- Are there really different types of golden retrievers?
- History of Golden Retrievers
- The Differences Between American, Canadian, and British or English Golden Retrievers
- 6 Varieties of Golden Retriever
- Final Thoughts
Everyone knows what a golden retriever is. It’s one of America’s favorite dog breeds. But did you know that there are different types of golden retrievers?
Some people think there are red goldens, white goldens, gold goldens, mini or miniature goldens, as well as English, Canadian, and American goldens.
That’s sort of true, but when it comes to explaining the different types of golden retrievers, the explanation is both as simple as that and far more complicated. But, don’t worry. We’ll sort facts from fiction and clear up all the misunderstandings about the various types of golden retrievers.
In this article we’ll explain the different types of golden retrievers and what their colors and patterns mean.
Are there really different types of golden retrievers?
Technically, there’s only one breed of a golden retriever. There are only three different types of golden retrievers: British or English, Canadian, and American retrievers.
However, just because there are only three “official” types of goldens doesn’t mean there aren’t several other varieties that are accepted by golden retriever fans.
- English Cream Retrievers
- Field-Bred Retrievers
- Red Retrievers
- Show Retrievers
- Mini Retrievers
- Black Retrievers
All of these (except for black and mini-retrievers, which are not technically golden retrievers) are all sub-types of British or English, Canadian, and American golden retrievers.
Before you get confused trying to figure out which golden retriever variety is the best choice for you, we’ll explain the difference between each.
But first, we’re going to go over the history of golden retrievers.
History of Golden Retrievers
The history of golden retrievers is an adorable (and sometimes dark) story about a literal underdog’s rise to success and popularity that’s sure to warm your heart to the breed.
The golden retriever breed was first created by a Scottish man named Dudley Coutts Marjoribanks (which people often pronounce “Marchbanks”).
He bred dogs as a hobby, which was an acceptable hobby for many Victorian-era noblemen. Marjoribanks kept comprehensive records about his breeding over the course of half a century in a logbook that is kept at the Kennel Club of England today.
There’s an urban legend that says that Marjoribanks bought a bunch of Russian circus dogs which he began breeding and that this eventually resulted in the golden retriever. Unfortunately, as neat as this story is, it’s not reality.
The reality is that Marjoribanks found a golden-colored, curly-haired dog named Nous while he was out on a walk with his son. He bought the dog from a cobbler who had taken the dog as payment for a debt.
Unfortunately, Nous’s parents were black. In the 1800s, black dogs were considered to be better hunters than dogs of other colors and it made them widely popular. As a result, breeders often disposed of pups that were lighter in color. This means that Nous was lucky to have been allowed to live.
Three years after Marjoribanks bought Nous, he was bred with a Tweed water spaniel named Belle. Tweed water spaniels are extinct now, but they were liver-colored dogs that were a bit like Irish Water Spaniels, and fishermen in the River Tweed Valley are credited with their creation along the Scottish- English border.
It was actually a brilliant move to breed the two different types of hunting dogs to create a dog that could hunt on land but be comfortable in the water, too.
In 1868, Marjoribanks got his first litter of golden retriever puppies and named them all after flowers. There are three famous pups from this litter named Crocus, Cowslip, and Primrose.
Because of the situation where people were disposing of light-colored hunting dogs, Marjoribanks gifted the pups to his family and friends, and they became favored hunting dogs. As a matter of fact, many people speculate that the reason we have red-colored retrievers today is that Marjoribanks gave Crocus to his son, who also owned a red setter and likely bred the pair.
How did this breed make its way to America and Canada? That’s easy. Marjoribanks gave a puppy named Sol to his youngest son, Archie, and then Archie took the dog with him to Texas. Archie eventually gifted a dog named Lady of Canada to his brother-in-law, who happened to be the Canadian Governor-General, Lord Aberdeen.
Today, the golden retriever is the third most popular dog breed in the United States.
The Differences Between American, Canadian, and British or English Golden Retrievers
As we said in previous sections of this article, there are three generally accepted types of golden retrievers: American, Canadian, and British or English golden retrievers.
Here are the differences between the three “official” types of golden retrievers.
1. American Golden Retrievers
Shut your eyes and imagine a golden retriever. The image your mind conjured up was likely an American golden retriever. They’re the most popular of the three types of golden retrievers and are considered to be the breed standard.
An American golden retriever, as its name suggests, has a golden coat. There are several different shades of gold featured in American golden retriever coats. However, the gold coloring of this type of retriever can’t be too light, or too dark. In fact, any extremes in the color of an American golden retriever’s coat are considered undesirable by most breeders.
When they’re fully grown, males can weigh between 65 and 75 lbs, and stand 23-24 inches tall. Females are a little smaller, weighing between 55-65 lbs and standing 21.5-22.5 inches tall.
2. Canadian Golden Retrievers
Unless you know what you’re looking for, Canadian goldens seem nearly identical to American goldens. Their size, weight, and temperament are the same as American golden retrievers.
The main difference (other than their location) is in the color of their coats. Breeders of American goldens don’t want pups whose coats are considered either too light or too dark. But this coloring isn’t as much of a problem when it comes to Canadian goldens. You’ll see a whole range of gold colors displayed in Canadian golden retrievers.
3. British or English Golden Retrievers
There are a few differences between British or English golden retrievers and American goldens.
The first difference is in their color. British or English goldens are typically lighter in color. Because of their creamy color, many breeders refer to them as “English Cream” golden retrievers.
The second difference is their size. A British or English golden retriever is slightly smaller than an American golden. Males tend to be 22-24 inches tall, while females are 20-22 inches tall. There’s no set weight for English goldens, but they’re usually somewhere between 55-75 lbs.
Another interesting difference is that while the American golden retriever was recognized by the AKC in 1925, British goldens weren’t recognized until 1931 and 1932, by the British Kennel Club and the American Kennel Club, respectively.
Many people swear that British golden retrievers aren’t as predisposed to health problems such as hip dysplasia as their American counterparts. There is no medical research to definitively either confirm or deny this claim, however.
6 Varieties of Golden Retriever
There are 6 other varieties of golden retrievers beyond the main 3. Here’s a description of each variety:
1. English Cream Golden Retriever
This is a British/English golden retriever, and it gets lumped into the “other varieties” categorization by many people.
They have a pale, cream-colored coat that makes them popular. You can often find them referred to as “Rare White European Retrievers”, “White Golden” or “European Platinum” retrievers, and people seek them out due to their gorgeous coats. People think of them as being elegant and sophisticated, and this line of thinking is bolstered by the fact that people call them a “rare” breed.
There are a few things that set the English Cream goldens apart from American goldens. Their coats are shorter in length, and also thicker than an American golden’s. They’re shorter (by a couple of inches in some cases) and they typically weigh less, as well (Males weigh between 50-75 lbs, and females weigh $45-70 lbs.) Along with having shorter, thicker fur, English Cream goldens have head shapes that are more blocky, and they’re more stocky in stature than American golden retrievers.
Because of their unique color, English cream goldens can cost quite a bit more than other goldens. Their price varies depending on their breeder, but an English cream can set you back around $3,500.
2. Field-Bred Golden Retriever
You can look at a field-bred golden retriever and see what golden retrievers were originally bred to do: hunt. They’re likely closer in appearance and personality to the original goldens that were bred in Scotland. This variety of golden retrievers loves sporting activities, such as hunting, and they shine as working dogs.
A field-bred retriever’s coat will range from golden to red in color and short to medium length. They’re smaller than an American golden, with males standing 21-23 inches and weighing 6-0-70 lbs, and females standing 21-22 inches and weighing 50-65 lbs.
This variety is great for people who participate in lots of outdoor activities because field-bred golden retrievers love to hunt, fish, or take part in nearly any outdoor activity. They may not be the best choice for people who don’t get out much or who don’t have any way to allow their dog to exercise much.
3. Red Golden Retriever
Often, this type is a field-bred retriever with red coloring. Obviously, they get their name due to the red hue of their coat.
Aside from the color of their coat, they differ from American goldens in a couple of ways. Their coat is often both thinner and longer than Americans, they’re usually shorter and they weigh less than American golden retrievers.
Because red golden retrievers are typically field-bred golden, they’re very energetic and benefit from lots of outdoor activities and tasks they can help with.
A lot of owners say that red goldens like to grab things with their mouth (even things like their owners’ hands), whether they should or not.
3. Show Golden Retriever
Show goldens are bred to meet the specifications of show dog competitions. These dogs typically have cream to golden-colored coats that are longer than other varieties we’ve mentioned. They’re also stockier, with bigger bones and blockier heads than American golden retrievers.
They have the same friendly dispositions as other varieties of golden retrievers. However, because they’re bred to meet the breed specifications of dog shows, they cost a lot of money. But if you’re in the market for a dog to compete with, this is the best variety for you.
4. Mini Golden Retriever
A mini golden retriever is a smaller version of a golden retriever. It’s not a pure breed of the golden retriever, but rather the result of cross-breeding a golden retriever with a cocker spaniel or miniature poodle to get a smaller dog.
There aren’t any breed standards in terms of size, color, or weight because mini goldens aren’t a pure breed. They can have colors that range all the way from cream to red, and coat lengths from short to long. They usually stand less than 20 inches tall and weigh between 30-50 lbs.
Because of their size, they’re a good choice for anyone who wants a golden retriever but doesn’t want a medium-to-large-sized dog. However, it’s worth noting that mini goldens don’t always have the personality of other goldens because they’re mixed with personality attributes of other breeds.
It’s also worth noting that mini golden retrievers are a type of designer dog, so they can cost more than other types of golden retrievers.
5. Black Golden Retrievers
Black golden retrievers are cross-bred to get the black coloring. They’re typically a mixture of golden retrievers, black Labrador, Newfoundland, or other breeds displaying black coats.
Many people have incorrectly thought that black golden retrievers’ black coats were the result of a genetic mutation. However, due to genetics, it’s not possible for a golden retriever to be born with a black coat. If you find a black golden, it’s the result of crossbreeding with another breed.
This is a mixed breed, so their coat length and their size can vary pretty widely. Most of them are between 50- 75 lbs. However, since Newfoundlands are sometimes used to create black goldens, this results in a huge dog that can weigh 80 to more than 120 lbs.
Golden retrievers are one of the most popular dog breeds in America, and there’s really no question as to why. They’re incredibly friendly dogs with great personalities and gorgeous coats that can hold their own on land and in water, making them great hunting dogs.
Although there are several varieties of golden retrievers, and many people argue about how many types of goldens there actually are, it’s worth noting that every variety of golden retrievers comes from one singular breed, except for mini golden retrievers and black goldens. With that in mind, you should have a better understanding of the different varieties of golden retrievers, so you can make a better decision about which is the best type of golden retriever for you!