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Chesapeake Bay Retriever with duck

A retriever is a type of gun dog that retrieves game for a hunter. Generally gun dogs are divided into three major classifications: retrievers, flushing spaniels, and pointing breeds. Retrievers were bred primarily to retrieve birds or other prey and return them to the hunter without damage; retrievers are distinguished in that nonslip retrieval is their primary function. As a result, retriever breeds are bred for soft mouths and a great willingness to please, learn, and obey. A soft mouth refers to the willingness of the dog to carry game in its mouth without biting into it. "Hard mouth" is a serious fault in a hunting dog and is very difficult to correct. A hard-mouthed dog renders game unpresentable or at worst inedible.

The retriever's willingness to please, patient nature and trainability have made breeds such as the Labrador retriever and Golden retriever popular as a disability assistance dog. The outstanding reputation of the retriever has landed both the Labrador and the Golden retriever among the top 10 best dogs for children and families around the world.[1]


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A Golden Retriever
Labrador Retriever with pheasant
American Water Spaniel

To carry out the duties of a gun dog, a retriever should be trained to perform these tasks:

Although most individual retrievers have the raw capacity to be trained to perform as a gun dog, a significant amount of thought and effort is given to breeding in specific desired traits into dogs from field bred lines that greatly enhance the training process. When breeding retrievers for field work, extensive consideration is given to:


The average lifespan of a retriever is about 10–12 years. Some may live up to 15 years.[3]

Retriever breeds

Other dogs with retrieving skill

A black Standard Poodle retrieving a Mallard. Poodles are one of the oldest breeds of retrievers, originally bred to retrieve ducks in Germany and France.
Golden Retriever charge. This dog was originally bred in Scotland to hunt in marshy conditions.

See also


  1. ^ "The 10 Best Dogs for Kids and Families". petMD. Retrieved 2018-12-31.
  2. ^ "Golden Retriever Dog ==> +10.000 Free Articles, Videos & Pictures". Golden Retriever Dog And Puppies Information. Retrieved 2016-09-22.
  3. ^ "Learn About the Enthusiastic Golden Retriever".