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If hunting was a common activity for prehistoric man, today it is undoubtedly a controversial subject. While some consider it a destructive activity, there are those who claim that it is a basic need for survival or even to rid the fields of unwanted predators. Controversies aside, what is known is that such activity, over time, began to evolve, increasing its sporting spirit.

Although prehistoric man did not practice it for sport, hunting, in this sense, is very old. The ancient Egyptians already exercised it. But it was with the modern man that this sporting spirit was really outlined. By the 19th century, it had its rules well established, and it soon became the favorite pastime of English nobles. Sport was expensive. So its practitioners have always been rich people. In addition to the maintenance of weapons and the purchase of ammunition, it was necessary to cover the expenses of the auxiliaries: the dogs.


Even despite the high costs, sportsmen spared no savings in the improvement of dogs. However, as the existing animals did not always correspond to the needs, several matings were made in order to obtain a strong type, of moderate size, good bones and with great ability to search for prey and deliver it to the hunter's hand. In fact, these men wanted to obtain a complete hunting dog, capable of the most diverse types of terrain-water, swamp or dense forests. To arrive at the desired type, experimental crosses of setters, water spaniels and the small and light Terranova were made.

It was in this context that Retrievers emerged, animals that stood out as excellent search dogs. Notable as excellent catchers of downed and lost prey, it didn't take long for them to become the fad of the English.

It was in the meantime that the Golden Retriever selection process began…

The origin of the breed is divided into two parts: the legend and the original.


Like other purebred dog breeds, the Golden has British ancestry (its name, in English, means: golden = golden; retriever = one who collects). It is the result of many years of careful and well-planned selection, made in the 19th century by Sir Dudley Marjoriebanks – later the first Lord Tweedmouth – on a farm in Scotland. In his work, the Lord sought a dog capable of fetching the slaughtered animal and delivering it, intact, to its owner.

The original story about the breed was refuted in 1952, when a Tweedmouth manuscript came to light telling how the selection actually took place. The discovery of the records was made, according to the Complete Dog Book of the American Kennel Club, by the Sixth Earl of Ilchester, the Lord's nephew, historian and sportsman. The previous version of the breed's appearance, now regarded as legend, tells that it all started with the supposed purchase of dogs from a Russian circus made by Lord Tweedmouth in Brighton, southern England. The noble lord would have been attracted by the cleverness, intelligence and by the yellow tone of the eyes of those dogs of more than 45 kilos, thick and heavy coat and about 76 cm high at the withers. The Lord was interested in two of them but had to acquire the entire group, consisting of 8 dogs. From Brighton he would have taken them to an estate called Guisachan in Scotland where he hunted deer. Later, to reduce the size and improve the dogs' nose, he would have made a cross with the Bloodhound.

Some of the first breeders even went to the mountains of the Russian Caucasus, in search of new bloodlines. However, the kennel records demonstrate the true story.

While there are Russian Sheepdogs and breeds like the Hovawart that look like large versions of the Golden, their personalities are much more territorial, reserved and suspicious.


In his book, Lord Tweedmouth – who has noted details of the work done at Guisachan between 1835 and 1890 – does not mention the purchase of circus dogs. He says, however, that in 1865 he acquired the only yellow copy of a litter of curly black dogs, called Nous, precisely in Brighton, and took it to Guisachan.

Nous mated with a Tweed Water Spaniel named Belle and from that union four females were born: Ada, Primrose, Crocus and Cowslip. For over twenty years, the Lord worked in a lineage descended from Cowslip, who first crossed another Tweed Water Apaniel (named “Tweed”).

To keep the lineage strong and improve hunting skills, there were crosses with two black Wavy-Coats ("Sambo" and "Tracer") and an Irish Setter ("Sampson"). There is speculation about a possible use of a Bloodhound, but there is no way to prove this hypothesis. The texture of the dogs' coat was varied, as was the color, which ranged from red to cream.

Along the Scottish coast, water spaniels were used to retrieve birds.

Occasionally, puppies from Lord Tweedmouth's kennel were given to friends and relatives. Some of these people bred the dogs and developed bloodlines of their own. Years of type, color, and skill selection performed at Guisachan resulted in the Ilchester bloodline, ancestor of today's Goldens.

The Wavy-Coated Retrievers used in the development of Goldens were normally black and are the ancestors of today's Flat-Coated Retrievers. The Tweed Water Spaniel, a type of Water Spaniel from the River Tweed region of Scotland, is an extinct breed. However, there are reports that it was similar to a small “liver-colored” retriever (something between brown and yellow).

Along the coast of Britain, Water Spaniels were tasked with bringing food home, thanks to their great rescue skills. It is said that they were intelligent, good swimmers and had a great desire to work – like the Goldens.


Flat-Coated Retriever: Thought to be the direct ancestor of the Golden Retriever, although it is slender and has a more youthful temperament, almost like the Setter.

Chesapeake Bay Retriever: This dog was a cross between the Lesser of St. John with the American hounds in the region.

Labrador Retriever: Another descendant of the Lesser Dog of St. John shares a similar job and personality with his distant relative the Golden Retriever.

Curly-Coated Retriever: Currently quite rare, this breed was brought to the UK by cod fishermen. Its coat is that of a water dog, formed by small waterproof curls.

Newfoundland: Descendant of the Greater Newfoundland or Dog of St. John, is a large and lively breed, still used for water helper work.



1890: Taken by travelers, the first Golden Retrievers began to arrive in the US and Canada.

Lord Tweedmouth's son and Lady, his Golden Retriever, emigrated to Texas via Canada.

1903: The breed is accepted by the Kennel Club of England; are called “Flat-Coats-Golden”.

1904: A Golden takes first place in a field event.

1908: Culhan Brass and Culhan Cooper, direct descendants of Lord Tweedmouth's stock, are among the first Goldens shown in competition. They will be the ancestors of almost every current creation.

1911: Foundation of the Golden Retriever Club of England. The race is recognized.

1925: The Golden makes its first exhibitions in France. The American Kennel Club registers the first specimen of the breed, which was previously specified simply as a Retriever with some color notation.

1927: First registration as a separate breed in Canada.

1930-1940: Goldens become popular in the US and spread around the world.

1938: Founding of the Golden Retriever Club of America.

1977: The first three dogs to achieve the AKC Obedience Champion title are Goldens. The first (Ch. Moreland's Golden Tonka) is female. Today the breed is very widespread in Australia, Belgium, Holland, Sweden, Norway, Canada, Japan and, above all, in the USA.

Golden Calli

Specializing in Golden Retrievers

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