Field Golden Retriever vs. Show Golden Retriever (7 Differences) – Golden Hearts
field bred golden retriever vs show golden retriever

Field Golden Retriever vs. Show Golden Retriever (7 Differences)

Want to know the difference between field golden retrievers and show golden retrievers?

Yes, they’re both golden retrievers that make great family pets, but there are some differences (such as their size and personality) that you should consider if you’re looking to get a golden retriever.

In this post, I’m going to break down seven differences between these two styles of golden retrievers.

Let’s dive in!

Field Golden Retrievers vs. Show Golden Retrievers Overview

Before we get into the nitty-gritty of the differences between these two styles of goldens, let’s make a few things clear…

First, these are both golden retrievers, they’re just different styles of the same breed.

And because they’re the same breed, they’re more similar than they are different.

However, they are bred for different purposes, and those purposes influence all of the factors that we’ll discuss here.

Second, let’s clear up some terms.

The term “field bred” and “field” mean the same thing, and the terms “conformation” and “show” also mean the same thing.

And finally, these differences are generalities, not hard set rules.

Every dog is an individual and can be on any end of the spectrum for the factors we’re talking about here.

Now let’s talk about the differences between these two styles…


Field Golden Retriever:

Field bred golden retrievers are bred to hunt.

They’re meant to be in the field all day retrieving gunned down fowl.

They’re bred for a specific personality and drive.

Show Golden Retriever:

Show golden retrievers are bred for a specific look.

They’re bred to look like what the judges at conformation events expect them to look like based on the breed standard.

Size & Body Type

athletic field golden retriever
The athletic body type of a field bred golden retriever

Field Golden Retriever:

Field bred golden retrievers are athletes.

They’re smaller and slimmer, and have body types that help them run, jump and swim all day.

Their heads are usually “wedge-shaped.”

Show Golden Retriever:

Show golden retrievers are bigger, thicker, stockier, and “big-boned.”

They often tend to have heads that are more blocky.


Field Golden Retriever:

Since field bred golden retrievers are bred to hunt, they typically have more driven personalities.

Like all golden retrievers, they’re loving and aim to please.

Show Golden Retriever:

Show golden retrievers tend to be more sociable.

They’re typically friendlier and, like all golden retrievers, they too aim to please.

Both breeds are also usually good with other dogs.

Click here to learn more about golden retrievers’ personality.

Energy Levels

Field Golden Retriever:

Since field golden retrievers are bred to hunt all day, they have tons of energy.

Typically, they have more energy than show golden retrievers.

Show Golden Retriever:

Show golden retrievers typically have less energy than field golden retrievers, but don’t underestimate them.

All golden retriever puppies, no matter which style, have tons of energy, and just because show golden retrievers typically have less energy than field bred goldens, they can still be quite the handful.


show golden retriever vs field bred golden retriever coat
The long, thick coat of a show golden retriever

Field Golden Retriever:

Field bred golden retrievers typically have darker coats in shades from gold to red.

They’re usually shorter than conformation goldens.

Because they have shorter coats, they have less volume of fur to shed, so it may feel like they shed less.

Show Golden Retriever:

Show golden retrievers have long, beautiful coats with long feathers.

They’re typically light gold to gold in color.

Since they have such full coats, they shed excessively, so get used to it being all over the house.

Click here to learn more about grooming golden retrievers.

Training Needs & Abilities

Field Golden Retriever:

All golden retrievers, especially field goldens, are very smart, love to please people, and love treats and praise, so they naturally take well to training and enjoy it.

If you don’t train them, their brainpower will usually manifest itself in something mischevious, like chewing up shoes or stealing socks.

Field golden retrievers love training and they need lots of it.

Show Golden Retriever:

Just like field goldens, show golden retrievers make great students because they are intelligent people-pleasers that love treats and praise.

However, they may need slightly less work than field goldens because they weren’t bred for such drive and the need for a job.

Are they good with families & children?

Field Golden Retriever:

Field golden retrievers typically make great pets, however, they need lots of attention and can be mouthy (after all, they are bred to carry game in their mouths).

They can be a little on the rough and tumble side, but are very loving and devoted to their families.

Show Golden Retriever:

Since show golden retrievers are typically a little calmer, need a little less training, and are a little more friendly, you could make a case that they make better family dogs.

However, both styles of goldens make great family pets.


Field Golden Retriever:

Obviously field golden retrievers make good hunting dogs, but their drive and energy also make them good search and rescue dogs.

They’re also good at sports such as agility and dock diving.

Show Golden Retriever:

In addition to excelling in dog shows, show goldens, or dogs from show golden lines, are often therapy dogs or service dogs.


field bred golden vs conformation golde

Field bred golden retrievers are athletes that were bred to work all day, while show golden retrievers are dogs that are bred for a certain look.

They’re both wonderful dogs and with the right training, can make great family pets.

Have any questions about field bred vs show golden retrievers?

Have you owned one of these styles?

Let me know in the comments below!

And if you know someone who’s thinking about getting a golden retriever, please share this article with them!

P.S. If you liked this article, you’ll also like our Complete Guide To Golden Retrievers.

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13 thoughts on “Field Golden Retriever vs. Show Golden Retriever (7 Differences)”

  1. I have a 19 week old golden. After having 2 larger goldens this one is projected at 50/55lbs. The vet said she was going to be lean and athletic. She already retrieves and jumps and catches flying objects. She steals sox like nobodies business but never tears up what she steals. She is very high energy and very mouthy. She is not dark. She fits your field golden description perfectly except for her coloring.

  2. I just recently learned that I rescued a field golden. I always thought he looked part Irish setter. A friend I recently met, was an AKA judge and ,former dog trainer business for 35 years. Her husband, a veterinarian. Cooper was 4 when i got him and is now 7. People constantly comment how much energy he has. Always thinking he is maybe 2. However, when I got him, he was very aggressive toward people and bit one lady on the hand. He diffidently is in the protect and guard mode, protecting me constantly. Stands near me, watching someone go by, while moving around to always be between me and another person. His aggression has improved. I am elderly and widowed, so his attentiveness is comforting. I am always training him for different skills and teaching new commands .

  3. My first dog was a defiantly a “show” golden retriever/rough coat collie/ Newfoundland mix. She was a rescue and a fabulous dog. Large and beautiful. When it can time to get another dog I decide on another rescue and called my friend who was a member of the Autumn Valley Golden Retriever Rescue. We where place with Emma, a two year old field golden. She came with papers and was microchip. She was red and petite with a long narrow nose. When we got her my two adopted from China daughters said “Hey mom, finally there is someone in the house who looks like you..” I am Irish. Our Emma is the most chill dog I have ever met. I love telling people she is a Field Golden from the UK.

  4. I have a field golden. When I first got her I didn’t know there was two different styles. After having her for a couple weeks, I knew she was different from normal goldens. Since she is my first I didn’t have any former insight. I eventually found plenty of information on her style, which definitely fits her personality. I’m always asked what breed she is, when I tell people she’s a purebred golden retriever they don’t believe me, or at least thinks she’s mixed. I then have to explain the two different styles of the breed. I’ve come back to this post several times since getting her over a year ago. You explained everything perfectly. Thank you!

  5. We’re on golden 4. Alternating field and show (not on purpose). I had noticed these differences but didn’t realize it was such distinct categories! Our field puppies were definitely prone to mischief when they weren’t properly entertained and engaged. First show style was a rescue and he was a great boy. The current show girl has been much more laid back as a puppy (shes 13 months now)

  6. Great article. I have one of each and your description fits each one of mine perfectly. I would love to share this article but was unable to from the FB post I read it from. My family has a total of 7 goldens,, so we are golden lovers !! Do you mind emailing this article to me at

  7. We are on our 4th golden. The first three were show goldens and our current one is a field type. They have all been excellent family dogs. Our field retriever loves to carry chew toys all over the house, retrieve them and likes to play with us, mainly tug of war. He loves walks and never gets tired. He excels at wanting to chase rabbits, squirrels, chipmunks, birds, etc. He sees (smells) these long before we do. He is a very lovable dog and craves attention. The largest difference between a field retriever and a standard golden is the lack of shedding hair, a most welcome benefit! We love goldens and the only other dogs we would consider are labradors. Your differences in these two types of goldens are spot on, great information.

  8. I’ve had both “Field” and “Show” Golden’s. Our Field Golden was defiantly more mouthy with a endless amount of energy. We provided endless walks and many, many hours of Frisbee and she would never ever get tired. Our Show Golden was quiet and was very loving and social. She would always flip over for belly rubs and even people who didn’t like dogs, loved her. She was my best dog ever an I mean ever!


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