Differences and Similarities Between American and English Golden Retrievers

Golden Retrievers were originally developed by Lord Tweedmouth in the highlands of Scotland in the late 1800’s. They were recognized as a breed by the Kennel Club in Britain in 1911 and then later imported 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 and the European standard took a slightly different direction. The most obvious difference is the acceptability of the cream coat color in Europe. 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 and can be a little wavier than their American counterparts and their ears are a little lower set. Go to our Golden Retriever KC and AKC Standard Comparison page to read the details about how the two standards compare and to see in detail how their looks compare. English Golden Retrievers are slower to mature than American Goldens, with some lines maturing slower than others. Most English Goldens will continue to develop and fill out and mature in both their body and especially their head until they are at least three years old, many taking until they are four to attain full maturity. This may be part of the reason that English Golden Retrievers live longer. There are also a few health differences which you can read about on our Health pages.

Because both types of Golden Retrievers are descendants of the same dogs, there are more similarities than differences.  American bred or European bred, Goldens are loving and sweet, gentle but playful, a devoted companion, and a friend for life.  

Golden Retrievers can be a handful as puppies and although sweet and loving, they also have an energetic, playful side. They do settle down a good bit usually around the age of two, especially if a good foundation with discipline and training has been laid during the puppy years, but many people who have lived with a Golden Retriever for ten or more years only remember the calm laid back later years and have forgotten all the work that an energetic puppy can be.  A Golden Retriever is a puppy until he/she is two years old and may remain a puppy at heart for many years later. 

Golden Retrievers love to be with people and therefore need to always be house dogs living inside with a family.  They will be depressed if stuck out alone in a backyard and will develop bad habits out of boardom, such as digging and chewing shrubbery.  If left alone for extended periods of time, many will become crazily excited when they do get time with a human. Although they love their own people most, Golden Retrievers are not “one man dogs” and will love everyone who comes in contact with them.  Though many Goldens will bark when a stranger comes to the house, a well-bred Golden Retriever doesn’t make a good guard dog, preferring to lick an intruder to death than to bite.

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. 

They are wonderful dogs for families with children because of their gentleness.  They are wonderful dogs for the blind 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.