Loyal and affectionate, Golden Retrievers’ renowned gentleness and social prowess helps demonstrate why they’ve always been successful as a family dog.
These qualities, alongside their obedience and discipline, also make the Golden Retriever a fantastic guide dog breed.
Golden Retriever history
Originally bred to retrieve fallen game in the taxing and challenging terrain of the Scottish highlands, the Golden Retriever was a breed specifically created to be a sporting, energetic dog.
A large, strong breed, the origins of the Golden Retriever go all the way back to a yellow Retriever by the name of Nous, bought by Lord Tweedmouth in 1865 and subsequently crossed a number of times, notably with a now extinct breed, the Tweed Water spaniel.
Guide dog abilities
The Golden Retriever is a widely loved and trusted breed, but it’s not just their personality traits that make them an obvious choice for guide training. Their natural physical attributes also play a factor in their adeptness as guide dogs.
In sports, Golden Retrievers are easily trainable and excel in activities that require intelligence and agility, which is why they are often trained to become rescue and guide dogs. Throughout the years, they have also proven to be superb trackers and Retrievers – as their name suggests.
When it comes to guide dog training, puppies – such as Golden Retrievers – are introduced to a harness by guide dog trainers, and are encouraged to ignore distractions while learning the basics of guiding, which include:
- Leading a person in a straight line without pulling
- Stopping and sitting at changes in the ground level such as kerbs and steps
- Avoiding street obstacles
Once they have mastered these exercises, the guide dogs move onto “advanced” training. Most of these dogs go to a Guide Dogs Mobility Team for advanced training, but a few stay at their initial schools to learn how to use their new guiding skills in a range of real life situations.
Golden Retrievers are one of the three main dog breeds used for guide dog training, along with Labrador Retrievers and German Shepherds. Golden Retrievers are often chosen by families because of their famed patience with children and eagerness to please. Additionally, they’re revered for their calm and relaxed demeanour with strangers.
Support Guide Dogs
We hope you’ve enjoyed finding out more about the Golden Retriever. To keep Golden Retrievers in training to help the people who need it most, your support, no matter how big or small, is needed.
This Christmas we’d like to encourage you to give the gift of guide dog sponsorship – visit our Christmas Hub to find out more.