Breed Information

What Is A Red Golden Retriever?

If you are looking for a golden retriever as a new pet, you are not alone. They are the third most popular dog breed in the United States.

Perhaps in your search for the perfect pup to adopt, you have come across the red golden retriever.

Often just called a red retriever, these are a natural variation within the golden retriever family, but with a striking dark red coat.

There are a few other things that set a red retriever dog apart from a more traditional golden retriever, such as size and coat, but when it comes to finding an intelligent, trainable, loyal, and friendly pet, a red-haired golden retriever is just as wonderful as the lighter golden retriever pups that you are probably more familiar with.

Read on for everything you need to know about these dark red golden retrievers.

What Is A Red Golden Retriever?

A red golden retriever is a natural variation within the golden retriever breed, but with a darker coat than most golden retrievers. With a distinctive red hue, the coat is described as mahogany.

Officially, there are only three colors of golden retriever: golden, light golden, and dark golden. The red retriever falls into the last of these categories, but stands out because of the clearly red hue.

For this reason, red retrievers are considered abnormalities and therefore ineligible to participate in dog shows.

Unlike other golden retrievers, whose coats have a tendency to lighten or darken as they age, a red golden retriever will retain its mahogany hair color throughout its life (though you may notice a few gray hairs).

They have the same dark brown or black nose, eyes, lips, and nails as the majority of golden retrievers.

Just like other goldens, their nose and other features can have a tendency to lighten to a pink color in cold temperatures or when they don’t get enough sunlight. This is a natural fading of the pigment common to goldens.

This red coloring is a natural genetic variation within the golden retriever breed. However, the genes that give this color are recessive, and therefore it is also a relatively rare color to see.

Breed History

Golden retrievers were bred as gun dogs in the Scottish Highlands in the mid-19th century when wildfowl hunting was a very popular sport.

The Scottish elite did not think their existing retriever breeds were quite right for the task of retrieving the fowl.

Improved weapons meant that the retrieving dogs needed to range further to collect game, and they had to be able to retrieve the game from both land and water, as the hunting grounds were pocketed with marsh ponds and rivers.

The man primarily responsible for developing the breed was the 1st Baron Tweedmouth, Dudley Marjoribanks, who had a grand estate near Glen Affric in Scotland.

The breed is a mix of a Tweed water spaniel (now extinct), Irish setter, and bloodhound, which was developed over a period of about 50 years.

Golden retrievers were first accepted by the Kennel Club in 1903, and then exhibited in 1908. They became officially recognized as the breed they are today in 1911.

It took another 14 years for the dog to become recognized in the United States, having been taken there by the sons of Dudley Marjoribanks, after which the breed quickly became popular.

The mahogany coat variation that we see from red retrievers from the Irish setter, also known as a red setter, in which mahogany is a common color.

Differences Between Golden Retrievers And Red Golden Retrievers

While the main difference between standard golden retrievers and red golden retrievers is their color, there are a few other differences to be aware of.

However, it is worth noting that these differences don’t stem from the same genetic markers that cause red retrievers to have their mahogany color.

Rather, red retrievers tend to come from hunting lines, while many other goldens are bred to be pets, service dogs, or show dogs. As a result, different characteristics have become dominant.

Red retrievers tend to be slightly smaller and lighter than goldens.

Male red retrievers will weigh at the lower end of the 65 to 75-pound range that is standard for golden retrievers, and will be 22-23 inches tall, while standard goldens often grow an extra inch or two.

Female red retrievers will again be at the lower end of the 55- to 65-pound range that is standard for golden retrievers, and tend to be 20 to 21 inches tall, while standard goldens may be an inch taller.

They tend to have a more streamlined and athletic build than other goldens and have a little bit more energy, so need a bit of extra exercise.

This makes red retrievers the smallest of the golden retriever breed.

Their coat is also a little bit different in texture. Like all goldens, they have a short undercoat and a longer outer coat, which allows them to retain heat in cold temperatures.

The overcoat of goldens is feathery around the ears, front of neck, and underbelly. This is part of the reason why they are prolific shedders. 

However, the outer coats of red retrievers are a little bit shorter, which means they shed a little bit less and need a little bit less grooming. However, they are still heavy shedders compared to many dog breeds.

All retrievers need to be groomed at least once a week to keep their coats under control.


Aside from having a bit more energy, and therefore enjoying longer and more intense exercise than other goldens, red retrievers have the amazingly friendly and sociable temperament of goldens that make them excellent household pets.

Red goldens are very intelligent, which means they are easy to train, and also have the intelligence and sensitivity to figure out what is required from them without being specifically told.

This is one of the reasons that golden retrievers make great work dogs and are often used in roles like disability assistance.

Goldens are also very food-motivated. This contributes to their trainability, as they will do anything for a tasty treat, but it also means they can have a tendency toward gaining weight if their diet is not correctly monitored.

They bond with humans very easily, which makes them great family pets. But it also means they need to be part of the family. They need to stay inside with the family unit, and cannot be left alone for hours on end without suffering from separation anxiety.

They are great with kids, other dogs, and even strangers, so they aren’t great guard dogs. While they are quite large, they don’t tend to be clumsy, and they have a soft mouth that allows them to pick things up without biting. This means there are rarely accidents at home with children.

They need at least an hour of exercise per day, and lots of mental stimulation. Otherwise, they are intelligent enough to get into a lot of mischief.

One way to curb a golden’s destructive streak is with puzzle toys, which this breed tends to enjoy. Some of our favorite options are listed below.

Health Issues

Red retrievers share the average life expectancy of golden retrievers, which is around 10 to 12 years.

Sadly, they are also prone to all the same medical conditions that can afflict golden retrievers in later life.

Numerous different cancers are common among goldens. 

So are joint problems such as hip and elbow dysplasia, and hock osteochondrosis. This can severely limit the movement of goldens in their later years, which can make it challenging for them to get the exercise they need. It can also make sleeping become a problem, as the joints sit painfully against surfaces. An orthopedic bed will usually be required for senior goldens.

You can find more tips for caring for senior dogs here.

Golden retrievers, including red retrievers, are also predisposed toward eye problems including progressive retinal atrophy and cataracts.

Other common issues include subaortic stenosis, which is an obstruction of the heart ventricle, myasthenia gravis, which is a muscular fatigue disease, and hypothyroidism, which can result in hormonal imbalances.


The only reason you might want to avoid getting a red retriever is if you are looking for a show dog. According to American Kennel Club guidelines, darker red colors are excluded from the ring. Even if they are allowed to compete, they are likely to lose significant points as a result of their color.

This is because dogs must be considered an “example of the breed” in order to take part in the show. Because the red color variation is not considered standard, it is treated as outside the standard of the breed and therefore ineligible to show.

Dogs are also prevented from participating in shows if they have been spayed or neutered. Tail docking and ear cropping, also considered surgical alterations to the appearance of a dog, are also banned in some shows, but the rule is not universal.


If you are buying a golden retriever puppy from a breeder, you can expect to pay a minimum of $1,000 to get your hands on one of these amazing pups.

However, because red retrievers are much rarer and therefore difficult to come by, you can expect to pay upwards of $3,000+ to make one a member of the family.

UPDATE: While the $1,000 – $3,000 price tag is a fairly common range when buying a Golden Retriever puppy. At the time of this update we are in the middle of the COVID-19 Pandemic and prices for puppies are soaring. While researching Golden Retriever puppies we’ve seen the following pricing from reputable breeders $3,500, $4,000, and $4,300.

You may also be able to find red retrievers that don’t have a home in retriever shelters. You will find a comprehensive list of golden retriever rescues by state listed here.

Considering the size and appetite of red retrievers, you should expect this type of dog to cost you around $1,000 a year including food and medical bills.

The bill in the first couple years might be higher, at around $1,500, to cover additional medical needs such as vaccinations and spaying or neutering.

Adopting A Red Retriever

If you are considering adopting a red retriever, there are a few important questions you should ask yourself to ensure that you are ready for the responsibility:

  • Am I ready to take on the responsibility of a dog for the next 10 to 12 years? This is the average life expectancy of a golden retriever.
  • Can I afford to pay for the food, medical care, and other expenses associated with a dog for the next decade? Bear in mind that golden retrievers are relatively large dogs and so eat quite a bit. You should expect to spend at least $1,000 per year caring for your dog.
  • Can you commit to giving a red retriever the exercise it needs? That means at least 45 to 90 minutes per day, and perhaps more on weekends if possible.
  • Do you have enough time to give a golden retriever the attention it needs? They are not the type of dog that can be left alone for 10 hours a day everyday while you are at work.
  • Do you have people who can look after your dog when you are traveling or in the case of other extenuating circumstances? This could be friends or family, or access to and budget for a local dog care facility.
  • Does anyone in your household have a problem with dog hair? Goldens shed a lot, and therefore are not appropriate if anyone in your house has allergies. Regular cleaning will be required to keep the house relatively hair-free, and there will need to be a level of tolerance for at least some dog hair around the home.


What Is A Red Retriever?

Red retrievers are golden retrievers with a mahogany coat, as opposed to the more traditional golden coat. This occurs as a natural genetic variation; however, the mahogany-colored genes are recessive, so it is a relatively rare color.

As a result, red retriever puppies tend to be more expensive than other golden puppies. They are also excluded by the American Kennel Club from show competitions.

How Much Do Red Golden Retrievers Cost?

While a standard golden retriever puppy from a reputable breeder should cost around $1,00, due to the relative rarity of red retrievers, you should expect to pay significantly more, perhaps around $3,000 for a new puppy.

What Is The Difference Between A Red Retriever And A Golden Retriever?

The main difference between a red retriever and a golden retriever is coat color. While golden retrievers have a gold-colored coat, red retrievers are a deep mahogany color. 

There are a few other common differences between red and golden retrievers.

Red retrievers tend to be a little smaller, a little more energetic and therefore require more exercise, and have a slightly shorter coat.

This means they shed a little less than golden retrievers, but still much more than many other breeds.

What Are The Three Types Of Golden Retrievers?

The three different types of golden retrievers are known as English, American, and Canadian. The difference between the three variations is very subtle. English goldens tend to have a stockier build than the other two types, and Canadian goldens tend to have the thinnest coats of the lot. English golden retrievers also tend to be lighter in color, and can have a practically white coat. However, the red retriever variation exists within all three types of golden retrievers.

What Are The Different Colors Of Golden Retrievers?

The three different golden retriever colors recognized by the American Kennel Club are golden, light golden, and dark golden. Red retrievers can be considered among the dark golden variation. 

However, they stand out due to the red hues in their coat, which means they are called red or mahogany instead of dark golden. It is this variation that causes red goldens to be excluded from participating in shows, as it is defined as an abnormal variation of the golden retriever breed.

Are Red Golden Retrievers Rare?

The gene that makes golden retrievers red is recessive, which means that it manifests relatively rarely. As a result, it is hard to come across a red retriever pup. For this reason, you can expect to pay three times as much to buy a red retriever than a more common golden pup.

The Verdict

With the distinctively mahogany coat, red retrievers are a natural but relatively rare variation within the golden retriever breed.

Aside from their distinctive color, they are pretty much just like all golden retrievers.

That means intelligent, friendly, and loyal.

However, prepare yourself for an energetic pup that needs a lot of exercise and attention. But they will pay you back in spades with their love and affection.

How about you? Do you have a red Golden Retriever?

Have you owned different colored Goldens? If so, did you notice any differences?

Tell us about your experiences in the comment section below.


Golden Retriever Rescues By State – Why Adopt Today

If you are thinking about adopting a golden retriever to be a part of your family, you can find the best places to adopt with our list of golden retriever rescues by state.

Golden retrievers are one of the most popular dogs in the country for a very good reason.

These friendly and intelligent dogs make fantastic family pets.

Sadly, while there are many excellent breeders out there selling healthy and happy Golden pups, there are also hundreds of thousands of Goldens of all ages that are homeless and in desperate need of someone to care for them.

Adopting a golden retriever from a rescue won’t only bring a lot of love into your home, but it will also help some of the dogs that need it the most.

In this article, you will find a list of rescues where you can adopt a golden retriever depending on where you live.

You will also find essential information that you need to know about these amazing dogs before you commit to taking one home.

Finally we’ll share a few top tips for getting your rescue dog used to their new home as quickly as possible.

Do Golden Retrievers Make Good Pets?

Golden retrievers are one of the most popular dog breeds when it comes to pets, especially for those looking at larger dogs, rather than small pooches.

While every dog is different, the golden retriever breed has a lot of characteristics that make them ideal pets:

  • They are affectionate and friendly and will bond with you very quickly.
  • They won’t bark at or intimidate your friends and neighbors as they like pretty much everybody (so they don’t make good guard dogs).
  • They get along with other dogs, so they fit in well in homes that already have pets.
  • They bond with children quickly and form mild protective instincts; plus, they are very aware of their own size and strength and know how to be gentle with children.
  • They are very intelligent, which means they are easy to train, and are able to figure out what is required of them in new situations with minimal guidance.
  • They are eager to please and motivated by reward, which again, makes them very easy to train.

But there are also some challenges to be aware of before adopting a golden retriever:

  • They are big dogs, weighing 60 to 80+ pounds, so they need a pretty big space to call home; they won’t thrive in an apartment
    PRO TIP: Actually a Golden Retriever can thrive in any size home, but in a smaller home they will require mental and physical stimulation. We had Apache when we lived in our small apartment and to keep him happy and healthy we walked him 3 times a day and did obedience training with him several times a day.
  • Their size means they do need to eat quite a lot, so it can be expensive to feed them.
  • They need lots of exercise, at least an hour a day, and preferably more, which is a significant time commitment.
  • Because they are highly sociable, they can suffer from separation anxiety when they are left alone for a long time. They are also intelligent enough to get into trouble when left alone for too long. They should only be left at home alone for a maximum of 8 hours.
    QUICK TIP: I would not recommend leaving your Golden home alone regularly for 8 hours a day. Eight hours at home alone once in a while is okay, but don’t make it a habit.
  • They shed a lot! If this is an issue, you can consider a golden retriever-poodle mix, goldendoodles, that tend to have the non-shedding coats of poodles.
  • They have a tendency to become overweight if overfed and don’t have the ability to control their own appetite.
    MY EXPERIENCE: Just like our Labs, our Golden’s act like they are always starving. Don’t overfeed because an overweight Golden can lead to health problems.
  • Golden retrievers are prone to joint issues in older age and will require extra care in their senior years.

None of these are reasons not to adopt a golden retriever. But they are things to be aware of and prepared for before committing to having one of these amazing dogs in your life for the next 10 to 15 years.

Why Adopt A Golden Retriever From A Rescue?

While there are many breeders out there creating amazing little golden retriever puppies out there for you to buy, there are also hundreds of thousands of golden retrievers across the country that need adopting. This is for a variety of reasons.

  • First, Goldens are very popular pets, so there are unethical breeders out there creating puppies for which they can’t find homes.
  • Second, many people adopt a gorgeous little pup, only to realize that they grow into a big, shedding dog that requires lots of care and attention. They decide that they simply don’t want them anymore. 
  • Many loving pet owners need to give up their pets due to a family member who has allergies, moving to a place that doesn’t allow animals, moving abroad, or other unavoidable circumstances.
  • Sadly, there are also people who die and leave their pets behind with no-one to care for them, or they simply abandon them.

These are the golden retrievers that find themselves in rescue centers, waiting for new homes.

What To Expect From Golden Retriever Rescue Centers

When you head to a golden retriever rescue center, expect to find a range of dogs that are identifiable as golden retrievers or golden retriever mixed breeds.

They will range in age from puppies to mature dogs and will have different levels of training and socialization.

The rescue center will provide the dogs with medical care, shelter, and training, and at the same time, look for suitable homes for each dog.

Expect the rescue center to ask you a number of questions to ensure you are ready to adopt a golden retriever. They will work with you and consider:

  • Whether your lifestyle will permit you to care for and spend quality time with a pet?
  • Whether you are prepared for the financial burden of caring for a dog for the next 10-15 years, including food, veterinary bills, and so forth?
  • Whether you have the facilities to keep a large dog like a golden retriever?

If you are a suitable candidate, they will then work with you to find the most suitable dog from the shelter for you to adopt.

Don’t worry; rescues will not place dangerous dogs, such as dogs that bite, in your home.

Without further adieu. Here’s our list of Golden Retriever rescues by state:

Golden Retriever Rescues By State












There are no Golden Retriever rescue centers that we could find in Idaho, but there are options in neighboring states.

















New Hampshire

New Jersey

New Mexico

New York

 North Carolina

North Dakota

There are no Golden Retriever rescue centers that we could find in North Dakota; look at nearby states.





Rhode Island

South Carolina

South Dakota

There are no Golden Retriever rescue centers that we could find in South Dakota; look at nearby states.







West Virginia



There are no Golden Retriever rescue centers that we could find in Wyoming; look at neighboring states.

Tips For Caring For Rescue Dogs

Unlike brand new pups adopted from responsible breeders, rescue dogs often come with behaviors and habits from their previous homes that may or may not be suitable for their new home with you.

There are a few things you can do to make your dog feel comfortable in your home quickly and start learning new house rules without delay. 

Golden retrievers in particular are very intelligent pups and should have no problem adapting if you do a few smart things.

  • Dogs, like children, thrive on regularity, so create a schedule for them. Establish regular eating and exercise times, so they learn to know what to expect.
  • Reward your dog for correct behavior by treating them with food or play. Don’t yell or punish. Your dog can develop a negative reaction to this, especially if they have been punished by previous owners.
  • Make sure everyone in the house is giving the same commands and following the same rules. It can be confusing for dogs when people use different commands for the same behavior, or when different behavior is acceptable with different members of the household.
  • Teach children to respect the new dog, and supervise them when they are together for the first few weeks. Children should be taught not to disturb the dog when it is eating or sleeping, not to approach or touch the dog’s food or toys, to touch the dog in a gentle way, not to give human food to the dog, and so forth.
  • Take time to introduce your dog to any other animals in the house. Keep them separated for a few days but allow them to pick up one another’s scent. You can then allow them to see each other, and even be in the same room together supervised. Let them approach one another; don’t force them to be close together.
  • If they are not house trained, have them sleep in a crate, but not alone. It is better to place the crate in someone’s room. They can stop sleeping in the crate when they can consistently “hold it” the whole night.
  • If your dog gets anxious when you leave the house, try and make this time less traumatic. Don’t make a big deal when you leave or enter the house, so that it doesn’t feel like an “event.” You can also train them to accept your coming and going by simply leaving the house for a few minutes and coming back. Extend the period you are away for longer each time.
  • If your dog has significant behavioral problems, consider investing in a professional trainer.

Golden Retriever Rescue FAQs

Is There A Golden Retriever Rescue In Every State?

There are golden retriever rescue centers in almost every state. A few smaller states do not have them, such as North Dakota and South Dakota, but rescues in neighboring states are prepared to help residents adopt a pup.

What Are The Things To Consider When Adopting A Golden Retriever From A Rescue?

When you are adopting a golden retriever from a rescue, you may be taking on a dog that has already been abandoned or inadequately cared for once.

The rescue center will want to be sure that you are prepared to take on the responsibility of a large dog, as they won’t want to see the pup suffer neglect a second time.

Rescues will work to match you up with a dog that suits your lifestyle and won’t match you up with a dog that has serious behavioral problems.

Your dog may well have habits and hangups from their previous owner, so be prepared to spend extra time training and socializing them.

Can Golden Retrievers Be Left Alone?

Golden retrievers are very social dogs and they don’t like to be left alone for long periods of time.

They are also highly intelligent, which means they are smart enough to get into trouble if you leave them with nothing to do for hours on end.

Every golden is different, but as a general rule, they should only be left alone for a maximum of eight hours at a time.

Do Golden Retrievers Need Another Dog As A Companion?

Golden retrievers are sociable animals that will get on well with other dogs and also cats, which means they make a great second pet. But no, a golden does not require another dog as a companion.

And just because you have another dog will not mean that your dog can be left alone for longer periods of time.

Are Golden Retrievers Expensive To Maintain?

Golden retrievers can be relatively expensive to maintain, mostly because they are large dogs and, therefore, generally need to eat a fair amount.

They can also have steep medical bills when they get older as they are prone to a few medical conditions, such as joint issues and cataracts. You should probably expect to spend at least $1,000 a year maintaining a golden retriever.

The Verdict

Golden retrievers make fantastic pets. If you adopt one from a rescue, you will not only be bringing a lot of love and fun into your home, but also helping a dog that really needs it.

There are rescues all over the country where you can find your perfect golden retriever companion.

But always remember that owning a dog is a responsibility as well as a pleasure.

Make sure you are ready to take on the responsibility for the next 10 to 15 years before bringing your new best friend home.

We tried to include all the Golden Retriever specific rescues we could find across the internet.

If you know of a Golden Retriever rescue that’s not on our list please leave us a comment or send us a message through our contact form.

Another great place to find adoptable dogs and puppies is We adopted our first puppy, Linus from and couldn’t have been more happy with our fuzzy friend.

How about you? Did you adopt a Golden Retriever or are you planning to adopt?

Tell us about your experiences in the comment section below.