Golden Retrievers are among the most popular family pets in the United States. They were originally bred as hunting dogs, but quickly gained a reputation for being a great family dog because of their gentle and easy going temperament. However, Golden Retrievers are often used as working dogs, too. In particular, they are excellent service dogs and are often used as narcotics dogs.
Dr. Bonita Bergin, the initial creator of the idea of a "service dog" reports that Golden Retrievers are the best suited breed for service dog work. The reason that Goldens are the best suited breed is their combination of gentle disposition, great intelligence, and strength. Service dogs must be strong enough to pull wheel chairs but must also be calm as well as intelligent enough to learn the many commands that service dogs and their owners use to communicate with each other. This breed is also especially capable of bonding with their owners, so the two soon come to make a great team.
It is estimated that it costs approximately $10,000 to train a dog to be a service dog, though most are given away to their final owners. Training is intensive and thorough, ensuring that the dog's owner literally can trust their canine companion with their life. Once the dog is trained, the owner who will receive him must be trained too so that owner and dog can communicate with each other and so that the dog can do his job properly. Currently, there is a 5 year wait to obtain a trained service dog. These dogs are used as guide dogs for the blind, hearing dogs that alert their humans to sounds, mobility assistance dogs that may pull a wheelchair or directly support a person, seizure alert dogs, and medical condition alert dogs, among other uses.
Golden Retrievers are also regularly used as narcotics dogs. Because they were originally bred as retrievers for hunters, they have excellent tracking abilities, which also lend themselves well to finding hidden narcotics. And because Golden Retrievers are so intelligent and eager to please their masters, they can be trained to sniff out drugs more quickly than many other breeds. Their natural athletic ability is also helpful in the narcotics arena. When police and their dogs go sniffing for drugs, it is often in rough terrain and they often work for hours before they find what they're looking for. These abilities make the Golden one of today's most often used breeds for narcotics work.
As you can see, the Golden Retriever has many talents and abilities. They are capable of performing many different kinds of jobs, but are also one of the best breeds to curl up with at the end of a busy day of working for the both of you.