Although they are not officially classified as separate breeds or even distinct varieties of the same breed, there are three main types of Golden Retrievers. In no particular order, they include English Golden Retrievers (sometimes called “English Cream Golden Retrievers”), American Golden Retrievers and Canadian Golden Retrievers.
If these types of Golden Retrievers haven’t yet been classified separately by the respective breed registry bodies of any country (for example, the UK’s Kennel Club, the American Kennel Club or the Canadian Kennel Club), is there anything that really sets English Golden Retrievers apart from the other types? All three types of Golden Retriever possess a friendly, eager-to-please, affectionate demeanor, but they also have many other characteristics in common, including loyalty, gentleness and intelligence.
Despite their many common features, however, there are some distinct differences. That said, the distinctions between the types are in their appearance, not their personality or temperament. The English Golden Retriever is the original type, with the American and Canadian types diverging from it during and after World War II. In general, the English Golden Retriever can be regarded as being more faithful to the original Golden Retriever body type than the more recently evolved Canadian and American versions.Over the course of time, American Golden Retrievers evolved into a slightly leaner, lighter dog while English Golden Retrievers retained their heavier, stockier, more muscled body structure.
The English Golden Retriever’s skull is broader and the forequarters in particular are more muscular. Its forehead is blockier and its muzzle is a bit wider and shorter. English Golden Retrievers also have sturdier, shorter legs, slightly deeper chests and shorter tails. Overall, they present a heavier, more square appearance than American Golden Retrievers. English Golden Retrievers are also known for their round, dark eyes. In contrast, the eyes of the American type are more triangular or even slanted and have a slightly lighter, medium to dark brown color.
All Golden Retrievers have gorgeous coats, but there are some differences between the coats of the American and English varieties, particularly in coat length, texture and color. The American variety features fluffy, lushly plumed coats, while English Golden Retrievers typically have slightly wavier coats that are less fluffy but much thicker. All Golden Retrievers are “golden” to one degree or another, but as the name implies, English Cream Golden Retrievers tend to be lighter in color than the other varieties.
Unlike the American and Canadian Kennel Club breed standards, the British standard specifically permits cream colored coats. The coats of English Golden Retrievers typically range from a pure light cream, to cream touched by gold, to a dusting of gold throughout the coat. Some English Golden Retrievers have darker golden coats, but this coloration is much more unusual in English dogs than in the Canadian or American variety.
In general, you can view this type as being the classic, traditional Golden Retriever first developed more than 100 years ago.
If you’re in the United States you might not see them quite as often as American Golden Retrievers, but English Golden Retrievers are much more popular in the United Kingdom, throughout continental Europe and in Australia, and they’re gaining ground rapidly in the United States.