Types of Retriever Dogs

A retriever's devotion and playfulness make him a beloved family pet.
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Retrievers are members of the sporting group of dogs, along with spaniels, setters and pointers. For centuries, retrievers have aided in hunting quests in water and on land. A strong devotion to pleasing their owners makes retrievers excellent household pets. Retrievers are highly intelligent, easily trained, playful and excellent for families with children. They're high-energy dogs who require regular physical exercise and mental stimulation. Their love of the outdoors make them excellent hiking, camping, fishing and hunting companions. Six retriever breeds are recognized by the American Kennel Club.

Curly and Flat-Coated Retrievers

The curly-coated retriever is the one of the oldest retrievers, developed in England to hunt and retrieve game and waterfowl. He stands 23 to 27 inches tall at the shoulder and is covered in a curly black or liver coat. The American Kennel Club recognized this water dog in 1924. Slightly smaller than the curly-coated retriever, the flat-coated retriever stands 22 to 24.5 inches tall at the shoulder. This hunting dog was also used to retrieve hunted game and waterfowl. His straight, flat-lying coat is black or liver in color. The American Kennel Club recognized the flat-coated retriever in 1915.

Chesapeake Bay Retriever

Developed in the United States during the early 1800s to retrieve waterfowl, the Chesapeake Bay retriever is recognized as the state dog of Maryland. This strong and powerful water dog has the stamina to retrieve waterfowl from frigid waters and rough currents. He measures 21 to 26 inches in height and weighs 55 to 80 pounds. His coat comes in various earthy shades of brown to camouflage with his outdoor work environment. In 1878, the Chesapeake Bay retriever became the first of the retrievers to be recognized by the American Kennel Club.

Nova Scotia Duck Trolling Retriever

This playful water dog was developed in the early nineteenth century to lure and retrieve waterfowl. The Nova Scotia duck trolling retriever is the smallest of the retrievers, standing 17 to 21 inches tall at the shoulder. His red double coat is often accented with white markings on the paws, chest and face. The American Kennel Club first recognized the Nova Scotia duck trolling retriever in 2003, making him the newest retriever to join the sporting group.

Golden Retriever

The golden retriever originated in Scotland in the late 1800s and was developed for hunting on the Highland terrain. The American Kennel Club recognized the golden retriever in 1925. Measuring 21.5 to 24 inches in height and weighing 55 to 75 pounds, he is clad in a coat that ranges from light golden blond to reddish gold in hue. The golden retriever is an ideal guide dog for the blind, an ideal therapy dog and an ideal search-and-rescue worker. As a devoted family dog, the golden retriever ranks among the top four breeds registered with the American Kennel Club.

Labrador Retriever

The Labrador retriever hails from Newfoundland, where he assisted fishermen by retrieving fish that escaped from fishing lines and by hauling in fishing nets. This water dog later demonstrated his skills as an efficient game retriever in the hunting fields. Easily trained, he lends a helping hand as a guide dog for the blind, and he is employed in search-and-rescue missions and in narcotics detection. Similar in size to the golden retriever, he stands 22.5 to 24.5 inches tall and weighs 55 to 75 pounds. His tight coat comes in yellow, black and chocolate. The American Kennel Club recognized the Labrador retriever in 1917. In recent years, the family-friendly dog has remained the most popular breed in America, according to the American Kennel Club registration statistics.