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The Three Types of Golden Retrievers

The Three Types of Golden Retrievers

According to the American Kennel Club, the Golden Retriever was the third most popular dog breed in their 2021 rankings. This was based on registration statistics for the AKC.

The wonderful family dogs are a trustworthy breed. They are known for their outgoing personalities and being relatively easy to train.

With so much going for them, it is easy to see why they are so popular.

So, choosing a Golden Retriever must be easy, right? In truth, there is a bit more to choosing a Golden as your family pet than you might imagine.

A lot of people don’t realize there are three types of Golden Retrievers. Thankfully we are here to help.

This article will explore the different Golden Retriever types to give you a better understanding of the breed.

The Three Main Types of Golden Retrievers

Originally a Scottish breed, the Golden Retriever was bred as a gun dog in the 19th century. Their original use was for the retrieval of shot waterfowl.

The breed’s origins go back to the first Lord of Tweedmouth. Dudley Marjoribanks crossed a Tweed Water Spaniel bitch with a yellow Retriever dog. The breeding program that came from the resulting litter included the following breeds;

  • Bloodhound
  • Irish Setter
  • St. John’s Water Dog (Lesser Newfoundland)
  • Black Retrievers

The aim for this breed was one that was comfortable in the water, easy to train, and athletic. Other beneficial traits included a mellow nature and a trainable disposition.

The Golden Retriever that resulted from this program was ideal for its purpose. Its soft mouth wouldn’t damage the game it retrieved. Their thick double coats also helped to keep them warm and dry.

Despite originating from Scotland, the three varieties of Golden Retriever include;

  • British Golden Retriever (also known as the English Golden Retriever)
  • Canadian Golden Retriever
  • American Golden Retriever

While differences between the breed types are minimal, they do exist. Differences are mainly physical. They are all regarded as purebred Goldens.

American Golden Retrievers

The American Golden Retriever is a result of years of breeding. Goldens were introduced to America at the start of the 20th century. They were used as both hunting dogs and as companion dogs.

The modern American Golden Retriever is known for being lankier than other varieties. The larger size takes away some of the stockiness that is a feature of English Golden Retrievers.

Despite the less muscular body, the rich golden shades in the coat of the American Golden Retriever give it an impressive appearance.

The American Kennel Club breed standards for the American Golden Retriever demand symmetry. The colors permitted include; dark golden, golden, and lightly golden.

They are regarded as a relatively healthy breed. The following tests are recommended for American Golden Retrievers by the National Breed Club;

  • Hip Evaluation
  • NCL DNA Test
  • Elbow Evaluation
  • Cardiac Exam
  • Ophthalmologist Evaluation

Regular brushing should help to keep the coat of an American Golden Retriever in good condition. Occasional bathing is also beneficial.

American Golden Retriever Statistics

  • Coat – Heavy and thick coat with feathering
  • Head – Narrow
  • Topline – Back Slopes
  • Eyes – Almond Shaped and light in color
  • Ears – Above the eyes and slightly behind
  • Neck – Untrimmed, muscular, medium length
  • Tail – Curves upwards slightly
  • Build – Sleek and lean
  • Average Height – Females: 21.5″ to 22.5″. Males: 23″ to 24″
  • Average Weight – Females: 55lbs to 65lbs. Males: 65lbs to 75lbs
  • Average Lifespan – 10 years

Canadian Golden Retrievers

The Canadian Golden Retriever has the most unique appearance of the three main Golden Retriever types.

Goldens were introduced to Canadian shores in 1881. Interestingly, it was Archie Marjoribanks, the son of Dudley Marjoribanks, that did this. They were imported for use on a ranch owned by his brother-in-law.

The Canadian Kennel Club initially registered any kind of retriever as one breed. It wasn’t until 1927 that the distinction was made, and Golden Retrievers were acknowledged.

The CKC breed standards do not permit an excessive coat length. Colouring allows most shades of gold. While a few white hairs on the chest are allowed, it is not desired. Black and off-colored hair is not permitted.

The appearance mainly differs from other varieties due to its length and color. Typically shorter and darker, the coat is less likely to feather on the tail, neck, or back of the forelegs.

This is the tallest variety of Golden. In some cases, the breed can be as much as two inches taller than the British or American varieties.

Canadian Golden Retriever Statistics

  • Coat – Thin and short
  • Head – Broad, slight arch
  • Topline – Level Slope
  • Eyes – Set apart, tapered, and dark in color
  • Ears – Above the eyes, but further behind than American Golden Retrievers
  • Neck – Untrimmed, muscular, medium length
  • Tail – Curves upwards slightly
  • Build – Lean
  • Average Height – Females: 21.5″ to 22.5″. Males 23″ to 24″
  • Average Weight – Females: 60lbs to 70lbs. Males: 65lbs to 75lbs
  • Average Lifespan – 11 years

British Golden Retrievers

The English Golden Retriever got its name from Americans. They referred to competition winners as “English Champions.” They are also known as British Golden Retrievers. This variety is recognizable thanks to its long, feathery coats.

The English cream Golden Retriever is lighter than American and Canadian Golden Retrievers. They are also available in deep golden colors.

Other characteristics of English Golden Retrievers include being very athletic and muscular. Their muzzles are typically wide and short, and they have blockier skulls.

This is the smallest Golden Retriever breed. They typically stand one or two inches shorter than American or Canadian Golden Retrievers.

The thick coats can be wavy and feathered or flat. They will typically have a prominent neck ruff.

British Golden Retriever Statistics

  • Coat – Long, thick, and feathered
  • Head – Broad
  • Topline – Level slope
  • Eyes – Level, round, and dark in color
  • Ears – Above and level with eyes
  • Neck – Trimmed ruff, long protruding neck
  • Tail – Runs level with the dog’s back
  • Build – Heavy and stocky
  • Average Height – Females: 20″ to 22″. Males: 22″ to 24″
  • Average Weight – Females: 55lbs to 70lbs. Males 65lbs to 75lbs
  • Average Lifespan – 12 years

Golden Retriever Colors

Color variations can be a great way to tell the difference between variations. Different Kennel Clubs have different specifications for the breed.

As you might imagine from their name, a Golden Retriever will be golden. The coloring is typically down to shading.

The American Kennel Club has fairly strict standards in terms of color. Extremes on the color scale are not desirable. Too light or too dark, and the American Kennel Club will not accept the coloration of an American Golden Retriever.

The following colors are permitted for American Golden Retrievers by the American Kennel Club;

  • Golden
  • Light Golden (and cream)
  • Dark Golden

Dark coats that enter into red Golden Retriever territory can’t register with the AKC or compete in competitions.

Canadian and British Kennel Clubs are not as strict with Goldens and have a wider scope of Golden shades.

As surprising as it may be, Golden Retrievers are sometimes found in the following colors;

  • White
  • Mahogany
  • Dark Brown
  • Red
  • Black

The color of Golden Retrievers is hereditary, making it easy for breeders and buyers to plan the color of their Golden Retriever puppies.

A Golden Retriever puppy will be the same or similar colors to its parents. You can check the true color of Golden Retriever puppies by looking behind the ear.

Some different-colored Golden Retrievers are not recognized by different Kennel Clubs. However, they still make excellent pets. If you don’t plan on showing or breeding your dog, it shouldn’t make any difference. Check out our homepage for more information on breeding your pet and caring for pups!

Differences in Character and Temperament Between Varieties

The great thing about all Golden Retrievers is their excellent character and temperament. All Golden Retriever varieties make great family dogs.

The main difference between American, Canadian, and British Golden Retrievers is their appearance. Even then, they aren’t a million miles apart.

Because this breed has a reputation as being a great companion dog, they have remained a popular pet breed for many years. Their tolerant nature makes them ideal for families with young children.

It is also worth remembering that Golden Retrievers were initially bred as working dogs. They are very energetic and athletic dogs that require significant amounts of exercise.

While English Golden Retrievers are typically the smallest of the three, they can still be quite big and muscular. Widely regarded as a medium to large size breed, each will require owners with the ability to handle them.

Differences in Grooming Needs Between Varieties

The different types of Goldens typically differ in appearance. The coat type makes a significant difference in the grooming needs of dogs.

British, American, and Canadian Golden Retrievers all have thick double coats. The double coat is made up of a short, dense undercoat that is similar across the breeds.

Their outer coats are where Golden Retrievers will typically differ. Canadian Golden Retrievers have the shortest top coat. As well as being shorter, it is typically thinner. This can make grooming slightly easier.

British and American Golden Retrievers have long, thick coats. They differ in feathering. American Golden Retrievers will be more likely to have heavy feathering at the tail, neck, and thighs.

English, Canadian, and American Golden Retrievers will shed twice a year heavily. This allows them to prepare for winter and summer. Throughout the year, they will shed consistently.

Allergy sufferers won’t see a huge difference between breeds. At best, Canadian Golden Retrievers may be slightly more suitable due to their shorter hair.

Using a slicker brush to brush twice weekly should be enough to remove dead hair and keep the coat looking great. Doing this daily for all three varieties during shedding season will significantly reduce pet hair around the home.

Bathing of English, American, and Canadian Golden Retrievers should be done around every two months. Because each breed is very active, they may need to be bathed more regularly if they get dirty while out on walks.

Baths are a great way to loosen hair and remove dirt. It is important to use suitable shampoo for all types of Golden Retrievers and to rinse the dog thoroughly. This will minimize the risk of skin complications.

Brushing your English, American, or Canadian Golden Retriever after bathing should only be done when it is completely dry. The longer, thicker coats will typically be trickier to keep free from dirt and tangles, but regular brushing will help.

Differences in Cost Between Varieties

Buying different types of Golden Retrievers will differ in cost based on a number of factors. British, Canadian, and American Golden Retrievers will typically be easier to buy in their country of origin.

Costs will also vary depending on the bloodline and quality of the breeder. Finding a reputable breeder is essential to the health and well-being of the puppy. Speaking with a Golden Retriever Club or Kennel Clubs for advice can be beneficial.

American Goldens can cost from just $1,000 right up to around $3,500. Canadian Golden Retrievers cost from $500 to $3,000 on average. An English Cream Golden Retriever will typically cost between $1,500 and $3,500.

Champion Bloodline Golden Retrievers can cost in excess of $4,000. While it is not cheap to buy these types of Goldens, they are an excellent choice for families.


Is the English, American, and Canadian Golden Retriever all the same breed?

Yes and no. They are all recognized as the same breed. However, Kennel Clubs in different countries may have different standards for the breed.

Different varieties share relatively similar appearances. There are enough differences to set the varieties apart. Differences in color and coat types are the most significant differences that determine each variety.

The temperament and character of all purebred Goldens are also similar. They are known for being affectionate dogs that are great around families.

What type of Golden Retriever should I get?

Choosing the type of Golden Retriever you want will be entirely up to you. There are a few differences between British, American, and Canadian varieties.

As far as temperament, grooming needs, and cost, there won’t be a huge difference between the varieties.

British Goldens are the smallest of the three breeds, but they are still classed as a medium to large breed. The size and weight should be a consideration when buying any dog breed.

Choosing the color of purebred Goldens will depend on whether you plan on showing or breeding the dog.

Why are all types of Golden Retrievers such popular dog breeds?

Like their cousin retriever breed, the Labrador Retriever, the Golden Retriever is an extremely popular choice in the US. Both breeds have consistently been in the top five dog breed choices in the US for a number of years.

The three Golden Retriever varities we have explored in this article all offer an excellent option for a great family pet. Their playful nature is ideal for those that love to get outside with their pets.

They are also recognized as being excellent for hunting as well as being used as assistance dogs.

Do American Goldens have a higher cancer rate than British Goldens?

Unfortunately, the Golden Retriever breed has a relatively high rate of cancer in comparison to other dogs.

In particular, American Goldens have a 60% cancer rate. This is significantly higher than English Goldens, which have a 38% rate.

Because of these high cancer rates, it is important that you have a strict healthcare regime for your dog.

A healthy diet, regular exercise, and frequent vet checkups are advised. This will help to minimize the risk of illness. If your dog starts to behave differently or you notice a physical difference, contact your vet immediately.

Catching any illness in your dog as quickly as possible is essential to potential treatment.

Which type of Golden Retriever puppy is the most expensive?

As we mentioned above, prices will vary depending on the bloodline and breeder.

There isn’t a vast difference between prices between the different types of Golden Retriever pups.

If you see prices that are cheap, it could be that the breeder has not given the puppy the duty of care it deserves. Breeding parent dogs may not have been given checks for hereditary illnesses that could affect the puppy.

Paying extra for a healthy puppy could save you money on vet bills and insurance over time.

Always get references for breeders and ask to see any paperwork before committing to a purchase.

Final Thoughts

As one of the most popular dog breeds in the US, the Golden Retriever is a sought-after breed. English, American, and Canadian varieties are all relatively similar. The main differences typically lie in their appearance.

The Golden breed has a long and impressive history as a hunting dog and as a companion. With its excellent nature and straightforward training, it is a great choice for a range of needs.

All varieties shed significantly. Regular grooming is required for all, and families with members that suffer from allergies might not be suitable for this breed.

The energetic, athletic nature of this breed makes it an ideal choice for active families. Choosing between the varieties may come down to availability or convenience. This is because there is little difference between the varieties.

With so many positives, it is easy to see why this great breed and all of its varieties have been popular for so long.