Showsight November 2022

The Golden Retriever Symmetry and Strength


T he opening statement of the Golden Retriever standard is a roadmap for breeders and judges of this very engaging and popular breed. “A sym- metrical, powerful, active dog, sound and well put together, not clumsy nor long in the leg.” The first para- graph goes on to describe the overall character and breed- specific priorities. From where did these priorities arise? When one first walks the grounds of the long-abandoned estate in Northern Scotland called Guisachan, a first impres- sion springs to mind. This is rough terrain. Flat ground is not present as far as the eye can see. Stone walls break open country into smaller plots of ownership. The legendary moors rise to great heights above rivers and lochs, and the hills in the foreground make even a short hike a strenuous one. On these hills, the flora is dense and harsh. Thistles spring from meadows of tall grass, and if one is not very care- ful, another impression is a painful one: a turned ankle or twisted knee, because the rocks and furrows are so well hid- den by natural cover that the eye doesn’t give fair warning. It was on this estate that the Golden Retriever was devel- oped. In the mid-1800s in Scotland and England, hunt- ing was both sport and a practical way of obtaining food. Retrievers were important to pick up both waterfowl and upland game. Dudley Marjoribanks, later Lord Tweed- mouth, was a man of means who frequently hosted hunt- ing parties for his friends in the Scottish Highlands at his Guisachan estate.

NOTE: The Golden Retriever Club of America urges all breeders, exhibi- tors, and judges to remember this statement from the AKC standard: “Over- all appearance, balance, gait and purpose to be given more emphasis than any of his component parts.” We are pleased to share details of the standard here, but always with the sentence above at the forefront.

The view from the Guisachan estate house in the Scottish Highlands, home of the Golden Retriever. right: Typical landscape of the Scottish Highlands.


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