…even the little dogs eat scraps from
their Master’s table. Matthew 15: 27
Retrievers have been a family favorite since the beginnings of the breed. Most Retrievers, including both the Labrador and the Golden Retrievers originated with the early Newfoundland Retrievers used by fisherman to pull their boats through icy waters and to retrieve fish and game birds. Being working and hunting dogs, they have been beloved for centuries, curling up on the hearth by a warm fire next to their owners after a long days work.
Though tradition had retrievers bred and trained as working dogs, they are now the ball and Frisbee catching fun-loving pets that most of us know them as today. Bred for their webbed toes, retrievers love water, being strong swimmers that tolerate cold and water very well. If you have a fish pond or pool you may have trouble keeping them out of it! They are also very good on land, making their way through thick grass and underbrush to retrieve game birds, other small game, or simply that ball or Frisbee gone astray. And yet heir large block heads and jaws are powerful enough to retrieve even the largest game birds with a soft mouth when properly trained to do so.
Retrievers are very intelligent and good natured dogs, and love to be included in most family activities. They usually do well with children and most other pets, learning quickly and generally being very obedient. Retrievers are very active and need a good run or play session everyday to rouse them up and challenge them both mentally and physically. Retrievers that are left to themselves for long periods of time will have an excess of time and energy and can be a little bit too energetic and somewhat destructive. So if you intend to leave your retriever alone while you’re working or gone for long periods of time, you should consider purchasing a second one for a companion and playmate.
Purebred Retrievers major health issues are Canine Hip Dysplasia, obesity, skin, and ear problems. Demodectic mange can be a problem, especially in the summer months. Regular flea and tick control and periodical dipping will keep this problem at bay. A good high protein diet and vitamin and mineral supplements can help with Hip Dysplasia and other problems. If your retriever tends to be less active, you may need a low fat diet to head off obesity problems. Males should weigh in between 65 and 80lbs, while females should weigh approximately 55-70lbs. Males range in height from 22”-25” and females are about 21”- 24”. The flat or wavy coated retrievers, such as the Golden or Chesapeake Bay Retriever, which have longer hair than the standard Labrador Retrievers, have fewer major health concerns.
The Golden Retriever was originally known as a yellow flat coated retriever but eventually received a separate status in the early 1900’s. It usually ranges in color from almost white to a deep golden color. Occasionally there are black-goldens born to a litter. Golden retrievers are exceptionally friendly dogs, which are a great pick for families with children. Chesapeake Bay Retrievers are usually various shades of brown/red, sometimes with white markings on chest and feet.
All retrievers’ coats are highly waterproof, and range from short strait hair to longer straight to wavy hair. Some even have very curly coats. Colors are usually black, liver, chocolate, and light yellow to golden. A few have some small white markings, though show quality animals are usually solid colored with only a small white spot on the chest being permissible. Although the full blood Chesapeake Bay retriever often has larger white markings than the Labrador or Golden, mixed breeds often present with similar larger white markings on the chest and feet.
Cost of Retrievers depends on registration status or show quality status. Lower end purebreds that are unregistered animals start at about $150, with papered animals starting at about $300 and may be as high as $1,000 depending on the particular characteristics of the animal and if it is show quality or pet quality. Retrievers, being very sociable animals, are one of the most popular family pets today. Families that have room for the larger breed would do well to choose one, regardless of the status or cost.