Origin of the Breed

The Golden Retriever
The Golden Retriever "Culham Brass" (born 1904) shown retrieving game to the hand of the gamekeeper

Unlike many breeds, the development of the Golden Retriever in historical terms is fairly recent thanks to the painstaking research carried out by breed historians, firstly, the late Elma Stonex, and latterly Valerie Foss and Frank and Anne Weekes.  The history is quite defined and documented.

The breed originated from a series of matings carried out by Lord Tweedmouth from 1864 onwards. The starting point was his acquisition of a good looking yellow coloured Flat Coated Retriever which he took to his estate at Guisechan, near Inverness in Scotland. He mated this dog to a Tweed Water Spaniel, a breed now long extinct, and then bred on from the offspring of this mating using the occasional outcross to an Irish Setter, a second Tweed Water Spaniel and a black Flat Coated Retriever. The dogs produced proved to be grand workers, biddable and attractive. Puppies from the matings were given to friends and family, notably his nephew, Lord Ilchester, who also bred them. The dogs bred true to type, and so the forerunners of the breed we know today were established. It was not until 1908 that the breed came into the public eye. Lord Harcourt had formed a great liking for the breed, and had gathered on to his estate at Nuneham Park, Oxford, a collection of the dogs descended from the original matings. He decided to exhibit them at the Kennel Club Show in 1908, where they created great interest. They were entered in a class for Any Variety Retriever, and described as Yellow Flatcoated Retrievers. The term 'Golden Retriever' was first coined around this time, and has been attributed to Lord Harcourt. 


On the weekend of the 30th-31st July 2006 people from all over the world came to enjoy the "Guisachan Gathering" hosted by The Golden Retriever Club of Scotland at the ruins of Guisachan House. Guisachan is located in the Northern part of Scotland near Inverness. All Golden Retriever enthusiasts appreciate the significance of this location, being where the breed originated from. This photo was taken at the gathering - 188 Golden Retrievers!!