Multiple crosses of breeds existed to hone these sporting breed qualities. It is probable that several breeds likely existed prior to the actual development of the Golden Retriever as we know her today.
Flat-coated Retrievers in particular were thought to be some of the best bird-dogs. They were black or reddish-brown. Yellow was a recessive trait that was very rare.
Lord Tweedmouth bought this puppy and named him Nous (rhymes with "loose") -- which means alert or sensible. Photos show that he looked a lot like the current Golden Retriever with a wavy golden coat.
Photo courtesy of Kym Parry
Lord Tweedmouth also acquired a female Belle, from another popular hunting breed, the Tweed Water Spaniel. This breed, now unfortunately extinct, was known for its swimming ability, superior intelligence, and wonderful temperament.
Nous and Belle
The second Nous was bred to Queenie (daughter of a black Wavy Coat Retiever and Gill, a littermate to the second Nous). Two yellow puppies resulted from this paring in 1889 — Prim and Rose. These are the link between the modern day Golden Retriever and Lord Tweedmouth's original dogs.
This is how Lord Tweedmouth is credited with being the originator of the Golden Retriever. All modern day Goldens can link their origins to his breedings in his Scottish estate Guisachan. Much of what we know about the beginnings of Golden Retrievers comes from his breeding records from 1835-1890. In fact, his Stud Book can be seen today at the Kennel Club in London, England.
The history of Golden Retrievers in the US
Although the Kennel Club of England accepted the first Golden Retrievers for registration in 1903, Golden retriever history as it pertains to the US began later.
It is thought that the first Golden Retrievers arrived in the US in the early 1890s when a few were imported by some of America's elite. In fact, Lord Tweedmouth's son Archie Majoribanks was known to have a Golden Retriever named Lady at his ranch in Texas.
The first American Kennel Club (AKC) registry of a Golden was in 1925 by Robert Appleton of New York. Initially Goldens were grouped together with Labrador Retrievers and were officially recognized by the AKC as a separate breed only in 1932.
So that is a review of Golden Retriever history, which began in the mid 1800s in Scotland.
Golden Retrievers originated in the late 1800s from Flat-coat Retrievers and Tweed Water Spaniels.