English Golden Retrievers Are Not a Separate Breed

All Golden Retrievers are one breed and are registered as simply Golden Retrievers by the American Kennel Club. However, there are two different types of Golden Retrievers bred to two different standards. The type commonly referred to as English Cream Golden Retrievers are actually Golden Retrievers imported primarily from Europe. These imports are bred to the FCI standard instead of to the AKC standard for Golden Retrievers. 

History of the “Breed”

A Scottish nobleman named Lord Tweedmouth bred the first Golden Retrievers in the highlands of Scotland in the late 1800’s. The Kennel Club in Britain first recognized them as a breed in 1911. Several years later, breeders began importing some of these original Golden Retrievers into the United States. In 1932 the Golden Retriever became an AKC breed. Over the years, AKC changed the standard to suite the tastes of Americans. The European standard took a slightly different direction. 

Then about 20 years ago a few puppy mills began importing the lighter colored European dogs to the U.S. They gave them the name English Cream Golden Retrievers and began marketing them as if they were a separate breed. They often called them “White Golden Retrievers” as well as English Cream Golden Retrievers.

Differences Between American and English Golden Retrievers

The most obvious difference between the two types of Golden Retrievers is coat color. Cream is an acceptable coat color for Golden Retrievers in Europe. It is not in the U.S. However, if you take a closer look, there are other differences. The head in Europe has a bigger blockier look. European dogs are also slightly shorter and heavier. Their coats are not quite as long. European coats can be a little wavier than their American counterparts. Their ears are a little lower set. There are many other differences. Some of these differences are discussed below. However, there are more similarities than differences.

English Golden Retrievers are Slower to Mature

English Golden Retrievers are slower to mature than American Goldens, with some lines maturing slower than others. Most English Goldens will continue to develop for years. They fill out and mature in both their body and especially their head later than American Golden Retrievers. Many imported Golden Retrievers don’t reach full maturity until about 4 years of age. This may be part of the reason that English Golden Retrievers live longer. 

Temperament Differences Between English and American Golden Retrievers

Generally speaking, Golden Retrievers from imported lines tend to have softer, calmer, and sometimes less confident temperaments than American Golden Retrievers. Field lines are the most confident and active Goldens. See our page on the Golden Retriever temperamentfor more details and information.

Attributes Common to All Golden Retrievers

Because both types of Golden Retrievers are descendants of the same dogs, there are more similarities than differences.  It doesn’t matter if American bred or European bred. Goldens are loving and sweet, gentle but playful, a devoted companion, and a friend for life. 

Playful as Puppies

Golden Retrievers can be a handful as puppies and although sweet and loving, they also have an energetic, playful side. They settle down a good bit usually around the age of two if trained well as a puppy. To be calm adults, Golden Retrievers need consistent training for a good foundation. However, many people who have lived with an older Golden Retriever for years tend to forget those active puppy years. They forget all the work that an energetic puppy can be.  A Golden Retriever is a puppy until he/she is two years old. They may remain a puppy at heart for many years later. 

Love and Thrive on Being With People

Golden Retrievers love to be with people and therefore need to always be house dogs living inside with a family.  They will become depressed if stuck out alone in a backyard. They might develop bad habits out of boredom, such as digging and chewing shrubbery. Few Golden Retrievers can tolerate being left alone for extended periods of time. When forced to do so, many will become crazily excited when they do get time with a human. 

Not One Man Dogs

Although they love their own people most, Golden Retrievers are not “one man dogs.” They will love everyone who comes in contact with them.  A well-bred Golden Retriever doesn’t make a good guard dog. Most Goldens will bark when a stranger comes to the house. However, they’d prefer to lick an intruder to death than to bite.

Enjoy an Active Outdoor Life

They love an active lifestyle with an outdoorsy family.  They enjoy walks, hikes, camping, and swimming in any type water they can find.  Unfortunately, they also enjoy the mud and don’t understand the idea that you may not. 

Good With Children, As Service Dogs, In Obedience and Agility, and In Therapy Work

Golden Retrievers are wonderful dogs for families with children because of their gentleness.  They are wonderful service dogs because of their willingness to please as well as their high intellect.  They are wonderful dogs for those wanting to compete in obedience and agility because of their intelligence.  And they are wonderful dogs in hospitals serving as therapy dogs because of their loving dependable nature.