Do You Know All the Different Types of Golden Retrievers?

Last Updated on July 8, 2023

Types of Golden Retrievers

You might have noticed that not all Goldens look alike. Some are fair, others dark. Some are lanky with minimal feathering, while some look like teddy bears.

That’s because there are more than two types of Golden Retrievers. If you find yourself asking, “what kind of Golden Retriever do I have?” Read on! We’ll be breaking down the different types and why there are variations.

The Three Types of Golden Retrievers

English Golden Retrievers originated from Scotland in the 1800s. They are adaptable gundogs bred specifically for the wet and cold climate.

Due to their popularity, the breed was shipped to Canada and America. There, they were developed further, resulting in cosmetic differences in the breed.

Each country developed their Goldens to their liking. That’s how the American, British, and Canadian Golden Retrievers were born. These dogs have been bred to highlight specific characteristics. 

Within those classifications, you also have the field and show variety. Field dogs are smaller than show dogs. They also have less feathering and conformation to the breed standard.

It’s possible to have Golden Retrievers that don’t fit into the variation standard. Some British Goldens are dark, and some American Goldens have less feathering. It’s all dependent on their pedigree.

Despite their differences, they are all purebred Golden Retrievers. Pasta is still pasta, no matter how it looks. Do note that since they are the same breed, some breeders mix two varieties.

This might further blur the lines between which is which.

1. American Golden Retriever

American Golden Retriever

The most common type is seen in many films such as Air Bud (1997), Fluke (1995), and A Dog’s Purpose (2017). The first two films were played by the same dog – Buddy. 

American Goldens come in a wider range of gold. They are most commonly found in their signature Standard Gold

They have thick feathering around their neck, chest, and hindquarters. Their tail should be carried with a little curve, showing off their beautiful plume. And their backs gently sloped.

American Golden Retrievers have a sleeker shape. Males weigh in at 65 to 75 lbs (29 to 34 kg), and females around 55 to 65 lbs (25 to 29 kg). The females are slightly smaller, standing at 21.5 to 22.5 (54 to 57cm) inches tall.

The males are around 23 to 24 inches (58 to 60 cm).

They have a narrow profile that blends seamlessly into their skull. Their ears are set a little behind their eyes. You’ll also notice that their eyes are almond-shaped, almost triangular when viewed from the side.

Their eyes are also the lightest among the three variations. 

2. British or English Golden Retriever

British Golden Retriever

Also referred to as “English Golden Retrievers,” they are the fairest of them all. Their coat is long and lustrous, with a prominent ruff around their necks. They are sometimes dishonestly marketed as White Retrievers.

All Goldens descend from this variation.

English Golden Retrievers are more solid, with a sturdy and broad head. They look like teddy bears with their large round eyes. 

Their eyes and ears are level to each other. They also carry their tails quite level to their backs.

They are also the smallest variation. Males stand at 22 to 24 inches (55 to 60 cm), whereas females are 20 to 22 inches (50 to 55 cm).

Their females weigh only around 55 to 70 lbs (25 to 32 kg), and the males around 65 to 75 lbs (29 to 34 kg).

According to experts, British Golden Retrievers have a smaller chance of contracting cancer. They are also thought to have longer lifespans.

3. Canadian Golden Retriever

Canadian Golden Retriever

The first Lord Tweedmouth brought his Golden Retriever, Lady, to Canada in 1881. This was when the Canadian Golden Retriever line started.

According to an expert, 99% of all Goldens in Canada and America can be traced back to Archie Marjoribanks’s Lady.

Canadian Golden Retrievers have a darker, flatter, and shorter coat. They have very little feathering around their legs, neck, tail, and underbody. 

They carry themselves like the American: with their tails slightly curved. However, they have the level back of the English.

Their heads are well-defined, with a high arch over their broad skulls. Their eyes are dark and tapered, with their ears set slightly further behind.

These dogs have a leaner build but are the largest variation. They can grow up to 23 to 24 inches (58 to 60cm) for males and 21.5 to 22.5 inches (54 to 57cm) for females. The males weigh anywhere from 65 to 75 lbs (29 to 34 kg), and the females 60 to 70 lbs (27 to 32 kg).

Below is a chart for a quick comparison between the three types of Golden Retrievers:

  English Golden Retriever American Golden Retriever Canadian Golden Retriever
Coat Thick with long feathering, Usually Light Golden Thick with heavy feathering, Golden to Dark Golden Shorter and thin, Golden to Dark Golden
Topline Level slope Back slopes Level slope
Head Broader head Narrow profile Broad skull, slightly arched 
Eyes Dark and round, level eyes Light and almond-shaped  Dark and slightly tapered, set apart
Ears Level with eyes A little behind, just above the eyes Further behind, just above the eyes
Neck Long, protruding neck, trimmed ruff. Medium, muscular, untrimmed Medium, muscular, untrimmed
Tail Level with back Slight upwards curve Slight upwards curve
Built Heavier, stockier build Leaner, sleeker build Lean build
Height Male: 22-24 inches
Female: 20-22 inches
Male: 23-24 inches
Female: 21.5-22.5 inches
Male: 23-24 inches
Female: 21.5-22.5 inches
Weight Male: 65-75 lbs
(29–34 kg)
Female: 55-70 lbs
(25–32 kg)
Male: 65-75 lbs
(29–34 kg)
Female: 55-65 lbs
(25-29 kg)
Male: 65-75 lbs
(29–34 kg)
Female: 60-70 lbs
(27–32 kg)
Lifespan 12 years 10 years 11 years
Cancer Rate 38.8% 60% N/A

3 Types of Golden Retrievers with Infographic

Click here to enlarge and download the image.

Types of Golden Retrievers Infographic

Are there other color types of Golden Retrievers?

Yes, there are variations of Golden Retrievers based on coat colors. They come in all shades of gold, from light cream to almost red. Here are some of the different coat colors you might come across:

  • Light Golden Retriever: This term is often used to describe Golden Retrievers with a lighter shade of gold. Their coat color can range from a pale golden to a light, honey-colored hue.
  • Golden Retriever: The traditional and most recognized color for a Golden Retriever is a rich, golden shade, which gives the breed its name.
  • Dark Golden Retriever: Conversely, some Golden Retrievers have a darker shade of gold. These dogs have a richer, deeper coat color, often with more pigmentation than the typical golden hue.
  • Red Golden Retriever: Occasionally, Golden Retrievers can have a reddish or mahogany hue to their coat. This variation is often referred to as “Red Golden Retrievers.” The intensity of the red color can vary, and some dogs may have a deeper red shade than others.

The AKC states that Golden Retrievers shouldn’t have very pale or dark coats. They only recognize Light Golden, Golden, and Dark Golden in the show ring.

Meanwhile, the Canadian and British Kennel Clubs accept more shades, including Creams.

No Kennel Club accepts Red as a color. Red Golden Retrievers do exist but will not be able to compete in the show ring. They should not be confused with Dark Golden Retrievers. Those are darker than the Standard Golden with no red undertones.

A purebred Golden Retriever cannot be black due to genetics. However, sometimes mutations occur, and you might get a Golden with a black “birthmark.” Solid black Golden Retrievers are usually mixed with Labradors or Flat-Coated Retrievers.

Puppies don’t vary much from their parent’s colors. To be sure, check the fur behind their ears, it’s a good indication of their adult color.

Infographic: Types of Golden Retriever Coat Colors

Types of Golden Retrievers Based on Coat Colors

Don’t miss out: 4 Dazzling Golden Retriever Colors

Field-Bred Golden Retrievers vs. Show Golden Retrievers

Field-Bred and Show are two distinct types of Golden Retrievers bred for different purposes and exhibit specific physical characteristics and temperament differences.

Field-bred Golden Retriever vs Show Golden Retriever

Field-Bred Golden Retrievers, as their name suggests, are primarily bred for field work and hunting. They embody the original purpose for which Golden Retrievers were bred.

These types are typically smaller than Show Golden Retrievers, as they are bred for athleticism and agility rather than size and bulk. They have shorter coats ranging from gold to red and have abundant energy.

On the other hand, Show Golden Retrievers are bred to conform to a specific appearance standard set by dog show judges. Over the years, the desired look for Show Goldens has evolved.

These types of Goldens are characterized by their blocky heads, thick, stocky build, large bone structure, and long, full coats. They are not bred for hunting or fieldwork but primarily for conformation shows. Typically, they are considered more friendly and sociable and may have less energy than Field Golden Retrievers.

FAQs about Golden Retrievers and their types

Now that we know the subtle differences between the three variations, let’s get to know the Golden Retriever a bit better. 

FAQs about Types of Golden Retrievers

Do different types of Goldens have different temperaments?

All Golden Retrievers are bred to be friendly, loving, people-pleasing, gentle, and intelligent. There shouldn’t be any notable differences.

However, poor breeding practices might affect their temperament. This is why it’s important to find a reputable breeder.

Also read: How to train a Golden Retriever

Which type of Golden Retriever sheds the least?

They all shed daily throughout the year and blow out their coat twice a year.

Since the Canadian Golden Retriever has a shorter and lighter coat, their shedding might not be as noticeable.

Don’t miss out: Is my Golden Retriever shedding too much?

Are there types of dogs that look like Golden Retrievers?

The Labrador Retriever is very similar to the Golden Retriever. Their coats are shorter and require less grooming. If you’re looking for a more low-maintenance breed, you should consider Labs.

Flat-coated Retrievers often get mistaken for Black Golden Retrievers. They are slightly larger than Golden Retrievers. However, they have a narrower frame and face. 

Are there a smaller type of Golden Retriever?

Yes, there’s the Comfort Retriever, which is a mix between Poodles and Golden Retrievers. Also called a Goldendoodle, it is a fantastic designer dog for those with allergies. You will have to clip him occasionally, though. 

Goldendoodles can be anywhere from 13-24 inches (23-61 cm) and weigh 15-90 lbs (7-40 kg). This is because their Poodle parent comes in three different sizes.

Another cross you will love if you want a smaller dog is the Golden Cocker Retriever. Usually around 30 to 45 lbs (13 to 20 kg). While it doesn’t blow its coat, you’ll have to brush him daily.

There is no such thing as a purebred miniature Golden Retriever.

Conclusion: Which type of Golden breed is best?

There is no “best” because they are virtually the same. They all shed the same, act the same; they just don’t look the same.

You should make a choice based on your personal preference. Are you after a sleeker Golden, or do you prefer them with big blocky heads?

Let us know what you look for in a Golden Retriever and which one you would get in the comments.

Further reading: More about Golden Retrievers


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