Retriever breeds have historically been some of the most popular dogs to breed. These gun dogs have been important in the hunt ever since people have been hunting birds and other game using guns.
They can dramatically improve a hunter's success by bringing back birds that hunters otherwise may have had a difficult time finding. Furthermore, they make the hunt a lot more fun with their devotion and obviously love of the hunt.
As time has gone on, retriever dogs have also become popular as family pets and for a wide variety of other jobs, from service dogs to military dogs. Retrievers are the most popular breed type nationwide, beloved in a wide variety of homes.
Here are six of the retriever breeds that you are most likely to consider as your next family dog.
1. Labrador Retriever
Labrador retrievers are some of the most common of the retriever breeds and one of the most beloved dogs in America. They ranked as the most popular dog breed in America for 29 straight years, a record that is untouched by any other breed.
It is no surprise that these intelligent dogs originally bred for hunting waterfowl are such popular pets. Not only are they great hunting companions, but many people also believe them to be the perfect dog for families thanks to their gentle nature, trainability, and sturdy bodies. It may not hurt that there are three different colors to choose from, each of which has a fairly low-maintenance double coat.
2. Golden Retriever
You are nearly as likely to see golden retrievers in family homes as you are labradors. This retriever breed is extremely popular thanks to their stunning golden coat, their willingness to follow basic commands as well as more difficult training, and their reputation as a loyal companion well-suited to families.
Golden retrievers are not only great family dogs but are also known to be wonderful service dogs, seeing-eye dogs, and of course great hunting dogs as well. The longer coat requires a bit more maintenance than some other dogs on this list, but the golden retriever pays you back for coat maintenance with an absolutely stunning appearance.
3. Chesapeake Bay Retriever
Chesapeake bay retrievers aren't as common as the top two dogs on this list, but they are still a popular retriever dog known for being a superb canine companion. This is a powerful gun dog that also has the unusual characteristic that makes it distinct from other retriever breeds of being a good guard dog as well.
They are naturally protective of their humans and, according to the American Kennel Club, not as likely to be friendly to strangers. Their wavy coat has a very distinct coloration that is chocolatey or the color of dead grass and is extremely water repellent. In fact, it is slightly oily to the touch.
4. Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever
Of all the types of retriever dogs on this list, nova scotia duck tolling retrievers may be the most adorable, and they are certainly the smallest. This is a smaller retriever than most other options, but they are equally good as water dogs as other types of retrievers.
Despite their small size, you may struggle to give this breed enough exercise. Not only are they happy to seek out downed birds, but they also love to play fetch and enjoy an active lifestyle. Whether you want this dog to retrieve ducks or just serve as a wonderful family pet, you are likely to love the good looks and trainability of this breed.
5. Flat-Coated Retriever
Flat-coated retrievers are lovely, happy dogs with a beautiful flat coat that comes in either liver or black with feathering on the tails and legs that makes them a truly lovely dog. This breed isn't as popular as the labrador or golden retriever, but it has many of the characteristics that people tend to love in these breeds.
This is one of the happiest dogs you are likely to find, known for retaining a puppy-like approach to life throughout its days. Many people love the good-natured attitude of flat-coated retrievers, while other people find the mischievous nature even in well-trained retrievers to be a bit taxing. For the right family, this retriever is likely to be beloved and bring endless laughs.
6. Curly-Coated Retriever
Of all the retriever dog breeds on this list, curly coated retrievers are the least common. They can easily be mistaken for a standard poodle or a labradoodle. However, this is a distinct breed with a long history.
These dogs are covered with a coat of lovely crisp curls that are either liver or black. The coat is both waterproof and resistant to thorns and brambles. If you would like a retriever breed that isn't as clingy and gregarious as some of the others on this list but does not have the potential aggressive protective leanings of the chesapeake bay retriever, this may be the one for you. They tend to be a bit more aloof with strangers, although they are very loving with their families.
Should you consider getting a Retriever?
Retrievers are so popular for good reasons. They tend to be good-natured, they are highly trainable, and they are focused on their families. Furthermore, these dogs are typically quite good-looking and are always up for a game of fetch. There are a wide variety of retrievers for you to choose from, so there's a very good chance that you'll find the perfect individual for you.
My experience as the liaison of integrative medicine, neurology, and zoo medicine at UF Small Animal Hospital gave me valuable insight into the challenges faced by pet owners with animals who have medical conditions. My time there also gave me the opportunity to care for a disabled dog and write a book about the experience.
As manager of a dog daycare, I learned about how dogs play and interact, warning signs for aggression, and how to rehabilitate dog-reactive dogs. During my time there I was under the mentorship of two groomers, from whom I learned grooming essentials.
I currently work with high-risk shelter dogs and manage a blog to help other volunteers and foster families. I have two dogs of my own, a Maltese and a Standard Poodle.