American vs. English vs. Golden Retriever

English Goldens are:

  • White
  • Boxy Head
  • Calm
  • Less prone to Cancer or even Cancer free

American Goldens Are:

  • Red
  • Foxy Head
  • Hyper
  • Riddled with cancer

I do not know how many websites I have seen state such things.  Bottom line, none of them are true.  Website after website I see promotion of a certain style and the putting down of the opposite style (i.e. American Goldens are better than English because of A, B, and C, or English Goldens are better than American Goldens because of X, Y, and Z).  If you come across a website like that, do yourself a favour and keep looking, as breeders like that have failed to grasp, no matter the style they are all Golden Retrievers.

I have great admiration for both the English and the American style of Golden Retriever.  I own both, and incorporate both into my breeding program.  Thus, my rant is not about trying to sway anyone into choosing one style over another, but rather to hopefully make those who are innocently looking for breeders who may come across this type of misinformation a little better informed (as a side note, it is a North American generalization when referring to ‘English’, as it is an umbrella term used to describe Goldens that are not from North American pedigree).


Colour does not define the style of Golden Retriever.  Rare White, English Cream, Platinum etc. are all marketing terms.  White is NOT GENETICALLY POSSIBLE within the Golden Retriever.  Yes, some Goldens may appear very very light, but they are not white.  Any breeder who advertises white is lying, white is not in the genetic makeup.

Dogs from overseas can range from very dark to very light in colour, just as in North America.

The above bitch is 7/8ths American (so it can safely be said, 100% American).  She has been mistaken for English based on colour alone.
Champion Conquerer’s I’m Trouble Y’all

The above Golden Retriever is English lines, his sire a New Zealand import and his dam a UK import.

Bottom line, Cream is not rare and extremely light and extremely dark Goldens can be found in both English and American style Golden Retrievers.


I have come across many websites that claim American Goldens are plagued with Cancer and there is a lower incidence in the English style.  Truth be told, cancer will affect 1 in 3 dogs (stat from The National Canine Cancer Foundation), that’s not just Golden Retrievers that’s dogs as a whole.  Cancer does not discriminate when it comes to dogs, nor Golden Retrievers of any style.  We can sometimes get an idea of family history, and it can appear that there could be a higher incidence of Cancer in certain family trees (and one could sub in any disease there, Heart issues, Epilepsy, Thyroid, etc.).  That is why it is important to ask questions of a breeder.  If you are told that there are no cases of early cancer or cancer in general connected to the pedigree, walk away.


Having owned both styles of Golden Retriever I can say without a doubt, English Goldens come both Calm and Hyper, and American Goldens come both Calm and Hyper.  I have had English style Goldens able to leap a 5 foot fence from a sitting position, and American  style Goldens I have to beg to get off the couch to go for a walk.  I have had English style Goldens that love nothing more than to curl up in a dog bed and sleep the day away, and I have had American style Goldens that do not even show a hint of being tired after two hours of running.  It is very important to try to meet a breeders dogs, make sure their activity level meets your expectations.  Golden Retrievers are a sporting dog, they should have some level of activity!


It amazes me some of the prices that can be found on the WWW.  I can only speak for my area, and the prices for a well bred pet puppy from a breeder who does the health clearances, and is active with the breed (showing, trialling etc) can range from $1000-$1400, that is both for American and English style Golden Retrievers.  I, personally, am skeptical of anything above or below that (again, that is speaking of my area (Ontario) only).  Just because it costs more doesn’t mean it is better.  If you are wondering the general costs in your area, I am sure by contacting a Golden Retriever Club in your province/state they can supply you with a general price range.


No matter the style, nor the activity you wish to undertake with your Golden (want one to curl up on the couch and join you for walks?  of have the potential to have fun in the Show and/or Obedience ring?), it is important to research your breeder.  Health Clearances,  Breeding Philosophy, and breed knowledge are all important aspects one should seek in a breeder.

No matter the style, a Golden Retriever is a Golden Retriever.

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