English Retriever vs Golden Retriever

Spread the love

Some of the links in this post are affiliate links. This means if you click on the link & purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission at no extra cost to you. All opinions remain my own.

English Retriever vs Golden Retriever, is one better than the other? If you are looking for a great family dog, a wonderful companion, and a gentle loving best friend, you can’t go wrong with a retriever!

Both the English Retriever and the Golden Retriever share similar qualities and attributes, and most people really aren’t aware of their differences. But, to those of us who are familiar with this breed, we know that there are some differences between them.

In this article, we’ll look at the main differences between these 2 types of retrievers and also what they have in common.

Keep reading, because by the end of this article you’ll be better informed and it might just help you decide on your next family dog! [Also check out my previous article, Labrador Retriever vs Golden Retriever to find out their differences.]

What Is An English Retriever?

English Retriever vs Golden Retriever - English Golden Retriever laying on grass with a happy expression.

Some people may think that an English Retriever is a different breed than a Golden Retriever, when in fact they are the same breed.

An English Retriever often referred to as English Cream Golden Retriever or British Retriever, is simply called Golden Retriever in Europe, and the rest of the world. It is North America that has termed them as “English Cream” or “British Retriever”.

An English Retriever is actually one of 3 sub-types of a Golden Retriever. Those sub-types being American, Canadian and British. Each sub-type of the Golden Retriever has slight variations in the coat and physical structure.

The slight variations between these types of Golden Retrievers are due to breeding standards for each country.

Golden Retrievers were first recognized as a breed by The Kennel Club in the UK in 1911. It wasn’t until fourteen years later in 1925 that the American Kennel Club (AKC) gave recognition to this breed. The Canadian Kennel Club (CKC) followed shortly after in 1927.

All Golden Retrievers Originated In Scotland

Regardless of whether a Golden Retriever is termed as English, American or Canadian, they are all descendants of the same bloodline which originated in Scotland.

Golden Retrievers were first developed in Scotland during the mid 19th century when Lord Tweedmouth bred a Tweed Water Spaniel named “Belle” with a yellow retriever named “Nous”.

The Golden Retriever was originally bred to retrieve shot waterfowl during hunting and shooting parties. Lord Tweedmouth’s goal was to develop a dog that could retrieve game from both land and water unharmed, and be powerful and active, yet gentle and trainable.

Golden Retrievers are still used for hunting today but are very popular as loving family dogs due to their friendly, gentle and easy to train nature. They are highly intelligent and are often used as working dogs, such as guide dogs, therapy dogs, and search and rescue dogs.

Think you know everything about this breed? Test your knowledge with these cool facts!

English Retriever vs Golden Retriever The Main Differences

Because of different breeding standards in Europe, and North America, slight differences among the types of Golden Retrievers have developed.

Breeders in Europe have bred Golden Retrievers according to The UK Kennel Club standards, and American and Canadian breeders bred Golden Retrievers according to the AKC or CKC standards.

Here are the differences between them:

1. Colour

Golden Retriever sitting, with an American Flag in the background.

This is the main difference that people will notice right away. The English Retriever’s coat is lighter in colour than the American and Canadian Golden Retriever.

English Retriever: According to The Kennel Club, any shade of gold or cream is acceptable, and red or mahogany is not allowed.

American Retriever: The American Kennel Club allows for rich lustrous golden of various shades. Extremely light or extremely dark coats are not permitted.

Canadian Retriever: The Canadian Kennel Club allows for lustrous golden of various shades just like the AKC.

2. Coat

The English Retriever has a thicker and shorter coat as compared to its American and Canadian counterparts.

English Retriever: The coat is flat or wavy with good feathering and a dense water-resistant undercoat.

American Retriever: The coat is dense and water-repellent with moderate feathering. The coat is slightly longer than that of the English Retriever.

Canadian Retriever: The coat is thinner than the English and American, and is straight or wavy.

3. Size

Size is a noticeable difference between these types. The English Retriever is shorter and stockier, and the Canadian Retriever is thinner and taller.

English Retriever: Males stand 22-24″ (56-61cm) at the withers, and Females stand 20-22″ (51-56cm). Weight is not specified in The Kennel Club standards, however, it states that the topline should be level with straight hindquarters.

American Retriever: Males stand 23-24″ (58-61cm) at the withers, and Females stand 21.5-22.5″ (55-57cm). Acceptable weight for Males is 65-75 pounds and Females 55-65 pounds. The backline slopes down a little.

Canadian Retriever: Males stand 23-24″ (58-61cm) at the withers, and Females stand 21.5-22.5″ (55-57cm). Acceptable weight for Males is 65-75 pounds and Females 60-70 pounds. The backline has a gentle slope.

4. Head and Skull

The English Retriever’s head is wider and boxier than that of the American and Canadian types.

English Retriever: The skull is broad with a well-chiseled and balanced muzzle.

American Retriever: The skull is broad with a straight muzzle that blends into the skull. The profile is narrower.

Canadian Retriever: The same as the American Golden Retriever, a narrower profile.

5. Eyes

Dark red Golden Retriever headshot of the eyes and nose.

When looking at the eyes of an English vs American Golden Retriever, the noticeable difference is colour and shape. English Retrievers have eyes that are rounder and darker.

English Retriever: The eyes are set wide apart, and medium-sized. Eye colour is brown with a darker brown preferred.

American Retriever: The eyes are friendly and intelligent in expression and medium-large and set well-apart. Dark brown colour is preferred, but medium brown is acceptable. The eyes are more narrow and slanted. Triangular eyes are not acceptable.

Canadian Retriever: Friendly and intelligent expression, medium-large in size and set well apart. Dark brown colour preferred, and never lighter in colour than the coat.

6. Health and Life Expectancy

The average lifespan of a Golden Retriever is 10-12 years, according to Wikipedia.

Each type of Golden Retriever is susceptible to the same health problems that affect this breed. Diseases and genetic disorders that are commonly found in Golden Retrievers include:

  • Hip and Elbow Dysplasia.
  • Eye Diseases such as Cataracts, and Glaucoma.
  • Obesity.
  • Skin Diseases such as Allergies and Hot Spots.
  • Heart Disease.
  • Hypothyroidism.
  • Ear Infections.

Research and studies indicate that Golden Retrievers with English bloodlines live longer than American Golden Retrievers. The average lifespan for English Golden Retrievers is 12 years and 3 months, whereas the American Golden Retriever is 10 years and 8 months.

The colour of a Golden Retriever’s coat has nothing to do with their health. It all comes down to genetics, having good bloodlines and breeders breeding for health and temperament.

7. Cancer Rate

Unfortunately, Golden Retrievers are more susceptible to cancer than any other breed! Cancer is this breeds biggest killer.

American Golden Retrievers are more prone to cancer than English Golden Retrievers.

A health study done by the Golden Retriever Club of America in 1998 showed that cancer has caused 61.4% of deaths among American Golden Retrievers.

A health survey done by the UK Kennel Club in 2004 indicated that only 38.8% of English Golden Retrievers were diagnosed with cancer.

The most common cancer is Hemangiosarcoma, followed by Lymphosarcoma, Mast Cell Tumour, and Osteosarcoma.

What Similarities Do English Retrievers And Golden Retrievers Share?

All Golden Retrievers regardless of what type they are English, Canadian or American share similar qualities and attributes that this breed is known for.

Here is what all Golden Retrievers have in common:


This breed is very smart, in fact, they are ranked the 4th smartest breed for obedience-command trainability, according to Stanley Coren’s The Intelligence of Dogs.

Eager To Please and Easy To Train

Golden Retrievers love to please their humans, and will often do anything for a treat or affection/attention. This makes them easy to train.

Loyal and Loving

Golden Retriever laying between its owners legs.

Golden Retrievers love human contact and they love spending time with their favourite humans. They are known for walking up to complete strangers and saying hello and of course wanting to be petted.

This breed is not shy! But, just because they will pretty much go over to any human for attention, they are very loyal and will sit by their human to protect them.

Great Family Dogs

Either type of Golden Retriever would make an excellent addition to your family. They get along well with children and other animals.

They Love The Water

They are natural-born swimmers. With their water-repellent coats and their webbed paws, this breed was born to swim. It is rare to find a Golden Retriever that doesn’t like the water!

They Shed

All Golden Retrievers shed! There is not one type that sheds less than the other. Canadian Golden’s may have a thinner coat, and English Golden’s have a shorter coat, but that doesn’t mean less shedding!

Trust me, I own a Canadian Golden Retriever, and she sheds! Any owner of this breed will tell you that shedding is heavy during the spring and fall, but shedding happens daily!

Do English Golden Retrievers Cost More?

Golden Retrievers in general are a very expensive breed. It is rare to be able to purchase a Golden Retriever for under $1500 from a reputable breeder.

They can range in price depending on the breeder, their location, and if the dog comes from champion bloodlines. You could pay $1500 to $2500 or even more.

Another determining factor of cost is if the Golden Retriever has papers (meaning the puppy is registered). Often, home breeders will charge less because their dogs are not registered with their Kennel Club.

Unfortunately, there are some breeders that will charge more for a Golden because of their coat colour. Cream coloured and dark red Golden Retrievers are sometimes priced higher because breeders will advertise them as rare.

Price should not be based on coat colour, if a breeder advertises their puppies as rare, cream coloured, or white, you should see this as a red flag! A reputable breeder will advertise the health and temperament of their puppies, not the colour of their coat!

Adopting a Golden Retriever is a great choice as well. Adoption fees are much less than breeder costs and your Golden will have all of the required veterinary care tests done before bringing him/her home, including vaccinations, microchipping and spay/neuter.

Is It True That English Golden Retrievers Are Calmer?

There are many websites on the internet that claim English Golden Retrievers to be calmer than American or Canadian Retrievers, however, there is no research or study that proves this to be true.

Golden Retrievers are a calm, gentle and loving breed. Saying that one type is calmer than the other is simply a sales gimmick.

When you look at a litter of puppies, not all of the puppies have the same personality or temperament. Some puppies are more hyper while some are calmer.

There are so many factors that can contribute to a dog’s temperament other than genetics. For instance, the dog’s upbringing, and the dog’s environment.

Which Type Of Golden Retriever Is Better?

Choosing between the English, American or Canadian Golden Retriever comes down to your preferences. While there are only slight differences between them, which are mostly aesthetics, you really can’t go wrong with either one.

Some people simply prefer the cream coloured ones, and others prefer the darker ones.

Each type is affected by the same health issues, but we have learned that English Retrievers have a lower cancer rate than American Golden Retrievers. That being said, there is absolutely no guarantee that the Golden Retriever that you choose will or will not be affected by cancer.

There are many American Golden Retrievers that end up living healthy lives and outlive the statistics of 10 years.

English Retriever vs Golden Retriever Final Thoughts

Regardless of which type of Golden Retriever you prefer, you will be blessed with a loving, gentle and intelligent dog! These dogs will often try to outsmart you, and usually succeed!

Make sure you do your research when it comes to finding a reputable breeder. Health and temperament are extremely important, and the colour is really just a preference.

Which type of Golden Retriever do you prefer? Does coat colour matter to you?

Please share your thoughts and comments below. I would love to hear from you!

Spread the love

16 thoughts on “English Retriever vs Golden Retriever”

  1. Hello,

    My Golden is an absolute dear, 10 months, and acts like a very mature albeit goofy lady.

    She is a mix between an English and American Golden.

    Any thoughts about whether this helps improve lifespan/decrease health problems?

    • Hi Erin,

      Thanks for asking such a great question!

      It’s really hard to predict if your Golden will have a longer lifespan as well as fewer health issues because she is mixed with English and American. While it is true that English Golden Retrievers are known to have fewer health issues than American Golden Retrievers, it doesn’t necessarily mean that your Golden will have a decrease in health issues.

      A few factors will come into play such as the health of your dog’s parents and the genetics passed down to your dog. Your pup could inherit health issues from either parent or develop new issues that are not present in either parent.
      Your pup could also inherit some benefits from both parents, for example, if one parent has a lower risk of hip dysplasia, and the other parent has a lower risk of cancer, then your pup may have a lower overall risk of both conditions.

      It’s important to remember that each dog is an individual and while genetics play a huge role in predisposed health issues such as hip dysplasia and cancer, there are other factors involved in the risks of these conditions.

      Regular vet check-ups, a healthy diet, and regular exercise are all key factors in promoting a healthy lifestyle in your pup.

      I hope this has helped you out. Thanks again for taking the time to share your thoughts, and ask such an interesting question.
      All the best to you and your pup.


  2. Hi, I want to get a golden retriever when I am older. In my opinion, I prefer the American golden retriever to the English because they look leaner and I’m not a big fan of stocky dogs. But it is sad to hear that they tend to have a shorter lifespan. The problem is I live in Ireland and all the breeders sell English golden retrievers. If I wanted to get an American golden retriever would I have to fly to North America to get one? Also, can dogs fly on planes? With all the rules for dogs in different countries am I allowed to own an American golden retriever in Ireland?

    • Hi Leon,
      Many breeders do ship their puppies worldwide, so if you have your heart set on an American Golden Retriever, finding a breeder that ships worldwide might be the answer for you. I am sure this comes with a huge cost, well-bred Golden Retrievers are pricey, to begin with, let alone the shipping costs. It is definitely something to keep in mind, but perhaps you may find a breeder in Ireland that has American Golden’s as well. It’s great that you know what you prefer, and that you are waiting until the time is right for you. I would suggest contacting a few of the breeders in your area, or perhaps a local shelter as well. When comparing the American and English Golden Retriever, they both have wonderful temperaments and you can’t go wrong with either.

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I wish you all the best in finding your dream Golden Retriever.

  3. Hi Jenny: Thanks for the information. We have had mostly American Goldens (from the Norcal Golden retriever rescue league). We got an English Golden from Norcal that had been given up for medical reasons. He is now 12 and is losing control of his bowels. He just passed his physical with great numbers. He has had hypothyroidism, cancer, horners syndrome and some other problems which we have resolved.

    I am calling the Vet next Tuesday but didn’t know if you could point me to some literature on bowel control. They are solid poops. Sometimes he knows when they are coming and sometimes not.

    Best Regards,

    • Hi Brian,
      Thanks so much for taking the time to comment and for sharing your story.
      I am so happy to hear that your English Golden has passed his physical with great numbers and that he has overcome the problems you have mentioned. Wonderful news and 12 is another great accomplishment! You are obviously doing something right.

      As far as his loss of bowel control, this is a very common issue that develops as dog’s age. Their muscles weaken and they lose control. There are many informative articles online that discuss bowel incontinence in dogs. I have read a few of them, and some mention adding a probiotic to your dog’s food. I’m not sure if you do this already, or if this is something that will help in your situation, but a probiotic will aid in digestion and promote good gut health. I sprinkle a probiotic powder onto my dog’s meal daily.

      I would definitely discuss your dog’s bowel control with your Vet, as he or she would be able to offer you suggestions or advice on what you can do. This article from wagwalking.com has some information on bowel incontinence that you may find helpful.

      I hope you get it sorted, I know it can be a frustrating experience for your dog as well as yourself. I wish you and your beloved Golden all the best!


  4. Amazing article, very informative! Thank you! My partner and I have a Canadian golden too, named Bella. She is smart, calm/gentle, fun/playful, and loves to hang out in the forest/ravine near our house. We live in an apartment but take her out for lots of walks and we have no issues. Thank you again, really appreciate you taking the time to write this article. Again, very informative! Thank you!!

    • Hi Kelly,
      I am so glad you found my article informative. Thank you for sharing your story. I am sure Bella loves to go exploring in the forest/ravine that is nearby, probably lots of different exciting smells and things to see, and sticks too I bet. Living in an apartment and owning a Golden Retriever is very much possible, just as you demonstrate, giving Bella lots of walks.

      Thank you for taking the time to comment, I appreciate it.

  5. I live in a senior residential building.
    There are two very large golden retrievers that a very small woman takes out. They came lunging out of the elevator where I was waiting. I had my Walker and almost lost my balance. The woman had zero control of her pet’s. Scared me to death.
    I have had several large breeds. But I was living in my own home and had a large yard for them to run etc. I hope I don’t bump into them again.

    • Hi Nancy,
      I am sorry that you have had a less than ideal experience with Golden Retrievers. Golden Retrievers can be very excited and jumpy especially when they are happy to be going outside, or when they see people. Their exuberant behaviour can sometimes knock a person over, I myself have been knocked over a few times by my Golden Retriever as well as others. They certainly mean no harm, they are just very excited, but I can see how this experience has given you a scare. I am glad you weren’t hurt, and hopefully, you don’t have an encounter like that again.

      I must add that while I do agree with you that this breed is best suited for a large yard to play and run around in, a Golden Retriever that is given plenty of exercise and mental stimulation can adapt to living in an apartment complex.

      Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts. I really hope this encounter has not made you dislike this breed, and maybe you will have a much better encounter with a Golden Retriever in the future.

      Take care,

  6. What a lovely website and the topic is really one that I am very interested in. Especially due to the fact that I have trained several dog breeds and so I am very much interested in all that is being said in this article. Although I have never raised these breeds being compared, I am getting interested to look in their direction next time. Thanks a lot again.

    • Hi Lucas,

      Thanks for stopping by and for your kind words.  Golden Retrievers are super smart and very food motivated as well as eager to please, which makes them easy to train.  I am sure you will be pleasantly surprised by this breed if you were to work with them in the future, and you may just fall in love with this breed like so many of us have!

      Take care,


  7. Jenny, 

    Very nice article! I had a retriever a time ago. One of the best dogs I ever had. I lost him before his time and had no idea that what caused it was so common in this breed. Would never let that turn me away from a golden retriever though. Smart, fun-loving, loyal dogs. Mine was name Takoda (Sioux for a friend to everyone) and he lived up to it! 

    You have done a lot of research for this article and I learned a lot from it. 

    Thank you for doing that and caring for those dogs!

    • Hi Groomy Dude,

      Yes, unfortunately, cancer is very prevalent in this breed and takes many of these dogs away from us way before their time!  I am sorry for your loss of Takoda!  What a wonderful name, and very fitting to this breed, as they pretty much love everyone.

      I am glad to hear that you will not be turned away from this breed because of their high cancer rate.  They are wonderful dogs, and yes their risk of getting cancer is high, but there is no guarantee with any breed of dog.  The love that a Golden Retriever gives you and the loyalty they show you is like no other!  

      I am so glad you enjoyed my article and also learned something about this breed.  Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts.


  8. I am only familiar with the Golden Retriever and Labrador Retriever. Thank you for such an informative post. I had no idea that there are breeding standards for each country. I thought it is just all about the pedigree of the mother and father to have the best breed of that species. 

    Isn’t that fun that they are Scottish! No wonder they are used for the hunter, hence the name retriever. My husky would probably just go grab it and run away with it lol!  Oh no, poor thing that this breed is in the high risk of cancer. I have to say that I love the English Retriever better than the Golden Retriever. It is the color that I love and also the length of the fur. That makes me think of the little pup on our popular toilet paper and it just made me smile every time I see it.  I have just moved into a new house and I definitely would like to add another member to my family. I will take a look at the shelter near me and take it from there. 

    • Hi Nuttanee,

      Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts.  Many people will choose one type of Golden Retriever over another type simply because of colour preference.  No matter the colour, this breed lives up to all the hype!  You will find Golden Retrievers to be gentle, friendly, smart, playful, sometimes goofy and yes even stubborn!  But that’s part of their charm!

      I hope you have great luck in finding a new family member!

      Take care,



Leave a comment