During the nineteenth century, there was an ongoing quest among the British gentry for the perfect hunting dog. As a result, most of today's retrievers and many other hunting dogs have their roots in these early efforts. Many attempted this goal by acquiring and breeding good hunting dogs, using outcrosses to other breeds in an effort to bring in other desirable qualities. Sometimes this worked, more often it did not. That the exact origins of several of the retriever breeds is unclear is due to the somewhat haphazard or occasionally secretive methods used at the time.
The origin of the Golden Retriever, in contrast, lies in the careful work of one man, Sir Dudley Marjoribanks (later the first Lord Tweedmouth) who also set out to breed a good hunting dog. A colorful folk tale has him buying Russian circus dogs, reportedly 100+ lbs., 30 inches at the shoulder, pale blonde and extremely intelligent as the foundation for his breed. This fanciful story even appears in the GRCA's Yearbook as late as 1950. However, examination of his Stud Book, covering the years from 1835 to 1890 and finally made publicly available in 1952, records no such purchase but instead details a careful line-breeding program unusual at that time and place for dogs.

In 1865, Lord Tweedmouth purchased a yellow retriever "Nous" from an unregistered litter of otherwise black Wavy-Coated Retrievers. Nous was later bred with "Belle", a Tweed Water Spaniel, and the resulting litter produced four bitches that were instrumental to his breeding program. One of them, "Cowslip," he bred back to for over twenty years. Over the years, several outcrosses, to black Wavy Coated Retrievers, an Irish Setter, and later a sandy-colored Bloodhound occurred as he sought to improve and fix his new breed. The coat textures of the Goldens of this time reportedly varied, as did the color, which ranged from fox red to light cream.

The Wavy-Coated Retrievers were the ancestors of today's Flat-Coat Retriever and they in turn were developed from crossing setters with the lesser St. John's Water Dog of Newfoundland. The Tweed Water Spaniel, now extinct, came from early water dogs crossed with land or field spaniels to develop Water Spaniels. These spaniels were developed in the Tweed River area and were described by contemporaries as a small liver-colored retriever ("liver" at the time signifying any shade from yellow to brown).

The Kennel Club of England accepted the first Goldens for registration in 1903. At the time, they were registered as "Flat Coats -- Golden". By 1904 the first Golden placement at a field trial was recorded. Among the first shown in conformation were Culham Brass and Culham Copper. In 1911, they were recognized as a separate breed, at first called "Yellow or Golden Retrievers," but within several years the "Yellow" was dropped from their name.

Characteristics and Temperament
Dogs in general are pack-oriented animals. They need to interact with their pack on a regular basis to be secure. Goldens in particular have been bred through the years to make an excellent companion for people - whether it is to sit quietly in a duck blind until it is time to retrieve or as a service dog or in any other capacity. Because of this, they, even more so than some other breeds, need to interact with their people. Goldens are particularly forgiving dogs and will allow you to make many mistakes while still wanting nothing more than to please and be acknowledged for it with a scratch behind the ear. As a testament to their desire to please, the first three dogs to obtain Obedience Trial Championships were Golden Retrievers.
Because Goldens are such people-oriented dogs, it's important that they live WITH their owners. A Golden relegated to the backyard while his family is in the house is an unhappy Golden. It is imperative that your Golden be regularly included in family activities. Once fully grown, they are a robust dog and will enjoy many activities with you such as walking, hiking, jogging, hunting, etc.

As is common with the retriever breeds, this is a breed slow to fully mature both mentally and physically. At a year of age, they will have their full height, but their full weight will be another year or two in coming. Mentally, they remain puppies for a long time (up to two or three years of age) and many retain a very playful and clownish personality for most of their lives.

Because of their kindly and easy going nature, Goldens are a popular breed. Many people, in hoping to cash in on this popularity, breed Goldens without regard to their temperament or other good attributes. You should be very selective in picking out a puppy from a breeder. Your best sources for Goldens are from a breed rescue organization that carefully screens its dogs, or from a reputable breeder who is dedicated to the overall improvement of the breed. The choice you make now will be one you live with for the next decade, so choose carefully.

published based on http://www.k9web.com/dog-faqs/breeds/goldens.htm website