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. All Goldens descend from sporting dog lines from Scotland in the late 19th century. Since that time the U.S. (AKC) and Canada (CKC) have developed their own breed standards and have made modifications to their standards over the years that differ 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 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. 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
British Golden retrievers tend to be laid-back and settle in the house easily when not working. A well-bred Golden from U.K. lines will have the essentials of health, temperament, and longevity - including natural working ability. Many old lines have this working capacity, but not all. Successful conformation and dual purpose breeding programs are careful to pull forward dogs that exhibit these desirable working traits, as the Golden is primarily a hunting dog.
British hunting and shooting on estates is a long tradition where retrievers must be quiet and steady at their handler’s side while game is shot overhead. At times, dozens of birds can be shot before a dog is sent to make a retrieve. During this time, the dogs must be steady and quiet. If a retriever failed to demonstate these signs, the handler would be asked to leave with his dog.
Calmness under these circumstances is not a trained characteristic, but rather one that is carefully bred into British retrievers. British breeders use extreme care to select for their breeding stock so that dogs can sit steadily and remain quiet under pressure. When released to retrieve game, the retriever must show enthusiasm, athleticism and intelligence to find fallen game.
These same temperament traits make the British Golden Retriever a lovely hunting partner, therapy or service dog, obedience companion, or loving family pet.
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 will maximize the potential of any retriever.