Posts Tagged ‘working golden’


The above picture appeared on a cigarette cartoon in 1939. These dogs represent the original color range in the breed, which is not “cream” but gold with cream shadings to golden red in color. The dog in the background has a white spot on the chest, which isn’t uncommon, especially with the darker colors.

Neither dog is “cobby” or excessively feathered. To my aesthetics, these are far better looking dogs than what currently passes for show quality in goldens these days. And I actually don’t care that much for aesthetics.

I suppose some people like to turn dogs into bear-like animals, while others think its a charming thing to put as much feathering on a dog as possible, not realizing that this feathering incumbers the dog in heavy cover and in water. It’s partly why goldens will always be a novelty when it comes to working retrievers. It matters not that goldens are generally the most biddable of all the retriever breeds. That biddability is quashed when we compare it with the need for speed.

Again, we need to go back to the roots of this breed during the halcyon days of the flat-coated retriever, when breeders demanded that the dogs have “power without lumber and raciness without weediness.”

Maybe that would be a good place to start. Perhaps we really ought to look at wolf anatomy. In Nature, the modern wolves were able to outcompete the dire wolf because the dire wolf had too much lumber to run down smaller game. It was perfect for bringing down the North American megafauna, but once those beasts became extinct, it could never compete with long-legged, more lightly built wolves. It’s also why I’ve never heard of a Newfoundland fisherman ever using the modern breed called the Newfoundland for hauling nets, yet its ancestors did just that.  The flat-coated/wavy-coated retriever breed/type very nearly went extinct in Britain in the late nineteenth century. It was deemed too coarse and cobby to be a useful retriever, perhaps because it was being outcrossed with the newly popular heavy Newfoundland. It was only when the fanciers of that breed bred out the cobbiness that the dog became the cornerstone of gamekeepers’ retrievers in Britain as well as becoming the top trial retriever. 

Bigger is not always better. More bone on shorter legs is always an anatomical disaster for canine species. You will not find a single breed that is both heavily boned and short-legged that has a healthy body structure. That’s why we have two types of Dachshund: the Teckel (which has somewhat longer legs and is dominated with the wire-haired variety ) and the Dachshund (which has a long back and tiny legs and can be purchased anywhere in the United States).

However, there should be a caveat to this advice. The flat-coat fell from favor after World War I in part because it suddenly began developing sighthound characteristics, including a very light frame and a very narrow muzzle. Some retriever fanciers denounced the flat-coat as being crossed with a Borzoi (Russian Wolfhound), although this charge has never been proven. Today, flat-coats are being bred back the more moderate body type. They have gone in the exact opposite direction as their yellow and tawny cousins. They have suffered a severe drop in popularity, coupled with breeding for this “weedy” frame.

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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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