Posts Tagged ‘working golden retriever’

This is from a book that is used as part of the hunter training curriculum in Switzerland:

Credit by Hubertus Castle.

   Credit by Hubertus Castle.

The book is called Jagen in der Schweiz – Auf dem Weg zur Jagdprüfung, which also comes with videos.

In Central European countries, hunting licenses are not as easily procured as in the United States or Canada. In those countries, it really is expected that the hunter be a true naturalist and possess a deep understanding of natural history, ecology, marksmanship, and bushcraft.

The golden retriever is depicted with other typical hunting breeds that would be used in Switzerland, including leashed scenthounds, spaniels, HPRs, and setters. The author apparently knew that the best way to show a working golden retriever is to show one from working bloodlines, which are not necessarily the most common type in Europe.

I saw quite a few of these dogs in Bavaria a few years ago, but the bulk of the European population is the cream-colored, heavily-built type.

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golden retriever and grouse

This is the photo from the cover of James Lamb Free’s Training Your Retriever. The book is a classic treatise on training retrievers for North American waterfowl trials with some discussion training them to hunt pheasants.

It does not show you how to use a golden retriever to hunt ruffed grouse. I considered it false advertising!



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A bag of a pigeon stock dove, a pheasant hen, and two foxes. (From a European hunting group on Facebook).

golden retriever hunting foxes

In Europe, gun dogs are expected to retrieve fur, even varmints.


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American HPR:

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His name was Kip.

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Gabe. Source for image is this wonderful post.

Gabe. Source for image is this wonderful post.

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This is Vesterlyngs Token of Clyde:

This dog is pretty well-known in northern Germany and Denmark. (And one of his sons is available right now!)

This is him in profile:



Very moderate in bone.

I also notice that in his pedigree there are no North American working goldens within the most recent generations.

I’ve noticed that on many working golden retrievers in Europe, many do have blood from Canada or the United States, where golden retrievers are the second most commonly used “wildfowling” and “rough shooting” retrievers.  In Britain, the Labrador is by far the most common, and the vast majority of golden retrievers in Europe of the “polar bear” type, which are not commonly used at all. (The exception being in Germany, where I saw tons of working goldens walking off-leash. And trust me, I can tell a golden retriever from a Hovawart!)

Europeans always wanted their retrieving dogs to do more than just retrieve feathered game. In America, these dogs were used almost exclusively on waterfowl until people figured out they could also do a springer spaniel’s job.

But almost no one uses them on furred game. Not rabbits. Not hares or jackrabbits*.

And certainly not on foxes, which we consider a fur-bearing species and not a type of vermin. Foxes are taken here in the depth of winter when their coats are quite prime. Most are not shot. They are trapped. But if you shot a fox, you could make use of a good game-finding retriever to bring it back to you. At least in theory. I don’t know of anyone in the US or Canada who would do such thing.

Europeans have always used their HPR’s to fetch foxes, just as Americans always once expected our British-derived setters and pointers to retrieve. The British have always demanded specialist dogs, and the golden retriever is specialist retriever for the grousing moors and the driven shoots.

But its ancestors where the hardy water curs of Newfoundland and the salmon-netting dogs of the River Tweed.

Those water curs(“St. John’s water dogs” or “Cape Shore water dogs”) were used to hunt polar bears and seals, as well as retrieve shot ducks and sea birds.

This is such an intelligent, biddable breed that I think you could teach one to do just about anything.

People have even trained them in bite-work and sheep-herding.

The continental Europeans and North Americans don’t have much use for a truly specialized dog, and this breed– and all the retriever breeds– are not so hyper specialized that they cannot be taught to do other things.


*European brown hares have been stocked in parts of the US. Jackrabbits are native North American hares.

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vesta of woolley

Woolley was Mrs. J.D. Cottingham’s kennel.

Binks painted many of her dogs.


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