Several breeds of dogs were bred to aid hunters by retrieving birds either on land or in water. Retrievers are active, energetic dogs that must have regular exercise to be happy and well-adjusted. They tend to have good temperaments and make good family pets ,as well as serving in other capacities such as guide dogs for the blind. They are medium-to-large dogs with varying coat types and colors.
The gentle and easy-going Labrador retriever was the most popular breed in 2011 for 20 consecutive years, according to the American Kennel Club (AKC). Labradors are primarily hunting dogs but, due to their trainability and good nature, they also make excellent guide, drug detection and search-and-rescue dogs. They have a solid black, yellow or chocolate colored double coat that lies flat. Labradors are approximately 21 to 24 inches tall at the shoulder and weigh 55 to 70 pounds.
The golden retriever is another popular dog breed. They're friendly and family-oriented, and their intelligence serves them well in obedience shows. Along with their hunting skills, goldens excel as assistance, guide and search-and-rescue dogs. The color of a golden retriever can be anywhere from a light yellow to a deep orange. Their double coat is water-repellent and is of medium length, with feathering on much of the body, but especially on the chest, legs and tail. They range in height from 21 to 24 inches and generally weigh 55 to 75 pounds.
Chesapeake Bay Retriever
The Chesapeake Bay retriever is so named because its origins are along the Chesapeake Bay. It is the state dog of Maryland. The Chesapeake is brown with a short, wavy coat that requires regular brushing to maintain the protective oil in the under and outercoats. They love water and are a courageous and intelligent dog. They measure 21 to 26 tall at the shoulder and weigh 55 to 80 pounds.
This flat-coated retriever flushes and retrieves game and waterfowl. This breed is good-natured and happy, and makes a wonderful family pet. Its straight, flat coat requires little grooming and is a solid black or liver color. The usual height of flat-coated retrievers is 22 to 24.5 inches and they have a medium build.
The curly-coated retriever originated in England and is one of the oldest retriever breeds. They were bred for both land and water retrieval. They are covered with tight, water-resistant curls, and are either solid black or liver colored. This breed is "wickedly smart and highly trainable," as described by the Curly-Coated Retriever Club of America. They are somewhat independent but still want to please. They are usually between 23 and 27 inches tall and have a medium build with proportionate weight.
Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever
At 17 to 21 inches tall, the Nova Scotia duck tolling retriever is the smallest of the retrievers. This breed was developed to toll and retrieve waterfowl. Tolling involves the dog luring ducks close to shore by making them curious of the dog fetching a stick or toy near the edge of the water. The duck tolling retriever's medium length double coat is water-repellent and fairly easy to maintain. They come in all shades of red with a few white markings.