Male vs. Female Golden Retriever 

Golden retriever stands on the grass and looks forward
Burin P/

Written by Gabrielle Monia

Published: February 3, 2023

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With a reputation for a friendly and gentle nature, golden retrievers are playful companions that can make an excellent addition to the family, whether male or female. While their charming personalities and shining intelligence aren’t linked to only one or the other sex, they have some distinct differences.

If you’re considering adding a golden member to the family, you may be wondering, just what are the differences between a male vs female golden retriever?

Comparing Male vs. Female Golden Retrievers 

Male Golden RetrieverFemale Golden Retriever
Sizeweight: 65 to 75 lbs., height: 23 to 24 in.weight: 55 to 65 lbs., height: 21-22 in.
Physical Traitsbroader head & snout, stockier build, thicker coat and shaggy manenarrower head & snout, slender build, thinner and more feathered coat
ReproductionCan reproduce at any time if intactGo into fertile heat cycles 2x per year
Health Considerations66% cancer rate57% cancer rate
Response to TrainingFaster physical maturationFaster mental maturation

Key Differences Between a Male and Female Golden Retrievers

The key differences between male vs female golden retrievers are their size, physical traits, reproductive role, health considerations and responses to training.

It’s a common myth that males tend to be more affectionate and females more independent. The truth is that distinctions in personality come down to differences between individuals. While one dog may become an attached-at-the-hip family member, another may prefer solo exploration. While one may be affectionate and eager to please, another prefers to test the boundaries. 

Goldens are known to have a playful nature and to be great companions to families with young, energetic children. Some are naturally more energetic than others, whether male or female. If your Golden has lots of energy, they’ll require more consistent physical activity. Be sure to get them out for walks or playing fetch to prevent any destructive activities resulting from boredom.

Size Differences

Golden retriever stands on the grass and looks forward

Golden retrievers are intelligent and very affectionate.

In most dog breeds, males tend to grow larger than females, and golden retrievers are no exception. An adult male Golden Retriever can reach 65 to 75 pounds, while a female typically reaches no more than 55 to 65 pounds. This size difference is also observed concerning height. Males grow to 23 to 24 inches at the shoulders, and females reach 21 to 22 inches tall. 

Male vs. Female Golden Retrievers: Physical Traits

Males Goldens usually develop broader heads and snouts than females. Female heads are typically more narrow, and their snouts are skinnier. Female golden retrievers may tend towards a more slender overall appearance, and males have a stockier build. However, these differences are generalizations, and characteristics will vary between individuals.

Some slight differences in appearance show up in Golden Retriever coats as well. Males often have thicker hair and a mane of shaggy long hair in their neck and chest area. Female Goldens will display thinner hair that is more feathered around their bodies. While males and females need their golden coats maintained by regular brushing, males’ thicker coats may require a bit more maintenance. 


Golden Retriever having fun at the campsite

Golden Retrievers are well known for their beautiful coats.

Male and female dogs differ most clearly in their reproductive systems and roles. This will be an important area of consideration if you plan on breeding. Female dogs go into a heat cycle about two times per year. During these times, they will need to be kept away from other dogs if they are not being intentionally bred. While female golden retrievers are only fertile during these windows, males are ready to reproduce at any time. An unneutered male may lose control over themselves when in the presence of a female dog in heat. They’re at risk of escape attempts and/or injuring themselves while tracking a nearby female in heat. Reproductive hormones may contribute to male golden retrievers marking their territory and humping or displaying alpha behaviors more often than females. 

While spaying female and neutering male dogs are common practices and vital to preventing unintended pregnancies, gonadal hormones are important to growth and development. Both male and female golden retrievers may be at higher risk for certain disorders if the procedure is done early. Neutering golden retrievers before the age of 6 months are shown to increase the risk of cancer and joint disorders. Other studies show that there is increased risk before 12 months of age.

Male vs. Female Golden Retrievers: Health Considerations

Health considerations are a major factor when considering bringing a canine family member on board. There are distinct health concerns to be aware of when it comes to male vs. female Golden Retrievers. The Golden Retriever Lifetime Study is the most comprehensive study ever undertaken in veterinary medicine to identify environmental, nutritional, lifestyle and genetic risk factors for cancer and other diseases. Whether male or female, Goldens are susceptible to certain conditions, such as hip and elbow dysplasia, retinal cataracts, pigmentary uveitis and various cancers. A small percentage are also at risk for a hereditary heart disease called subvalvular aortic stenosis. 

Golden Retrievers have nearly double cancer rates compared to the average of all breeds. Approximately 60% of all Goldens develop some type of cancer during their lifetime. Males are affected at a higher rate of 66%, while females experience a cancer rate of 57%. It’s important to note that despite high cancer rates, both male and female Golden Retrievers have an average lifespan of 10 to 11 years, comparable to the all-breed average. 

Response to Training

Golden retriever eating from dog bowl

Golden Retrievers make top-notch therapy dogs.

Female golden retrievers mature faster mentally than males, who have a longer puppy stage. So, obedience training may be successful earlier on for females than for males. Females tend to learn commands and remember them at an earlier age. The opposite is usually true for physical maturity, especially potty training. Male golden retrievers can hold their bladders for longer periods than females, so, potty training may come faster for them than for females of the same age.

Whether you choose a male or female Golden Retriever, you’re sure to have a loyal and loving companion with a heart of gold!

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About the Author

Gabrielle is a freelance writer with a focus on animals, nature and travel. A Pacific Northwest native, she now resides in the high desert beneath towering ponderosa pines with her beloved dog by her side. She often writes with a coyote call or owl hoot backdrop and is visited by the local deer, squirrels, robins and crows. A committee of turkey vultures convenes nightly in the trees where she resides. Here, the flock and their ancestors have roosted for over 100 years. Her devotion to the natural world has led her to the lifelong study of plants, fungi, wildlife and the interactions between them all.

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