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English vs. American Golden Retriever: What’s The Difference?

Last Updated: December 10, 2023

Golden Retrievers appear pretty much the same at a distance, but they’ve minor differences that make up their distinction. If you’re a first-timer to this breed, it’s essential to know that variations in their attributes and appearances led to the evolution of three types of Golden Retrievers, out of which English and American Golden Retrievers are well-known. 

American Golden Retrievers are slightly taller, more angular, highly energetic dogs with dark golden coats. English Golden Retrievers are calmer, shorter, and stockier, with blocky heads in shades of cream or gold. Their slightly different breed standards belong to the US and the UK, respectively. 

It’s evident that English and American Golden Retrievers have visible differences, but a lot of aspiring dog owners might get quickly fooled when they don’t know their trivial attributes. 

In this article, I’ll present a broad comparison between English and American Golden Retrievers covering:

  • Breed Standards
  • Health 
  • Maintenance

Toward the end of the article, you’ll be able to distinguish between English and American Golden Retrievers in no time. Let’s get to it!

English vs American Golden Retriever. An English Golden Retriever next to an American Golden Retriever

Similarities Between English and American Golden Retrievers

Before we get into the differences between the English and American Golden Retriever, we mustn’t lose sight of the fact there is only one Golden Retriever dog breed. The slight variations that have evolved on both sides of the Atlantic are mainly due to:

  • Breeding purpose – Individual breeders will have different breeding purposes, e.g., sporting, hunting, conformation, or simply companion dogs.
  • Breed standard – As the UK and American breed standards evolved to differ slightly, breeders will naturally try to produce pups according to the individual standard.

So, although English and American Golden Retrievers differ slightly in their breed standard, colors, and temperament, they’re similar in their lifespan, care, friendliness, and loyalty to their family members.

Lifespan10-12 years
HealthHip dysplasia, cancer, eye problems, obesity
SheddingHigh shedding during spring and fall
ActivityEnjoy regular exercise
TemperamentFriendly, loyal, trainable, and athletic
IntelligenceHighly intelligent and easy to train
English vs. American Golden Retrievers Similarities
Various Shades of Golden Retrievers. A Group of Golden Retrievers showing their various shades of gold.

Differences Between English and American Golden Retrievers

Let’s now take a quick glance at the main differences between the English and American Golden Retriever. One thing to remember is that these differences are pretty general – as each dog has its own personality.

VariableEnglish Golden RetrieversAmerican Golden Retrievers
AppearanceBalanced look with dark brown eyes, cat-like feet, and a muscular body. Less angular and straighter back. Symmetric appearance with dark-brown, round eyes. More angular and more sloping back.
SizeShorter and stockier with ‘blocky’ heads.Slightly taller and more slender.
EnergyCalmer (can be speculative depending on breeding purpose)More energetic (can be speculative depending on breeding purpose)
TemperamentAffectionate, human-friendly, loyal, and protectiveHigh-energy, intelligent, guard-dog, loyal, and alert
HealthLess prone to cancerMore prone to cancer, according to some studies
Coat TypeFlat/wavyDense
Coat ColorGold or creamLustrous golden (light to dark shades)
English vs. American Golden Retriever

Learn More About The Two Types In This Awesome Video…

English Golden Retriever


English Golden Retrievers have recently gained a huge demand, owing to their colors and breeder’s marketing strategies. Before we get into their specifications, get to know what marketers call them. 

Here are the other names of English Golden Retrievers:

  • English Cream Golden Retrievers
  • White Golden Retrievers
  • British Golden Retrievers
  • British-Style Golden Retrievers
  • Platinum Imported Golden Retrievers 
  • Rare White European Golden Retrievers 

While these are typically marketing ploys to sell these light-colored Golden Retrievers, you can check out the UK Kennel Club Golden Retriever breed standard to offer a better understanding. 

If you look at the history of the English Golden Retriever, it dates back to the late 19th century, when the breed made its first appearance in Scotland.

Dudley Marjoribanks, later known as Lord Tweedmouth, bred a dog named Nous, a yellow wavy-coated Retriever, and Belle, a Tweed Water Spaniel (now extinct) at his Scottish estate Guisachan in the late nineteenth century. He created the breed to help him hunt birds.

Three English Golden Retriever Pups

They became the ancestors of one of the most popular breeds of dogs in existence today. English Golden Retrievers gained further recognition after World War II when they took part in dog shows. However, people often confuse English Golden Retrievers with their American counterparts.

Thanks to the great-grandfather and great-grandson duo – Ch Boltby Skylon (born 1951) and Ch Camrose Cabus Christopher (born 1967), the lighter coloration is evident in British-style Golden Retrievers in the country today. 

I’m fascinated to see how English Golden Retrievers transformed and attained the breed standard over the decades. I love looking at the pedigree database but I suppose that’s the investigative nature in me!

World of Dogz

The name changed from British-styled Golden Retrievers to English Champions, and the breed also obtained recognition in the Golden Retriever Club of America’s Yearbook (1968). 

Breed Standard

The UK Kennel Club recognizes English Golden Retrievers with balanced, symmetric faces, strong expressions, intelligent, strong jaws, dark brown eyes, good neck length, and wavy feathering.

The standard permits only a few white hairs surrounding or on the chest. You can read more on this topic here, Can Purebred Golden Retrievers Have White On Them?

Having given an overview of the standard, below is an even more helpful table to assess the quality of a marketed English Golden Retriever. If you’ve just entered a kennel to make your purchase, remember to check if the pup matches all the attributes mentioned below, especially if you are purchasing a dog to enter the show ring. 

LookBalanced appearance
HeadBalanced head
SkullBroad and neat 
ForefaceForeface length = length from stop to occiput
EyesDark brown (Important standard)
TeethPerfect for a scissor bite
ElbowClosely present
CoatWavy and water-resistant
ColorCream or golden shades (Limited hairs on chest, in rare cases). Note: This is another crucial breed standard.
FeetCat-like feet
HocksStraight (NO to cow hocks)
TailCurl-free tail up to hocks
English Golden Retriever Breed Standard

These attributes confirm that the dog abides by the breed standard of the UK Kennel Club.

For more info on field vs. show types, check out this article, Key Differences Between Field and Show Golden Retrievers.

If you’re still unsure of the quality, I’ve some more information to guide you. 

Male English Golden Retriever22-24 inchesNot specified
Female English Golden Retriever20-22 inchesNot specified
English Golden Retriever Size

Note: These are averages and can slightly differ depending on the individual dog. 

What are possible shortcomings you can spot in marketed English Golden Retrievers?

  • There’s a huge possibility for proportional differences in their physical features. 
  • Some marketed English Golden Retrievers might have a few white hairs across the body. It’s hard to get a closer look in the first place. 
  • Working abilities can deteriorate as they age. Some Golden Retrievers with a lack of history can look as per the breed standard but can deteriorate faster than usual. 

Don’t rush to decide the one for you. Perform extensive research and allow the breeder to display the history of the dog. 

And if you don’t particularly want a show or working dog, you may consider adopting a companion dog from a rescue or shelter.

World of Dogz

As the UK Kennel Club doesn’t impose strong restrictions on the breed, there are equal chances for legal and backyard breeders to appear simultaneously in the marketplace. 

False Breeder Tip: If the breeder claims that the health of a light cream Golden Retriever is better than the rest, it’s untrue, and you should stay away.

Young English Golden Retriever Playing


The average lifespan of an English Golden Retriever is 10-12 years. They are prone to joint problems, cancer, and epilepsy as they reach old age.

However, their gestation periods are limited to 63 days, and they can deliver about seven puppies in general. 

The biggest issue with bringing any fur baby home is that it’s hard to depart from them due to health issues or personal reasons. Once you fall for them, it’s almost impossible to get over them for any reason. 

If you’ve made up your mind to get an English Golden Retriever, here are a few important points about their health to know. 

  • The Kennel Club (UK) strongly recommends regular checkups for eyes, hip dysplasia, and elbow dysplasia and also lists health schemes and tests available to screen them. 
  • English Golden Retrievers are healthy and active dogs that are also prone to epilepsy and other joint conditions. 

If you’re comfortable with scheduling vet appointments for general checkups, then they can be great companions. 


The most crucial aspect that an aspiring dog owner should know is about maintenance. English Golden Retrievers are slightly easier to care for compared to their American counterparts due to their calmer energy levels.

However, there’s more to the regular routine that you should know in order to customize your plan accordingly. 


An English Golden Retriever needs at least 2 hours of daily exercise. You need to walk with them and get them engaged with other activities and toys so they’ve enough exercise and mental stimulation. 

My dog enjoys playing “fetch” games for hours, and this keeps her happy and engaged. She finds it boring just walking on the lead all the time.

Note: It’s not uncommon for new dog owners to over-exercise puppies, which puts their health at stake. You need to be careful with your pup’s joints while he is still growing and gradually build up his exercise over the initial 12-18 months.

In any case, English Golden Retrievers require only 1-2 hours of intense exercise or 2-4 hours of moderate exercise per day. Don’t get confused with their exercise needs and regular movements. Both are different entities. 

Pro Tip! If you have a large yard at home, you may drop the worry of insufficient exercise. The yard can often take care of their exercise needs. 


As English Golden Retrievers have double coats with wavy feathering, their body types demand regular grooming. As a rule of thumb, I recommend grooming them at least twice a week. 

This breed type sheds more, and regular grooming enhances the luster of the coat. 

Spring and fall are two seasons when you need to equip yourself with a grooming brush multiple times a week to groom the fur. Otherwise, your house may get drenched in a pool of fur. Do you want to know how to solve this? Check out this article, Golden Retriever Shedding: Here’s How To Reduce Shedding.


English Golden Retrievers are quite easy to train, and this trainability feature is the reason for their active participation in dog clubs. 

Starting with basic commands, English Golden Retrievers are intelligent to learn new tricks and respond accordingly. You should promote the idea of positive reinforcement to English Golden Retrievers to achieve several goals:

  • Toilet training
  • Socializing
  • Walking
  • Crate training
  • Adjusting to the environment
  • Collar and lead training

Although we consider dogs to have only five senses, these quick tricks can bring out the superpower in them. Don’t you want to see your English Golden Retriever as a superhuman? This is the chance! 

American Golden Retriever 

American Golden Retriever


The American Kennel Club considers American Golden Retrievers as the most popular dogs with extraordinary energy levels.

When looking at the early ancestors of the Golden Retriever, Archie Marjoribanks, the youngest son of Lord Tweedmouth, took a male dog to Texas and a female dog to Canada when he visited his sister. The descendants of these Retrievers soon spread.

Due to the breed type’s hunting nature, these gold-colored Retrievers were offered as gifts to their near and dear ones.

Following the breed’s recognition by the UK Kennel Club in 1913, during the interwar period, Golden Retrievers extended to many other parts of the world and became more popular.

Since Majoribanks’ days, the breed type was also linked to the bright color spectrum. Friends of Guisachan (the ancestral home of the Golden Retriever) is a great resource to understand how American Golden Retrievers were developed and recognized.

In 1925, the American Kennel Club (AKC) officially recognized the breed and its type. 

Breed Standard

The American Kennel Club Golden Retriever breed standard describes them as having light to dark golden coats, active personalities, always alert, symmetric appearance, and extraordinary hunting capabilities. 

Owing to their characteristics and temperament, they’re also widely available in the United States. However, the market is also equipped with Golden Retrievers that are crossbreeds and don’t match all breed standards mentioned by AKC. 

Before stepping into a kennel to purchase an American Golden Retriever, keep the below table handy and check each attribute one by one, particularly if you’re looking for a dog for conformation purposes.

These are primary attributes of American Golden Retrievers. 

LookPowerful & symmetric
HeadSlight arch with no visible frontal or occipital bones
ForefaceForeface length = Skull length. Has a considerable depth and width.
EyesDark brown, round eyes (Important standard)
NoseBlack or shades of brown with black (especially during cold weather)
TeethPerfect for a scissor bite
NeckMuscular & sturdy
RibsLong (no barrel shape)
CoatDense and water-resistant
ColorLustrous golden
Note: This is another crucial breed standard
LegsStraight with healthy bone appearances (not coarse)
FeetRound, medium-sized, properly knuckled feet
HocksDisplays strong and short rear pasterns
TailCurl-free tail and doesn’t remain between legs
American Golden Retriever Breed Standard
American Golden Retrievers at the Beach
American Golden Retriever

But that isn’t everything!

Male American Golden Retriever23-24 inches65-75 pounds
Female American Golden Retriever21.5-22.5 inches55-65 pounds 
American Golden Retriever Size

Note: These are averages and can slightly differ. However, if there’s a height deviation (beyond an inch), it’s a red flag. 

Here is a list of attributes that confirm the faulty nature of the dog, marketed in the name of the American Golden Retriever: 

  • Slant eyes 
  • Triangular looks disturbing the actual expression
  • Hound-like appearance of ears
  • Nose appears in pink
  • Teeth misalignment (or level bite)
  • Slope backline
  • Steep croup
  • Wall tuck-up
  • Hare feet
  • Cow hocks
  • Shades of black in hair 
  • Heaviness in the muzzle 
  • Eyelid abnormality 

If you find any of these deviations in the dog, you can blindly confirm that it doesn’t adhere to the breed standard. 


Known as the highly energetic variant of the breed, American Golden Retrievers also require regular screening and are vulnerable to several health conditions. 

If you’re purchasing from an authentic breeder, you may request a health statement, as recommended by the Golden Retriever Club of America

Nonetheless, this breed type requires the following health tests conducted periodically:

  • Cardiac assessment
  • Elbow assessment
  • Eye evaluation
  • NCL DNA test
  • Hip assessment 

On top of these, you should also assess their ears every week for signs of infection. Since they enjoy going outdoors and playing in the water or marshy environments, their ears can easily get attacked by parasites and worms. 

American Golden Retrievers have an average life expectancy of 10 years. 

American Golden Retriever


When we talk about maintaining an American Golden Retriever, there are multiple variables, including grooming, training, exercise, and the Golden Retriever diet, that come into the picture. 


As mentioned earlier, American Golden Retrievers are bred for hunting and demonstrate extraordinary energy levels. Hence, they require lots of exercise (higher than many other breed types). 

You can also expose your American Golden Retriever to high-impact activities. However, factors like age, type of environment, temperament, and health conditions should be considered. 

They prefer open fields or large yards to exercise for long hours. Perhaps, they can be an excellent partner if you’re a trekker. 

Caution! Don’t overexercise or overburden your American Golden Retriever, as it can result in joint problems. 

An average of 2-3 hours per day of exercise is ample to keep them engaged and energetic. 


One of the most common worries of aspiring dog owners is the shedding part. Do American Golden Retrievers shed a lot? How much time should I spend taking care of them each day?

Aren’t these questions bothering your mind too? Well, here you go!

American Golden Retrievers shed regularly but can worsen during spring and fall when they blow their coat ready for the change of season ahead.

It’s vital to brush their fur at least twice a week to eliminate dead hair and allow more space for lustrous hair to grow. 

If you’re taking your American Golden Retriever to swim or exposing him to water bodies, the coat is water-repellant but needs a bath immediately after the event. 

Such occasional baths can add up to their hygiene levels. 

You should also spend some time brushing the dog’s teeth and trimming its nails. 


American Golden Retrievers are highly intelligent dogs and fast learners. Teach them a trick, and they learn it almost instantly. 

If you’re a first-time dog owner, it’s recommended to join local clubs like the Golden Retriever Club of America. Such clubs give access to know your dog better and train them at the right time. 

You can also check out these top training resources:

Most American Golden Retrievers love to learn new tricks, enjoy playing with toys and are eager to socialize with other humans due to their extreme friendliness.

Types of Golden Retrievers. Various Golden Retrievers (American and English)

Let’s Wrap This Up!

Now that you’ve gained an understanding of the differences between English and American Golden Retrievers, it’s essential to take a call on the right type for your family. 

Clearly, your location in the world might be an influencing factor, too, as finding a breeder specializing in American lines might be difficult if you’re in the UK or Europe. In contrast, American breeders are known to import their dogs from the UK to get the looks and temperament of the English type.

Nonetheless, both types differ in their structure and coat colors but have similarities (that are akin to attributes of the breed). Begin with your needs and analyze your family routines. Then, reach a kennel of your choice and conduct a detailed study to pick that cute wagger for your family.

If you’re still unsure about the breed in general, this article may help, 13 Golden Retriever Pros and Cons To Consider Before Buying.

Sowmya Sankaran
Sowmya Sankaran is crazy about dogs, rabbits and birds! An avid rescuer and rehabilitator of dogs and other animals, she runs the Life With Equality Charitable Trust, an animal shelter in Chennai, India. She is also the founder of Petsmond, a pet website, in which she shares her experiences in raising different creatures and paying attention to intricate aspects of their health.

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