If you’ve ever had a dog or have loved ones who have owned one, there’s a decent chance it was a golden retriever. These affable pups are very popular family dogs, and, according to American Kennel Club registration statistics, have been in the top 5 breeds in the United States every year over the past decade. It’s no surprise that such a beloved breed would have their own day of recognition. February 3 is National Golden Retriever Day, so let’s mark the occasion with some fun facts about these accomplished – and unbelievably sweet – dogs.
They Come From Scotland
While some sports enthusiasts may argue that golf is the best Scottish export, they may change their tune when they find out about the golden retriever’s history. The breed was developed by Sir Dudley Marjoribanks, or Lord Tweedmouth, in the Scottish Highlands in the 19th century. He was looking for a loyal and energetic dog that was good at retrieving birds during the hunt. To achieve this, he got to work breeding different dogs. This started with a Tweed Water Spaniel and a Wavy-Coated Retriever. Their offspring were considered the first golden retrievers.
Their Golden Hue Can Vary
There’s no one set golden hue that qualifies these pups as one of the breed. Their fur can run the gamut between light and dark, ranging from nearly white to reddish gold. The American Kennel Club recognizes these different shades as light golden, golden, and dark golden.
They Like the Water
Due to their history of being bred for the hunt, it’s not surprising that they’re one of the dog breeds that loves the water. While they may not be primarily used for getting water birds over to their humans anymore, they still love retrieving other items from the water. They’re no worse for the wear after a swim, either, with a double coat of thick, short fur underneath and longer fur above that, which makes them water-resistant.
They Just Want to Be Everyone’s Friend
If you crave a watchdog, the golden is probably not the best choice, unless they’re watching for new friends. Golden retrievers are known for being one of the friendliest breeds, getting along well with cats, other dogs, kids, and even complete strangers. They’ll love the attention their new friends provide them, as well. As adaptable dogs, new people in their sphere won’t upset them too much, unless they’re not offering some pets.
If They Had Resumes, They’d Be Pretty Impressive
Due to their fondness for people, their history as a hunting companion, and their smarts, they pair well with humans in a variety of ways. They’re often used as guide dogs, therapy dogs, and even on search and rescue crews. They’re also still able to rely on their old instincts if their human happens to be a hunter. Their eagerness to please and ability to be trained make them ideal candidates for many jobs, maybe even yours.
Their Genes May Hold Longevity – and Cancer – Secrets
One unfortunate aspect of owning a golden retriever is that they have a higher risk of dying from cancer than others. This led to some research to better understand the breed’s genetics. A team at University of California, Davis, looked specifically for genes linked to longevity to see what makes certain goldens live longer than others.
Their findings, published in the journal GeroScience, showed that in goldens with certain variants of HER4, linked to the cancer-associated HER2 receptor in humans, the lifespan was nearly two years longer. The effect was especially strong in female dogs. The researchers say this discovery could ultimately help improve dog health and provide better understanding of cancer in humans.
They Have Their Own Convention
Golden, Colorado, is located just outside of Denver and known for its history and outdoor recreation. Its name has also made it a great place to host a golden retriever event. In 2019, the first Goldens in Golden event was held in the city, and it’s continued ever since. Goldens and their pet parents are encouraged to attend and enjoy things like free pup cups, giveaways, meet and mingles, and vendors. There’s also official photography and group photos for all the new friends to remember the event.
They’ve Given Birth in The White House
President Gerald Ford had a Siamese that was one of the many cats of The White House, but he also had a golden retriever named Liberty. She became part of the family in 1974 and grew up in The White House. While heavily pregnant, she also got locked out with the president. That was resolved relatively quickly, though, and she later delivered her pups in the home, too.
They Are Popular as a Mixer with Other Dogs
The golden retriever is very popular in its own right, but its popularity has also led to a variety of mixes. That includes the golden-poodle mix known as the Goldendoodle, the golden Labrador mix known as the Goldador, the husky golden mix known as the Goberian, and the seemingly unlikely golden chihuahua mix known as the Golden Chi.
They’d Probably Beat You in a Triathlon if They Could Ride a Bike
In addition to their mastery of the work force, goldens are also extremely athletic. They have lots of energy that should be properly channeled into adequate daily exercise. This, coupled with how teachable they are, also makes them great for dog sports. That includes dock diving, agility, and retriever field trials. They can also help you with your own athleticism, as they’re great hiking and running buddies.