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What are the Most Common Types of Golden Retrievers?

  • 9 min read

The following information is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not constitute pet medical advice.
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“Wait, isn’t a golden retriever just a golden retriever?”

Not exactly. In fact, there are three different types: British, American, and Canadian. You might be surprised to hear that this is only a dog that we generally see in those three countries.

So what are the 3 types of golden retrievers?

We’re going to cover that, too. If you’re getting a golden retriever, you should know the difference between their temperaments, energy levels, and everything in between.

Golden retrievers are still one of the best dogs to get for a family, don’t get me wrong, but some of the differences in the breeds might not match with how you live your life. It’s important to know, so we’re going to give you a full rundown right now.

If you’d like to see a graphical breakdown of the golden retriever types, we got you covered:

Golden Retriever Types

Canadian Golden Retriever

Canadian Golden Retriever

Canadian goldens have very similar characteristics to American goldens, so sometimes they can get confused unless it’s by a professional trainer or veterinarian.

Traditionally, a Canadian golden retriever will have a broader skull, as well as a god stop at their occipital bones (frontal bones of their face). This isn’t exactly distinct when you look right at them, but a deeper and wider foreface is how you could identify them.

On top of that, their color and coat are practically waterproof in their own right. You’ll be able to see water just bead off of them like they’re a waterproofed protective phone case or something, right when they come out of the water.

Canadian retrievers are generally less than 75 lbs even at a fully matured age. You’ll find that weight values tend to be pretty similar across all types of golden retrievers.

British or English Golden Retriever

British or English Golden Retriever

While it’s not something you’re going to notice just at a passing glance, a British golden is going to have a slightly wider skull. This influences the overall look of their head, since their mouths are less narrow than their cousins across the pond.

Despite being traditionally darker than American golden’s coat colors, they’re actually lighter than Canadian retrievers, which is how people often tell them apart from British retrievers.

They also tend to have very round, puppy dog-like eyes instead of a more triangular variety that American goldens tend to have. There are very little other defining characteristics that are specifically different from American and Canadian goldens.

American Golden Retriever

American Golden Retriever

The most subtle characteristic trait of American goldens over British or Canadians is their eye shape. You’ll notice that American golden retrievers have a slightly triangular shape to their eyes.

This is the type of golden that we see popularized on television (think back to reruns of Full House), because it’s just usually deemed as one of the most attractive qualities of golden retrievers.

Apart from that, American goldens are a little thinner. I don’t mean in the belly, I mean their legs tend to be lanky, then tend to be taller, and it gives them a slightly different physical appearance than British and Canadian goldens. Some people mistake them for labs more than once.

Difference Between Golden, Dark Golden, and Light Golden

Difference Between Golden, Dark Golden, and Light Golden

This is strictly a coat color difference. Golden, dark golden, and light golden are all like having shades of the exact same color. Sometimes, they’re even subjective based on our own eyesight, since most of us see things very differently (mostly color values).

  • Golden: Like a piece of caramel candy. It’s a medium golden color that’s a step above light golden coats, resembling a bar of 14K gold. This color does not signify any temperament changes.
  • Dark Golden: So dark that it’s a golden, almost chocolate brown, and some slightly lighter shades on the side of standard golden. This color does not signify temperament changes.
  • Light Golden: A crisp, lightly golden color that begins to blend into some light browns and whites. You’ll be able to notice the major difference in the coat colors from a standard golden. This color does not signify temperament changes.

However, since these are three of the most common colors of golden retrievers, they’re often seen as the only ones. Many people fail to recognize two more color variants of golden retriever—cream, and red.

  • Cream: A light, almost platinum white color that resembles white sandy beaches, or the color of cream that you would put into your coffee. This color does not signify any temperament changes.
  • Red: Similar to dark golden, but with more hues of red and auburn in the mix. This isn’t a huge difference, so some reds might be mistaken as dark goldens. This color does not signify any temperament changes.

Are There Any Other Differences Between These Color Variants of Golden Retrievers?

Are There Any Other Differences Between These Color Variants of Golden Retrievers?

Not entirely. There are very few differences between the colorations apart from some bone structure and some history.

You’ll find out that most of the differences are in facial bone structure, as well as average size. For instance, American goldens are typically a little bit heavier than Canadian goldens, and so on.

Just trying to pick apart the differences would take so much less time than trying to find the similarities. These are the ways that all types of golden retrievers are the same, meaning you’ll be good regardless of which coat color you pick.


They’ll walk up to you, lean on you, and look into your eyes like they’re piercing your soul. I swear that if any one breed of dog in this world could make you cry just from looking at you, it’s a golden retriever.

There’s a lot of emotion in their eyes and actions, meaning they’re going to show you just how much you mean to them, and expect affection in return.


Golden retrievers are known for being some of the most loyal dogs in the world. While some of their loyalty comes from masters who feed their food-centric mindset, you can find plenty of examples of goldens literally sitting on the graves of their masters and refusing to move.

Golden retrievers (and it’s other dog types as well) will go into a depression if their owner dies, and may not live long after them. While it is a bittersweet tragedy, it’s nice to know they’re committed to being your dog. All coat colors and variations share this trait.


They love belly rubs, hugs, and even being carried (yes, even as adults). Golden retrievers respond well to affectionate owners, since they’re social dogs.

You’ll notice this in the way they play with other dogs, whether or not they’re in the same or similar breed, and how they play with children exceptionally well. Overall, they just want to be loved and enjoy being part of a loving family more than anything else.


Few dogs match the athletic nature of a golden retriever (except maybe a labrador retriever), so if you’re someone who enjoys an active lifestyle, this is the dog for you.

They generally have long lifespans, which are only increased based on their workouts and keeping healthy, as well as at a healthy weight.

If you want someone to run with you in the morning, and have plenty of fun at the dog park or in the backyard, these are the dogs for you. While they’re very social dogs, they’re also okay with playing alone in the backyard.


As they are affectionate, they also need attention to actually receive that affection. As a result, they’re very in-your-face dogs. Some dog owners end up with a pup that can be left to their own devices, but not with a golden retriever (even in senior age).

These dogs really want to get your direct attention, and spend time with you. That means plenty of times they’ll put their head in your lap, climb into your bed, and curl up with you on the couch.

They just want to be loved, and that’s one of the most fantastic things about them. It builds those bonds of loyalty we talked about earlier.

So are there any differences based on coat colors?

Nothing majorly biological. Facial and bone structures, yes, since they’ve grown up in different climates and areas of the world. Other than that, you’re just getting another reliable, loyal and lovely golden retriever.

Which One is Right for You?

Three main breeds, three fantastic options for your next family pet. Where could you go wrong?

While it’s true that they have different temperaments and slightly different personalities, there’s a reason that golden retrievers have been on top of the list of the best family pets for decades.

Apart from being good with children and other pets, they’re loyal as can be, and will follow you to the ends of the earth.

They’re an excellent and trustworthy breed that value a solid bond between themselves and their masters more than anything else, and that’s why you can count on them.


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