For The Love Of Retrievers: Choosing A Family Companion

Posted on: 1 February 2018

If you are ready to welcome a dog into your household to fill the role of family companion, some of your friends and acquaintances have probably recommended the Labrador retriever or the golden retriever as ideal choices. These popular breeds are just two of the retrievers that are recognized by the American Kennel Club, however. Learn a little about each of these wonderful dogs to figure out which one will tug the hardest at your family's heartstrings.

Retriever Breeds

Retrievers, just like the pointers, setters and spaniels, belong to the sporting group of canine breeds. Currently, the American Kennel Club recognizes six different retriever breeds. Those six breeds include the following:

  • Chesapeake Bay retriever
  • Curly-coated retriever
  • Flat-coated retriever
  • Nova Scotia duck tolling retriever (newest)
  • Labrador retriever (most popular)
  • Golden retriever (second most popular)

The oldest retrievers date back centuries, and they were developed to assist with hunting and fishing expeditions.

Curly-Coated Retriever

Although the American Kennel Club first recognized this breed in 1924, the curly-coated retriever is actually one of the oldest of the retrievers and was used in developing other retriever breeds. The curly-coated retriever was developed in England during the 1700s for hunting and retrieving game birds and waterfowl.

Curly-coated retrievers are 23 to 27 inches tall at their shoulders, and they weigh between 60 and 70 pounds. As the name implies, their black or liver-colored coats are short and curly, and they require minimal grooming. This breed is affectionate, intelligent and easy to train.

Chesapeake Bay Retriever

The Chesapeake Bay retriever has the distinction of being recognized as Maryland's official state dog. This all-American breed was developed as a water dog in the United States during the 1800s. The Chesapeake Bay retriever is a strong swimmer with the power and stamina to withstand rough currents while retrieving ducks, geese and other waterfowl from the coldest waters.

Chesapeake Bay retrievers are 21 to 26 inches tall at their shoulders and weigh between 55 and 80 pounds. Their double-layered coats are short and come in various earth tone hues. These colors enable the dog to blend with outdoor settings, and an oily outer coat helps to repel water while a wooly undercoat helps to keep the dog warm. Chesapeake Bay retrievers are not as outgoing with strangers as other retrievers, but they are loyal toward their family members.

Flat-Coated Retriever

Recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1915, the once-popular flat-coated retriever saw a sharp decline in numbers by the mid-1900s. This breed's original task was the retrieve hunted waterfowl and small game.

The flat-coated retriever is between 22 and 24.5 inches tall at the shoulder and weighs between 60 and 70 pounds. The flat and straight coat is moderate in length and may be either black or liver in color. Flat-coated retrievers are highly energetic, playful, cheerful and exuberant. They are also highly sociable and intelligent.

Nova Scotia Duck Trolling Retriever

This newest retriever to earn recognition in the American Kennel Club's sporting group in 2003 actually dates back to the 1800s, when the water dog was developed for luring and retrieving ducks and other waterfowl.

At 17 to 21 inches tall at the shoulder and weighing between 35 and 50 pounds, the Nova Scotia duck tolling retriever is the smallest of the retriever breeds. The characteristic reddish double coat may be accented with white markings on the chest, paws and face. Nova Scotia duck tolling retrievers are very family-friendly, affectionate and playful. They have a high energy level, and they are intelligent and easy to train.

Golden Retriever

Given this retriever's popularity and golden locks, you may think that the golden retriever is the all-American darling in the dog world, but this breed originally hails from the 1800s Scottish Highlands. The American Kennel Club recognized the golden retriever in 1925, and the breed has ranked as the third most popular dog for three consecutive years, according to the club's breed registry.

Golden retrievers are 21.5 to 24 inches tall at their shoulders and weigh between 55 and 75 pounds. Their long coats range in color from a light golden blond to reddish gold. Golden retrievers are energetic and playful, but they are also gentle, intelligent and easy to train. They are devoted family members, outgoing and affectionate. Golden retrievers are often the dogs of choice to serve as therapy dogs and as guide dogs for the blind.

Labrador Retriever

First recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1917, the Labrador retriever has consistently held the title of most popular dog breed in America for several years. Originally developed in Newfoundland, this breed worked alongside fishermen, retrieving any fish that got away from the fishing lines and hauling in the large fishing nets from the water. More than just a water dog, the Labrador retriever also became a skilled retriever of small game on land.

Labrador retrievers are 22.5 to 24.5 inches tall at their shoulders and weigh between 55 and 75 pounds. Their short double coats, which require little grooming, are black, yellow or chocolate in color. Labrador retrievers are highly energetic and playful. They are outgoing, intelligent and very easy to train, and they are excellent family companions. Like golden retrievers, they are often used as guide dogs for the blind, and they are also utilized in search and rescue missions, bomb detection and narcotics detection.

Loving, Playful and Eager Companions

Retrievers are excellent companions for families with children, and they typically get along with other dogs in the household. They are usually friendly toward cats, but some cats may not be keen on their boundless playful energy. Retrievers, like most sporting and working breeds, need plenty of opportunities for physical and mental exercise. A retriever's high energy level makes him an ideal candidate for agility and dog sport activities, and he's an excellent companion for those who enjoy camping, hiking, fishing and other outdoor recreational activities.

For more information, contact establishments like Oakton Animal Hospital.