What Are the 3 Types of Golden Retrievers? (And 7 “Fakes”!)

What Are the 3 Types of Golden Retrievers? Golden retriever laying on her back

The three different types of Golden Retrievers are the British or English Golden Retriever, the American Golden Retriever, and the Canadian Golden Retriever.

In this article, we will explore what these three types are, and discuss their unique characteristics, origins, personalities, and how the fit into the general Golden Retriever breed overall. Understanding the differences between these types is essential for potential dog owners who want to ensure they choose the perfect companion for their family and lifestyle.

So let’s dive into the fascinating world of Golden Retrievers!

1. English Golden Retrievers (British Golden Retrievers)

Origin and History

English Golden Retrievers, also known as British Golden Retrievers, originated in the United Kingdom during the 19th century. They were bred by Lord Tweedmouth, who sought to create a skilled hunting dog with a gentle temperament. He achieved this by crossing a yellow Flat-Coated Retriever with a Tweed Water Spaniel. This lineage was subsequently mixed with other breeds such as the Irish Setter and Bloodhound, ultimately resulting in the British Golden Retriever we know today.

Physical Characteristics

Compared to their American and Canadian counterparts, English Golden Retrievers exhibit some distinct physical features:

  • They possess a broader skull and more muscular build.
  • Their coats are typically lighter in color, ranging from cream to light gold.
  • Their eyes are rounder and darker, giving them a gentle expression.
  • Their tails are usually thicker at the base and taper towards the tip.

These subtle differences contribute to their overall regal appearance. The United Kennel Club describes the ideal English Golden as such:

The Golden Retriever is a medium-sized, well-balanced dog with a distinctive golden-colored coat; small, drop ears; and a natural tail carried level with the back or with a slight upward curve. The correct relationship of length of body to height is 12:11. The Golden Retriever is a dog without exaggeration. The Golden Retriever should be evaluated as a working gun dog, and exaggerations or faults should be penalized in proportion to how much they interfere with the dog’s ability to work.

Temperament and Personality

The personality of English Golden Retrievers is marked by their calm and composed demeanor. They are highly intelligent dogs that excel in various activities such as obedience training, agility trials, and search-and-rescue missions. While they maintain an innate enthusiasm for retrieving games, they display more restraint than their American counterparts.

Their gentle nature makes them ideal family pets; they’re known for being patient with children and sociable with other animals. British Goldens also adapt well to different environments, making them suitable for both city living and countryside homes.

It’s important to note that while these general characteristics apply to most British Goldens, individual personalities can vary greatly. Proper socialization and training from an early age are essential factors in shaping a well-rounded dog.

2. American Golden Retrievers

Origin and History

American Golden Retrievers, as the name suggests, were developed in the United States. While they share a common ancestry with English Goldens, breeders in America focused on refining the breed for hunting and fieldwork. As a result, American Golden Retrievers have evolved to possess slightly different characteristics from their British counterparts.

Physical Characteristics

Some distinguishing features of the American type include:

  • A leaner and more athletic build compared to their British counterparts.
  • Their coats are typically darker in color, ranging from dark gold to rich copper hues.
  • They have a more triangular-shaped head with a narrower muzzle.
  • Their eyes are almond-shaped and can vary from medium to dark brown.

These traits contribute to their agile appearance, well-suited for field activities. The American Kennel Club describes the ideal American Golden as:

A symmetrical, powerful, active dog, sound and well put together, not clumsy nor long in the leg, displaying a kindly expression and possessing a personality that is eager, alert and self-confident. Primarily a hunting dog, he should be shown in hard working condition…[their coloring should be a ] rich, lustrous golden of various shades

Temperament and Personality

American Golden Retrievers are known for their high energy levels and enthusiastic personalities. They thrive when given physical and mental stimulation through activities such as fetch games, swimming, or agility training. This makes them excellent companions for active families who enjoy spending time outdoors.

While they share the same friendly disposition as English Golden Retrievers, American Golden Retrievers tend to be more exuberant and may require additional patience during training sessions. However, their eagerness to please ensures that they quickly learn new commands with consistent reinforcement.

Their sociable nature extends not only to humans but also to other animals. They usually get along well with other dogs and pets in the household if properly socialized from an early age.

As with any breed, individual temperaments will vary; it’s crucial to remember that proper socialization and training play significant roles in shaping a well-adjusted pet.

3. Canadian Golden Retrievers

Origin and History

Canadian Golden Retrievers, while not as widely recognized as their British and American counterparts, have a unique heritage of their own. They share common ancestry with other kinds of Golden Retrievers but have been selectively bred in Canada to develop specific traits suitable for the country’s diverse landscape and climate.

Physical Characteristics

Canadian Golden Retrievers can be identified by the following features:

  • They tend to have a taller stature compared to both British and American Golden Retrievers.
  • Their coats are generally darker than British Goldens but lighter than American Goldens, often appearing as medium gold shades.
  • Their build is athletic and well-proportioned, similar to the American variety.

These physical traits enable Canadian Golden Retrievers to excel in various activities, including hunting, tracking, and agility training.

Temperament and Personality

Canadian Golden Retrievers are intelligent and versatile dogs that adapt well to different environments. They possess an innate love for retrieving games, making them excellent hunting companions. Their high energy levels require regular exercise to keep them mentally and physically stimulated.

Much like their British and American counterparts, Canadian Goldens are known for their friendly nature and strong desire to please. This makes them great family dogs who enjoy spending time with their human companions. They’re also gentle with children and typically get along well with other animals if properly socialized from an early age.

As always, it’s important to remember that individual personalities can vary greatly among dogs within the same breed. Proper socialization, training, and care are crucial factors in ensuring a well-rounded Canadian Golden Retriever.

Read more: Why Are Golden Retrievers So Popular?

Comparing the Three Types Of Golden Retrievers

Physical Differences

While all three flavors of Golden Retrievers share a common ancestry, selective breeding has resulted in some distinct physical traits among them:

  • British Goldens have a broader skull, lighter coat colors, rounder eyes, and thicker tails.
  • American Golden Retrievers possess a leaner build, darker coats, triangular-shaped heads, and almond-shaped eyes.
  • Canadian Goldens are generally taller with medium gold coat shades and an athletic physique.

These differences contribute to each type’s unique appearance while still maintaining the overall charm of the breed.

Behavioral Differences

Although all Golden Retrievers are known for their friendly and intelligent nature, there are subtle behavioral differences among the different types:

  • British Goldens tend to be calmer and more composed compared to their American and Canadian counterparts.
  • American Golden Retrievers are characterized by high energy levels and enthusiasm, making them ideal for active families.
  • Canadian Goldens exhibit versatility and adaptability to various environments due to their diverse breeding history.

These distinctions in temperament can help potential dog owners choose the right golden that best suits their lifestyle and preferences.

Health Issues and Lifespan

Golden Retrievers as a whole are predisposed to certain health issues such as hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia, eye disorders, and heart problems. However, some studies suggest that English Retrievers may have a lower risk of developing certain cancers compared to American Golden Retrievers. It’s essential for owners to be aware of these potential health concerns and provide regular veterinary care for their pets.

The average lifespan of a Golden Retriever is around 10-12 years. While there may be slight variations between the three officially recognized types due to genetics or environmental factors, proper nutrition, exercise, and regular check-ups play crucial roles in ensuring a long and healthy life for your Golden Retriever.

Read more: Why Do Golden Retrievers Get Cancer?

Choosing the Right Kind of Golden for Your Family

Assessing Your Lifestyle

Before deciding on which type of Golden Retriever is best suited for your family, it’s important to consider your lifestyle and preferences:

  • Activity level: If you’re an active family that enjoys outdoor activities, an American or Canadian Golden might be a better fit due to their high energy levels. However, if you prefer a calmer companion, a British Golden may be more suitable.
  • Living space: All types of Golden Retrievers require space to roam and play. Ensure you have adequate room both indoors and outdoors for your furry friend.

Space and Exercise Requirements

Golden Retrievers are energetic dogs that need regular exercise to stay healthy and happy. Consider the following when choosing the right type:

  • Daily walks: All three types require daily walks or runs to expend their energy.
  • Playtime: Engaging in fetch games or other activities can help keep your Golden Retriever mentally stimulated.
  • Access to outdoor space: Having access to a yard or nearby park is beneficial for all types of Goldens.

Allergies and Grooming Considerations

Golden Retrievers have thick double coats that shed throughout the year. Keep these grooming aspects in mind:

  • Regular brushing: Brushing your Golden Retriever’s coat at least once a week will help reduce shedding and maintain coat health.
  • Bathing: Bathe your dog every few months or as needed, depending on their activity level and environment.
  • Professional grooming: Occasional visits to a professional groomer can keep your dog looking neat and well-groomed.

By carefully considering these factors, you’ll be better equipped to choose the right type of Golden Retriever that suits your family’s needs and lifestyle. Remember, regardless of the type you select, proper training, socialization, and care are essential for fostering a strong bond with your new canine companion.

Other Different Types of Golden Retrievers

You’ve likely heard about a number of different types of Golden Retrievers outside the three we’ve already covered. We’ll include a brief overview of some other common types below, but it’s important to note that all of these sub-types are still ultimately considered American, English, or Canadian goldens.

Field-Bred Golden Retrievers

Field-bred Golden Retrievers are the ultimate working dogs, bred specifically for their hunting and retrieving abilities. These dogs possess a high level of energy, intelligence, and athleticism, making them perfect companions for hunters and outdoors enthusiasts.

Field-bred Goldens have a leaner build and may have a slightly shorter coat than their show-bred counterparts. They are known for their exceptional trainability and ability to excel in hunting trials, obedience competitions, and search and rescue missions.

Red Golden Retrievers

The Red Golden Retriever is characterized by its deep, rich red coat color, which sets it apart from the more common light golden to cream-colored varieties. This unique coloring is due to a recessive gene that can be passed on through generations.

Red Goldens are often mistaken for Irish Setters, but they still possess the classic Golden Retriever traits such as friendliness, intelligence, and loyalty. These dogs make excellent family companions and can also be successful in various dog sports and competitions.

Show Golden Retrievers

Show Golden Retrievers, also known as conformation Goldens, are bred specifically for their appearance and adherence to the breed standard. These dogs typically have a thicker, more lustrous coat, a more substantial build, and a slightly blockier head compared to field-bred counterparts.

While show Goldens may still have the same friendly and intelligent temperament as other varieties, their primary purpose is to compete in dog shows and represent the breed’s ideal physical characteristics.

Black Golden Retrievers

Contrary to popular belief, Black Golden Retrievers do not naturally exist. Any dog marketed as such is either a Golden Retriever mix or a different breed altogether.

If you are drawn to the idea of a black-coated dog with a similar temperament and appearance to a Golden Retriever, consider the Flat-Coated Retriever or a Black Lab / Golden crossbreed as an alternative.

Mini Golden Retrievers

The Mini Golden Retriever, also known as the Comfort Retriever, is a smaller-sized version of the traditional Golden Retriever, typically achieved through breeding with smaller dog breeds like the Cocker Spaniel or Poodle. Mini Goldens are bred to maintain the same lovable traits as their larger counterparts, such as their friendly nature, intelligence, and loyalty.

Due to their smaller size, they are well-suited for families living in smaller spaces or for those who prefer a more manageable-sized dog. It is crucial to research and choose a reputable breeder when considering a Mini Golden Retriever to ensure a healthy and well-bred dog.

English Cream Golden Retrievers

English Cream Golden Retrievers, often referred to as White Golden Retrievers, are distinguished by their pale cream-colored coat. These dogs are bred to meet the British Kennel Club’s breed standard for the British Golden, which differs slightly from the American standard.

English Creams generally have a stockier build, a broader head, and a more laid-back temperament than their American counterparts. They are still highly intelligent, friendly, and excellent picks for families, but may be slightly less energetic than field-bred or American show Golden Retrievers.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are there mixed types of Golden Retrievers?

Yes, it’s possible for Golden Retrievers to have mixed lineage, both within the Golden Retriever breed and outside of it via crossbreeding with other breeds. This can result in a blend of characteristics from different types of dogs.

Which type is best for first-time dog owners?

All types of Golden Retrievers are suitable for first-time dog owners due to their friendly nature, intelligence, and trainability. However, British Goldens, with their calmer disposition, might be slightly easier for beginners to manage.

How can you identify the various Golden Retriever types?

Identifying the type of a Golden Retriever can be challenging without pedigree information or genetic testing. However, you can look for certain physical characteristics:

  • British Goldens: Generally stockier with broader skulls and lighter coats.
  • American Goldens: Typically leaner with darker coats and more feathering on the tail and legs.
  • Canadian Goldens: Often have thinner coats and stand taller than their British and American counterparts.

Keep in mind that these traits can vary among individual dogs, so it’s not always possible to accurately determine a Golden Retriever’s type based on appearance alone.


Appreciating the Uniqueness of Each Type

Understanding the differences between British, American, and Canadian Golden Retrievers allows you to appreciate their distinct traits and make an informed decision when choosing a dog that best suits your lifestyle and preferences.

Ensuring a Happy and Healthy Life

Regardless of the type, all Golden Retrievers require proper care, training, and socialization to thrive. By providing a balanced diet, regular exercise, veterinary care, and affection, you can ensure a happy and healthy life for your beloved pet.

The Universal Charm of Golden Retrievers

Though each type has its unique features, the enduring appeal of Golden Retrievers lies in their friendly nature, intelligence, and unwavering loyalty. These lovable dogs continue to capture hearts worldwide as cherished family pets and devoted companions.

Related Reading

roger stanley site owner and primary author
Meet The Author Roger Stanley

Co-owner of goldenretrievergoods.com. 15 years of experience living life with Golden Retrievers and 15 years of experience spending way too much money on them – I believe life’s not worth living without a Golden involved!

We want to remind our readers that the articles or content found on goldenretrievergoods.com do not constitute nor replace professional veterinary advice, diagnosis, or treatment. The information provided on our website is purely educational and informational, and should not be used as a substitute for advice from a licensed veterinarian.