American vs. English Golden Retriever: A Detailed Comparison

American Golden Retriever and English Golden Retriever differences

Known for their well-rounded personalities and loyal disposition, Golden Retrievers rank high in the list of most popular dog breeds.

However, many people are not aware that there are many kinds of Golden Retrievers! In this guide, we will compare two of the most common types, the American Golden Retriever and the English Golden Retriever.

The American and English Golden Retrievers are both sociable, athletic, and trainable. The differences between these two are their size and coat color. American Goldens are usually bigger and with darker colored coats while English Goldens are typically lighter both in weight and coat color.

Slight differences between American and English Goldens are also present in terms of health and temperament.

I’ll discuss all of these in great detail throughout this guide. So read along to find out which Golden Retriever is right for you!

History and Origin

American Golden Retriever and English Golden Retriever on thick snow

American Golden Retriever

The American Golden Retriever is a descendant of the so-called “original Golden Retriever,” a dog breed that existed over 150 years ago.

The ancestors of these canines were originally bred as hunting dogs by Dudley Marjoribanks in Scotland. So, where exactly did American Golden Retrievers come from?

Simply put, American Goldens obtain the “American” in their name entirely from their location of breeding.

Genetically speaking, these dogs are still the same Golden Retrievers from 150 years ago; however, their geography brought about a few changes that are unique to them.

In the United States, Golden Retrievers were officially recognized by the American Kennel Club (AKC) in 1925. To this day, this dog breed ranks high on the list of the best family dog breeds according to the AKC.

English Golden Retriever

Much like its American counterpart, the English Golden Retriever is also a descendant of the “original Golden Retrievers” from 150 years ago.

Through and through, English Goldens share the same genes as their ancestor breed and they are also excellent guide dogs.

These canines only adopted the “English” in their names from the place where they are widely bred — the United Kingdom. English Golden Retrievers are also known as British Golden Retrievers and English Cream Golden Retrievers.

These dogs were first officially recognized by The Kennel Club in 1903 under a different name, Flat Coats – Golden. It was later in 1911 when the breed was officially referred to as Golden Retrievers. 

Kennel Club Recognition

American Golden Retriever

Kennel club recognition plays a big role when it comes to the differences between American Golden Retrievers and English Golden Retrievers.

In fact, major kennel clubs dictate the qualities that are “acceptable” for breeding. As a result, in the long run, these breed standards shape the qualities of Golden Retrievers.

The breed standard of the American Golden Retriever is managed by the AKC. However, as peculiar as it may sound, there is no mention of the term “American” in the said breed standard.

The main reason behind this is that kennel clubs do not recognize breed variations based on country. The so-called “American Golden” is simply a result of many generations of dogs bred with the AKC standards in mind.

Nevertheless, there is a kennel organization solely dedicated to this variety and it is the Golden Retriever Club of America (GCRA).

English Golden Retriever

The English Golden Retriever is based on the breed standards of The Kennel Club, the largest dog organization in the United Kingdom.

English Goldens have been recognized by this club since 1911. This was 14 years before the AKC officially recognized the American Golden Retriever.

Needless to say, the breed standards imposed by The Kennel Club for Golden Retrievers is quite different from the one implemented by the AKC.

This is one of the main reasons why the United States and the United Kingdom each have a Golden Retriever variant. 

According to The Kennel Club, their breed standard for the Golden Retriever was last updated in March of 1994.

You can read more about the ideal features of the English Cream Golden Retriever on their breed standards page.


American Golden Retriever

American Golden Retriever appearance and physical features

American Golden Retrievers are medium to large dogs with an athletic build. These dogs have symmetrical silhouettes, a broad skull shape, and very attentive expressions.

One notable feature American Golden Retrievers have that their English counterparts don’t is their curved topline and tail.

The topline of an American Golden curves roughly 30 degrees. Their tails also have a natural tendency to curve upwards.

Moreover, American Goldens are typically taller and a bit more slender than English Goldens. To be exact, these dogs are about one to two inches taller than their English cousins.

In terms of eye color, these dogs usually have eyes in all shades of brown. However, darker brown eyes are preferred over lighter brown eyes when it comes to dog shows and breeding rights. 

English Golden Retriever

English Golden Retriever appearance and physical features

English Goldens look about the same as an American Golden Retriever. These dogs are also medium to large dogs with symmetrical physiques and athletic builds. 

However, the body structure of an English Golden Retriever is slightly different from an American Golden. Unlike American Goldens with a slightly curved topline, these dogs have a straight topline and a leveled tail.

In addition, English Goldens are also stubbier compared to American Goldens. On average, these dogs are a few inches shorter than their American counterparts. 

Furthermore, it is also common for English Cream Golden Retrievers to come in a lighter shade of gold.

In fact, the most famous variant of the English Golden Retriever is the one with the cream coat color. This coat color does not occur in American Golden Retrievers.

READ NEXT: Male vs. Female Golden Retriever: Which Is Better?

Size and Weight

American Golden Retriever

Like other dog breeds, the gender of an American Golden Retriever is the biggest factor affecting its size and weight. 

A fully-grown male American Golden measures 23 to 24 inches in height and weighs 65 to 75 pounds. On the other hand, a fully-grown female American Golden measures 21.5 to 22.5 inches in height and weighs 55 to 65 pounds. 

Moreover, the length of an American Golden Retriever, measured from its breastbone to the point of buttocks, should be greater than the withers height in a ratio of 12:11.

These measurements are according to the AKC breed standards. A Golden Retriever that falls out of these ranges is considered less desirable both for shows and for breeding. 

English Golden Retriever

The story is similar for English Golden Retrievers. On average, male English Goldens are slightly bigger than their female counterparts. 

A fully-grown male English Cream Golden Retriever measures 22 to 24 inches in height while females measure 20 to 22 inches in height. There are no mentions of weight, however, in the breed standards for English Golden Retrievers. 

As you can see, English Goldens have a more lenient measurement range. The required height is also a few inches shorter compared to that of the American Goldens.

As a result, most English Goldens are slightly stubbier than their American cousins.

Color and Coat

American Golden Retriever and English Golden Retriever on the beach

American Golden Retriever

The American Golden Retriever comes in various shades of gold. According to the AKC, these dogs can have one of three coat colors. These include dark golden, golden, and light golden.

These dogs can also exhibit feathering on some parts of their bodies including the front of the neck, underside of the tail, as well as on the backside of their thighs. The color of the feathering should be lighter than the rest of their coat. 

In terms of markings, an American Golden can have a small area on its chest covered in white fur. However, large white markings or white markings on different parts of the body are not allowed. 

The coat of an American Golden Retriever is water-repellent. It is composed of a firm overcoat and an evenly textured undercoat.

English Golden Retriever

English Golden Retrievers are generally lighter in color than American Goldens.

The only restriction when it comes to coat colors of English Goldens is that they are not allowed to be red or mahogany. Any other shade of gold or cream is allowed.

English Goldens can also have a few white hairs on the chest. However, any patch of white hair on other parts of the body is subject to disqualification. 

In terms of overall coat appearance, the English Golden Retriever can have either a flat or wavy coat. Its overcoat is adequately dense and its undercoat is water-repellant. Feathering is also possible in English Goldens.

Temperament and Personality

American Golden Retriever

The temperament of American Golden Retrievers is nothing short of amazing. These dogs are very loyal, especially to their favorite human. They are also sociable and easily trainable. 

Also, if you have other pets or small kids around the house, you would be pleased to know that an American Golden Retriever will most likely get along with them.

One thing to note about American Goldens is that they can be very energetic, especially during their younger years. However, it is common for their energy levels to subside around the age of two years old.

English Golden Retriever

It is a common belief in the pet community that English Goldens are a bit calmer than American Goldens.

While this is true to some extent, there is really no solid proof to back this claim up. It is up to you if you will believe this claim!

However, what I can assure you is that English Golden Retrievers make amazing best friends. In fact, many people use them as therapy dogs. 

They practically do well to all the family members and they are very loyal, highly intelligent, and loving. They also do well with other pets as well as kids. 

With all of these in mind, remember that breed is only half the story when it comes to the personality of dogs. The other half comes from the patience and dedication of the dog owners to train their pets. 

Here’s a video showing some funny memories of an English Cream Golden Retriever:

English Cream Golden Retriever's Cutest Moments | Funny Subtitles

Lifespan and Health Problems

American Golden Retriever

The life expectancy of American Golden Retrievers is around 10 to 11 years. This is slightly shorter compared to the average lifespan of their English counterparts and other retrieving breeds.

One probable reason behind this shorter lifespan is the higher risk of cancer in American Golden Retrievers.

The average cancer rate in American Goldens is at an alarming 60%. Pet enthusiasts point to backyard breeding as one of the culprits for this high cancer rate.

Alongside cancers, some common health concerns in American Golden Retrievers include progressive retinal atrophy, hip dysplasia, Von Willebrand disease, luxating patella, and bloat.

While these health issues are common in American Golden Retrievers, these dogs can live without experiencing any of these.

As always, you can help your dog live a sickness-free life through regular vet check-ups, proper nutrition, and a healthy lifestyle.

English Golden Retriever

The life expectancy of English Golden Retrievers is around 12 years. These dogs are also at risk of cancer but at a lower chance compared to American Goldens. On average, around 38% of English Goldens develop cancers.

Common cancers in English Golden Retrievers include mast cell tumors, lymphoma, and osteosarcoma.

However, aside from these types of cancer, English Golden Retrievers also have other health issues. These include Von Willebrand disease, bloat, atopic dermatitis, and hip dysplasia.

It is worth noting that most of these health issues are preventable. As a Golden Retriever owner, your job is to help your dog stay in tip-top shape.

You can do this by keeping an eye out for early symptoms and by providing the best care for your pooch.

Puppy Price and Expenses

English Golden Retriever puppy and American Golden Retriever puppy biting branches

American Golden Retriever

In general, you will save a bit of money if you decide to get an American Golden Retriever. This is because these pooches are a bit more affordable compared to their English counterparts. 

On average, an American Golden Retriever from a reputable breeder will run you $500 to $2,000. However, if you want one from a champion line, expect to pay between $2,000 and $3,000.

In terms of initial costs, expect to shell out anywhere between $400 and $800 for your American Golden Retriever.

This will cover the initial batch of dog food, dog collar, crate, toys, treats, as well as vaccinations, neutering/spaying, and deworming.

The recurring cost of owning an American Golden Retriever is roughly $150 per month. This covers the expenses on dog food, treats, poop bags, and pet insurance.

English Golden Retriever

English Golden Retrievers are a few hundred dollars more expensive than American Goldens. On average, these dogs cost between $500 and $3,000.

But if you’re eyeing an English Cream Golden Retriever from a champion line, prepare to pay upwards of $3,500. 

Because of this steep pricing, it is recommended to buy an English Cream Golden Retriever from a reputable breeder only.

Some backyard breeders try to pass an American Golden Retriever as an English Golden only to hike up the price.

On top of the price of the dog itself, expect to pay around $400 to $800 for your pet’s initial expenses and around $150 for the monthly recurring costs.

Breeders and Rescues 

American Golden Retriever

The American Golden is a very famous dog breed. That said, there are tons of places to find these pooches.

If you are looking to get one, it is recommended to buy only from reputable breeders or adopt only from trusted rescues.

Below are some reputable breeders where you can find American Golden Retrievers for sale:

  • Gaylan’s Golden Retrievers – Gaylan’s Golden Retrievers has more than 20 years of experience in breeding Goldens. Their litter is mostly American Golden Retrievers of different coat colors which can be presented in the show ring. This breeder is situated in North Carolina and is managed by a husband and wife.
  • Amica Goldens – Amica Goldens is another reputable Golden Retriever breeder. All American Goldens from this breeder come with health guarantees as well as lifetime support. You can read more about the history and mission of this breeder on their website

RELATED: 10 Best Golden Retriever Breeders (2023): Our Top 10 Picks!

Here are some reliable services you can use to find American Golden Retriever for adoption:

  • Adopt-a-Pet – Adopt-a-Pet is a website that hosts thousands of listings for adoptable animals. This service is perhaps one of the most trusted and well-known adoption sites out there. Make sure to check their website from time to time to see listings for American Golden Retrievers. You may also use their location-based filter to see nearby options.
  • Petfinder – Petfinder is another website that aims to rehome adoptable pets. They have a lot of available American Golden Retrievers over on their website. Using their helpful filters, you will surely find the American Golden you are looking for!

If you haven’t found the American Golden of your dreams using the sources above, consider reading our round-up of the best Golden Retriever breeders and best Golden Retriever rescues. You’ll find a dozen options there!

English Golden Retriever

English Goldens are about as famous as American Goldens, if not more. This is good news because it means there are plenty of places to find these pooches for sale or adoption!

Here are some reputable breeders where you can find an English Golden Retriever puppy for sale:

  • Chadwick’s Goldens – Chadwick’s Goldens is a California-based Golden Retriever breeder. They specialize in raising and selling Champion English Cream Goldens. All dogs from this breeder are born from AKC-registered parents. Visit their website for their pricing and terms!
  • Summer Brook Goldens – Summer Brook Goldens is another reputable breeder of the English Cream Golden Retriever. All their puppies are guaranteed health-tested, obedient, and have awesome temperaments. You can check out their policies on their reservation page.

Here are some reliable services you can use to find English Cream Retriever for adoption:

  • Best Friends – Founded in 1993, Best Friends is an animal society based in the United States. Their main goal is to promote pet adoption and to serve as a no-kill animal rescue. Best Friends has a couple of listings for an English Golden Retriever over on their website.
  • Petango – Petango is an online service partnered with over 1,800 animal welfare organizations. This service hosts an extensive database of adoptable animals including English Goldens. Petango features advanced search filters such as a filter for coat color, gender, size, and location.

RELATED: 10 Best Golden Retriever Rescues for Adoption (2023): Our Top 10 Picks!

If you decide to use adoption websites in your search for English Goldens, it is helpful to know that “English Golden Retrievers” do not usually appear in the list of filters. Instead, what you will see is simply “Golden Retrievers.”

This means you will need to distinguish English Goldens from other types of Goldens on your own. While other listings have descriptions, some do not.

However, given the things you’ve learned from this guide, this is simply an easy challenge!

Similarities Between American Golden Retrievers and English Golden Retrievers

English Cream Golden Retriever and American Golden Retriever outdoor on green grass

For the most part, American Golden Retrievers and English Golden Retrievers are very much alike.

These dogs are equally intelligent, loyal, and loving. In fact, even the amount of hair they shed is also roughly the same!

Another thing these dogs share is their love for food. An American and English Golden Retriever will please you in every way they can to get some yummy treats.

Moreover, both these dogs are easily trainable. They best respond to positive reinforcement training.

Simply put, aside from a few health and physical differences, American and English Golden Retrievers are indistinguishable.

So unless you know exactly what you are looking for, you will have a hard time spotting the difference between these two!

American Golden Retriever vs. English Golden Retriever: Which Is Better?

Unfortunately, there is no straightforward answer to this question. Choosing a pet is a very personal matter. Ultimately, only you can tell which one is better suited to your preferences. 

Get an English Golden if you want a dog that is slightly shorter and lighter in color but don’t mind spending a bit of a fortune.

On the other hand, pick an American Golden if you don’t mind a slightly taller dog with richer coat color.

However, if you are not looking for a very particular Golden Retriever, you will be perfectly happy with either an American Golden or an English Golden.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Many Types of Golden Retrievers Are There?

Depending on the criteria on hand, Golden Retrievers can be classified into many categories. Their common classifications are based on size, coat color, and how they are fed.

However, the most widely used classification of Golden Retrievers is based on the country where they are bred.

For this classification, there are three types of Golden Retrievers — American Goldens, English Goldens, and Canadian Goldens.

READ NEXT: Canadian Golden Retriever: Info, Facts, Pictures, FAQ and More

Do English Golden Retrievers Shed More Than American Golden Retrievers?

Many people believe that English Golden Retrievers shed less than their American counterparts; however, there is no scientific basis behind this claim.

In general, both English Goldens and American Goldens shed about the same amount of hair. These dogs typically shed during spring and fall.

But depending on your dog’s health, environment, and diet, it may shed more or less than average.

Final Thoughts: Which Golden Retriever Is the Right Dog for You?

All things considered, the American Golden Retriever and the English Golden Retriever have more similarities than differences.

While it is true that English Goldens have a lower risk of developing cancer than American Goldens, this factor alone is not enough to tip off the scale.

That said, if you do not have any preference when it comes to coat color and size, you really can’t go wrong with either one.

Chances are, you’ll fall in love with the first Golden Retriever you lay your eyes on. After all, these pooches are known to be one of the best family companions!

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