8 Types of Golden Retrievers With Smiling Faces, Long Hair, & Ever-Wagging Tails

golden retriever types

What’s better than a golden retriever? Eight types of golden retrievers! That’s right, there’s more than one type of this delicious breed, and we’re here to straighten things out about them.

One of the most popular dogs in America, the golden retriever is known for its glorious coat and friendly disposition. Developed to retrieve on land and in the water, this breed does more than fetch a ball in the backyard. They’re a talented lot. 

There’s a reason why they’re consistent winners in standardized obedience, agility, and field trials. They’re smart. So they have looks and brains. Amazing.

The golden retriever was even used to make an entirely new breed, the Goldendoodle because it’s so delightful. Now, let’s get into the types of the breed so you can see the benefits of having more of them. And maybe one day, it will just be a world full of goldens!   

The Golden Retriever’s Brief History

long haired golden retriever

In a nutshell: The golden was developed in the Scottish Highlands in the late 1800s by Dudley Marjoribanks (who eventually became Lord Tweedmouth) to retrieve prey. 

In a brief history: 

  • 1865 – Marjoribanks, a dog and hunting enthusiast, purchased a pup named “Nous” in England, which was the only yellow puppy in a litter of black retrievers. He took Nous back to his “stable”/kennel of sporting dogs in Scotland.   
  • 1868 and 1871 – Nous was bred with a Tweed water spaniel (now extinct), which resulted in several yellow pups. This was the foundation of the golden.

Types of Golden Retrievers 

types of golden retriever

Let’s embark on a radiant journey through the sun-kissed spectrum of Golden Retriever breed types, each with a temperament as warm as their lustrous coats.

1. American Golden Retriever

types of golden retrievers
HEIGHTMale, female – 23”-24” inches tall at the withers (tallest part of their shoulder blades); 21.5”-22.5” 
WEIGHTMale, female – 65-75 lbs.; 55-65 lbs.
Coat colorDark golden, golden, light golden

Let’s get this out of the way: These dogs shed like a tree in the fall… Except that it’s continuous. Get that slicker brush out for a once or twice-a-week grooming unless you enjoy fur balls the size of mice floating about. 

Although all of these types of retrievers fall under the breed, the genes are different in American goldens, probably due to recessive genes that have developed from breeding.

Some of these dogs are bred to be show dogs or hunting dogs, and the hunters are generally more energetic due to selective breeding. American goldens can be less expensive than the British variety, depending on several variables.

All-in-all, the American golden retriever is friendly, responsive, and loving. They have a puppy-ish outlook on life, and their exuberance for it is contagious.

You couldn’t find a better companion. They’re simply one of the best family dogs in the world.

2. Canadian Golden Retriever

Canadian Golden Retriever
HEIGHTMale, female – 23”-24”; 21.5”-22.5”
WEIGHTMale, female – 65-75 lbs.; 55-65 lbs.
Coat colorCommonly darker than American golden retrievers. Color can vary slightly in shade. 

Canadian goldens are almost exactly like the American ones except for coat and color. Their coats are thinner, and you see the color differences above.

And don’t worry, the Canadian is just as wonderful as its counterparts and will greet you with a “smile” almost all the time. And certainly some major affection.

Most American golden retrievers were imported from other countries like Denmark, France, and Hungary, making another slight difference in the breed.

According to the Golden Retriever Club of Ontario (GRCO), “The breed was first registered in Canada in 1927, and the Golden Retriever Club of Ontario was formed in 1958.”

Pretty cool, eh?

3. English or British Golden Retriever

different kinds of golden retrievers
HEIGHTMale, female – 22”-24”; 20”-22”
WEIGHTMale, female – 65-75 lbs.; 55-65 lbs
Coat colorOn the lighter end of the color spectrum, sometimes showing a cream or light gold coat although some are darker

Called cream golden retrievers in Britain, these goldens tend to have stockier bodies, wider muzzles, and blockier heads than other world retrievers. Also, their frame is built slightly lower to the ground.

These types of golden retrievers can be a bit more expensive, more than $2,000, than the American since they’re rarer. (Our suggestion is to save/adopt any type of golden from a rescue, but I digress.)

British golden retrievers have a longer lifespan than the American golden at 12 years 3 months, whereas the latter has a life expectancy of 10 years 8 months. Also, the British cream’s risk of cancer is reduced from 61.8 to 38.8.

Since the golden retriever started as a breed in Scotland, they traversed to Great Britain before coming to the US. A gorgeous dog, you can be proud to have this type of golden retriever by your side.

4. Field-Bred Golden Retrievers

kinds of golden retrievers
HEIGHTMale, female – 21”-23”; 21”-22”
WEIGHTMale, female – 60-70 lbs.; 50-65 lbs.
Coat colorTypically have darker coats in shades from gold to red  

Bred to be a hunting partner, this type of golden retriever is bred to be more responsive, have greater endurance, and have a deeper drive to work than other types.

They may enjoy water more than the average golden due to their jobs of retrieving downed fowl, which is sometimes in the water.

They’re still similar to other goldens in personality, learn quickly, adore their guardians, and welcome strangers with open paws. This makes for an incredible service dog. They do, however, need to be socialized early with other people, places, and animals.

If you love the outdoors, this would be the perfect companion for you. Field-bred goldens enjoy being in wide-open spaces. Hunters, take note!

5. Red Golden Retrievers

Red Golden Retrievers
HEIGHTMale, female – 21”-24”
WEIGHTMale, female – 55 lbs.-75 lbs.
Coat colorRed

Really just identified by their different color, the red golden retriever has almost identical characteristics to other goldens. A golden’s daily exercise needs might be a surprise – at least an hour a day of vigorous activity. 

They were bred to be hunters just as the line began. Their mouths (grips) are so gentle since training included(s) retrieving without damaging fowl.

Goldens can also be “mouthy,” beginning as puppies, so make sure you know what you’re doing, or someone who’s hired does, to train them accordingly.

If you want a gorgeous golden with red hues, this just might be your dog.  

6. Show Golden Retrievers

HEIGHTMale, female – 23”-24”; 21.5”-22.5” 
WEIGHTMale, female – 65-75 lbs.; 55-65 lbs.
Coat colorLight gold to gold

Show golden retrievers are bred for, that’s right, showing. Judges at conformation (dog show) events expect them to look a certain way, blending into the breed standard.

Show goldens are bigger, stockier, and thicker than other types. “Big-boned” would be the word.

They tend to be even more sociable than other types of retrievers, if that’s even possible, getting along with other dogs and people famously.

Show goldens could have a little less energy than, say, field dogs, but they’re still highly active. They also can be more outgoing than most goldens. Can you imagine? 

7. Mini Golden Retrievers

different breeds of golden retrievers
HEIGHTMale, female – Under 20” tall
WEIGHTMale, female – 30-50 lbs.
Coat colorVaries, depending on the breed that’s crossed with it 

If you’d rather have a smaller version of a golden, the miniature golden is the answer. However, sometimes, they don’t take on the exact golden temperament since they are crossbred. Other personality traits can sneak in.

Their size can be a bonus since bigger dogs can bring bigger issues like needing more grooming, although they’re still shedders.

Caveat: If a non-shedder is crossed with the mini golden retriever, you might see less hair. What a relief!

If you’re looking for a lap dog, they might just fit nicely, depending on their size. They’re as sweet and agreeable as other goldens since they’re bred to be just that.

8. Black Golden Retrievers

Black Golden Retrievers
HEIGHTMale, female – Depending on mix
WEIGHTMale, female – Depending on mix
Coat colorBlack

Black golden retrievers – is that an oxymoron? They’re not unicorns but aren’t as prevalent as the golden. There can be genetic mutations, but will only show as a patch of black on a golden.

The purebred black golden doesn’t really exist since they’re a mix, but retrievers and spaniels could mimic their look. Like these:

  • Flat-coated retrievers
  • Black lab and golden retriever mix
  • Another combination of labrador or golden (curly-coated) retriever mixes
  • Golden retriever and black German Shepherd mix
  • Newfoundland
  • Hovawart

Be particularly careful if going to a breeder for a “black golden retriever,” and listen closely. Unscrupulous breeders may tout them just to make more money. But if you prefer a black dog, this imposter might be just the ticket.  

American vs. Canadian vs. English Golden Retriever 

The American Golden Retriever is often leaner with a darker coat, the Canadian variety typically has a taller frame and thinner coat, while the English Golden Retriever boasts a stockier build and lighter, cream-colored fur.

The table below outlines the key characteristics distinguishing the American, Canadian, and English Golden Retrievers, highlighting their unique features.

3 types of golden retrievers

Various Colors of Golden Retriever

golden retriever coat type

Let’s explore the kaleidoscope of colors in different types of Golden Retrievers, from the palest cream to the deepest gold, each hue telling its own tale of breed beauty:

  • Golden (American Kennel Club – AKC standard)
  • Dark golden (AKC)
  • Light golden (AKC)
  • Cream
  • Light gold
  • Red

Which Golden Retriever Is Perfect for You?

This is one of the most important things to consider before choosing your golden retriever puppy. Above all, you want a healthy puppy, so do your research before getting one. This might include asking if you can take one to your veterinarian since probationary periods are often given. 

Would you like a male or a female? A hunter or a show dog? A mini or a “standard?” 

What’s your activity level? As mentioned, these dogs (even golden retriever puppies) need lots of daily exercise. If you can imagine the energy expended when they’re hunting, then you get that they need to move a lot. If you’re a camper or a swimmer, score!

Are you planning on breeding? (Again, we don’t recommend it since so many dogs need to be rescued.) Then, you might look for a female vs. a male. Or vice versa, depending on your individual situation with your desire to breed.

This is so important… Sit with individual puppies for a while to see which one likes you the most. It matters. Or better yet, see if you can foster the pup.

Welcoming a puppy into your home is probably the best way to see if you’ve made a good choice. And if they roll over on their backs for a belly rub, jackpot! This shows trusting behavior right out of the gate.

Would you like a purebred or a mixed breed? Remember, black retrievers could be the way to go if you’re looking for color and beauty. But with purebred goldens, you’ll know the temperament and health of the dog most of the time. 

Are you involved in conformation shows? Then, obviously, you can choose the one bred to be a show dog. 

What’s your personality? Are you reserved and shy or boisterous and an extrovert? Although goldens can “sniff out” your energy and adjust, someone with more energy would be the perfect companion for this breed.  

What color would you like? The true golden or the more rare red golden? 

Also, watch and observe… Is there a puppy who isn’t joining the others in the puppy pile-up? If you’d like a more reserved pup, this could be the one. Or if there’s one that seems to be the boss, he could be more outgoing and just right for you.

And finally, take the time and energy to do your homework and let the puppies show you who they are. There’s nothing worse than taking a puppy back because it doesn’t fit your lifestyle, but if you find the right one, you’ll have a best friend forever.  


Is It Better To Have a Male or Female Golden Retriever?

It’s truly the temperament of the specific dog that will determine its behavior more than the gender. Breeders may look for a certain gender more actively.

What Is the Greatest Golden Retriever Color?

The greatest golden retriever color is the one that you prefer. It’s quite relative.

What Differentiates English, Canadian, and American Golden Retrievers?

Mainly, their coat colors are what differentiate these three types of goldens. The English also believe their retriever is more mellow than most.

What Color Is a Canadian Golden Retriever?

Canadian golden retrievers are commonly darker than American goldens. Color can vary slightly in shade. 


So now you’re well aware of the types of golden retrievers that bound among us. Their willingness to please and docile temperaments are just two of the many fabulous traits of the golden retriever.

After being introduced to this breed and the different types, I see you running to get one. Just close the door on your way out.  

Jen Flatt Osborn
Born with a pen in her hand and a deadline (and probably a tail), Jen considers writing a vocation, an art, and a release. She’s a freelance copy/content writer who specializes in the pet industry. Previously, she was the founder/director of an animal sanctuary for 12 years, taught classes to middle school students about dog behavior, and has lived a life full of devotion to animals and their welfare. As a vegetarian, Jen advocates for the humane treatment of every living creature. She currently lives with one delightful canine who encourages her to put her head out the car window more often.

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