Golden Retrievers were developed starting in 1850 by the Scotsman Dudley Coutts Marjoribanks, the Lord of Tweedmouth. Hunting birds was popular at the time, both as sport and as a practical way of obtaining food. Marjoribanks sought a medium-sized bird dog to support the hunt. The breed was developed by crossing a Retriever with a Water Spaniel, then crossing their offspring with Bloodhounds, Irish Setters, the St. John’s Water Dog, and other Retrievers. Golden Retrievers were first shown in 1908, at the U.K.’s Crystal Palace. They were entered as “flat coats (golden)” rather than the name we know them by today.
It took until 1925 for the breed to win official American Kennel Club (AKC) recognition.
Both President Ford and President Reagan enjoyed Golden Retrievers while in office. President Reagan’s Golden Retriever, Victory, was one of six dogs the president owned. President Reagan also enjoyed a stable full of horses at his ranch.
Goldens are also popular as celebrity pets. Celebs who own Golden Retrievers include Miranda Lambert, Jimmy Fallon, Emma Stone, Adam Levine, and Oprah.
It’s not all fame and fortune for these pets. Many Golden Retrievers work as search and rescue dogs. Their tracking abilities and strong sense of smell help them find missing people. Perhaps the most well-known use of Golden Retrievers as rescue dogs was during 9/11, when a two-year-old trained rescue dog named Bretagne helped search for survivors. Bretagne went on to aid in the search and rescue efforts during Hurricanes Rita and Katrina as well.
Golden Retrievers are often featured in movies and television shows, including Air Bud and Homeward Bound. While the breed is certainly cute, it’s not their beauty that gets Goldens so many television spots. It’s their mellow nature, combined with their trainability.