Red Golden Retriever: The Complete Guide (Puppies, Price, Differences)

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Thinking about getting a red golden retriever?

Or just curious about what the differences between a red Golden and other Goldens are?

You’re in the right place!

Many Red Golden Retrievers are bred for hunting, so they usually have more energy and drive. Their coats are shorter and they’re smaller and more athletic than other Goldens. Red is the least common color for Golden Retrievers behind gold and light gold.

There’s a lot more to know about these beautiful Goldens, so in this post, you’ll learn:

  • The differences between red golden retrievers and other goldens
  • Their history
  • Their temperament
  • Common health issues
  • What to expect with red golden retriever puppies
  • And much more!

Plus, at the end, you’ll see some interesting controversy about their red coloring.

The Difference Between Red Golden Retrievers & Other Goldens

red golden retriever difference
image sources: red golden, gold golden

Before we get into things like the history of red golden retrievers, their temperament, and what it’s like to own one, let’s address the biggest question most people have:

What is the difference between red golden retrievers and other goldens? (Besides their color, of course.)

First off, a golden retriever is a golden retriever, no matter if they’re cream-colored, light gold, dark gold, or red.

For the most part, they have similar characteristics, personalities, and looks, but obviously, there are some differences.

Most red golden retrievers come from field bred golden retriever stock, whereas many of the gold to light gold golden retrievers come from conformation (aka show dog) stock.

Field bred goldens are typically smaller, have shorter, darker coats, have more energy, and are more driven.

Conformation style goldens are typically stockier, have longer coats, and are a little calmer.

Of course, a conformation style golden can be very driven and have lots of energy, and a field golden can be calm, but the above description is typical of what is seen in these styles of goldens.

The rest of this post will look into these differences and similarities in more detail.

Red Golden Retriever Popularity

A few months ago we did a study with golden retriever owners where we asked 600 golden owners what color their dog is.

Here’s what they said:

Gold: 51.6%

Light gold (or cream): 31.5%

Red: 16.8%

As you can see, red golden retrievers are the least common color.

Red Golden Retriever History

Golden retrievers were first bred in Scotland in the mid-1800s.

Legend has it that Lord Tweedmouth wanted a dog that was good at retrieving fowl both on land and in the water, so he crossed a wavy-coated retriever and Tweed water spaniel to create the first litter of golden retrievers.

He also mixed in some red setter, which is probably where these red goldens got their color.

Although they were originally bred as hunting dogs, today they do other jobs as well, including serving as therapy dogs, service dogs, and search and rescue dogs.

But since most red golden retrievers are field bred goldens, they’re typically best at doing what they were initially bred for: hunting and working in the field.

And given that goldens were initially bred as hunting dogs, that dictates a lot about what they are like today, from their size to their temperament to their energy levels to what type of family they fit in with.

Red Golden Retriever Temperament

Red golden retrievers are loving, devoted family dogs.

They’re usually good with children and do best with active families.

Since they were bred to hunt all day, they have lots of energy and are orally fixated, meaning they like using their mouths (read: they might bite a lot).

They’re also very smart.

In fact, according to Dr. Stanley Coren’s book, The Intelligence of Dogs, golden retrievers are the fourth smartest dog breed.

They say a tired dog is a good dog, so you’ll need to keep them busy to make sure they stay on their best behavior.

To help satisfy their physical needs, play games like tug or fetch, or have doggy play dates.

To help satisfy their mental needs, train them or give them puzzle toys like frozen Kongs.

And because they’re orally fixated, if they don’t have a toy in their mouth they may try to put your fingers in there.

That being said, they were bred to retrieve birds and have soft mouths, so a nip from a golden is usually pretty light.

My golden, Oliver, is currently one and a half years old and he’s still very nippy, but it’s nothing more than him mouthing my fingers or hands.

Red Golden Retriever Size

red golden retriever size

The breed standard for male golden retrievers is 23-24 inches at the withers (their shoulders) and 65-75 pounds.

For females, the breed standard is 21.5-22.5 inches tall and 55-65 pounds.

Now going back to the notes above, red goldens are typically on the smaller and lighter side of these ranges.

They’re not like the big-boned dogs you see in dog shows, but instead are more lean and athletic.

Red Golden Retriever Lifespan

The average golden retriever lifespan is 10-12 years.

Yes, many dogs have lived longer than that, and unfortunately many goldens have lived shorter lives than that, but that’s the average.

We’ll talk more about keeping your golden healthy in the next section, but here are seven tips to help your dog have a long and happy life.

  1. Choose a good breeder
  2. Feed your dog a quality dog food
  3. Groom them regularly
  4. Exercise them regularly
  5. Keep their weight under control
  6. Have a good relationship with your vet
  7. Neuter or spay them at the appropriate time

Check out this article to learn more about golden retrievers’ lifespan.

Common Red Golden Retriever Health Issues

Here are some common golden retriever health problems (According to PetMD):

  • Hip and elbow dysplasia
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Sub-aortic stenosis (SAS)
  • Eye disorders
  • Mast cell tumors
  • Seizures
  • Lymphoma
  • Osteosarcoma
  • Hemangiosarcoma
  • Skin problems (like hot spots)

Unfortunately, 60% of golden retrievers are impacted by cancer in their lifetime, but thankfully there’s the Golden Retriever Lifetime Study by the Morris Animal Foundation.

This study is examining over 3,000 golden retrievers to help identify patterns that reveal why cancer and other diseases occur in such high rates in goldens.

To help prevent these issues from happening in your golden, here are three tips:

  1. Choose a quality breeder that does all the proper health and genetic testing.
  2. Have a good relationship with your vet to make the best decisions for your golden and catch issues before they become major problems.
  3. Feed your dog a high-quality food.

Red Golden Retriever Training

red golden retriever training

Training your red golden retriever is one of the best things you can do with them.

Oliver and I train together every day and he absolutely loves it.

Golden retrievers are smart, they’re people-pleasers, and they love treats, so training is the best way to mix all three of these things.

Plus, it helps mentally stimulate them.

As far as what style of training works best, goldens are sensitive and want to do a good job, so they respond best to positive reinforcement.

Now although a lot of their qualities make them easy to train, some of their qualities make it difficult.

For one, golden retrievers love everything and everyone, so it can be difficult to keep their attention out in public.

They also love to have fun, so if training isn’t fun, they’ll look for something else to entertain them.

Read this article for more about how to train your golden retriever.

Red Golden Retriever Puppies

Red golden retriever puppies are some of the cutest animals in the entire world.

Which is a good thing, because they can also be some of the most difficult!

If you’re thinking about getting a golden retriever puppy, consider these points:

  • They will try to chew everything (hands, fingers, shoes, and furniture included)
  • They will pee everywhere if allowed (it can take two weeks to several months to potty train them)
  • They will wake up several times per night (they can only hold their bladders for two hours when you first bring them home)
  • They have endless amounts of energy
  • They need to be monitored or confined 24/7

Golden retriever puppies are essentially fluffy tornadoes with teeth.

Our first few months with Oliver were incredibly difficult, but he’s more than worth it, we can’t imagine life without him, and we can’t wait to get another puppy!

If you’re still interested, here’s the next point to consider…

Red Golden Retriever Price

Golden retrievers typically range in price from $500-3,000.

This depends on location, what the dogs are bred for, and who is breeding them.

If you’re looking for a top-notch gun dog, expect to pay on the higher side.

But if you’re just looking for a nice family dog, you’ll likely be able to find a breeder that charges closer to the middle of the range.

In addition to the initial price, expect to spend about $2,077.53 – $2,947.53 in the first year and about $1,506 – $2,464 in their adult years (read more about the cost to own a golden retriever here).

And speaking of breeders, this next section is very important…

Red Golden Retriever Breeders

There are few things you can control when it comes to your golden’s health and personality, but choosing their parents is one of them.

Make sure that the breeder you choose is reputable and is breeding their dogs primarily for health and temperament (not color).

Also, talk to them about what their dogs are bred for.

Are they bred to hunt?

Or are they bred to be companions?

Talk to them about the parents, too.

Ask them:

  • What their personalities are like
  • If they have any field or conformation titles
  • How many litters they’ve produced
  • What their past puppies are like
  • Why they decided to breed these two dogs in particular

Reputable breeders are very concerned about their puppies and the homes they go to, so look for a breeder that asks you lots of questions as well.

And here’s a quick warning: watch out for “backyard breeders.”

These are breeders that are inexperienced (at best) or just in it for the money (at worst).

These breeders usually don’t run as many (or any) health or temperament checks, so you never know what kind of puppy you’re going to get.

For example, I know a family that had a male dog who was very sweet, but had lots of allergies, skin problems, and went blind and deaf early.

They bred that dog with somebody’s female even though that dog had no business passing on his unhealthy genes.

Even though a puppy may be incredibly cute, you want to choose a good breeder to increase your chances of getting a healthy, good-tempered dog.

Is A Golden Retriever Right For You? Take This Quiz To Find Out!

How To Find A Red Golden Retriever Breeder

If you want to find a red golden retriever breeder, here are three tips:

  1. Reach out to your local golden retriever club to ask for a referral (you can find a list of them here)
  2. Ask someone you know who has a red golden retriever where they got theirs
  3. Join local Facebook groups and ask if anyone knows of good red golden retriever breeders

Of course, the Facebook group could be hit or miss, so take whatever responses you receive with a grain of salt.

But the good thing about them is that you could get several people’s feedback at once.

If everyone is saying they have a good-tempered, healthy dog from a certain breeder, then that’s a good sign.

Check out this article to learn more about finding a reputable golden retriever breeder.

Red Golden Retriever Controversy

Although red is one of the naturally occurring colors in golden retrievers, the American Kennel Club, The Kennel Club (UK’s kennel club), and the National Golden Retriever Council Australia aren’t exactly fans of red goldens.

Here’s what they have to say about colors:

American Kennel Club breed standard:

“Rich, lustrous golden of various shades…Predominant body color which is either extremely pale or extremely dark is undesirable.”

The Kennel Club breed standard:

“Any shade of gold or cream, neither red nor mahogany.”

National Golden Retriever Council Australia breed standard:

“Any shade of cream or gold but neither red or mahogany.”

This doesn’t mean that red goldens aren’t recognized as golden retrievers, just that in the show ring they’re not preferred.

Canada, on the other hand, is more accepting of all goldens.

Here’s what their breed standard says:

“Colour lustrous golden of various shades.”

Shoutout to our friends up north!


red golden retriever

If you’re considering a red golden retriever, below is a quick list of the most important things to consider.

Temperament: loving, sweet and driven

Shedding: they shed a lot (but since they usually have shorter coats than other goldens, it’s not as bad as others)

Energy levels: they need lots of exercise and mental stimulation! A house with a yard is recommended (in fact, some golden retriever rescue organizations will only let you adopt a golden if you have a yard).

Chewing: they will chew and nip if they’re not given enough toys and/or mental and physical stimulation

Training: training is a necessity, but they’re very smart and eager to please, so it’s relatively easy

Grooming: they require regular daily and weekly grooming (read more on grooming here)

Yearly costs: $1,506 – $2,464 

Have any questions about red golden retrievers?

Have you owned a red golden before?

Let me know in the comments below!

And if you know someone who is considering getting a red golden, please share this with them!

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8 thoughts on “Red Golden Retriever: The Complete Guide (Puppies, Price, Differences)”

  1. I was considering getting a red golden but now i am not sure. We are planning to see the litter his week but after reading this article….

  2. Hi.
    I am interested to purchase a dark red golden retriever. Is it possible for you to refer me to a reliable breeder of a dark red golden retrievers ?
    Thank you.

  3. Hi Jake, thanks for the article. I have a red golden retreiver nuetered male. He’s the best dog in the world. He just turned 8 and is in great health. I have an excellent vet. I do annual blood work to catch anything that might come up. I feed him top food with no grains. It’s venison and sweet potato. I will be looking for another red golden in a few years. Hopefully a quite a few years.

  4. I enjoyed reading your article, Jake. Our family has had Red Golden Retrievers for 20 years. Best dogs we’ve ever owned! Our first Red Golden, Rusty, lived to age 10. Sadly he passed from cancer. Our second Red Golden, Duke, is 13 years old now and in fair shape. He has lots of lumps….the vet thinks they are fatty tumors. They don’t seem to bother Duke thankfully. Take care!


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