Golden Retrievers were bred for a purpose. Improvements in guns during the 1800s resulted in more fowl being downed during hunts at greater distances and over increasingly difficult terrain. This led to more birds being lost in the field. Because of this improvement in firearms, a need for a specialist retriever arose, as training setter and pointer breeds in retrieval was found to be ineffective. Thus, work began on the breeding of the dog to fill this much needed role. Duck hunting was considered a "Gentleman's Sport" due to the cost of firearms and owning and training an appropriate retriever. Therefore, Golden Retrievers were long known as the "Gentleman's Dog". Historically developed as gundogs to retrieve shot waterfowl such as ducks and upland game birds, they were bred to have a soft mouth to retrieve game undamaged and have an instinctive love of water. The golden retriever has a dense inner coat that provides it with adequate warmth. The outer coat is sleek and water repellent, and lies flat against the body. The breed's intelligence and versatility suit the dogs well for a variety of roles in addition to a hunting companion, including service dog, drug detection dog, or search and rescue dog. Because of their loyal and gentle temperament, golden retrievers are also popular family pets (revised excerpts from Wikipedia).
After spending several years working in Golden Retriever Rescue, I was all too familiar with some of the faults of the breed that I did not want. The breed standard states that Golden Retrievers should be: A symmetrical, powerful, active dog, sound and well put together, not clumsy nor long in the leg, displaying a kindly expression and possessing a personality that is eager, alert and self-confident. Primarily a hunting dog, he should be shown in hard working condition. That is what I am aiming for. What is desired by judges in the conformation ring changes from year to year. It can be argued that this is due to improvements in the breed and I believe there are some breeders who truly aim for this and are able to do both conformation and performance events with their goldens. However, in many cases, a great divide has occurred. While I love goldens of just about any size, shape, or color, I absolutely fell in love with the disposition of some of the performance goldens I'd met. Some of my rescues who I knew the lines of were exactly what I was looking for in a companion animal aside from their health issues. This is what I strive for...to create the perfect "man's best friend". In my opinion, a dog should be able to serve many functions...provide a helping paw when it can, whether that be in retrieving your birds or your car keys or opening the door for you, and it should share in your joys and sorrows, providing comfort when you need it most. When you look in your dog's eyes, there should be no question of whether or not he understands you. There is a bond there and you simply know he gets it. Along with that personality and functionality, health and structure are of primary importance. Having a perfect companion who will only be able to walk for a year before he is crippled by dysplasia or goes blind from a genetic eye disease is heartbreaking. That is why I put just as much research into the health aspects of goldens as the personality. My goal is to create those perfect little creatures for humans to share our lives with and for us to have as many enjoyable years together as possible. If everyone were owned by a golden, what a nice world it would be!