British Golden Retrievers
British Golden Retrievers, also called "English" Goldens, are retrievers that were bred in Great Britian, or whose pedigrees are from the U.K.
British-type Goldens are retrievers that were bred outside of Great Britain but followed the British Kennel Club breed standard.
Why They Look Different
The Golden Retriever is indigenous to Great Britain and these gundogs were originally trained to find live game and/or to retrieve game that had been shot and wounded. All Goldens worldwide descend from these lines from the Border Country (the England-Scotland border area) over 100 years ago. Since that time the U.S. (AKC) and Canada (CKC) have developed their own breed standards, making modifications to their standards over the years that vary slightly from the standards of The Kennel Club of England. Differing breed standards and geographic differences account for the divergence in look in Golden Retrievers today.
The British-type Goldens tend to have a broader head with a wider skull, a wider, deeper muzzle, more stop, a wavy coat, and the dog may be shorter and heavier than their American counterparts. The coat color may be any shade of gold or cream, and it common to see Goldens ranging from pale cream to rich gold colored throughout Europe, Australia and New Zealand. All countries follow the British Kennel Club standards except the US and Canada.
Color alone does not determine where a dog originates: a light or “cream” colored dog can be either British or American. And, color does not determine the working ability, temperament, health or longevity of the lines.
The British Temperament & Working Ability
One of the most popular dogs in the world, the Golden Retriever was bred, as its name suggests, to retrieve game in the shooting field. The breed has adapted to so many roles that there is virtually nothing he doesn’t do, with the exception of being professional guard dog – a task for which his friendly temperament makes him quite unsuited. He has been a guide dog, a drug and explosives detecting dog, a tracker, an obedience competitor, in addition to the job he does so universally and well, simply being an energetic, fun-loving member of the family.
Easy to train to basic obedience or higher standards, rarely a choosy feeder, and with a thick coat that is reasonably easy to keep clean, it is no surprise that the breed has risen in popularity over the decades. He often has the largest entry at Championship Shows.
For many years there was confusion over the origin of the breed, but it is now generally accepted that it was the first Lord Tweedmouth who developed Golden Retrievers as a breed. ‘Yellow’ Retrievers had existed for many years in the Border Country between England and Scotland, and at first Goldens were registered and shown as Flatcoats being defined only by colour until 1913. They took their present name in 1920. (Source: Crufts.)
The Hunter-Athlete Needs Good Conformation and Training
The Golden is an athletic hunting dog. Good conformation is important because it ensures that the Golden can move with ease and efficiency when he is hunting on land for upland or swimming in cold waters for waterfowl. "Optimal conformation is believed to produce superior athletic performance. However, even if the dog has good conformation it does not ensure excellence in performance. It is only an indication of what may be. Form follows function which means for a dog to work efficiently it has to have the conformation to move and work efficiently. Even if the dog has perfect conformation and bloodlines, this does not mean the dog will have the drive or ability to be a top athlete. Work ethic, drive and athleticism is instinctual and inherent in the individual animal. It can only be developed with proper training methods that take into consideration the individual dog." This is according to Dr. Audrey DeClue, a veterinarian in Plymouth, Minnesota with a practice that specializes in performance dogs and equines, and the diagnosis of lameness issues.
A well-bred British Golden retriever will be an athletic hunter that is well rounded. He will have good conformation with solid substance and a sound temperament. He should work at a moderate, steady speed, and enjoy his work yet settle in the house when not working. Proper training methods that keep things happy, work with his natural desire for birds, and keep his attitude up will maximize the potential of any retriever.