In FOR THE LOVE OF GOLDEN RETRIEVERS eminent dog writer, Robert Hutchinson, traces with unprecedented clarity the bright Golden strand that runs straight and true through the jumbled history of retrievers. Replete with 100 photographs from a prestigious group of pet photographers, this book celebrates it beautiful subject in word and image.
The first chapter situates the Golden Retriever within the constellation of the six modern retriever breeds. Hutchinson enumerates the many features that the Golden Retriever shares with all retrievers: identical hunting functions, common ancestors, manifold interbreedings, and overlapping traits.
The second chapter tells the story of how one individual, Lord Tweedmouth, created the Golden Retriever on his estate in the Scottish Highlands. Tweedmouth's breeding program--begun in 1865 with the purchase of his foundation sire, a yellow Wavy-Coated Retriever named Nous--came to fruition in 1889 with the birth of two sisters, Prim and Rose, who embodied Tweedmouth's vision of the perfect Yellow Retriever. Hutchinson's analysis of Tweedmouth's meticulous records shows his program to have balanced the rule of linebreeding with recurrent outcrossings.
Hutchinson proceeds to quantify both the degree of inbreeding within Tweedmouth's program and the relative contributions of the breeds that went into it. He calculates the precise proportions of the three breeds (Flat- or Wavy-Coated Retriever, Tweed Water Spaniel, and Setter) that Tweedmouth folded together over the course of twenty years in order to end up with Prim and Rose. By further reducing these three breeds to their component ancestral breeds, Hutchinson contrives to extrapolate a description of the Golden Retriever as a blend of four ultimate precursors (Setter, Lesser St. John's Newfoundland, Springer Spaniel, and Water Dog). Hutchinson tests his results by matching the traits of our modern Golden Retriever against the traits of its four inferred ancestors.
Finally, Hutchinson speculates that Lord Tweedmouth's motive in creating the Golden Retriever might have been nationalistic; namely, to throw up a performance-oriented aristocratic British rival to Germany's golden-coated Leonberger, which was then all the rage in European courts.