Types and Colors Of Golden Retrievers (2023)

Golden Retrievers are one of the most popular breeds in the world and is it any wonder, with a kind and gentle temperament, quick mind, and large heart? These dogs are truly the perfect family pet and any dog lover’s dream.

But you may wonder, why does the golden retriever down the street not look like my golden retriever? Well, this could actually be down to the type and color of your golden!

Types and Colors Of Golden Retrievers (1)

There are three different types of goldens and whilst they are all the same breed each type has some subtle differences to look out for. There are also three basic colors of golden and whilst the shades may vary, they will all belong to one of these three main golden colors.

So if you’ve ever wanted to know more about the differences between your four-legged friend and the one you follow on Instagram, then read on below to see the different types of golden retrievers and the colors they can be.

The Different Types Of Golden Retrievers

Types and Colors Of Golden Retrievers (2)

Whilst you may think that all golden retrievers look very similar, you may be surprised to find out that there are actually three basic types of golden retrievers and these are determined by the country of origin. The three basic types of golden retriever are:

  • English (or British) golden retriever
  • American golden retriever
  • Canadian golden retriever

Though the differences between each of these are minimal, they still exist and we shall take a further look into these types and differences between them below.

English Golden Retrievers

First up we have the English golden retriever. Originally bred in Scotland, the English golden retriever is the blueprint for all the goldens on our list. This breed made its way across Europe, into Australia, and was even imported into Canada!

The differences between the English and American goldens are very slight and unless you know what to look for you may not even notice them. That said there are still a few main physical differences that set these subtypes apart:

  • Coat color – the color of the English golden retriever is much lighter compared to their foreign cousins. Even the light golden color is much brighter in the British retriever.
  • The shape of the skull – The skull should be broader with a well-balanced muzzle. It should appear chiseled and handsome. This difference in the muzzle is most likely a result of the breeding process.
  • Eyes – The British golden retrievers have rounder eyes as well as a darker eye color. This is much more noticeable when compared to the other types on the list.

American Golden Retriever

Next up, we have the American golden retriever. This is the type of golden retriever that springs into everyone’s mind when they hear the name. Delicate and handsome, this family-friendly pooch has quite a few physical aspects that make it stand out from the rest.

(Video) 5 Stunning Shades of Golden Retriever Colors | Types of Golden Retriever colors

What Makes The American Different:

  • Eye shape – Probably the easiest way to tell your goldens apart is the eye shape. The American golden retriever has an instantly recognizable triangular or slanted shape to its eyes. The eyes should sit nicely on the head and not be sunken in.
  • Their overall size – the size of the American golden retriever actually comes up more petite than its foreign counterparts. Considered lankier and less muscular these goldens still have big personalities and even bigger hearts.
  • A darker coat color – When compared to the English and Canadian varieties of golden retrievers, the American golden coat has a much darker color. Even when considering the lightest golden shade, these pups tend to come up darker
  • Gait – Perhaps one of the more unusual differences, the American golden retriever has a specific gait or way of walking, which has often been compared to the trot of a horse! According to AKC (American Kennel Club), the American gait should be free, smooth, powerful, and well-coordinated.

Unlike the other types of golden retrievers, this subtype also has a selection of physical requirements that need to be met before it can be officially deemed an American golden retriever. These standards are set by the AKC and come down to the following:

  • Head and skull – The head of the American golden should cascade smoothly from the tip of the nose to the back of the skull. There should be no super prominent features such as the forehead or eyes.
  • Neck – The neck should transition smoothly into the shoulders and should appear strong in character with no obtrusions.
  • Body – A well-balanced body, with no barrel-shaped ribs, is the ideal form for the American golden.
  • Topline – As with the neck, the topline should be smooth and even without any bumps.
  • Forequarters – The forequarters should be muscular but still sit relaxed upon the frame.
  • Hindquarters – The hindquarters on the golden should be the most muscular part, with a pelvic bone that sits at an angle of 30 degrees.

Canadian Golden Retriever

The origin of the Canadian golden retriever should come as no surprise. Imported from the United Kingdom these dogs were bred in Canada, with the first golden being registered in 1926!.

There are three main differences between the Canadian golden and the American or English, that will make them easy to tell apart from the others.

  • Height – The easiest way to tell a Canadian golden retriever apart from the rest of the gang is by their height. Typically a Canadian golden is taller than the others by as much as two full inches.
  • Coat hair – The hair on the Canadian golden retriever is usually shorter in length and thinner than the other types of golden on this list.
  • Dense fur – Not only do they have a shorter coat, but the Canadian golden’s fur is also typically a lot denser as well.

So whilst there may be some slight differences in the size and coat of these goldens there is absolutely no difference between their beautiful souls and temperaments.

No matter what type of golden you may have, you can be sure that they will all share the same people-pleasing drive, high intelligence, and soft mouths.

The Different Colors Of Golden Retrievers

Types and Colors Of Golden Retrievers (3)

As we now know there are three different types of golden retrievers. Whilst the types of goldens are defined by the area they originate from we can further classify them by their coat color! And unlike the breed standards, the coat color classification is universal among all types.

The three general colors of the golden retrievers can be categorized as light golden, golden and dark golden.

You may have seen some retrievers out and about with copper, white or red tones. However, these colors are not accepted by the AKC as official goldens so if you see a dog out there with these colored coats, chances are it isn’t a purebred golden retriever.

Below we shall look further into the different color classifications and you can see which category your golden fits into!

(Video) 3 Types of Golden Retrievers and How to Identify Them?

The Golden

What’s in a name? A lot when it comes to goldens! This golden color is the one that will come to mind when you imagine this handsome breed and is the epitome of all goldens around the globe.

The Light Golden

Considered the lightest within the array of golden shades, light golden retrievers have a coat color that is just a little bit lighter than completely white. This shade is sometimes referred to as cream and is sally found in English goldens.

Some people incorrectly brand this color golden as ‘white’ or ‘platinum’ however the color white doesn’t genetically appear in this breed.

If you see an advert offering “rare white golden retriever puppies” this should be interpreted as a scam!

Terms like “white,” “platinum,” “rare,” or even “English cream” are marketing words used to trick buyers into paying more for an ordinary retriever with a lighter coat color. Besides, a ‘white’ golden would be frowned upon by the AKC so would not warrant a higher price tag.

The Dark Golden

The dark golden retriever is often mistaken for its red or copper counterparts however you will actually find that the dark golden actually boasts just a deeper tone of golden yellow. With this darker tone.

It is very easy to understand how people can mistake this darker shade for a red tint, after all, this darker golden tone is achieved by combining shades of yellow and orange!

It should be noted however that there is a big distinction between the red-toned goldens and dark ones, especially when it comes to dog shows.

The red-toned retrievers will have a red tone to the feathery hairs behind their ears, whereas a dark golden retriever will not. And remember, the red-toned retriever is not accepted in showing circles, so make sure to double-check your retriever’s coat if showing is something you plan to do.

What About Black Golden Retrievers?

But what about that black golden retriever you saw at the dog park? Chances are it was a flat-coated retriever or some type of goldie cross as purebred black golden retrievers do not exist.

So How Can I Tell Which Type My Golden Retriever Is?

Types and Colors Of Golden Retrievers (4)
(Video) 6 Differences Between American vs. English Golden Retrievers

With so many variations within the breed, you may be struggling to figure out which golden you have. Luckily there are a few ways to help you determine the exact type and color your golden is! Below we have included a handy guide to help you:

Check Their Build

As discussed earlier in this article, we know that each type of golden retriever will have its only unique build and overall body size. If you are still struggling to tell your golden’s apart, take a look at their eyes, the shape is often a dead giveaway as to what type of golden you’re looking at.

A general guideline for the different types of golden is:

The English Golden Retriever

  • Chunkier build
  • Larger overall size
  • Soft rounded eyes

The American Golden Retriever

  • Lankier in general
  • Smaller build overall
  • Triangular or slanted eyes

The Canadian Golden Retriever

  • Taller than the other types
  • Shorter coat
  • Medium colored eyes

You Can Also Check Their Coat

Types and Colors Of Golden Retrievers (5)

Another good way to determine what type of Golden Retriever you have is by checking their coat and fur. Although the colors are seen across all three types of golden it can still be a good indicator of the origin of your retriever.

As A very general rule:

  • An English Golden Retriever will have a lighter color than the others.
  • An American Golden Retriever will have a darker color than the others
  • A Canadian Gold Retriever will have a thinner coat than the others.

Will you ever find a Golden Retriever with a shorter coat – different to the usual silky long coat? Find out here.

How Do I Check The Color Of My Golden Retriever?

It shouldn’t serve as a shock to know that the best way to know your golden’s coat color is to actually observe the details of their fur.

Whilst the overall color should be enough to allow you to figure out which color golden you own, there are a few specific areas that you will want to focus your attention on, in order to determine the actual shade of fur. These areas are:

  • Tip of the ears – Take a look at your puppy’s ears, you may notice that these are a different color from the rest of their coat! This color on the tip of the ear is a great indicator as to what the true color of your puppy will be when they grow up.
  • Behind the ears – The strong clump of hair behind your pup’s ears will usually be a great way to indicate the color of your retriever’s fur
  • Feathery Hairs – Have you ever noticed those wispy, flowing locks that hang off the back of your retriever’s legs and tail? These feathery hairs are actually another great way to figure out what your pup’s true coat color is!

It is important to bear in mind however that the color of your golden can also depend on what stage of life they’re in. If your retriever is still a puppy then it is very likely they will have a lighter shade of fur, which will change over time as they grow and get older.

If you’re eager to know what your puppy will grow up to look like then you should check behind your puppy’s ears. This will help you to estimate the final coat color of your four-legged friend.

(Video) 6 “Types” Of Golden Retrievers You Didn’t Know About

Will I Be Able To Show My Golden Retriever?

If you are looking to show your golden retriever in a Show Dog Competition, their coats need to meet a very specific standard in order to even qualify. As defined by the AKC the coat must be, “a rich, lustrous golden of various shades.”

This means that any golden retrievers with “extremely light” or “extremely dark” coats are disqualified.

Any Retrievers that fall within the pure white, red or copper or black color for their fur coats are not seen as true golden retrievers, when it comes to Show Dog Competitions and thus will not be allowed to compete in them.

However, it is left up to the judge to determine whether or not a dog’s coat color falls outside the parameter for “too light” or “too dark.”

It should also be noted that certain countries will not accept the light golden or cream-colored Golden Retrievers in their dog shows. Specifically, the United States will not allow them in their shows; however, the UK happily accepts the cream-colored coat!

Some Famous Golden Retrievers You May Know

  • Shadow – from the beloved Disney film Homeward Bound, Shadow was a handsome golden retriever who helps him and his buddies make their way back home after becoming separated from their family (if you haven’t seen this film, make sure to get the tissues ready as it will definitely tug on the heartstrings!)
  • Air Buddy the dog– From the popular “Air Bud” movie and “Full House” series, this famous stunt dog is a proud golden retriever. He was even nominated for a Kids’ Choice Award for Favorite Animal Star!
  • Liberty the First Dog – American president Gerald R. Ford’s family dog. It is still one of the most famous golden retrievers in American history.


It’s really no surprise that golden retrievers are one of America’s favorite dog breeds. With their adorable personalities, handsome looks, soft and gentle mouth, and enormous hearts, goldens make the perfect pets for families and single persons alike.

Not only this but with their excellent trainability and eagerness to please they make for excellent hunting partners! And at the end of the day, this is what they were bred for.

Unless you are looking to show your golden in competitions then the color of their fur or their type doesn’t matter one bit.

So whether you’re considering getting a golden retriever or already have one and just want to know about more about the differences between the types, the most important thing to take away is that no matter what the country of origin or the color of their fur, at the end of the day you are going to have a loving companion who will be loyal until the very end.

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(Video) Different Types of Golden Retriever Dog | Dog Breeds | That are popular Today !


What is the rarest Colour of Golden Retriever? ›

The rarest Golden Retriever color is commonly accepted as the rich and vibrant red shade. Goldens with red coloring can often be mistaken for Irish Setters, and typically have straighter and shorter hair that doesn't feather as much around the legs and tail.

What 2 breeds make a Golden Retriever? ›

The breed was developed by crossing a Retriever with a Water Spaniel, then crossing their offspring with Bloodhounds, Irish Setters, the St. John's Water Dog, and other Retrievers. Golden Retrievers were first shown in 1908, at the U.K.'s Crystal Palace.

How can I tell what color my Golden Retriever is? ›

Check the color of the parents' coat. For purebred Golden Retriever puppies, your puppies will look like their parents. So, if you end up with a lighter or darker dog depends on what the parents look like. However, for non-purebred puppies, the ears are the best way to tell their adult color.

Are black golden retrievers real? ›

Black Golden Retrievers are a variety of Golden Retriever dogs. They have all of the same characteristics of a Golden but come in a midnight shade. Black Golden Retrievers do exist. They can even be purebred!

Which Retriever is the smartest? ›

Labrador Retriever

Because Labs want to please their Pack Leader, they are excellent guide dogs and rescue dogs.

What is the rarest Retriever? ›

Lagotto Romagnolo

However, the resourceful retriever has turned its nose to hunting truffles in recent years and is now the only dog breed recognised for the job.

Are dark golden retrievers more expensive? ›

Golden Retriever Colors

Rather, they come in many different shades of gold, ranging from a dark gold to a cream. Even so, the color of these dogs can also affect the price. In general, cream colored Golden Retrievers cost the most.

How do you tell if it's a purebred golden retriever? ›

One of the most important ways to tell if a golden retriever is purebred is through its paperwork and a proper pedigree. The largest dog registry in the United States is the American Kennel Club (AKC). AKC certified pedigrees contain: The name and registration number of the dog.

What is the largest type of golden retriever? ›

Canadian golden retrievers have broad, well-defined heads, dark, slightly tapered eyes, and their ears are set further back on the head. And these dogs can stand taller than the other varieties by as much as two inches. This is the biggest difference between this type and the other two.

What are darker golden retrievers called? ›

Canadian golden retrievers usually have the darkest color of the three variations, perhaps with a bit more red.

What color is dominant in golden retrievers? ›

The gene pair at this site determines the amount and quality of dark (black) pigment in hairs. Black coat colour is dominant so dogs that are genetically BB or Bb will be black with black noses (unless they are yellow – see below).

Is Golden Retriever a wolf? ›

Golden retrievers did not descend from wolves. There was a common canine ancestor that gave rise to dogs on one branch and wolves on the other. Dogs have been vastly modified due to selective breeding to give certain coat colors, sizes, personalities.

What dog looks like a Golden Retriever but bigger? ›

The dog breeds that look similar to the Golden Retriever include Chesapeake Bay Retriever, Labrador Retriever, Irish Setters, Great Pyrenees, Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retrievers, Leonberger, Flat-Coated Retriever, Bernese Mountain Dog, Gollie, Beagle, and English Springer Spaniel.

Are golden retrievers part wolf? ›

DNA from dog breeds such as the Golden Retriever, the English Bulldog and the Basset Hound reveal that the grey wolf is the ancestor of all dogs. The analyses also show that the dog breeds cannot possibly all stem from the genes of the same wolf pack.

Do golden retrievers defend you? ›

Although golden retrievers aren't typically the first breed you think of when you think of a protective dog, golden retrievers can be protective. Because of their loyalty, intelligence, and their size, yes, golden retrievers can protect you.

What age are golden retrievers most difficult? ›

The adolescence period starts about the age of 5 months and lasts until they are about two to three years old. The most difficult is usually between 8 and 18 months (which is when most dogs are surrendered to rescues and shelters).

Are girl or boy golden retrievers better? ›

It's a matter of preference. Males do mature physically faster than females, especially when it comes to potty training. Because of this, most females are easier to obedience train than males. They normally have their commands down sooner than male English Goldens.

Which dog has high IQ? ›

1. Border Collie: A workaholic, this breed is the world's premier sheep herder, prized for its intelligence, extraordinary instinct, and working ability.

What is the most loyal dog? ›

15 Most Loyal Dog Breeds That Will Stick By Your Side
  • of 15. Labrador Retriever. There's a reason Lucy is so loyal! ...
  • of 15. Bulldog. ...
  • of 15. Golden Retriever. ...
  • of 15. German Shepherds. ...
  • of 15. Beagle. ...
  • of 15. Pug. ...
  • of 15. Irish Setter. ...
  • of 15. Brussels Griffon.
4 Feb 2022

Are Golden Retrievers lazy? ›

Are Golden Retrievers Lazy? As a whole, Golden Retrievers are not lazy but relatively high-energy and very active dogs. Aside from individual personality differences, common reasons for laziness could include health or medical issues, age, too much exercise, boredom, weight issues, diet, emotional distress, or weather.

What is the calmest retriever? ›

Golden Retriever

They have earned their spot as one of the top calmest dogs for “their intelligent, playful personalities that bond well with children and other animals,” says Klein.

What is the most common golden retriever name? ›

Most Popular Golden Retriever Names
  • Charlie.
  • Luna.
  • Bella.
  • Daisy.
  • Tucker.
  • Max.
  • Bailey.
  • Murphy.
3 Feb 2021

What are the 3 biggest expenses of owning a Golden Retriever? ›

Here's an estimate of how much you'll spend on your adult golden retriever each year: Food: $1,200. Vet bills: $300-1,000. Toys & treats: $240-480.

Why is my golden not fluffy? ›

If your Golden Retriever isn't fluffy it is often associated with poor nutrition, improper grooming habits, genetics, underlying health issues, age or something so simple as the weather. If your Golden Retriever isn't fluffy, but it could be related to their diet.

How much is a 100% Golden Retriever? ›

You can expect a golden retriever price to be about $1,000 to $3,500 when you purchase from a quality breeder. However, all golden retrievers cost about the same amount when you consider all of the other expenses that you can expect to incur.

Are golden retrievers lazy or active? ›

High Energy Levels

Golden retrievers are not a lazy breed. Although you'll often catch them snoozing at your feet, they are vigilant and active dogs with goofball tendencies. Golden retrievers are incredibly intelligent, so engaging with them mentally and physically every day is essential.

How long do golden retrievers live? ›

What makes golden retrievers so special? ›

Golden retrievers are playful, yet gentle with children, and they tend to get along well with other pets and strangers. These dogs are eager to please, which probably explains why they respond so well to obedience training and are such popular service dogs.

Which is calmer Labrador or Golden Retriever? ›

The main difference between the Labrador Retriever vs the Golden Retriever is that the latter is slightly calmer in temperament. They will prefer a more tranquil and relaxed environment after daily exercise. The Labrador Retriever is much more energetic and boisterous.

What is a white Golden Retriever called? ›

White Golden Retrievers, also known as “English Cream Golden Retrievers,” are highly coveted dogs that people desire to be their four-legged companions. They are smart, loyal dogs and are great for a wide variety of people, whether they have families with young children or share a home with the elderly.

What are red Golden Retrievers called? ›

The Red Golden Retriever, also known as the Dark Red Golden Retriever, is officially classified as “Mahogany.” They have a playful appearance that definitely helps them stand out from a crowd. This red color might raise some questions for you.

Do Golden Retrievers bark alot? ›

Barking. The Golden Retrievers are a very vocal breed and barking issues are often a behavior that Bark Busters is called to address. Don't allow your Golden Retriever to demand attention from you, by barking and then getting your attention or a response from you.

What dog is like a golden retriever but doesn't shed? ›

GSPs are not as outgoing and friendly as Golden Retrievers, but they are world-class cuddlers when it comes to their people. You can expect a good snuggle from your German Shorthaired Pointer – sans the shed.

Should golden retrievers be left alone? ›

Golden Retrievers can be left alone as long as they are cared for and not neglected. Adult Golden Retrievers can be left alone for up to 4 hours; they definitely should not be left for 8 hours. Leaving a young puppy for too long is also cruel as they need pee breaks, stimulation, food, and water.

Do golden retrievers like to be hugged? ›

Yes, golden retrievers like to cuddle, hug, snuggle and lean up against those they love or anyone that needs a friendly companion. Golden retrievers like to cuddle because they have this innate sense or what some call an intuitive bond with their loved ones and family.

Are English Cream Goldens more expensive? ›

#11: English Cream Golden Retrievers Are More Expensive

And since the neighborhood breeders are typically pricing their dogs on the lower end, while quality breeders are typically charging on the higher end, it's safe to assume that, yes, you will pay more for an English Cream.

Why are black Golden Retriever rare? ›

It's impossible for a purebred golden retriever to be black because their golden color is a result of two recessive alleles. If you see a “black golden retriever” on the street or the internet, it's most likely a different breed, like a flat-coated retriever, or some sort of lab or golden retriever mix.

What color is a Goldador? ›

height22–24 inches
breed grouphybrid
coat length/texturemedium short
colorsgold / yellow brown / chocolate / liver black cream
other traitseasy to train tendency to chew high potential for weight gain loves water good for first-time pet owners good hiking companion strong loyalty tendencies
11 more rows
29 Nov 2021

What is the rarest Golden Retriever color? ›

The rarest Golden Retriever color is commonly accepted as the rich and vibrant red shade. Goldens with red coloring can often be mistaken for Irish Setters, and typically have straighter and shorter hair that doesn't feather as much around the legs and tail.

Are golden retrievers hyper or calm? ›

The Golden Retriever is a high-energy dog and one of the more hyper dog races. The reason is due to their past as working dogs. Golden Retrievers love to get care, go on adventures, play all day, and more, but this level of power could get out of hand (especially for new partners) if it remains unchecked.

What is the rarest retriever? ›

Lagotto Romagnolo

However, the resourceful retriever has turned its nose to hunting truffles in recent years and is now the only dog breed recognised for the job.

What color was the first Golden Retriever? ›

History of the Golden Retriever

To develop the ideal retriever, the Baron of Tweedmouth, Dudley Marjoribanks, crossed a Tweed water spaniel with a yellow-colored retriever.

What color dog is smartest? ›

This is another of our most frequently asked questions. Is there a Lab coloration that determines how smart a dog will be? The short answer is no. A dog's intelligence is based on breeding, not coat color.

What's the most expensive dog? ›

What is the most expensive dog? The Tibetan mastiff is considered the most expensive dog, as it has sold for thousands and even millions. In 2014, a Tibetan mastiff puppy was sold for nearly $2 million in China, according to AFP, which cited a report in Chinese newspaper Qianjiang Evening News.

What is the smartest retriever? ›

The Labrador retriever is known for self-training—it can and wants to learn from humans, not by being taught but by watching and imitating.

How can you tell if its a real golden retriever? ›

One of the most important ways to tell if a golden retriever is purebred is through its paperwork and a proper pedigree. The largest dog registry in the United States is the American Kennel Club (AKC). AKC certified pedigrees contain: The name and registration number of the dog.

Is golden retriever a wolf? ›

Golden retrievers did not descend from wolves. There was a common canine ancestor that gave rise to dogs on one branch and wolves on the other. Dogs have been vastly modified due to selective breeding to give certain coat colors, sizes, personalities.

Do golden retrievers bark alot? ›

Barking. The Golden Retrievers are a very vocal breed and barking issues are often a behavior that Bark Busters is called to address. Don't allow your Golden Retriever to demand attention from you, by barking and then getting your attention or a response from you.

Do golden retrievers prefer one person? ›

Golden Retrievers may have a favorite person, usually if they spend a majority of their time with that one person. However, even though the Golden Retriever can have a favorite person, they are a social breed and like to share their love with everyone most of the time.

Is it better to get a male or female Golden Retriever? ›

While they're both great dogs, male and female Golden Retrievers definitely have their differences. If you want a devoted, high-energy dog that is bigger, opt for a male Golden Retriever. If you prefer more independent and calmer dogs, a girl is ideal for you.


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