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You'd have to be an alien from another planet not to be familiar with the Golden Retriever. This beautiful, exuberant, and loving dog breed is always among the most popular of family pets. Anyone who has been loved by a Golden knows what a devoted companion he is. But there's so much more to know about this lovable breed.

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1. For decades, there were apocryphal stories floating around that the Golden Retriever was descended from Russian circus dogs. This theory was debunked when the records of Lord Tweedmouth of Inverness, Scotland were released. In 1864, Lord Tweedmouth purchased a yellow retriever named Nous and bred him to a liver-colored Tweed Water Spaniel named Belle. All Golden Retrievers today are descended from Nous and Belle. Thank you, Lord Tweedmouth!

2. Golden Retrievers are part of the Sporting Group, and they need lots of exercise. They're ready for action, whether a backyard game of fetch, a long hike, a swim, or a good romp. They're natural athletes and excel at dog sports like agility.

active golden

3. They are hard workers. Golden Retrievers are used for everything from hunting and tracking to rescue and as service dogs. Despite that playful, sometimes goofy demeanor, they learn quickly and can master a multitude of skills, including how to perform as search and rescue dogs at the site of a disaster.

4. Golden Retrievers make world-class therapy dogs and are used to soothe and calm people in a crisis. Goldens seem to have reserves of empathy and unconditional love. There's just something about a Golden that can calm and comfort anyone, from children to elderly patients suffering from Alzheimer's Disease.

5. You know all that exuberant puppy behavior? That lasts longer in Golden Retrievers than other breeds. They mature slowly and can be playful and downright silly into adulthood.

6. Golden Retrievers love to eat. And they'll eat anything, from the dinner in their bowl to toys, paper, and crayons. If it's out, it's fair game. They also have a tendency to overeat, so savvy owners know to limit treats, carefully measure out food, and feed them only at mealtimes.

puppies eating

7. Like other retrievers, the Golden is naturally mouthy. He's likely to carry something around everywhere he goes—a stick, a toy, an old sock—he's not fussy,

8. Speaking of mouths, Goldens are known to be extremely soft-mouthed. All retrievers must have a mouth “soft” enough to pick up and hold game without damaging it. But the Golden's mouth is so soft, it's said he can carry a raw egg in his mouth without cracking the shell.

9. Aside from being beloved family pets, Goldens shine in event competitions. The first three dogs to win the AKC Obedience Champion title were all Golden Retrievers.

10. And finally, the breed has been in the top 10 list of most popular dog breeds in the United States for decades, most recently at number 3. Can you guess what the other top breeds are? Check your guesses against the 2015 list of most popular dog breeds.

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