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Show Golden vs Field Golden: Key Differences Between These Golden Retrievers

Show Golden vs Field Golden: Key Differences Between These Golden Retrievers

We can all agree that Golden Retrievers are wonderful dogs that make for excellent companions, whether you are single or live in a big family.

As with many old breeds, several types of breeds have emerged over time, as humans began to purpose breed their dogs. For that, some Golden Retrievers were used as field dogs, while others were required to represent their breed at dog shows.

Even though they come from the same breed, Golden Retriever breeders across the world will agree that there are fundamental differences between a Field Golden vs a Show Retriever.

When considering buying Golden Retriever puppies, it is important to only purchase from a reputable breeder. But you should also understand the behavior and personality traits of these two breeds.

We have collected the key differences of a Field Golden Retriever vs a Show Golden Retriever and explain these in detail in this article.

What is the Difference between Show and Field Golden Retrievers?

While these two retriever breed variations both make for extraordinarily loving and gentle dogs, they are bred for different purposes.

As the name already suggests, Field Goldens were mainly bred to spend most of their time hunting and playing in the fields. On the other hand, Golden Retriever breeders bred Show Golden Retrievers to showcase their breed standard.

On this note, despite the different purposes, each breed makes for a perfect family dog.

Because of the different breeding techniques and outcomes, these two breeds do show other important differences. Some of which are recognizable in their size and body type, temperament, abilities and energy levels. We will discuss these and more trait differences below.

Key Differences between a Show Golden Retriever and a Field Golden Retriever

Show Goldens and Field Goldens show differences mainly in their specializations as well as their features. You will be able to read more about those in the section below.

Kennel Club Recognition

As the Field Golden and the Show Golden Retriever are registered under the same breed, you will not be able to find these different types recognized by any Kennel Club.

Golden Retrievers, however, are globally recognized by the AKC as well as other KCs.


Field Golden Retriever

Since the Field Golden is an outdoor dog, meant to move a fair bit and play around for most of the day, their personality is a lot more energetic.

Based on this, their instinct to retrieve and potentially bite things is much stronger. So, a chewy toy will definitely go a long way with this breed. But even though they can be described as mouthy and enjoy the rough side of play, they are still very affectionate and loving pets.

In the same way, these Retrievers love living an active lifestyle that is filled with activities such as:

  • swimming
  • running
  • jumping
  • Parcours
  • agility training

This means that as their owner you are responsible for providing them with regular exercise. They need to move a lot in order to stay physically and mentally healthy!

You will not please your Golden Retrievers by sitting in the house all day long. These energetic and agile dogs want to be outdoors and move freely. If they are kept indoors for too long, their personality might become restless and as a result of this, destructive.

Show Golden Retriever

Compared to Field Golden Retrievers, Show Golden Retrievers are a lot more soft and pleasant to handle.

As more indoor-focussed dogs, these dogs are able to showcase their beauty perfectly. Their demeanor can only be described as show dogs because it is able to keep up with the most critical eye of a show judge.

As they are not bred to perform any outdoor tasks or activities, they also tend to be less energetic than Field Golden Retrievers.

As show dogs, their main purpose for existence was to please and show off their good traits. This makes them more friendly and calm to handle. On top of that, they are definitely the more affectionate and gentle breed and therefore the perfect family dogs, especially if small children or other pets are around.

These traits, however, also make Show Retrievers crave more attention and affection from their owners. They want to be around their humans as much as possible. If they feel neglected or are not getting the attention they require, serious personality issues such as depression or aggression can be the result.


Field Golden Retriever

Field Retrievers are popular service dogs with an even temper. They love being active and out and about.

Because of the heaps of energy they possess and the affinity for rough play, they are not the best dogs to have around young children. They tend to become quite mouthy and put lots of energy and body into the way they play. Therefore, we recommend being nearby and keeping an eye on them when kids are around.

As they have been bred to retrieve items or game, they enjoy catching things with their mouths. Investing in several durable chewy toys is recommended.

Since they were bred as hunting dogs, they are excellent hunting companions and enjoy complex training tasks. Make sure you provide sufficient exercise as well as a decent game of fetch to keep them happy and in check.

Show Golden Retriever

A Show Golden has an even and affectionate temper. You can expect them to get along with strangers, small children and other dogs or pets. This makes for a less suitable watchdog, though.

Given the right amount of affection, maintenance and care, these dogs will thrive in any setting, but do exceptionally well with families. They are eager to please and not as playful as a Field Golden Retriever.

Thanks to their lower need to be active, they enjoy going on walks but do not need to be tired out as much as a Field Golden.

They have a strong connection with their owners and thrive around people. They show off with a well-mannered temper and are happiest in companionship with humans.

Energy Levels

Field Golden Retriever

As mentioned before, a Field Golden is loaded with energy and loves to exercise and spend their day outdoors.

Since they are bred as hunting dogs and to retrieve prey or game, they are excellent at retrieving any small to medium sized game. Their strong urge to fetch anything makes them perfect for fieldwork.

Thanks to their high energy levels, they are particularly good at:

  • swimming
  • running
  • jumping

In order to maintain their temper, they need to exercise regularly and participate in one or several of the above activities. Agility training is therefore perfect for the Field Golden Retriever.

Normally, a Golden Retriever puppy loses some of its energy levels when growing up, but this Golden Retriever breed seems to keep its energy levels into adulthood. Therefore, you will be able to enjoy a wide range of activities with these dogs as your pet.

Show Golden Retriever

Golden Retrievers that were born to be showcased possess less energy as they are made to abide and sit still a lot. But don’t underestimate the fact that they can still be a handful.

As they are bred to showcase a specific look instead of being used as working dogs, they do not have an insanely high prey drive. But are still more energetic than other dogs.

Because of their calm energy, they are especially well-suited as therapy dogs. Because their bred does not require regular exercise, they can spend lots of time with their owners and as therapy dogs keep their owner calm and supported.

Body Type and Size

Field Golden Retriever

Field-bred Golden Retrievers tend to be a bit smaller and lighter compared to the typical Golden Retrievers.

  • Weight Male: 30 to 35 kilos
  • Height Male: 22 to 24 inches
  • Weight Female: 27 to 32 kilos
  • Height Female: 21 to 22 inches

They have more lean and sturdy bodies to keep them agile while performing work tasks and activities such as swimming or retrieving shot game like waterfowl.

Their wedge-shaped heads are carried by muscular and slim bodies that are perfect for all the activities they like to perform.

Show Golden Retriever

A typical Show Golden Retriever comes with a much more stocky and thicker body than a Field Golden Retriever.

  • Weight Male: 37 to 43 kilos
  • Height Male: 22 to 24 inches
  • Weight Female: 32 to 37 kilos
  • Height Female: 21 to 22 inches

They are not bred to be working dogs and therefore their bodies are overall more balanced in their composition. As show dogs, their heads tend to be more blocky and impressive, too.

Depending on the breeder, the shape of the body will have some unique gaits and a bushier tail. Their looks have all the features required to score high during a show.

Health and Lifespan

The health and lifespan does not differ between the different types of Golden Retrievers. Generally, a Golden Retriever will live around 10 to 12 years, no matter if it is a Show Golden Retriever or a Field Retriever.

The same goes for their health issues.

The most common type of health issue for a Golden Retriever, regardless of their breed-type, is cancer. This is apparently due to a genetic predisposition for cancer. But, their environment and upbringing can play a significant role, too. Fresh and healthy food in a balanced diet are therefore incredibly important.

Other common diseases for these dog breeds are:

  • Elbow and Hip Dysplasia
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Subvalvular Aortic Stenosis (SAS) 


Field Golden Retriever

In the case of the field-bred Golden Retrievers, practicality wins over beauty when it comes to their coats.

As working dogs, their coat tends to be more wiry and thick. This is to protect them against all sorts of weather and wetness when swimming. These short and sturdy coats prevent their fur from tangling or filling up with debris. Ultimately, this aids in efficiency when swimming.

They tend to have darker and shorter coats which range from medium to dark gold. But, some Field Retriever coats can even be mahogany or reddish in color.

Because their coats are shorter with less volume, Field Goldens shed less, which can make them more preferable as house pets.

Show Golden Retriever

Show Golden Retrievers boat a more feathery and full coat that comes in light golden shades. In order for them to adhere to the AKC breed standards, their coats musn’t have any other markings, but only be fully golden.

These beautiful long coats are perfectly suited for show rings, but not much else.

Their double coat is soft with a thick underlayer, two factors that make Show Golden Retrievers shed a lot. If you suffer from allergies, you might struggle with the long coats of this type of Golden Retriever!

But, they are also perfectly suited for the colder months of the year. So Show Golden Retrievers are well equipped to live in colder regions, as well.

Needs and Abilities

Field Golden Retrievers

Being a working dog and therefore extremely active, a Field Retriever requires a lot of exercise. If you do not provide your Field Golden Retriever with at least one hour of exercise daily, they will struggle to stay healthy and mentally stable.

If you fail to provide these field-bred Golden Retrievers with the daily exercise they require, you will have a depressed and aggressive dog. On top of that, this Golden Retriever breed has a particular affinity for nature, so a daily walk outdoors should be on your to-do list, as well.

Because they are such active dogs, they come with certain abilities that are linked to their fitness level, for instance:

  • They are great hunting dogs.
  • They can retrieve almost anything you throw for them.
  • They excel at agility events and are particularly obedient dogs.
  • Because of their high activity levels, they are good eaters!

Field Retrievers need to be fed a balanced diet so they can maintain their energy levels.

Show Golden Retriever

A Show Golden Retriever is very outgoing and friendly. Their gentle nature makes them require a lot of attention and companionship. A Show Golden does not do well alone.

One could argue that a Show Golden is somewhat of a high-maintenance Retriever, as they need love and pampering on the daily. On top of that, they want to be around their humans to show off their great behaviour.

Because they are not easily irritated by commotion or noise, Show Goldens make for excellent family pets and want to be around their family as much as they can.

As it’s the calmer type, a Show Golden does not require as much exercise as a Field Golden Retriever would. But a daily walk should still be on their exercise list to remain a healthy physique.

Because of being show dogs and having extraordinarily beautiful fur, their coat does shed a lot, so they need to be groomed regularly. Make sure to brush them daily and remove any dead hair from your curly Golden that could lead to tangling.

Training Differences

Field Golden Retriever

A Field Retriever understands complex situations and is an intelligent dog that is ideal for the job of a hunting dog. Their smart demeanor makes them perfect to abide to rules.

Because field-bred Golden Retrievers are such active dogs, the best training for them is:

  • agility training
  • hunting competitions
  • complex retrieving tasks
  • being used as rescue dogs

Because of field-bred Golden Retrievers’ willingness to perform and high levels of obedience, their owners can teach them complex tricks as well.

Show Golden Retriever

A Show Golden Retriever is definitely trainable, but not to the same extent as field bred Golden Retrievers.

They do enjoy learning the occasional simple tricks such as giving paw or jogging alongside their owners. A Show Golden Retriever will however not enjoy or be able to learn more complex tricks as it lacks the drive of a Field Golden Retriever.

That being said, a Show Golden Retriever is still incredibly eager to please its people. For that reason, a Show Golden will always try to learn anything you are throwing their way.

As these breeds are both still a Golden Retriever, their fundamental personality of a Field Retriever and a Show Retriever is still the same.


Generally, you can expect to pay between $700 to $3,000 for a Golden Retriever puppy. But, there can be some differences depending on the breeder and the bloodline. Visit our homepage for more advice on budgeting for the new addition to your family.

Field Golden Retriever

Field Golden Retrievers tend to be primarily used for hunting. So, if the breed stock has been winning titles for being used as exceptional hunting dogs, the price of that specific litter might go up.

A red field-bred Golden Retriever might also be on the higher price spectrum, because of the rarity of this color.

Show Golden Retriever

A Show Golden Retriever might be more expensive if it comes from champion bloodlines that have won lots of dog shows. Ask a breeder for the titles their dogs have won to assess whether the price is justified.


Below you will find some more useful information on the Field Goldens as well as the Show Goldens, and how to pick the right breed for you.

Field Golden Retriever vs Show Golden Retriever – which dog is better?

If you want to know which Golden Retrievers are the better dogs, then the honest answer is, there is none. All Golden Retrievers are bred similarly and therefore have the same underlying personality traits that make them such popular dogs.

Another reason why it is not possible to say which Golden Retrievers are the better dogs, is because this depends wholly on your personality and requirements.

If your lifestyle is more active and outdoorsy, perhaps going for Field Golden Retrievers is the better choice. Whereas having a family with small children would make a Show Golden Retriever the better option.

What are the three Golden Retriever types?

While these are not official types, the three types of Golden Retrievers are:

  • British or English Golden Retrievers
  • American Golden Retrievers
  • Canadian Golden Retrievers

As with Show Goldens or Field Goldens, you will not be able to find these types of Golden Retrievers in a breed standard. They simply emerged as types of Golden Retrievers because of their availability in different regions.

They therefore have some slight differences in their appearance, but not so much in their personality traits.

What does it mean if a dog is field-bred?

Different to show dogs, field-bred dogs’ main purpose is to assist hunters. Their temperament as well as physique are aimed at being out in the field to retrieve game. Their personality is a bit more mouthy and they are extremely active.

This also makes Field Goldens less domestic than Show Goldens and more capable to withstand different weather conditions.

Which Golden Retriever is the right dog for me?

As we have already established in this article, Field Goldens were bread for hunting and as working dogs. So they are athletic and come with lots of drive and energy. If this sounds like a dog suitable for your lifestyle, then Field Goldens are the better choice for you.

A Show Golden Retriever makes a wonderfully gentle companion that is ready to cuddle whenever you need a loving shoulder to rest your worries on. They are perfect for a laid-back life and will be your and your children’s best friend.

But, regardless of which dog you end up choosing, these Golden Retrievers will always make excellent companions for singles and families alike.

Final Thoughts

Their bubbly nature makes Golden Retrievers easily the most popular dogs in the US. Compared to other dog breeds, they are extremely obedient and loving. This is why many American families choose them as companion dogs.

But even for such a consistently loveable dog breed, there are some significant differences to be found. This depends on the purpose for which Golden Retrievers have been bred.

If you are the more the active type that likes their dog to have zest and stamina, a field-bred Golden Retriever might be best for you.

But if you are looking for the epitome of a man’s best friend, that will basically substitute your therapy sessions just by cuddling with you for a good hour per day, go for the Show Golden.

Either way, they are wonderful pets that will give their all to make their owners happy.