The Golden Retriever is a relatively young breed. It originated in Scotland during the late 1800s where it was developed by a British aristocrat, Lord Tweedmouth. The original cross was of a yellow-colored Retriever, Nous, with a Tweed water spaniel female dog, Belle. The foundation of the golden retriever was the now-extinct Tweed water spaniel.
From these combinations came the Golden's exceptional scenting ability, strong prey drive and gentle temperament. By the early 1900s, the Golden retriever had developed into a superb hunting retriever. In addition to its hunting traits, the Golden's most distinguishing features were its luxurious golden coat and sweet disposition.
The British Golden Retriever is in fact the original breed from which all others evolved. When the Golden Retriever was first introduced into the United States, via Canada, it was basically the British breed. The first Golden Retriever to win Best In Show honors in the US (in 1933) was a Retriever named Pluto, who was also Canadian champion, and had bloodlines originating in British kennels.
Around World War II is when the British type Golden Retriever and the American type Golden Retriever began to go in different directions as breeds. Breeding began to take place between American kennels, rather than relying on bloodlines from overseas. Over time, the American breed began to diverge from its British cousin, becoming a somewhat lighter (in weight) and leaner animal.
The British Golden Retriever is heavier and stockier than its American counterpart. It has a broader skull and more muscular forequarters. While generally lighter in color than its American Golden, color has become less and less a defining characteristic of the breed. In 2018, the worldwide Golden Retriever community will celebrate the 150th anniversary of the founding of the breed.