Field Golden Retriever vs. Show Golden Retriever: Which Is Better?

Show Golden Retriever and field Golden Retriever comparison

If you’re planning to own a Golden Retriever, you should know that not all of them are built the same. There are different variations of the breed, and two of these are show and field Golden Retrievers. 

Show Golden Retrievers are bred to have looks that conform to the breed standards, mainly for dog shows. They are said to be stockier and thicker than field-bred ones. On the other hand, field Golden Retrievers were bred to work and hunt, so they are leaner and more athletic. 

Both types make great pets as they belong to the same breed. However, since they were bred for different purposes, there are slight differences between the two. 

For some, these differences might have a huge impact, and that’s why I wrote this article!

This guide will discuss the specific differences between show and field bred Golden Retrievers, from their sizes to temperaments. Let’s begin!

Origin and Purpose 

Field Golden Retriever

All Golden Retrievers are wonderful dogs that came from the same foundation. Dudley Marjoribanks, an aristocrat in Scotland, started to develop the breed in the 1800s.

He crossed a “yellow retriever” with the now-extinct Tweed Water Spaniel, Irish Setter, and Bloodhound to create the ideal gundog. 

Field Goldens were further developed, and the dogs soon became well-known as excellent hunting companions. Golden Retrievers eventually found their way to the United States in the 1900s through Canada. 

Staying true to their foundations, field bred Golden Retrievers of today are great hunting companions.

They are athletic, have high energy levels and relentless drive. These dogs will be happy to work and hunt with their families all day!

With these characteristics and their intelligence, field Goldens can also excel in detection work as well as search and rescue.

Show Golden Retriever

Continuing the breed’s history, Golden Retrievers were first seen at a British dog show in 1908. Their popularity increased, and Golden Retrievers continued to be imported all over the world. 

As kennel clubs in different countries officially recognized the breed, slightly different standards were developed. 

Show Golden Retrievers were bred to conform to these breed standards. If their looks check all the boxes, chances are they’ll enjoy a promising show career! 

But that’s not all there is to show Golden Retrievers. To be successful in the show ring, dogs should have great temperaments too. Show Goldens are not only good family dogs but they also make great therapy and service dogs.

READ NEXT: American vs. English Golden Retriever: A Detailed Comparison

Kennel Club Recognition

Field and show types are Golden Retriever variations that emerged naturally over time.

Though major kennel clubs all over the world recognize the breed, you wouldn’t find field and show Goldens as official types.

Whether you have a field or show Golden Retriever, registration will still be under one breed. Consequently, there are no specific standards set for both field or show Golden Retrievers.

Appearance

Field Golden Retriever

Field Golden Retriever appearance

As the breed continued to develop in different parts of the world, various bloodlines were established. Naturally, these different bloodlines began to have distinguishing features. 

Field or field bred Golden Retrievers are characterized by their athletic physique. Field Goldens have smaller and leaner frames that help them run, swim and jump all day easily. 

The heads of field Goldens are wedge-shaped, and they have triangular or slanted eyes. Their snouts are also a bit more elongated than show Goldens. 

Another easy way to identify a field Golden Retriever is by its coat. Typically, they have darker and shorter coats than show dogs.

Show Golden Retriever

Show Golden Retriever appearance

In comparison, show Golden Retrievers are bigger and stockier. Overall, they would appear thicker and more big-boned than field Goldens because they are bred for a specific look.

They are often characterized by a broader skull, with deep and wide muzzles. This combination makes their head appear block-shaped. 

If you look close enough, it is said that they also have rounder and darker eyes than their field-bred counterparts. Moreover, they have a light gold coat, unlike their darker-haired counterparts.

Don’t underestimate them, though. Even with larger bodies, they would still enjoy and do well in physical activities like canine sports. After all, Golden Retrievers are lively and energetic, regardless of type!

Take a look at how a field and show Golden Retriever play in this video: 

Differences Between Show and Field Goldens

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

Size and Weight 

In general, male Golden Retrievers should stand at 23 to 24 inches and weigh 65 to 75 pounds. On the other hand, females should be 21½ to 22½ inches tall and weigh 55 to 65 pounds. 

Field Golden Retrievers have smaller frames, so they are usually at the lower end of these size ranges.

Show Golden Retrievers, on the other hand, are said to be larger. However, they must still meet these height and weight requirements to qualify for shows. 

Color and Coat

Field Golden Retriever

One of the easiest ways to identify a field Golden Retriever is by its coat. First, they usually have shorter and straighter coats than show Goldens. 

Their coats are shorter primarily because of their nature and purpose as hunting and working dogs. They should be able to work in all seasons and swim in different waters. 

In water, a longer coat will make swimming more challenging and take more time to dry. On land, long coats can tangle and pick up debris more quickly, affecting their efficiency.

In terms of color, AKC breed standard accepts “rich, lustrous golden of various shades,” but most field Goldens are in the mid-gold to the darker gold range. There are also field bred Golden Retrievers with red or mahogany-colored coats.

According to breed standards, an extremely dark coat is considered undesirable. Red is actually not an accepted color in Golden Retrievers. 

But it’s not much of a problem as darker coats are primarily found in field-bred lines. Actually, they aren’t as common as the standard golden shades, so many people love them! 

Show Golden Retriever

In comparison, the coats of show Golden Retrievers are typically longer and wavier. Their long coats are less than ideal for outdoor work, but like the field Goldens, it gives them ample protection from extreme heat or cold.

Show Goldens are typically lighter between the two types. Their coats are shades of light to mid-gold coats. This is because extremely pale or dark shades are considered less ideal in show rings.

But again, this may differ according to the country. According to an article by the Golden Retriever Club of America (GRCA), there are more Goldens with lighter coats overseas than in the United States. In fact, UK standards list cream as an allowable color.

Temperament and Personality

Field Golden Retriever and show Golden Retriever coat color

Field Golden Retriever

As they were bred to be able to work all day, field Golden Retrievers have driven personalities. They are also said to be more energetic than show Golden Retrievers. 

They are smart, eager to please, and devoted to their humans. As such, you can easily train them with proper training methods.

Similarly, with lots of positive reinforcement, they aren’t difficult to train in the house or for work in the field. 

This breed also has a reputation for being great with kids and other dogs, making them great family pets.

Just be careful! Field Goldens tend to be a bit mouthy. Careful supervision is still needed, especially when your dog is interacting with very young kids.

Like any other working dog breed, they need sufficient work or activity to be happy and content.

Though these dogs are smart and amiable, field bred Golden Retrievers can also resort to destructive behavior if they’re bored or left with a lot of pent-up energy.

You’ll see them stealing socks, chewing up furniture, and other things that can make them busy. 

If they aren’t put to work, you can engage them in canine sports and exercises such as hiking or swimming. They are natural athletes, so field Goldens would be perfect for active families.

Show Golden Retriever

Show Golden Retrievers are also very loving and loyal to their families. It is even said that they make better house companions than their field-bred counterparts.

They are friendlier and have a little less energy, so they’re easier to manage around the house.

But like I said before, show Goldens still need a good amount of physical activity. They would also enjoy canine sports and different exercises. After all, the breed is part of the AKC Sporting Group

With their intelligence and friendliness to people and other pets, they’re not just perfect family dogs.

Field Goldens are also often employed as service dogs or therapy dogs. They can be trained to do a lot of things, thanks to their balanced temperament.

A fantastic example is Sampson, a Golden Retriever that helps out as a lab assistant!

Sampson is a service dog to a neuroscientist who suffered from physical injuries. He stays in the lab to watch out for signs of PTSD and help retrieve objects. 

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

Lifespan and Health Problems

All Golden Retrievers have a lifespan of 10 to 12 years, regardless of whether they are show or field-bred. So far, there are no indications that the lifespan and health issues of these variations differ. 

The most severe health issue that Golden Retrievers face is cancer. In a study by the GRCA in 2015, data showed that 60% of Golden Retrievers die from cancer.

Hemangiosarcoma and lymphosarcoma are the two most common cancers found in the breed. 

Continuous research is being done to identify why the cancer rate is very high in the breed.

One theory is that all Golden Retrievers have a genetic risk for cancer. However, much like the disease in humans, their environment can play a role too. 

Aside from cancer, here are other common diseases that are found in both field and show Golden Retrievers: 

  • Elbow and Hip Dysplasia: For dogs their size, elbow and hip dysplasia are relatively common. These are conditions where the elbow or hip joints do not develop normally, causing pain, instability, and the development of arthritis.
  • Hypothyroidism: This is a condition wherein the thyroid gland does not produce enough hormones for the body to function normally. It can cause weight gain, thinning of the Golden’s coat, as well as behavioral changes. In a study done by the GRCA, they found that one out of four Golden Retrievers develop hypothyroidism.
  • Subvalvular Aortic Stenosis (SAS): SAS is a congenital heart defect most commonly seen in Golden Retrievers, Newfoundlands, and Rottweilers. Goldens with mild to moderate cases may have clinical signs but still live a normal life. However, severe cases of this disease can lead to sudden death. 

Like all other dog breeds, a Golden Retriever’s health is affected by genetics and upbringing. If you’re buying a puppy, ask the breeder about what health screenings they do for their dogs.

Puppy Price

For both field and show Goldens, a puppy from a reputable breeder can cost around $700 to $3,000. It can go as high as $5,000, depending on factors such as the breeder’s reputation and bloodlines. 

For show Goldenrs, puppies from champion bloodlines are more expensive. Typically, breeders would show you all the various titles their dogs have won.

When it comes to field Goldens, hunting ability is the prime focus. Puppies may be more expensive if the breeding stock has won titles in events like field and agility trials.

Red field Golden Retrievers may also be on the higher end of the range as the color is quite rare. 

Finding a Golden Retriever Breeder

Finding show and field Golden Retriever breeders

Field Golden Retriever

In the United States, Golden Retrievers are pretty popular as hunting dogs, so it would be relatively easy to find a suitable field Golden Retriever breeder near you.

Here are some field bred Golden Retriever breeders you can get in touch with: 

  • Field Bred Golden Retrievers – This breeder is based on a farm in West Mountain, Utah. All their dogs are from field-bred lines and are trained to hunt extensively on their farm and the surrounding mountains. If you’re interested in buying a puppy from them, you need to fill out a puppy request form and send it back via email or post. 
  • REDTAIL Golden Retrievers – REDTAIL’s breeding program also focuses on producing excellent working dogs. As such, they only accept applications from working Golden homes. You can send your inquiries for their litter via the form on their website. 
  • Wildfire Goldens – Wildfire Goldens is a breeder in Minnesota that focuses on breeding “family hunting dogs.” They have been breeding field Goldens for over 30 years now and have produced champions in AKC field trials. You can inquire about a puppy through the form on their website.

For field-bred Golden Retrievers, breeders may look for adoptive homes where the dog can work. Field Goldens make great family pets, but they are at their best when they have sufficient work or activity.

Show Golden Retriever

If your lifestyle is more laid back, or you’re interested in joining dog shows, you can try your luck with show Golden breeders.

To help you begin your search, you can take a look at the following breeders:

  • Dynasty Golden Retrievers – This Missouri-based breeder has been producing show-quality pups since 1992. Their dogs consistently win at shows, so you can be sure that their puppies come from champion lines. They have a limited number of litters per year, so you should inquire as early as possible through the form on their site. 
  • Trinity Golden Retrievers – Kristin of Trinity Golden Retrievers has shown dogs since she was 14 years old. Their family’s breeding program focuses on producing show prospects with great temperaments. All litters are carefully planned, so they have a pretty long waiting list. You can get on the list once you apply and pass their interview. 
  • Mattiaci Golden Retrievers – Mattiaci is a breeder in Montana that has produced over 20 AKC champions. With the work they put into preserving healthy champion Golden Retrievers, they only sell to homes where the dog will be an indoor family pet. You can only inquire about a Mattiaci puppy via email.

If you’re interested in show Goldens, expect that there will be long waiting lists.

Since dogs in their breeding stock join a lot of competitions, litters are very carefully planned. Usually, only a limited number of puppies are available each year. 

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Field Golden Retriever vs. Show Golden Retriever: Which Is Better?

The truth is there is no better variation between the field and show Golden Retrievers. It all depends on which one is better or more suitable for your personality and lifestyle.

If you hunt or lead a very active lifestyle, a field Golden Retriever would naturally be better.

On the other hand, if you’re looking for an indoor family pet or a service dog, then you couldn’t go wrong with a show Golden. 

Also, as I mentioned before, there is only one Golden Retriever breed. Field and show Golden Retrievers are simply variations.

While they have some differences, both types are loving and loyal companions and will be great additions to the family.

READ NEXT: 10 Best Golden Retriever Rescues for Adoption (2021): Our Top 10 Picks!

Frequently Asked Questions

What Are the Three Types of Golden Retrievers?

The three types of Golden Retrievers are American, British or English, and Canadian Golden Retrievers. Take note that these are unofficial types, and they are not found in breed standards.

These variations emerged because of the development of the breed in different regions. These three types have slight differences in appearance, but all are equally loving and devoted companions. 

What Does Field Bred Mean in Dogs?

Field-bred canines are those that were bred primarily to assist hunters. The physical appearance and temperaments of field-bred dogs make them ideal for flushing or retrieving games. 

Typically, field-bred dogs are more athletic and have higher energy levels and drive than other breed variations. 

Do Field Bred Golden Retrievers Shed?

All Golden Retrievers shed. They shed moderately on a regular basis and heavily once or twice a year. 

Field Golden Retrievers may shed a little less because of their shorter coats. However, it’s still best to brush them once or twice a week to keep their coats healthy. If they’re shedding heavily, brush them daily to help manage the loose hair. 

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

Field and show Golden Retrievers are variations of a very popular breed. They were bred for different purposes, so they have slight differences. 

Field Goldens are bred to work and hunt, so they are more athletic and have high energy levels. They are perfect for homes when they can work and stay active. 

On the other hand, show Golden Retrievers are bred to conform to looks set by kennel clubs. They are stockier and a little less energetic than field-bred ones, so they are more suitable for people with a laid-back lifestyle. 

In choosing a Golden Retriever puppy, my advice for you is to go beyond appearance. Think of which one will better suit your lifestyle. Don’t worry!

Regardless of whether you select a show or field type, Golden Retrievers are great family companions. 

John Carter

My name is John Carter and I absolutely love pets, especially cats and dogs. I've got a Bachelor of Science degree in Animal Behaviour and Welfare and have several years’ experience working in animal shelters and rescues. My passion for animals started at a very young age as I grow up on a farm with several horses, cows, cats, chickens, and dogs on our property.

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