Bred as a hunting dog in Great Britain, the golden retriever easily has made the transition from field to house. The golden retriever has one of the highest registration rates with the American Kennel Club. The reason is obvious -- it's an incredibly attractive, gifted and talented breed.
Your dog is golden in more ways than one. She also should possess a golden temperament. Friendly, obedient and yearning to please, she makes a terrific companion and family member. If you're rarely home, a golden isn't the dog for you -- then again, you might be better off with a cat. She needs attention and doesn't like the solitary life. Goldens usually get on well with other dogs.
Your dog's beautiful gold-tinged coat needs regular brushing. Give her a thorough brushing at least twice a week to avoid mats forming in the hair. Trim the hair on her foot pads and around her ears every month. You also should clip her toenails on a monthly basis, which helps keep her well-balanced and may forestall arthritis and other orthopedic issues down the line. While not heavy shedders, every spring and fall expect to find golden hair all over the premises.
Your dog thrives on good training. That's one of the reasons the breed often is used as service dogs for the blind or disabled. Goldens excel at so many canine activities, which stimulate their minds as well as tones their bodies. She'll likely be a star in obedience class, and does well in agility, flyball or as a sporting dog for hunting. If you're not competitive, she makes a good therapy dog for visiting patients in hospitals and nursing care facilities.
Goldens require daily exercise. Take her out for daily walks or make sure she enjoys a good romp in a fenced-in yard. While goldens love exercise, don't overdo before she's two years old, as bone growth plates don't close until that age. Overexertion stresses these plates. Swimming is a favorite golden activity -- if you've got a backyard pool, keeping your dog out of it might prove difficult. Once she's past age two, it's time to go jogging, cycling or on long, steep hikes with her.
This is one area where the gold can turn to dross. Goldens are prone to cancer, with the dread disease being the number one cause of death in the breed. Buy a puppy only from a reputable breeder who can give you a history of the dog's genetic lines, along with a health guarantee. Eye disease, joint problems, such as hip dysplasia, and congenital heart ailments also plague the breed.
Jane Meggitt has been a writer for more than 20 years. In addition to reporting for a major newspaper chain, she has been published in "Horse News," "Suburban Classic," "Hoof Beats," "Equine Journal" and other publications. She has a Bachelor of Arts in English from New York University and an Associate of Arts from the American Academy of Dramatics Arts, New York City.