The Golden Retriever breed is one of the most beloved dog breeds you can find. No dog is more kind and loving than these gorgeous, fluffy canines with a coat of gold.
Golden Retrievers are easy to set apart from other dog breeds, even Labrador Retrievers that sometimes look like their short-haired counterparts.
While you might think you know all there is to know about these pups, do you know that there is more than one type of Goldie?
Yes, not one – but two! I’m talking about:
• American Golden Retrievers, and
• English Golden Retrievers.
These two types of Golden Retrievers share some similarities. Still, there are features that undoubtedly set them apart.
Once you hear about this, you might be surprised. You might even try to imagine the English vs American Golden Retriever comparison in your head.
But, which one is the real Golden Retriever breed? If you’re a Golden Retriever owner, which type do you have and how can you find out?
If this is something that would interest you – you’re in the right place.
I’ll let you know all there is to know about both Golden Retriever types, and explain how you can differentiate them – and which one might be better for you.
Why Are There Two Types Of Golden Retrievers?
Before I go into details about the difference, it’s important to explain why there is not one, not even two, but rather three sub-types of Golden Retrievers:
1. The English Golden Retriever.
2. The American Golden Retriever.
3. The Canadian Golden Retriever.
You probably wonder which one is the real Golden Retriever.
I’ll break it to you quickly: all types of Golden Retrievers are the same breed of dog. In other words – no, there are no two Golden Retriever breeds, even though this is the term many people, including myself, sometimes use.
Both the English and the American Goldie belong to the same Golden Retriever breed. The difference is in their bloodlines, which are determined by local kennel clubs.
Kennel clubs determine the appearance and temperament of a dog breed. However, not all major kennel clubs entirely agree on how a dog should look and behave – even though the heart of it should be the same.
There are four widely known kennel clubs that regulate a wide portion of the world:
• The American Kennel Club (AKC).
• The United Kennel Club (UKC).
• The Federation Cynologique Internationale (FCI).
• The Canadian Kennel Club (CKC).
As you can guess from their names, the AKC controls the breed standard in the U.S., the UKC in the U.K., the CKC in Canada, and the FCI is the main kennel Club for the E.U.
All of these kennel clubs have their own breed standards, and while one dog in Europe might look the same to you as a dog of the same breed in the United States, an expert will see the difference immediately.
Reputable breeders need to adhere to the breed standards that are in their area. This isn’t exactly the law, but if they produce dogs that don’t fit the standard, they will lose their good reputation, which is why they stick to it.
As time passes, new generations of the Golden Retriever will develop slight differences compared to Goldies from other parts of the world as different traits have been nurtured.
In other words, while a Golden Retriever from the United Kingdom will still look like a Golden Retriever from the States, there will be some features that will differentiate the two.
These differences go deeper than just appearance as kennel clubs also regulate the dog’s behavior.
If a dog was bred for generations to be a working dog, he’ll act according to his instincts. On the other hand, if a dog was bred with the primary function to be a family pet, he’ll usually be more cuddly and friendly toward humans.
English Vs American Golden Retriever History
Photo from: @maggieandherdads
The dog’s background will, to an extent, determine his appearance and personality. As the dog was born and raised to fulfill a specific duty, the offspring’s behavior and looks will change according to that.
The same is the case for the American and English Goldies.
So, what was the moment when these two Golden Retriever types started going their separate ways?
The first Golden Retriever dogs were bred in the early 1800s in Wales, today’s Scotland. They were created by Sir Dudley Marjoribanks, the
Baron of Tweedmouth, who had crossbred a yellow Wavy-Coated Retriever with a Tweed Water Spaniel to create the perfect water retriever.
These dogs were first known as Lord Tweedmouth’s Retrievers.
Over time, he kept on crossbreeding his new creation with other dog breeds such as Black Retrievers, the St. John’s Water Dog, the Bloodhound, and the Irish Setter until he created a golden-coated dog he liked.
The newly created Golden Retriever was bred to retrieve gunned-down birds in marshes and ponds, and it was one of the best hunting dogs of its time.
The breed was recognized by the UKC in 1911, and this is when the original breed standard was determined.
A bit after that, in the early 20th century, Golden Retrievers were brought to the U.S. They were supposed to be amazing family dogs and hunting dogs alike.
Not long after, in 1925, they were recognized by the AKC, where they gained the favors of many influential people, including even Ronald Reagan and Gerald R. Ford.
In 1927, the breed was also registered with the CKC. The FCI mostly follows the UKC guidelines in the case of Golden Retrievers, which is why there isn’t a European Golden Retriever.
The dogs bred in the U.K., while making amazing family companions, were still used as hunting dogs for years to come as this sport kept being rather popular.
On the other hand, the dogs in the U.S. were primarily used as family companions or even as a status symbol!
As you can see, this dissimilarity in the breed’s purpose, as well as slightly different breed standards in different parts of the world, led to the separation of the Golden Retriever breed.
As for the Canadian Golden Retrievers, most Canadian breeders imported dogs that follow the AKC standard, then bred them further.
This happened fairly recently, which is why there aren’t too many differences between the Canadian Retrievers and the American ones.
If you live in the U.S., you probably haven’t heard about the American Golden Retrievers. These dogs are simply called Golden Retrievers.
However, you might have heard of English Cream Golden Retrievers. Other terms that are commonly used are English Cream and British Retrievers.
English Vs American Golden Retriever Appearance
The appearance is the first thing we notice about all dogs. The same goes for Golden Retrievers – and it’s one of the things that sets the two Golden Retriever types apart.
If you take a look at both dogs, you’ll immediately notice one thing: The coat color. The British Retriever has a much brighter coat color compared to the American Retriever.
Of course, as they have Golden in their name, it’s easy to guess that their coat will come in various shades of gold. However, this doesn’t mean that there couldn’t be some deviations between the two.
First and foremost, the AKC allows all shades of yellow, except the darkest and the lightest ones. For example, dark brown and light cream aren’t allowed, but anything in between is such as light golden, medium brown, and even some red shades.
On the other hand, English Retrievers can come in any shade of gold and cream, but they cannot come in red or anything darker.
White Golden Retrievers, although looking as gorgeous as a Retriever can look, are not up to the UKC or AKC standard.
Even the coat type in these two dog breeds isn’t the same. In general, the English Retriever has a bit of a shorter coat than its American counterpart.
According to the AKC, these dogs have medium-length, dense, water-repellent coats that have moderate feathering. A bit longer coat lengths are allowed, but the coat cannot be too long or too short.
Also, the AKC allows wavy coats, and considers straight coats undesirable.
On the other hand, the UKC and the British Kennel Club (also known as The Kennel Club) allow both wavy and flat coats, and it allows the coat to be more on the shorter side. The most important features are that the coat has to have water-repellent undercoats and good feathering.
English Vs American Golden Retriever Size
Another noticeable difference between the two is in the dog’s height and weight. Overall, the American Golden Retriever is tall, thin, and elegant-looking, while the British Cream is bulkier, giving it a shorter appearance.
Once again, the reason behind this difference lies in the breed standard.
The AKC’s breed standard states that the female Golden Retriever should have a height of 21.5 to 22.5 inches, while males should be 23 to 24 inches. The weight of the female should be 55 to 65 pounds, while males can be 65 to 75 pounds.
An important feature of the American Golden Retrievers is that they have a sloped backline, giving them an elegant appearance.
While the English Golden Retriever should come in the same height and weight isn’t specified, their topline should be leveled, and their hindquarters should be straight.
English Vs American Golden Retriever Temperament
There are many things that can determine a dog’s personality, but this doesn’t mean that what your pup inherits isn’t important. I’ll explain.
Of course, the main thing that affects a dog’s temperament is how you train and socialize him. Your dog will be the reflection of you and your guidance, and this is something you cannot undermine.
At the same time, a dog will have predispositions towards certain behaviors depending on its bloodline. This indicates that there might be some behavioral differences between English and American dogs.
All Golden Retrievers are known for being loyal and affectionate pups. If you’re looking for family dogs, they might be the best breed out there. Still, without proper training, even Goldens might express some aggressive tendencies.
Not just that, but they are considered one of the most intelligent dog breeds you can find! In fact, they are rated as the fourth smartest dogs, right after Poodles, German Shepherds, and Border Collies.
However, some minor changes between the two Golden Retriever types do exist, and they are mostly due to the different purposes for which breeders raise them.
Still, this isn’t as significant as in some other dog breeds as both the English and the American type have been raised to be family companions before anything else.
This means that no matter what type of Golden Retriever you buy, he’ll still possess all the characteristics you love this dog breed for.
However, next to being family pets, America Golden Retrievers are also bred for their beauty. They are famous in the show ring, and they are known for having achieved notable success.
On the other hand, English Golden Retrievers, while also sometimes being a part of the conformation show, are usually bred to be working dogs, so they’ll have some traits that can help them with their tasks.
Which One Is The Better Family Pet?
When it comes to the English vs the American Golden Retriever, it’s nearly impossible to tell which one is the better family companion. This is because the breed’s main purpose has become to make our everyday lives more cheerful.
Both pups can get by really well with other dogs. Also, they’ll rarely chase small animals – they’ll simply want to befriend everyone! Their low prey drive makes them amazing with other small pets as well.
At the same time, they are excellent with children! Both Golden Retrievers are cheerful, playful, and patient. They won’t mind a kid who doesn’t know how to behave around dogs as long as they can be their friend.
English Golden Retrievers might be a bit more protective over children, and they’ll make sure no harm goes their way. These cream-colored pups will be there to protect your kids at all costs, and you can be certain your little one will be safe with them.
On the other hand, American Golden Retrievers can be somewhat more lively, making their energy match the liveliness that your children have.
As such, it seems like the winner will depend on your kids’ character as well. A child who wants to run around and play all day might have a better companion wiht the American Golden Retriever.
On the other hand, the English Golden Retriever might be the better choice for a calmer child or a very young toddler as they are less likely to knock them over.
Which One Is The Better Working Dog?
Neither of the Golden Retriever breeds is commonly used as a retriever nowadays. However, this doesn’t mean that they aren’t great working dogs.
If you look at service dogs, you’ll notice that most of them are Golden Retrievers. They make amazing guide dogs and help people all around the world.
However, they don’t make good guard dogs. They are too friendly and will never act overly protective towards anyone. Suppose someone enters your property unannounced – they’ll probably lie down wanting to be petted instead of growling at them or looking tough!
Still, both are known to be somewhat vocal, and they can bark to let you know that something unusual is happening. As such, they might still be able to alert you of a potential intruder.
Which One Is Easier To Train?
Trainability is an important factor when trying to find the best dog for you. If you cannot train your dog, you might end up with a large dog that has a bad temper – and this is never good.
Golden Retrievers are fairly easy to train. They are smart dogs that love to make their owners proud and happy, so they’ll love to follow instructions.
Still, you might have an easier time training English Golden Retrievers. These pups are calmer than their American counterparts, and they tend to be more mature and focused.
No matter which one you choose, it’s important to note that you need to start training them from an early age.
While Goldies are good dogs without any aggressive streaks, they can get spoiled, and having a dog that doesn’t listen to commands can be dangerous – more for your dog than for yourself in the case of Goldies.
Which One Requires More Exercise?
Golden Retrievers are medium-sized dogs that require daily exercise. These dogs are prone to obesity, and the only way to prevent this is to feed them proper dog food and give them enough exercise.
Of the two breeds, American Golden Retrievers are more lively. They also have more energy and stamina. You’ll need to give them long walks and even some runs or swimming! If you can provide them with heavy exercise sessions twice a day, that would be the best.
This doesn’t mean that British Golden Retrievers don’t require daily exercise. However, you might have an easier time wearing them out compared to the American Golden Retrievers.
Which One Is Easier To Groom?
Both types of Golden Retrievers are huge shedders. These are not the dogs for you if you are someone who loves to have their house clean from dog hair!
Even though they have a somewhat different coat type, both coats are equally prone to shedding. While the American Golden Retrievers have a somewhat longer coat, their English counterparts have a thicker coat. Both have their good and bad qualities when it comes to shedding.
Golden Retrievers are seasonal shedders. This means that they’ll shed more than regularly twice a year – in spring and fall.
The best way to keep their shedding amount at bay is to brush your dogs daily. This will help keep all the loose hair under control and on the brush instead of flying everywhere.
Fortunately, their coat isn’t too prone to mats, so you don’t have to take your pup to a professional groomer – but you might want to do this if you want to have a professional deal with the coat care.
It goes without saying that these dogs are not hypoallergenic.
If you are someone who struggles with dog allergies, but would still like to have a Golden Retriever, it might be a good idea to get a Goldendoodle instead.
English Vs American Golden Retriever Health
Both Golden Retrievers have a decent lifespan, and are considered a fairly healthy breed. However, this doesn’t mean that they aren’t prone to a set of health issues.
In general, both types of dogs are prone to the same health problems. They have common ancestors, and the genes for these disorders spread through both bloodlines.
These genetic health conditions include:
• Hip and elbow dysplasia – a condition in which the hip socket and the joint aren’t properly formed.
• Hypothyroidism – a disease of the thyroid gland.
• Ear Infections.
• Heart diseases, such as cardiomyopathy.
• Eye diseases, including glaucoma and cataracts.
• Hot spots.
As mentioned above, they are prone to obesity, which can make all of these conditions worse.
However, the biggest killer of this breed is cancer. Golden Retrievers seem to be more prone to cancer compared to all other dog breeds.
Some of the most common cancers in Golden Retrievers are:
• Mast cell tumor
While both types of Golden Retrievers are prone to cancers, there is some indication that the American Golden Retrievers are more likely to get it.
There was a study conducted in 1998 by the Golden Retriever Club of America about the cancer rate in Goldies. It showed that almost two-thirds of American Golden Retrievers died due to cancer.
Another health study conducted in 2004 also showed that only a third of Golden Retrievers of English bloodlines were diagnosed with cancer. An even smaller percentage of dogs died from it.
This difference in the cancer rate is the reason why the American Golden Retrievers tend to have a shorter lifespan than the English ones.
Dogs from American bloodlines tend to live 10 years and eight months on average. On the other hand, English Creams seem to have a longer life expectancy. Their average lifespan is 12 years and three months.
English Vs American Golden Retriever Price
The price can greatly influence whether you’ll buy a dog or not. As Goldies are rather common, you probably think they don’t cost a lot.
Quite the opposite – if you were to buy from a reputable breeder, your Golden Retriever puppy could end up being quite expensive!
The exact price will vary depending on the Golden Retriever breeder, the bloodline, registration papers, as well as your location.
In general, you can expect to pay between $1,500 and $2,500 for your new golden pooch.
Another feature that can determine the price is the coat color and shade. Some Golden Retriever colors are more expensive than other ones as the breeder will claim that the colors are rare.
For example, dark red and cream-colored Goldens of all bloodlines are considered rarer, and as such, they’ll cost more than regular yellow Retrievers.
Despite this high price tag, all dog owners know that the color doesn’t really matter. It won’t affect the dog’s behavior, and it all comes down to your preferences.
As such, a good breeder should advertise their dogs for their good health and champion bloodlines, health tests, and papers – not just on their coat color.
Some U.S. breeders will state that their dogs come from English bloodlines. These dogs can cost a bit more as they originate from bloodlines imported from European countries.
However, this price difference shouldn’t be too large unless the dogs come from champion bloodlines.
You can also adopt a Golden Retriever. This will cost you way less, and Golden Retrievers can commonly be found in rescue shelters. The cost of the adoption fee is usually no more than $500.
Still, it’s important to note that most dogs placed for adoption are American Golden Retrievers because English Goldens are somewhat rare.
Which One Should You Get?
Now that you know the differences between the two types of Golden Retrievers, you probably wonder which one is the better dog for you and your family.
The physical differences between the two are very mild, and the biggest difference appearance-wise lies in the coat color and the coat type.
Even the differences in behavior are barely noticeable, although you could argue that a certain type can do some tasks better than another one due to their bloodline and history.
For example, if you’re looking for a calm family pet that won’t be too active for you to handle, you might find that the English variety is the better choice for you.
On the other hand, you might want to choose the American Golden Retriever if you want a gorgeous-looking, yet energetic family pet.
It’s important to note that the English Golden Retriever might not follow the AKC breed standard, which is why it will look different than the dogs you see on the streets of U.S. cities. Similarly, the American Golden Retriever might not fit the breed standard set by the UKC.
If you’d like to have a show dog that will do amazing in competitions, and that the judges will like, you should always stick to the dog that follows the main breed standard for your area.
With that being said, all Golden Retrievers make amazing family companions, and they are dogs that are impossible not to love.
As such, the ‘English vs American Golden Retriever’ shouldn’t be viewed as a competition, but rather a comparison as there isn’t a true winner in this battle. It all comes down to your personal preferences and your expectations.