English vs American Golden Retriever: 5 Differences

Written by August Buck
Updated: June 8, 2022
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Key Points:
  • English golden retrievers were bred to have white or cream colored fur, and generally weigh five pounds more than American golden retrievers. The American golden retriever has red or yellow hair.
  • In behavior, both breeds are very friendly and easy to train. The English golden retriever has a more laid back temperament, whereas the American golden retriever has lots more energy and can have separation anxiety.
  • The American golden retriever is recognized as a purebred breed by the AKC, while the English one is not. 

Did you know that there are two different types of golden retriever: the English vs American golden retriever? What separates these two dog breeds from one another, and how can you learn to tell the differences between them upon first glance?

In this article, we will compare and contrast all of the differences between English and American golden retrievers, including their physical descriptions so that you can tell them apart at first glance. We will also address their behavioral differences, their sizes, and whether or not their breed is recognized by the AKC. Let’s get started and learn about golden retrievers now!

Comparing English vs American Golden Retriever

English vs American Golden Retriever
American golden retrievers are slightly larger than English golden retrievers.

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English Golden RetrieverAmerican Golden Retriever
Size45-70 pounds; 20-24 inches tall55-75 pounds; 20-24 inches tall
AppearanceWavy and silky coat in a light cream or white color only; their coat is a bit shorter compared to their American counterpartsShiny and long silky coat in a yellow, red, or white shade; floppy ears and luxurious fur
Originally Bred ForSpecifically bred for their light cream colored fur, but still a capable hunting dogGun and hunting dog activities such as waterfowl retrieval 
BehaviorMore laid back than their American counterparts; easy to train and very friendly. Still sheds just as muchIncredibly friendly and playful; needs an abundance of exercise and sheds frequently
Recognized Breed by the AKC?NoYes

Key Differences Between English vs American Golden Retriever

English vs American Golden Retriever
Given the high energy of the American golden retriever, you may experience more separation anxiety or destruction compared to the English golden retriever.

Chendongshan/Shutterstock.com

There are many key differences between English and American golden retrievers. For example, American golden retrievers are slightly larger than English golden retrievers. The coat of the English golden retriever is only found in cream or white colors, while the coat of the American golden retriever is often found in yellow or red. Finally, the American golden retriever is a recognized breed by the AKC, while the English golden retriever is not. 

Let’s discuss all of these differences in more detail now.

English vs American Golden Retriever: Size

English vs American Golden Retriever
The coat of the English golden retriever is only found in cream or white colors, while the coat of the American golden retriever is often found in yellow or red.

iagodina / freepik – License

While it is an extremely subtle distinction, there are some size differences between the average English golden retriever versus the average American golden retriever. While they are identical in height and overall frame size, American golden retrievers weigh up to 5 pounds more than the average English golden retriever. However, this is likely not a difference that you can tell just by looking at them.

English vs American Golden Retriever: Appearance

English vs American Golden Retriever
The American golden retriever is a recognized breed by the AKC, while the English golden retriever is not.

You likely can’t tell an English golden retriever apart from an American golden retriever just by looking at them. This is because they are identical in basically every way besides the length of their fur. For example, English golden retrievers have a slightly shorter coat compared to the coat of the American golden retriever. This gives their coat more waves as well.

The primary difference and the main thing that sets English golden retrievers apart from American golden retrievers is that they only come in a cream or white coat, while American golden retrievers are found in yellow and red coloring. However, even American golden retrievers have the option of a white or cream colored coat, so this distinction may not be enough for you to tell these two dog breeds apart! 

English vs American Golden Retriever: Original Reason for Breeding

English vs American Golden Retriever
While they are identical in height and overall frame size, American golden retrievers weigh up to 5 pounds more than the average English golden retriever.

You may be wondering if there is a difference in the breeding of the English golden retriever versus the American golden retriever, and there is, in a certain capacity. For example, English golden retrievers are bred for their luxurious cream colored coats, while American golden retrievers are bred for their capable hunting abilities. However, both dogs share a proclivity for hunting, so they are bred for the same thing in many ways. 

English vs American Golden Retriever: Behavior

English vs American Golden Retriever
English golden retrievers are bred for their luxurious cream colored coats, while American golden retrievers are bred for their capable hunting abilities.

davisdeatonphotography/Shutterstock.com

For whatever reason, there are some behavioral differences between an American golden retriever and an English golden retriever. Many dog experts and breeders agree that English golden retrievers are more laid-back than American golden retrievers overall. Both dog breeds are exceedingly friendly and loyal, and are very easy to train. 

However, given the high energy of the American golden retriever, you may experience more separation anxiety or destruction compared to the English golden retriever. Both of these dogs shed an equal amount, despite the English golden retriever having a shorter coat than the American golden retriever as well. 

Health and Longevity

English golden retrievers live up to 12 years, while their American relatives have a life expectancy of 10-11 years. A sad fact is that in general, golden retrievers develop cancer at a higher rate than most other dog breeds. Between the two we’ve analyzed, American golden retrievers have a cancer rate of 60%, almost twice that of English golden retrievers, who have a 38% chance of contracting the disease.

English vs American Golden Retriever: Does the AKC Recognize the Breed?

English vs American Golden Retriever
Many dog experts and breeders agree that English golden retrievers are more laid-back than American golden retrievers overall.

iStock.com/Tatyana Consaul

A final and distinct difference between the English golden retriever and the American golden retriever is whether or not they are recognized as a distinct and separate breed by the AKC. While the English cream golden retriever is prized for its beautiful coat, it is not a recognized purebred breed of dog, while the American golden retriever is. 

However, this does not mean anything in the grand scheme of dogs. Both English and American golden retrievers have many similarities, and many people still consider them to be the same breed despite their subtle differences. No matter what, either of these dog breeds make fantastic companions for a wide variety of families and situations! 

Up Next…

Find out more about golden retrievers in these articles:

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About the Author

I am a non-binary freelance writer working full-time in Oregon. Graduating Southern Oregon University with a BFA in Theatre and a specialization in creative writing, I have an invested interest in a variety of topics, particularly Pacific Northwest history. When I'm not writing personally or professionally, you can find me camping along the Oregon coast with my high school sweetheart and Chihuahua mix, or in my home kitchen, perfecting recipes in a gleaming cast iron skillet.

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