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American vs. English Golden Retrievers: What’s the Difference?

american vs english golden retriever

The American Golden Retriever is one of the most popular breeds of dogs in the United States. They are recognizable by their long golden coats and friendly character. However, across the Atlantic Ocean, a seemingly similar kind of dog is also a popular pet for families: the English Golden Retriever. Both retrievers might look alike because they are not actually different breeds of dogs, as the American Kennel Club classifies both of these dogs as Golden Retrievers.

They possess a friendly and gentle temperament and are roughly the same height and weight. But there are some differences between the American and English Golden Retrievers. This article explores the similarities and differences between the American and English Golden Retriever.

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Visual Differences

american english golden retriever
Image Credit: Left – American Golden Retriever (Rusty campbell, Pixabay); Right – English Golden Retriever (JackieLou DL, Pixabay)

At a Glance

American Golden Retriever
  • Average height (adult): 23-24 inches (males), 21.5-22.5 inches (female)
  • Average weight (adult): 65-75 pounds (males), 55-65 pounds
  • Lifespan: 10-11 years
  • Exercise: Moderate to high
  • Grooming needs: Moderate, daily, or weekly grooming needed
  • Family-friendly: Yes, excellent with children
  • Other pet-friendly: Yes, friendly towards pets
  • Trainability: Easy to train; eager to please
English Golden Retriever
  • Average height (adult): 22-24 inches (males), 20-22 inches (female)
  • Average weight (adult): 64-75 pounds (males), 55-64 pounds (females)
  • Lifespan: 10-12 years
  • Exercise: Moderate to high
  • Grooming needs: Moderate, daily, or weekly grooming needed
  • Family-friendly: Yes, excellent with children
  • Other pet-friendly: Yes, friendly towards pets
  • Trainability: Easy to train; calm disposition

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American Golden Retrievers

Golden Retriever sitting in the dirt
Image Credit: Olena Brodetska, Shutterstock

American Golden Retrievers (sometimes known as ‘Goldies’) have the more familiar dark golden color medium-length coat. The American Goldie is lanky and muscular with an arched, broad-shaped head. Their eyes are usually large to medium-sized and dark brown.

Personality

One of the reasons why American Golden Retrievers are very popular dogs is due to their personality and temperament. These dogs are described as friendly, kind, and gentle. Goldies can get along with almost anyone, making them great additions to families with children. Goldies are also very trusting and eager to please people; this makes them poor guard dogs. This also makes Goldies dependent on people, so they do not like being left alone for very long. This dog is happiest when it is with people or other pets.

Training and Exercise

Even though American Golden Retrievers do not make the best guard dogs, they are still easily trained for general commands by new dog owners. The key to training and socializing your dog is to start when they are young.

As for exercise, the American Golden Retriever is an active (if not sometimes a hyper) dog, so daily exercise at least 1-2 times a day is a must. These dogs love swimming, fetching, and running around. If a Goldie is unable to get the exercise they need, they could use their pent-up energy in other ways, such as chewing on furniture. Plus, your dog can get obese, leading to other health issues later in life. Before bringing a Golden Retriever into your home, make sure you can provide it with the exercise it needs to thrive.

Health and Care

American Golden Retrievers are a healthy breed overall but are not immune to some health problems. Goldies are susceptible to elbow and hip dysplasia, which are heritable conditions. If you get your dog from a breeder, ensure that their parents have been screened for this health issue and do not have it. Buying your dog from a reputable breeder can also ensure that other problems such as eye conditions are reduced as it gets older.

Since Goldies have longer hair, shedding will be unavoidable. However, weekly grooming will help reduce the amount of hair found around the house. Goldies do not need to be bathed often; however, since they love water, bathing them will not be a large issue for you! This breed does drool a bit so have a clean hand towel available after playing with them.

Suitable For:

American Golden Retrievers are suitable for many people. They will become an excellent part of a single or multi-person household. These dogs are also wonderful with children; however, no young child should be left unsupervised with a dog. Even though Goldies are gentle with children, young children might not understand certain boundaries that they should not cross with dogs: pulling their tail or ears, taking away their food dish while eating, etc.

American Golden Retrievers are welcoming towards other dogs and pets as well and have not been known to display aggression towards strangers. However, Goldies do not handle being left alone for long periods of time. If you work or attend school outside of the home, these extended absences will make them feel anxious.

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English Golden Retrievers

Golden retriever standing on the grass
Image Credit: Piqsels

Like their American cousins, English Golden Retrievers are equally as friendly and loyal. One of the major differences between them is their color. English Golden Retrievers are a lighter color, usually a cream color. Their coat is also a bit shorter and wavier when compared to the American Golden Retrievers. There are some other physical differences between these two types of dogs as well. The English Golden Retrievers are stockier, and their heads are a bit larger.

Personality

The overall personality of the English Golden Retriever is slightly different from the American Golden Retriever. They are friendly, but they are also a bit calmer in temperament. However, this does not make them less of a loyal companion when compared to the American Goldie. Their calmer disposition makes them easier to train overall, which is a plus for new dog owners. This also makes them a good choice for owners with children and other pets. They are friendly towards strangers, which makes them poor guard dogs.

Training and Exercise

English Golden Retrievers are easier to train because they are calmer and less hyper than American Golden Retrievers. Their intelligence and maturity allow for easy training, but regardless of which Goldie version you have, it is always best to start training and personalizing them when they are young.

As for exercise, even though the English Golden Retrievers are calmer, they still need daily exercise. These dogs love long walks or runs and swimming. Because these breeds are prone to weight gain, Golden Retrievers will get obese without at least twice-daily exercise. Like the American Golden Retrievers, they might chew or rip up furniture if they have unused energy.

Health and Care

English Golden Retrievers can develop the same health issues as American Golden Retrievers: elbow or hip dysplasia and eye conditions. You can reduce the chances of your English Golden Retriever developing these issues by buying them from a reputable breeder that can have their parents screened for these conditions.

Like the American Goldie, the English Goldie will need to be groomed weekly to reduce shedding, even though their coat is shorter than the American. These dogs are mouthy and do drool a little bit, so you might need to dry yourself off after playing with your Goldie.

Suitable For:

English Golden Retrievers are wonderful companions for families, especially families with children. As with all dogs, children should be supervised when playing with the dog to make sure they are not too rough with them. The primary considerations with owning a Goldie are ensuring that they are not left alone for too long and that they get plenty of exercise. These dogs also do not thrive well in apartments because they need space to move around.

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Life Expectancy: American vs. English Golden Retriever

The English Goldie has a slightly longer life expectancy at up to 12 years, whereas the American’s life expectancy is between 10-11 years. Although both the American and English Goldie can be susceptible to elbow and hip dysplasia, the American Goldie is more likely to suffer from cancer. The cancer rate for these animals ranges from almost 40% for English Goldies and a staggering 60% for American Goldies.

Related Read: Do Golden Retrievers Shed? (How Much and How Often?)

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Which Breed Is Right for You?

The American or English Goldie will make an excellent companion for you and your family. Both dogs have similar needs in terms of exercise, grooming, and food. American and English Goldies are also both intelligent and warm towards people and other animals. If your personality works well with a dog with higher energy, the American Goldie is the choice for you! If you want a dog with a slightly calmer temperament, consider the English Goldie. Before getting a Goldie or any dog, make sure you can provide them with love, attention, and exercise they need to live happily and healthily.

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Featured Image Credit: ToNic-Pics, Pixabay (top); Melanie Mai, Pixabay (bottom)

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