Golden Retrievers are a popular breed that is loved in America and across the world. But, many people don’t realise that there are 3 different types of Golden Retrievers within the breed as a whole!
The 3 most well known types of Golden Retrievers are the American type, the Canadian type, and the English type.
There are some slight differences in appearance that can help you tell the 3 types apart. But they will all have the loving, friendly, playful temperament that the breed is known for.
So let’s find out more about the different types of Golden Retrievers.
- The Golden Retriever breed
- Golden Retriever History
- How many types of Golden Retriever are there?
- American Golden Retriever
- Canadian Golden Retriever
- English Golden Retriever
- Shared characteristics
- Which type of Golden Retriever is right for me?
About the Golden Retriever
Golden Retrievers are the third most popular AKC registered breed in America, closely following Labrador Retrievers and German Shepherds.
These lovable dogs weigh between 55 and 75 pounds when fully grown. Their main purpose is as a working gundog, but they also make popular family pets for many.
Goldens are intelligent, friendly and loving, especially when socialized well from a young age. This makes them a great choice for families with kids.
But it also makes them a popular candidate for working dog roles, such as assistance dogs, search and rescue dogs, and even bomb detectors!
Golden Retriever History
The Golden Retriever breed as we know it first started to be standardized in Scotland. Lord Tweedmouth began this process in his search for a retrieving breed that was just as good in water as it was on land.
He bred his yellow Tweed Water Spaniel, called Nous, with other Retrievers to achieve this.
In the early 1900s another lord, Lord Harcourt, started to breed and show his Golden Retrievers in Kennel Club shows.
Harcourt was a standout figure in bringing the Golden Retriever into the limelight, and it is often said he is responsible for the name of the breed.
Golden Retrievers were first registered by AKC in 1925 and recognized by the CKC in 1927. A little later in 1938 the Golden Retriever Club of America was founded.
How Many Types of Golden Retrievers Are There?
We’ve briefly mentioned that most people recognize 3 types of Golden Retriever. These are:
- American type
- Canadian type
- English type.
Although all types of Golden Retrievers descend from those first developed in 19th Century Scotland, there are now some subtle differences between them.
The differences between these 3 types of Golden Retrievers are mainly to do with appearance. They are quite subtle, so it can be hard to distinguish them if you don’t know what to look for!
When This Started
Until the 1930s and 40s, most Golden Retrievers across the world looked similar.
This was reflected by changes in the breed standards in each country too.
American Golden Retriever
The American type of Golden Retriever is often lighter in weight than its English cousins. It is usually described as less angular in its features.
American Goldens have profuse, straight coats.
The American type of Golden Retriever is also influenced by the American breed standard. This favours a mid-golden shade and considers coats that are too light or too dark undesirable.
Canadian Golden Retriever
The Golden Retriever Club of America notes that the Canadian types of Golden Retriever still show influence from American lines and early UK imports.
All shades of gold are allowed by the Canadian breed standard.
It doesn’t specifically discuss lighter cream shades, but seems to generally accept them, unlike the American standard that classes them as less desirable.
The Canadian breed standard does specify that open or soft coats are undesirable. The favor dense, water repellent coats with a ‘good’ undercoat.
English Golden Retriever
The Golden Retriever Club of America suggests that the term ‘English Golden Retriever’ has come to represent any overseas Goldens. This includes those from New Zealand, the UK as a whole, Australia, and Europe.
Generally this type of Golden Retriever is a heavier dog.
It may have a flatter rump, and broader features. This includes a wider, deeper muzzle.
It often also has a wavier coat than American and Canadian varieties.
Unlike American and Canadian breed standards, the British breed standard allows cream as an acceptable color. This may be why many people see the English type as being generally lighter in color.
How Accurate are these Types?
The differences in the various types of Golden Retrievers listed above are very subtle. And it’s important to remember that there is variation even among these types.
Just because the ‘English type’ is often seen as a lighter colored, heavier dog doesn’t mean there won’t be lightweight, dark golden individuals.
You may find individuals from the ‘American type’ that have broader features, and dogs from the ‘Canadian type’ that have thinner, softer coats.
It’s important to remember there is variation in every dog breed. Many breed clubs acknowledge that, despite the breed standard, the Golden Retriever was first and foremost a gundog.
Despite differences between them, the 3 types of Golden Retrievers share some characteristics.
All Goldens will have similar temperaments. They are friendly, intelligent, affectionate dogs that love to spend time with their families.
This breed does well in pretty much every type of family, as long as they have the chance to exercise and run about every day. Because of their intelligence, they will also need plenty of mental stimulation.
As all different ‘types’ of Golden Retrievers descend from the same origins and bloodlines in Scotland, they are also unfortunately prone to the same health problems.
You can read more about these problems in our main guide to the Golden Retriever breed, but here are some main conditions that Goldens are more prone to.
- Hip dysplasia
- Elbow dysplasia
- Progressive Retinal Atrophy
Which Type of Golden Retrievers is Best for Me?
The differences between the 3 different types of Golden Retrievers are very subtle, and predominantly affect appearance.
So, unless you really care about how your Golden Retriever looks, it won’t really make a difference which type is best for you.
All types share the same loving personality. But, if you are planning to show your Golden Retriever, you will need to pay attention to the breed standards in your area.
Especially if you live somewhere where certain features or colors are considered undesirable or disqualifications.
Different Types of Golden Retrievers
Make sure to tell us in the comments which type of Golden Retriever is your favorite.
Do you think the differences matter, or would you rather choose a Golden based on their working abilities?
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References and Resources
- ‘Most Popular Breeds of 2018 (2019)‘, American Kennel Club (2019)
- Golden Retriever Club of America
- Brown, B. ‘What Exactly is an “English” Golden Retriever?’, Golden Retriever Club of America (2009)
- Klouman, K. ‘The Correct Golden Retriever Coat’, Golden Retriever Club of Canada
- Kent, M. (et al), ‘Association of Cancer-Related Mortality, Age and Gonadectomy in Golden Retriever Dogs at a Veterinary Academy Center (1989 – 2016)’, PLoS One (2018)