Monday, October 8, 2012

Golden Retriever Vintage Photos and History

Vintage photos featuring Golden Retrievers are relatively rare.

Library of Congress, 1850-51
Although many antique photos include dogs that look a lot like Golden  Retrievers, look closely and you'll see they're usually not. Because the breed wouldn't be introduced to North America for another 45 years, the dog in the 1851 photo above is probably a Setter.

A happy Setter
In 1868, a cross between the now extinct Tweed Water Spaniel and a black wavy-coated Retriever (close relative of today's Lab) produced four pups used to create the Golden Retriever breed.  Irish Setters, Bloodhounds and the now extinct St. Johns Water Spaniel were added to the mix. Golden Retrievers weren't registered with the British Kennel Club until 1903.   The first Goldens were imported to North America about the same time.

The label on this photo indicates it was taken in North Dakota, about 1890. Although the dog looks like a Golden Retriever it's a Setter. (Having lived with 8 English Setters, I'd know that face anywhere.)

But the contented dog in this portrait is definitely a Golden Retriever.  The date seems right. The bow on the little boy's outfit dates the photo to about 1910.

And there is no other breed that has an angelic face like this. Definitely a Golden.

Ruth (1985-1999)

Doctor Barkman's Golden Retriever, Ruth.  Unlike her more generous retriever relatives, Ruth believed it was better to receive than give. Here she explains her position to roommate, Kate. 


  1. Always love these old pix. Have a lovely Monday.
    Best wishes Molly

  2. You can definitely see the setter in the face, I have had a few of my own and they are beautiful dogs, but high maintenance and high energy.