In addition to Golden Retrievers, there are several other Retriever breeds you might consider when looking for a new puppy or dog.
Retrievers are part of the sporting group of dogs. Also known as hunting dogs, retriever breeds are meant to retrieve the shot prey either on land or in water. Whether for play or work the dogs that are known as retrievers are: Golden Retriever, Labrador Retriever, Flat Coat Retriever, Chesapeake Bay Retriever, Curly Coated Retriever, Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever.
The most popular of all the retriever breeds and dog breeds in America, the Labrador Retriever is a friendly, outgoing and active dog. You can find Labrador Retrievers in yellow, black and chocolate. Their coat is short and straight.
The average height of a male Labrador is 22.5-24.5 inches, females 21.5-23.5 inches. Male weights are 65-80 lbs, females 55-70lbs. Labrador Retrievers are a little stockier in the build than Golden Retrievers. They have a wider chest, muscular body and rear legs, and a shorter tail than Goldens.
Labradors are easy to train and make great pets or working dogs. They have oodles of affection to give you and will be loyal to their master. In the field, they can work all day without ever seeming to tire. Labradors require a good amount of exercise. His lifespan is 10-12 years. Our Pet Score 8/10.
The third most popular dog in America and second in the retriever group the Golden Retrievers have stolen our hearts. You can read more facts on our Golden facts page. Colors are shades of Gold and nothing else.
Also easy to train either as a working dog or a pet the main difference between a Labrador and a Golden is the coat. Long and flowing these dogs are going to shed a lot and require more effort when grooming. For working it needs to be dense and water repellent and can be wavy. You’ll find the top of the coat more coarse and the undercoat and feathers to be lighter and flowing.
You’ll see Goldens have taken a great position in TV adds. They are photogenic and like the Labradors easy to train. Also great hunting dogs with a passion to just keep going. They need a lot of exercise as a pet to prevent bad behaviors such as chewing. His lifespan is 10-12 years. Our Pet Score 8/10.
Flat Coat Retrievers
One of my favorite alternative choices is the Flat Coated Retriever. They are very similar to Goldens they are either a black on black or brown on a liver color. The black is the most commonly seen. Marginally smaller in size and less popular, there are not as many breeders so harder to find.
Like all retrievers, the Flat Coated dogs are as easy to train and eager to please. The coat is similar to a Golden, perhaps a little shorter when comparing to show line Goldens. Ears are a little smaller and the head is more streamlined. Tail length with feathers is a little shorter. Bred to hunt and retrieve in water or on land, the coat will require more grooming than a labrador. The coat does shed like a Golden’s.
Exercise is a must with all retriever breeds and the flat coat is no different. He ranks lower in the popularity contest at number 91, which I think is a shame. His lifespan is 8-10 years. Our Pet Score 7/10.
Chesapeake Bay Retriever
Another sporting group retriever with very much the same weight characteristics as a Labrador but an inch or so taller. The nickname for this breed is a Chessie. He is famous for his waterproof dense and oily double coat. He is the ultimate duck retriever in colder waters.
A Chessie will have a short coat about 1 to 1/1/4 inches in length, it will be coarse, thick and wavy. Look for colors of chocolate, deadgras, and sedge, essentially shades of brown. The hind legs are powerful and feet webbed making him an excellent swimmer. He’ll have a wide and strong chest, strong muscular slopping neck and a medium straight tail.
Not common as a pet these retrievers carry all the usually goofiness as a puppy as other retriever breeds. Loyal to his family he’s not as social to strangers as other retrievers. They rank as the 45th most popular breed in America. His lifespan is 10-13 years. Our Pet Score 6/10.
Curly Coated Retriever
Smart, tall and elegant, the largest of the retriever breeds are the Curly-coated Retriever. Not high ranking as a pet but very popular hunting man dogs. Coming in at rank 162 the Curly Coats will be black or liver in tight curls to give him all-weather and all-terrain protection.
Curlies are affectionate dogs but less needy than Labradors and Goldens. Similar to the Chessie he’s loyal to his family and aloof with strangers. Almost good as a guard dog this breed is going to need the most exercise of all the retriever breeds. Boredom will get him into a mess of trouble. This dog can work tirelessly so is not suitable for a working family and a crate. He’s an outdoors dog that needs a full day of activity, please.
His lifespan is 10-12 years. Our Pet Score 4/10.
Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever
The smallest of the retrievers, the Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever also has a longer lifespan at 12-14 years. Standing at 19 inches tall his coat is the only retriever multi-colored coat. Look for a golden red to dark coppery color with white markings.
Similar to the Curlie these dogs have boundless energy and need to be occupied, period. Not a lap dog by any means, if you don’t have the time and energy to provide the needed exercise and work, don’t get one. The Nova Scotia is an ideal outdoors man’s companion.
Stong muscular dogs with a straight back, thick neck, strong legs and webbed feet for swimming. The coat is medium dense double-layered, also perfect for swimming. This dog is a short, stocky and intelligent hunting dog. If you desire him as a pet, get lots of balls and be ready to throw for hours. Our Pet Score 2/10.
Retriever Breeds Summary
All retriever breeds are food driven and as pets have a tendency to get overweight. One of the easiest ways to let your dog get fat is to feed him or her table scraps. Human food is highly calorific, something your dog will show in extra pounds around his belly and waist in no time at all.
Keep your retriever on a measured diet of premium dog food and add vegetables and doggie cookies for treats instead. Remember working dogs require high protein diets and there are suitable dog foods just for the sporting breeds. The average Retriever as a pet needs about 1100-1300 calories a day. Measure what we humans eat and you’ll soon see why adding food scraps is an unwise practice.
Note: Popularity information of retriever breeds was extracted from the American Kennel Club 2019.
Our pet scores are based on what an average family can provide a working dog and their lifespans. As hunting working dogs they all score 10/10!