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English vs American Golden Retriever: What’s the Difference?

Nicole Cosgrove Profile Picture

By Nicole Cosgrove

English vs American Golden Retriever

The Golden Retriever is a loveable, familial breed that can win the heart of nearly every person they encounter. Even though they may not have accents to tell them apart, there are still ways to differentiate between the English and the American Golden Retriever.

Between England and the United States, different characteristics have developed over the years. While the AKC and BKC don’t recognize this breed as two separate entities, let’s discuss what sets these two across-the-seas siblings apart — besides distance.

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Visual Differences

The most obvious visible difference is that American Golden Retrievers are various hues of gold, from light gold to red mahogany. English Golden Retrievers are incredibly light in color, from gold to nearly white.

English Golden Retriever vs American Golden Retriever side by side
Image Credit: Left – Kraken007, Pixabay | Right – Julian Hacker, Pixabay

A Quick Overview

English Golden Retriever
  • Average Height (adult): 21-24 inches
  • Average Weight (adult): 55-75 pounds
  • Lifespan: 11-12 years
  • Exercise: 1+ hours/day
  • Grooming needs: Weekly brushing
  • Family-friendly: Yes
  • Dog-friendly: Yes
  • Trainability: Good
American Golden Retriever
  • Average Height (adult): 21-24 inches
  • Average Weight (adult): 55-75 pounds
  • Lifespan: 10-11 years
  • Exercise: 1+ hours/day
  • Grooming needs: Weekly brushing
  • Family-friendly: Yes
  • Dog-friendly: Yes
  • Trainability: Good

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The Origin of the Golden Retriever

golden retriever in the shore
Image Credit: American Retriever, Pxfuel

The Golden Retriever originated in 19th-century Scotland. It’s believed this breed has links to the Russian Tracker dog, who has since fizzled out of existence. They were created at the estate of Dudley Marjoribanks, otherwise known as Lord Tweedmouth.

Golden Retrievers fulfilled their duties well, being loyal hunting companions who worked obediently and diligently. They retrieved waterfowl and other small game unscathed because of their soft mouths. They worked faithfully alongside their human buddies with steadfast duty and eagerness to please.

Since their personalities were so amiable and low-tone, they made their way from accompanying their owners on the hunt to living with humans. They graduated from retrieving companions to permanent houseguests. Once they gained popularity traction in Scotland, they became infamous doggie favorites in much of the world.

Evolution Between Countries

american golden retrreiver
Image Credit: Sheryl Lynch, Shutterstock

Each country has developed its own Golden Retriever style. You may not think there could be much of a difference, but they are just noticeable enough if you pay close attention.

Golden Retrievers were first recognized in England by the British Kennel Club in 1903, but they were initially called Flat-Coat Goldens. The breed didn’t start gaining popularity in the U.S. until roughly 1920. However, they weren’t accepted by the American Kennel Club until 1925.

Both Kennel Clubs today have differing ideas on visual standards. While they don’t have an official separation of breeds entirely, they have specifics that each side of the ocean must adhere to. Rather than considering them two different breeds, it’s best to admire the different spins that each country can take in terms of breeding their version of an ideal specimen.

Physical Differences

As far as body structure goes, English dogs have a straight topline, level tail, and eye-level ears. They have powerful square muzzles and dark brown eyes.

American Golden Retrievers have a topline that curves 30 degrees, a tail that curves upward, and ears that set behind and above eye level. Their muzzle blends into the skull smoothly, and they have dark to light brown eyes.

These differences are based on the standards between the AKC and BKC.

Health and Lifespan

english golden retriever
Image Credit: English Retriever, Pxfuel

While they mirror each other quite a bit in terms of health and lifespan, there are small differences as well. The English Golden Retriever has an average lifespan of 12 years. Cancer rates are high for this breed, but only 38% of the English Golden Retrievers will contract it.

These numbers are not the same for American Golden Retrievers. They live an average of 10-11 years in total. Cancer rates are much higher, at a whopping 60% and climbing. They are unhealthier by a more significant margin, possibly due to backyard breeding.

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It’s impressive to see how much variance can exist within one breed. From color hues to body structures, the fabulous Golden Retriever has developed quite drastically between continents. While owning either lineage will have its perks, it’s helpful to consider health overall. Always purchase from a reputable breeder to ensure the longevity and wellbeing of your dog.

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Featured Image Credit: (L) davisdeatonphotography, Shutterstock | (R) Caleb Fisher, Unsplash

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