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3 Types of Golden Retrievers (With Pictures)

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By Nicole Cosgrove

Golden Retriever

Recognized by their beautiful golden coats and loved for their devotion to their family, the Golden Retriever is one of the most popular breeds in the world. They might have started in Scotland, but they’ve since found their place in countries all around the world, which has resulted in three different types of the breed developing.

Each has a slightly different appearance, but all are energetic and intelligent with devoted and affectionate natures that make them perfect working dogs and family companions.


The 3 Types of Golden Retrievers

1. American Golden Retriever

american golden retriever sittingh on patio
Image Credit: rustyc, Pixabay
Coat Color: Dark gold
Features: Triangular or slanted eyes, lanky build
Coat Length: Medium

The American Golden Retriever can be recognized by their lankier and less-muscled build compared to the other two Golden Retriever types. They are slightly shorter than the Canadian Golden Retriever and less stocky than the British type.

Their fur is a rich gold color and can be in different shades, though according to breed standards, it can’t be too light or too dark. This mid-range, honey-gold coloring is the biggest factor that sets them apart when compared to the British and Canadian types.

2. British/English Golden Retriever

English Cream Golden Retriever walking on a street
Image Credit: Heinsdorff Jularlak, Shutterstock
Coat Color: Cream, light gold
Features: Short and stocky build, round eyes
Coat Length: Medium

Of the three Golden Retriever types, the British Golden Retriever is the oldest. They’re shorter than their American and Canadian cousins and have a stockier build, but they share the same sweet disposition.

While the other types favor a richer gold shade for their coat color, the British Golden Retriever is the lightest, with any shade of cream or gold being accepted as long as there’s no red. This light coloring is why they’re also known as the “Rare White European Retriever.”

3. Canadian Golden Retriever

canadian golden retriever standing by the cliff
Image Credit: EB Adventure Photography, Shutterstock
Coat Color: Reddish, dark gold
Features: Tall and lean
Coat Length: Short to medium

Golden Retrievers were first introduced to Canada in the 1880s by Archie Majoribanks, but official records weren’t kept until 1927. Since then, the Canadian Golden Retriever has been the tallest and leanest of the three types.

Although they usually have a much darker coat than the other two types, the Canadian breed standard accepts more variety in coat coloring. Most often, the Canadian Golden Retriever’s fur is more reddish gold than the cream or honey-gold coloring favored in the other types. Their coat is also thinner and sometimes shorter than their American and British counterparts.

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A Brief History of the Golden Retriever

In the late 19th century, British aristocrats crossbred Retrievers, Tweed Water Spaniels, and Red Setters to develop a gundog that was suited to the rugged terrain and dreary weather of the Scottish Highlands. The breeding efforts were led by the first Lord Tweedmouth, Dudley Marjoribanks. He kept dedicated records of his progress and slowly refined the dogs until he developed a breed that was intelligent and hardworking.

The Golden Retriever was officially introduced to Britain during a dog show in 1908 and was exported to Canada and America around the same time. These days, they continue to be admired for their work ethic and are used as service, search-and-rescue, and hunting dogs. They’re also beloved family dogs and are among the most popular breeds in the U.S.A.

What Is the Difference Between the Types of Golden Retrievers?

Golden retriever licking nose
Image Credit: 85Miranda, Pixabay

There is not much difference between the three types of Golden Retriever. Despite their varied physical appearances and slightly different histories, they share the same worth ethic, friendliness, and lovable nature as the original dogs bred in Scotland.

All three types are still Golden Retrievers, even if they won’t all be accepted by breed clubs outside of their respective origin country. Each of their physical appearances is the biggest and most obvious difference. The Canadian Golden Retriever, for example, is taller and leaner than the others and has a dark, reddish coat, while the British Golden Retriever is shorter, stockier, and lighter in color. In comparison, the American Golden Retriever is almost a mix of the two, with a rich gold coloring, short stature, and lanky build.

If you’re looking for a reliable family dog, hunting companion, or hard worker, any of the three types will prove their worth.

Are There Other Types of Golden Retrievers?

If you’re a big fan of the breed, you might have heard of a few other types of Golden Retriever. The only types that are officially recognized are American, British, and Canadian Golden Retrievers. There are many sub-types, however, even though they aren’t official standards for the breed. These include:

Both the Black and Mini Golden Retrievers are the least likely to be accepted by any breed clubs. While both might look like Golden Retrievers, just a different color and size, respectively, they’re not 100% Golden Retrievers. It’s also possible that they’re a different breed altogether.

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There are three types of Golden Retriever, and while they look a bit different, they all share the well-loved traits that the breed is known for. The Canadian, British, and American Golden Retrievers can be distinguished by their body structure, height, fur thickness, and color of their coat. But each has the intelligence, work ethic, and friendly temperament of the original dogs bred in Scotland.

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Featured Image Credit: Olena Brodetska, Shutterstock

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