By Jessica Acito, AKC Government Relations
The Delaware House of Representatives has unanimously approved a bill to make the Golden Retriever Delaware’s state dog. Eleven states currently have official state dog breeds, often recognizing those that are indigenous to a state.
Pending approval by the Delaware Senate, the Golden Retriever will join the ranks of breeds such as the Alaskan Malamute, Chesapeake Bay Retriever, Boston Terrier, and Plott that are designated as an official state dog.
In true democratic fashion, this bill began as a 4th grade project followed by a class election where the beloved golden beat out the Beagle and other breeds. Letters from the students landed on the desk of House Majority Whip John Viola and soon after the bill was heard on the House floor.
The Golden Retrievers’ popular win came as no surprise. As well as being an iconic American symbol, it has been the 3rd most popular breed in the United States for the last three years. Known as an intelligent, friendly, and devoted breed, the Golden Retrievers’ popularity is surpassed only by that of German Shepherd Dogs and Labrador Retrievers.
House Bill 296 highlights the breeds’ wonderful personality and utility, and a dozen additional reasons it deserves the recognition. Golden Retrievers are often used on search and rescue teams and are popular as disability assistance dogs. Additionally, the Golden is well-suited for the coastal state of Delaware due to their instinctive love of water and their ability to be used in hunting waterfowl. To top off this highly impressive breed’s resume, Presidents Ford and Reagan both had Golden Retrievers as pets while in office.
The 4th grade class attended the House vote, as well as Representative Helene Keeley’s Golden Retriever, Hebe. While some lawmakers joked about their allegiance to the breeds they own, the bill passed unanimously, delighting both the 4th graders and fans of the breed.
HB 296 has passed its Senate committee, and now just awaits a final vote by the full Senate to become official. The AKC joins with the Golden Retriever Club of America, which President Jonathan C. Chase says “enthusiastically supports and endorses the efforts to honor the Golden Retriever as the State Dog of Delaware.”
With a 1-year expiration after enactment, other breeds will have the opportunity to step into the limelight, although some feel the Golden is here to stay.