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Different Types Of Retrievers

Dogs from the retriever grouping are incredibly popular across the world, both as working dogs and as pets. While retrievers were historically bred and kept only for working roles, their open temperaments and sunny dispositions mean that they have easily bridged the divide between solely working roles and domestic life with relative ease, and are some of the most versatile dogs around!

As well as being worked as actual retrievers, retrievers are also an excellent fit for working roles such as being assistance dogs for people with disabilities, and assisting with search and rescue work thanks to their excellent scenting abilities. They are also good all-rounders, and can often be seen competing in canine sports such as agility and flyball.

What makes a retriever?

Essentially, a retriever is a dog that originally fell into the gundog grouping, and would have been trained and used to work alongside of game hunters.

Skills that the retriever requires include obedience, a superior aptitude for training, and an enthusiastic, lively manner. When a shooting party was on the hunt, retrievers would work with them to scent out and retrieve downed game birds, bringing them back to the hunters unharmed. This included retrieving both on land and in the water, and most retrievers are keen and enthusiastic swimmers that very much enjoy getting wet and mucky!

Read on to learn more about the six dog breeds from the retriever grouping.


          Labrador Retriever

The Labrador Retriever is not only one of the best known retriever breeds, but also one of the most popular companion pets within the UK. They are enthusiastic about life, but also very kind and gentle with both strangers and their family, getting on well with children of all ages and being very accepting and empathic towards nervous people and those with special needs. They are a medium sized dog that can be seen in either yellow, black or chocolate coloured coats, and they are also renowned for their hearty appetites and love of food!

Golden Retriever

Golden Retriever

The Golden Retriever is another dog that is very popular within the UK, being handsome, relatively large and kind of face. They have kind natures and bond strongly with their families, as well as being excellent social dogs, both with other dogs and with strange people. Like the Labrador, they are also often used for assistance work, and have both the intelligence, tenacity and skills to fulfil the role. The Golden Retriever has a relatively long coat, which is renowned to shed prolifically!

Curly Coated Retriever

Curly Coated Retriever

The Curly Coated Retriever does not have the conformation and appearance that most of the other retriever breeds share, generally being slightly leaner and longer with finer legs. One of their most defining characteristics is their coats, which are composed of dense, short hair that is very curly, and excellent at repelling water and thorns, burrs and other hazards. Curly Coated Retrievers may be seen in either black or yellow colours, they are kind, enthusiastic and personable dogs.

Flat Coated Retriever

Flat Coated Retriever

The Flat Coated Retriever used to be known as the Wavy Coated Retriever, and shares some physical similarities with the Golden Retriever. The two dogs have a similar size, height and conformation, and are lean and muscular without being overly heavy. The Flat Coated Retriever can be seen in black, yellow or liver colours, but black is the most common colour of the three.

The Flat Coated Retriever is a real people pleaser, that works hard to impress its handlers and go the extra mile to get the job done. They are happiest when active and working or playing, and like all of the retriever breeds, get on well with children.

Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever

Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever

The Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever or “Toller” hails from Canada, and the full name of the breed comes from their historical usage as tolling dogs. Tolling is a process that involves using the dog to encourage or flush birds out towards hunters, often on the border between land and water.

They have medium length coats with a soft and dense undercoat, and are a bright, vibrant red auburn shade in colour. They are renowned for having a vaguely fox-like appearance at first glance.

Chesapeake Bay Retriever

    Chesapeake Bay Retriever

The Chesapeake Bay Retriever is an American dog breed, which looks roughly similar to the Labrador Retriever in size and shape. Their coats are brown or sage in colour, and may contain white spots. Their coats are slightly longer in places than the Labrador Retriever coat, having a slightly curly or wavy appearance on the shoulders.

The Chessie is a happy, bright and intelligent dog that is always happy to play or go to work, the breed has a reputation for being somewhat stubborn, but correct handling and training can deal with this issue if it presents itself. The Chesapeake Bay Retriever is also noted for being good with children and nervous people.



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Labrador Retriever

The Labrador Retriever

has long been regarded as the most suitable pet throughout the world. Specially suited for hunting and often trained to hunt with gun sportsmen, the Lab has rightfully earned the title of a "gun dog." It is a remarkable working companion that is used for various purposes, such as physical assistance and personal protection. However, its loyalty and friendly temperament also make the Lab an outstanding pet.

Physical Characteristics 

With a strong, heavy built body and square proportions, the Labrador Retriever is classified as a working dog. One of their trademark characteristic features is a strong jaw set in a broad head. These dogs also have strong legs and shoulders, which add to their fast pace. At full adult size, they stand at about 21 to 24 inches in height at the withers (the highest part of the back), with a weight of 50 to 80 pounds. The coat is straight, dense, and short, with the outer coat being a bit coarse, and the undercoat thick and soft. This makes the Labrador all but completely waterproof, with the thick undercoat protecting the skin, and the outer guard coat whisking water away. Labrador Retrievers have a certain distinct elegance, carrying themselves with an upright, proud demeanor, but with a friendly facial expression that invites new acquaintances and endears them to their human families.

The Labrador Retriever is generally categorized by lines that are destined for slightly different purposes. The show Labradors are bred for beauty and carriage -- for perfection in appearance, in other words. The hunting dogs follows the more traditional bloodlines, with usefulness being the key to perfection. The hunting Retriever has the physical characteristics that make it impervious to frigid water, an extraordinary sense of smell, and the agility to bag game with speed, along with companionable devotion to its human counterpart. Champion, or field trial Labradors, are bred for speed, energy, and intelligence, with appearance being the last consideration. Their appearance strays somewhat from the traditional Labrador -- they are quite trimmer, with smaller heads, and it is generally agreed that this line may be a bit too enthusiastic for the average dog owner. They require a much higher degree of exercise, and considerably more space to move around. Not least is the most popular category, the family Labrador.

Needless to say, this line is bred for intelligence, gentleness of temperament, tolerance, and a balance of energy with composure. They are as happy with a romp through the park as they are with a quiet evening at the hearth. No matter what differences in lines, all Labrador Retrievers are expected to maintain the characteristics that originally made them working dogs: stamina, energy, strength, and the ability to retrieve dependably, along with balanced structure and vitality.

The Labrador Retriever is found in black, chocolate, and yellow, with black being the most popular, and chocolate running a close second. The color of the nose should be the same as the color of the hair, with minimal fading. All other colors are the result of cross breeding and are not accepted as purebred Labrador Retrievers. The eyes should give the impression of intelligence and kindness; colors accepted for the eyes are brown for black and yellow haired Labs, and brown or hazel, for chocolate haired Labs.

Personality and Temperament 

The Labrador Retriever has a strong hunting instinct and loves to roam. They are active, but calm and obedient if trained properly. Swimming and retrieving are the favorite activities of this breed, and they make good hunters on the field, and wonderful swimming companions. Regular exercise is a must to keep them fit. Labrador Retrievers are keen on learning, easy to get along with, affable types that get along well with other animals, children, and just about anyone they meet. The Labrador Retriever temperament makes them a top choice for families and excellent therapy dogs, but not an especially good choice for guard dog duty.


A weekly combing is all that is needed for a Labrador Retriever, since their water resistant coat is also designed to be soil and rubbish resistant. While brushing is a luxury rather than a necessity since its coat is designed to naturally care for itself, it does go along way to improving your Lab's natural beauty and overall health. Regular exercise, on the other hand, is of the utmost importance. The Labrador is a high-energy dog that loves to play, and it should be given the opportunity to do this on a daily basis. When possible, Labrador Retrievers should be allowed to swim, as it is one of their favorite activities. Pools, beaches, rivers, lakes; all are sporting fun for a Lab. Just as with a child, you will want to safeguard your young Lab while it is in the water, to make sure it feels safe and has a way of getting out of the water. Over time, and with confidence, it will learn, but young swimmers can panic or tire quickly.

One thing that is especially important to keep in mind is that this breed has a tendency to retain weight if it is sedentary too often, or if it is given too many treats. One of the most common health problems for the modern Labrador is obesity. A healthy Labrador should have a trim, hourglass shape. While it may be tempting to treat your Lab pal often, in return for their unconditional affection, it is far better to treat your friend with quality playtime rather than edible treats. This will ensure that you and your Lab will enjoy a long and healthy companionship. Labradors do very well outside with a doghouse, as they are adaptable for outdoor conditions, but they prefer to live indoors, close to people, most of the time.


Labrador Retrievers have a lifespan of 10 to 12 years. Some of the general health conditions that afflict Labradors are patellar luxation, canine hip dysplasia (CHD), and osteochondritis dissecans (OCD), which is canine elbow and shoulder dysplasia. This breed also occasionally suffers from distichiasis, exercise-induced collapse, diabetes, muscular dystrophy, tricuspid valve dysplasia, and entropion. Minor health concerns include retinal dysplasia, central progressive retinal atrophy (CPRA), hypothyroidism, hot spots, and cataract. Knee, hip, eye, and elbow tests should be included in the usual medical check-ups.


History and Background

The modern Labrador Retriever is the ancestral result of a popular fishing and retrieving dog from Newfoundland and Labrador, an Atlantic coastal province in Canada near the Labrador Sea; as such, the Labrador carries with it some relationship to the modern Newfoundland water dog. Originally, there were two distinct types under the one classification of Newfoundland dogs: the greater and the lesser, in which size was the main dictate for differentiating the two.

The lesser Newfoundland was black in color, smooth coated, and of a medium size, where the greater Newfoundland was considerably larger, and better suited for pulling heavy loads. Not to say that the lesser "Newfie" was incapable of pulling its fair share. Its great agility at fetching fishing lines and nets in the water and delivering them, along with its noteworthy style of affection and playfulness with families at the end of a long work day, made the smaller of the Newfoundland dogs the more popular choice for fishermen working in the waters off the coast of Newfoundland.

They also found that the lesser Newfie was useful for serving as the occasional tow barge. The strength and endurance of this breed was never lost to size. Also of great benefit to fishermen were the natural physical traits the lesser and greater Newfoundlands shared. Both are equipped with webbed toes and a two-layered coat, with a top-coat that repels water, and a tail that is broad at the base, serving as a sort of rudder while swimming.

Although the Newfoundland dogs suffered a loss of popularity for a time owing to a taxation on dogs in Canada, they had been frequent companions to Britain bound travelers during the 18th and 19th centuries and had, over that time, become a firmly entrenched member of the estate classes. It was the lesser of the Newfoundland breed that rose most in popularity, and in 1903, this trimmer and more energetic Newfoundland had made its way into the English Kennel Club, gaining a name all its own along the way: the Labrador Retriever. There, the breed was refined, particularly for retrieving game for hunters, becoming well regarded for its care in not damaging the game, for its devotion to human, and for its good manners.

It was accepted into the American Kennel Club in 1917, and has since grown in popularity over the years, becoming the indisputable leader in canine domestic companions.


6 Best Ways to Train Your Golden Retriever

Although originally bred as a gun dog used to retrieve shot waterfowl, the Golden Retriever has become one of the most popular breeds in America today. Its high intelligence level and gentle temperament makes it a versatile choice for a search and rescue dog, guide dog, detection dog, hunting dog, or simply a family companion. Of course, one of the reasons this breed is so popular is because it is incredibly easy to train, especially with the right tips.

1. Retrieve

A Golden Retriever can be trained to fetch anything from a ball to a human trapped beneath rubble. In fact, Bear, an 11-year-old Golden Retriever was the first dog on the scene at the World Trade Center on 9/11 to work 18-hour days. So, teaching your dog to fetch a ball is simple! It is in his nature! Toss the ball a short distance, and use a command for him to bring it back. When he does, get him to drop the ball by providing a treat. Increase the distance every time

Photo credit: Tanatat / Bigstock

2. Swimming

Goldens excel at swimming. Some will naturally take to the water; others will panic and end up in a vertical position, doggy paddling, but not getting anywhere. If this happens, keep one hand under his belly and the other on his back to keep him level. As he gets the hang of it, remove one hand at a time. Never force your dog to go in the water. Some need a few visits before they are comfortable.

Photo credit: Cynoclub / Bigstock

3. Jumping

This is a common concern with Golden Retriever parents. In most cases, it is resulted from the dog being permitted to jump as a puppy. If you have adopted an adult that jumps, he might have never been taught this behavior is unacceptable. This is your job. By pushing him away, you encourage the behavior because he may think you are playing. If he jumps when you come home and you give him attention, this also encourages the behavior. You need to turn your back and ignore him. When he stops and calms down, then give him your attention, so he knows you do not appreciate that behavior.

Photo credit: Nosnibor137 / Bigstock
4. Coprophagia

This is just a fancy word for poop-eating. Golden Retrievers have a dirty little secret; they are notorious for eating poop, whether it is their own or whatever they find on your morning walk. At home, the simple solution is to clean it up immediately. Also, the “leave it” command will be helpful at home or away. Always be on the lookout for landmines your dog may find appealing while you are walking, so you can try to avoid them.

Photo credit: Nosnibor137 / Bigstock

4. Coprophagia

This is just a fancy word for poop-eating. Golden Retrievers have a dirty little secret; they are notorious for eating poop, whether it is their own or whatever they find on your morning walk. At home, the simple solution is to clean it up immediately. Also, the “leave it” command will be helpful at home or away. Always be on the lookout for landmines your dog may find appealing while you are walking, so you can try to avoid them.

Photo credit: Tanatat / Bigstock

5. Resource Guarding

Does your Golden growl at other dogs if they get near his ball at the dog park? Is he guarding his toys from your kids or other pets in the house? Never directly challenge him. Swap one item for another. Do this frequently so he never places more value on one item. Keep an extra ball handy at the dog park, too! Positive reinforcement should always be provided when he accepts his new toy and allows you to take the old one.


Photo credit: Nikos / Bigstock

6. Digging

Goldens absolutely love to dig! These archaeological escapades are not conducive to your manicured landscaping, but they are sure to burn a lot of energy! Giving him his own digging pit somewhere is ideal. Bury toys and treats in his designated area, and let him have the time of his life. Make sure his pit is clearly marked with flags or posts, so he can easily identify it. You will need to supervise until you are sure he knows his boundaries. If this is not an option, put his poop or a water balloon in his hole. When he returns he won’t want to dig there. You will need to be consistent with doing this to future holes, but he will eventually get the hint or lose interest.



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