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Where Are Golden Retrievers From?

Where Are Golden Retrievers From?

Broadly speaking, we know that Golden Retrievers first appeared in Scotland in the 19th century. All things considered, they are a relatively new dog breed that has slowly become one of the most popular in the world.

The specific Golden Retriever history is much more interesting. Their athletic build, friendliness, and intelligence are not just accidental features. Let’s take a closer look at how the Golden Retriever became the lovable dog breed it is today.

Golden Retriever History

Goldens are known for their yellow-gold coat (not to mention the long hair that sheds) and their bubbly personality. They are medium- to large-sized dogs with strong, sturdy builds. People often remark how human-like they are because of their big, intelligent eyes. A Golden Retriever makes a great family pet, but they have also been known to be hunting companions and service dogs, too.

While it may seem lucky that a single dog breed has all of these desirable characteristics, the truth is that the Golden Retriever was bred to be like this. Let’s get into it!

A brief overview of the Golden Retriever

The first Golden Retriever was born in Scotland as early as the mid to late 19th century.

Back then, rich folks in the Scottish Gentry prided themselves on hunting wild waterfowl. The land that they hunted on, however, was very marshy and wet, with big rivers, streams, and ponds to navigate. These hunters would often be looking for a suitable hunting companion in a dog, which needed a very specific set of skills.

They needed to be good at retrieving games both on land and from the water and therefore had to be adapted for both kinds of rough terrain.

To create this breed, hunters crossed a yellow Wavy-Coated Retriever with Water Spaniels. The Retrievers of the day were bred to retrieve birds like grouse and partridge and would join hunters on deer hunts as well. The Water Spaniel had characteristics like webbed feet and athletic builds that made them great sporting dogs built for wet, slippery, marshy conditions.

The idea was to create a dog breed that could help hunters retrieve their prey in the specific environment of the Scottish Highlands.

After the first litter was born, their offspring were bred with other types of dogs. By selecting for all of the best characteristics of these breeds, we ended up with the uniquely stunning and strong Golden Retriever we know today.

The detailed origin story

The Guisachan Estate, located in Scotland, is where the first Golden Retriever is said to be born. A man called Dudley Marjoribanks spent the majority of his life perfecting the dog breed, eventually giving us one of the most popular dog breeds in the world.

Dudley Marjoribanks, also known as Lord Tweedmouth, kept records of his dog breeding endeavors between the years 1840-1890. This gives us a clearer picture of where exactly the Golden Retriever comes from.

In the 1860s, Marjoribanks bought a Yellow Wavy-Coated Retriever named ‘Nous’ from a cobbler on impulse. This was out of character, as black dogs were the preferred hunting dog of the time. He eventually bred Nous with a Water Spaniel named ‘Belle.’ The two of them had three yellow or golden offspring and became the basis for the entire breed.

These three offspring were named after a trio of yellow flowers – Crocus, Cowslip, and Primrose – and were then bred from with other breeds, including the Red Setter, Bloodhounds, the St. John’s Water Dog, as well as other Wavy- and Flat-Coated and Labrador Retrievers.

In the end, a sturdy dog with retrieving abilities, webbed feet for traversing slippery ground and swimming in streams, and hyper-intelligence were born.

An officially recognized breed

The Golden Retriever breed was quite exclusive at its inception. Scottish Gentry and hunters in the Highlands were the only ones who knew about them until the early 1900s.

In 1908, Lord Harcourt showed off a collection of Golden Retrievers at the Kennel Club show, where they famously got their name. At the time, they were labeled simply as “any variety of Retriever,” but Lord Harcourt described them specifically as a “Golden Retriever.”

In 1913, the Golden Retriever Club of Great Britain was formed. This Kennel Club, like others, intends to encourage the breeding of Golden Retrievers and facilitate their training. The first American Kennel Club devoted to Golden Retrievers only showed up in 1938.

The Golden Retriever Club in both the UK and the US cemented the breed as one that will not go away anytime soon.

Golden Retrievers Today

One of the most fun characteristics of the Golden Retriever breed is their fun-loving personality. Unlike most dogs, Golden Retrievers tend to act like puppies until they are 3 years old or so. This means your furry friend will remain outgoing, goofy, and cuddly for a long, long time! Their intelligence, non-violent nature, and ability to learn commands easily make them great family pets.

The biggest downfall, however, is that they are not known for being very good guard dogs. Your Golden Retriever will likely bark if someone new comes to your house. Because they’re so friendly, however, they will likely try to befriend the intruder rather than scare them away. The plus side is that your Golden likely won’t be aggressive or bite any unsuspecting people.

Caring For Your Golden

Before you go out and get your own Golden, there are a few things to keep in mind about the breed.

  • First, they are a big breed and, therefore, require a lot of food and exercise. You must have the budget necessary and the time investment to care for your big, athletic dog. After all, they were bred for hunting and retrieving prey!
  • Second, they are hyper-intelligent but can be unruly. If they don’t get enough exercise or are not properly trained, their puppy brain can make them act out. So long as they get proper mental and physical exercise, they will be happy.
  • Last, they require a lot of love. Be sure to shower your Golden with pets and treats and cuddles. It’s all they want, after all.


What breeds make a Golden Retriever?

Golden Retrievers come from crossing a Tweed Water Spaniel with a Flat-coated Retriever. These offspring were then mixed with a Bloodhound, Irish Setter, St. John’s Water Dog, and other Retrievers to give us the Goldens we know today.

What nationality is a Golden Retriever?

The Golden Retriever originally hails from the Scottish Highlands, with the first of its kind appearing in the late 1800s. Golden Retrievers are all of Scottish ancestries. Today, they can be found all over the world.

What were Golden Retrievers used for?

Golden Retrievers were originally bred as hunting companions. Their sense of smell, retrieving instinct, and strong swimming skills, were used to help their owners hunt waterfowl. Today, they are still used for the same purposes, but they are better known for being great family pets due to their docile nature, high intelligence, and goofy disposition.


The history of the Golden Retriever is a fascinating one. Hailing from Scotland and bred for hunting, these fun-loving puppies are some of the best friends and pets a person can have. Learning about the Golden Retriever might have inspired you to go out and get one for yourself. It’s easy to see why – they are the perfect pet for any kind of person.

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