What’s in the name? Why are some golden retrievers called just golden retrievers and why do some people make special distinctions?  What makes our dogs English Golden Retrievers?  Are there other names for the same breed of dog?

Before I begin, let me preface this by saying, I think all the retrievers are wonderful dogs and am not putting any one type below another.  I will just share what I have gathered throughout my countless hours of study on this subject concerning our dogs more specifically English Golden Retrievers.  I am not an expert on the subject yet and welcome any thoughts that any of you may have.


We know that Golden retrievers were first bred in Scotland as gun dogs to retrieve shot waterfowl during hunting.  In a sense then, all golden retrievers come from Great Britain right? Well, as the dogs spread and particularly the ones in America which were bred and inbred, they started looking different from the ones in Europe, and to make a distinction we call the ones from Europe “English” and the ones from America “American” and I have read there is also a third group of “Canadian”. I don’t know if I have ever seen a Canadian golden except perhaps in some pictures and don’t know very much about that branch of Goldens at all.  (source)


I can usually tell by looking, though, the difference between a European golden retriever and an American golden retriever as they do tend to look different from each other. I have read that people who know only American Golden Retrievers don’t even know what an English Golden Retriever is!  People say that the European bloodlines are stronger and live longer, have less hip problems and also less recorded cancer.  I will let you do the research on this.  One breeder told me that she thinks English Goldens are more calm and mature than American Goldens. Since she had been a small scale breeder of American Golden Retrievers for some years before introducing the English Goldens into her life, I think she probably knows what she’s talking about.


In mainstream America though, the overall desire of the pet owner is to buy a good dog with a light colored coat.  Actually Europeans find this a little strange. They like some color in their dogs coats!  The AKC strongly discourages the breeding of Golden Retrievers for color alone.  And to the onlooker that might seem simple enough, but actually its not.  It’s not the easiest thing to find a good, sound, healthy breed-worthy dog who is also very light in color. One which the general public is so much after. Whatever the case, color is a large factor to buyers in the US. I am not sure exactly why and I wonder sometimes if, after a while, people will again wish for the more golden colored golden retrievers that used to be so common.


You will notice throughout the article I have used European and English retrievers interchangeably. This is because many of the best golden retrievers are not coming from England exactly, though there are some very good ones bred there.  They are coming from all over Europe.  Spain, Hungary, Yugoslavia, Sweden, and Russia name some of the main ones I have come across.  So technically they aren’t really English if they are bred in Yugoslavia are they?  And what about Russia? What if the dog comes from the Asian part of Russia, then what do we call him? An Asian Golden Retriever? And actually there are some quite strong and healthy Golden retriever bloodlines that come from Australia too. So those must be Australian Golden Retrievers. I wonder if the dogs bred in these countries are stronger because their breeders have continued to pay attention to the genetic aspect of the golden retriever whereas American Golden Retriever breeders didn’t pay as much attention at first to the science of it all and inbred them more often. (We are talking probably at least 60 years back or so.) I would hope this is not done as often now. Possibly it wasn’t known to be a problem then either as select breeding has produced new dogs ~ we know that even from the beginning of Golden Retrievers.   Whatever the reasons in the past, these differences are enough to cause the breeder to let you know where the puppies are coming from. Are they English Golden Retrievers or American Golden Retrievers.   English Golden Retrievers is one of the several names that people use to make that distinction between them and the American Golden Retrievers: there is a difference as I said before, in body build and in overall appearance.  British Creme Golden Retrievers, British Golden Retrievers, White Golden Retrievers are some other commonly used names.

So tell me, what do you think is in the name? What do you think about the differences between the American Golden Retrievers and the European Golden Retrievers?  One request though, let’s be nice to each other. I know there are die-hard lovers of American Golden Retrievers just as there are die-hard lovers of the English Golden Retrievers, and I have personally known some really lovely dogs from both of these groups.