goldens can do this work!

From youtube user markndogs.

Just enjoy.

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The dog on the right represents the original type for golden retrievers and is now only represented in the field lines. It also has a common characteristic in field bred goldens– a slightly undershot jaw. Some really dislike this characteristic that appears in working type goldens, but since we really don’t want a golden to bite to kill its game– like we would with a terrier or a sighthound– it’s not that big a deal. However, excessive bone and coat are a much bigger deal when we talk about working conformation. The dog on the left represents a light-colored dog, but the conformation is far more functional that we see in most modern “English cream” goldens.

I was recently going through some old golden retriever books. One was Gertrude Fischer’s The New Complete Golden Retriever (1984). Another was Valerie Foss’s Golden Retrievers Today (1994). The former is a classic golden retriever book about golden retrievers in America, while the other is a rather brief survey of the breed in Britain. What is interesting is how the type and color have evolved in both countries.

In the 1920’s, when the breed had experienced just a few years of separation from the flat-coat, the breed in both countries very strongly resembled the dog on the right. As I have stated before, from around 1890 until the First World War, the flat-coat (and the golden– known as “Tweedmouth’s strain”) were the dominant retrievers in Britain. The dogs had been bred with more leg and a more moderate coat. The “Newfoundland” influence was being bred out of the lines of the flat-coat.  The old strain of Newfoundland, which once reigned as the top retriever outcross, had disappeared, replaced with the more modern strain of mastiff-type dog.

Here are two golden retrievers who were shown and worked as flat-coats:

Culham Brass (1904):


(Note the water spaniel influence in his coat).

Culham Copper (1908):


(Note the white markings–not uncommon in working type goldens. It’s a throwback to the Irish setter, which was originally red and white. Most working red setters– field type Irish setters– in the US have at least some white on them).

Culham Brass’s dam was Lady, Archie Marjoribanks’s dog that he kept on the ranch in Texas. These dogs were typical of the type found in Britain at this time. The breed only existed in very small numbers in Canada, where Lord Aberdeen, the governor general, introduced them. The Culham dogs were registered, trialed, and show as “liver flat-coats,” “yellow flat-coats,” or “Tweedmouth’s strain.”

Colonel Magoffin’s first imports to North America in the 1930’s were all of this type. The breed was often mistaken as an Irish setter. Several field trial champions during this time period in America were often thought of by spectators as unusual retrieving Irish setters that could swim.

Lighter colors did exist in the breed in the early years, but these would be called light gold by today’s standards, not cream. The darker colors, because of their dominance in heritability, were simply more common.

In the United states and Canada, the darker colored dogs were much more common well into the 1990s, but in the UK and the FCI, something happened. In 1936, the KC and FCI standard allowed for cream colored dogs, probably hoping to open up the color so that dogs with whitish shadings could be used in the breeding program. The Golden Retriever Club said that the original dogs were cream, so they had to allow for it. Interestingly, the Marjoribanks family bred all of their dogs towards the darker end of the spectrum, even though that first litter between Nous and Belle were indeed light golden in color. (Nous was dark gold).

Then, the standard was rewritten to require that “red and mahogany” were not allowed colors. This would change the way that golden retrievers would develop in Britain and the FCI countries. All truly golden dogs are a diluted red in color, even those that are “white.” Then the KC and FCI standard reduced the height at the whithers– 20 inches became the new minimum. The result was that KC and FCI show breeders began breeding the lightest possible goldens until they were producing the pale creams that we sometimes call “English cream” or “white goldens.” The shorter legs on these dogs was soon accompanied with increased bone, and the breed entirely changed in Europe. If you look throug Foss’s book, the dogs sudden shift around 1960 to this English cream type.

In Fischer’s book, the American goldens do not get more heavily boned at all, in part because her book was published in 1984, before some of the shifts hit the North American golden population. The vast majority of the goldens in her are of the original type. There are light dogs, but there are no “white” dogs. What happens in her book is that the dogs’ feathering becomes more and more excessive. By the 1980’s pictures, the dogs in that book have 7 or 8 inch feathering streaming off their legs and tail. A dog built like a working golden with that type of coat is a beautiful thing to behold, even though that feathering is a hindrance in the field, collecting burrs and becoming waterlogged. Here’s a pic of a famous show golden from this time period. His type is very common in the American Kennel Club shows, although most of the modern American show dogs are now lighter gold than he was.  Heavier bone is appearing in these lines, too, making them even less functional.

Now, we have this dichotomy:


The dog on the right still has the dark color and more moderate body type (although heavier than the originals), so we know this is an American show type golden. The dark gold dogs are not frowned on the ring. You still see American show champions of this color. The dog on the left is the English show type, short legged and heavily boned and not even “gold” in color.

The English type also has been selected for a much more “mellow” temperament. Temple Grandin, an autistic woman who has studied the brain chemistry and behavior of a wide variety of domestic animals (most famously using her knowledge to design humane slaughterhouses), points out in her book, Animals in Translation, argues that breeding golden retrievers to be so calm has made epilepsy more common. Goldens are now subject to Avalanche of Rage Syndrome and may be related to this, which is actually a seizure disorder in which a nice dog suddenly attacks people for no reason. I wonder if the influx of English type goldens has resulted in an increase in aggression and biting in the US golden retriever population. According to one study, goldens are now the Number 3 biter in the US.

I’m not looking for a polar bear golden or a dog with so much coat that it drags half the undergrowth of the forest out with it. I’m looking for the old type, the “Swamp collie,” which varied in appearance but was more often dark gold or golden red in color, often with some white splashes on the face and chest. Something like this:


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This dog is from Zomarick golden retrievers. And he has great working style! This was part of some sporting dog journalism in the Province of Quebec.

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Here are some working type goldens.

The first video is of Zomarick golden retrievers in Quebec.


Just to prove to you that this type of golden can relax and make an excellent house pet, here’s some footage of a golden named “Chewy.” 

The darker colors do NOT necessarily mean that a golden has been crossed with Irish setter, although crosses with Irish Setters do resemble red goldens. The main way to tell the difference is that the setter coat is dominant. Setters do not have as thick an undercoat as goldens do. A pure golden will have a very thick undercoat. Even the darkest goldens have some yellow shadings or even a slight yellow tinge to the coat, which shows up when the light hits the coat at a certain angle. Most goldens have cream-colored “breeches” (the long feathering on the backside up the upper part of the dog’s hindlegs), while setters will be uniformly red all over.  Setter-golden crosses do vary, especially if the setter is a field bred Irish setter, which are a lighter red than the show type. These lighter red dogs also have smaller ears and may have a larger head (making them look like goldens, too!). But most setter-golden crosses are probably working type goldens, because Irish setters are not as common as they once were. Goldens DO have setter in them, and it was an important outcross in the development of the breed.

The original goldens imported to North America, including “Lady,” the golden who worked on the Marjoribankses’ Texas ranch in the 1890’s, were dark in color. The really light colors were not popular until relatively recently in the US and are considered faulty under the AKC breed standard. (The really dark ones are, too).

For some reason, the lines that produce working type goldens tend to be darker in color. This is probably the result of a “founder effect” in these bloodlines. This means that the dogs that founded these lines were probably quite dark in coloration, and this color passed down into their offspring. Dark color probably secondary to working retriever behavior, and there are some working goldens that are light gold in color.  In these lines, it is not unusual to find dark goldens with splashes of white on them, too. White spots on the chest are very common, as are white tail tips and white feet. It’s not unusual to see the odd  white blaze running between the eyes either. Many of the early goldens had white markings on them. For some reason, it’s very unusual to see light-colored goldens with any white on them.  It’s also not unusual to have brown skin pigmentation on working goldens, with brown noses, brown lips, and yellow or amber eyes. Even those with black noses will occasionally have brown noses in the winter months in what is called a “winter nose.”

In addition to these quirks, a tiny minority of working goldens wll develop a “water spaniel coat,” which is short and very curly.  This is throwback to the Tweed water spaniel, which played such an important role in the development of the breed.

Keep in mind that working dogs are bred largely for work, not for looks. Some working goldens are big and muscular, while others are lighter and more setter-like. These traits can appear in the same litter.  Divergence in type occurs in all dogs that are bred for behavioral traits. Border collies and Jack Russells are just the two breeds in which this is most celebrated. (Jack Russell purists wouldn’t even call their breed a breed. It’s a type.)

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