6 Retriever-type dog breeds

Labrador running with toy

Golden retrievers and Labrador retrievers have consistently been two of the top three dog breeds in the United States. These breeds are widely renowned for being wonderful family pets but have historically been used for hunting birds (especially ducks and other waterfowl). Due to their lovely dispositions and vivacious personality, retrievers are exceptionally well-liked.

What is a Retriever Dog?

Retrievers include six breeds of dogs recognized by the American Kennel Club (AKC). Classified as sporting dogs, retrievers are bred to assist hunters by bringing back small game during the hunt.

There are several dog breeds that fall under this category, but the most well-known are probably golden retrievers and labs. They have a similar appearance and disposition, yet they also have some clear variances.


Look for a trustworthy breeder or dog rescue group if you intend to add a dog to your household. Tell the breeder or organization the truth about your household dynamics, especially how much time you have available for the dog. They can assist you in determining whether the dog's characteristics will complement your way of life.

Breed Characteristics

Retrievers are canines that hunt with guns. The dog detects the downed bird in the air and recovers it for the hunter. Retrievers can swim more effectively thanks to their webbed paws. Additionally, because of their soft jaws, they don't bite down on the bird they are holding with their teeth, which can make it unpalatable for their human friends. Retrievers are excellent listeners that are eager to please their owners. They are clever, patient dogs that pick things up fast. They are good for assistive service, therapy, detection, and search and rescue because to these characteristics. Additionally, as you can obviously assume, these dogs are always up for playing fetch with you.

Here are the six main retriever dogs to consider.

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    Labrador Retriever

    A chocolate Labrador retriever

    According to the AKC, Labrador retrievers have been the most popular dog breed in the U.S. since 1991. They are playful and affectionate. They are between 55 and 80 pounds, with males often weighing more. They have yellow, black, or chocolate brown coats. This breed of retriever is distinguished by its short, thick fur coat, powerful tail that resembles an otter, and a friendly disposition. Labrador retrievers have a long history of being the ladies and fishermen's canine companion in Newfoundland. Early in the nineteenth century, when English nobility brought the breed back to the United Kingdom, they quickly gained favor.

    Breed Overview

    Group: Sporting (AKC)

    Height: 21.5 to 24.5 inches

    Weight: 55 to 80 pounds

    Coat and Color: Short, dense double coat comes in black, chocolate, or yellow

    Life Expectancy: 10 to 12 years

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    In the United States, golden retrievers are the third most common breed. The large head and straight snout are the breed's defining physical features. Additionally, it is a sociable family pet and very energetic. The first goldens were raised in Scotland in the middle of the 19th century. British, American, and Canadian are the three breed subvarieties, and they are all distinguished by their golden-yellow shaggy coats. Regular grooming is needed for goldens. Their water-repellent double coat sheds often, especially during the big shedding period that occurs twice a year. Shedding around the house is decreased by daily or weekly brushing.

    Breed Overview

    Group: Sporting (AKC)

    Height: 21.5 to 24 inches

    Weight: 55 to 75 pounds

    Coat and Color: Medium-length, double coat; light to dark gold

    Life Expectancy: 10 to 12 years

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    The Chesapeake Bay retriever, sometimes referred to as "Chessies," is a strong, robust dog. Compared to other retrievers, this breed is bigger and more robust. It has a thick, wavy, and impermeable coat. They appear in three hues: dead grass, sedge (red-gold), and chocolate brown (straw). They always have amber- or yellowish-colored eyes. The breed gained notoriety in the 19th century among affluent owners of duck clubs along the Chesapeake Bay, thus the name. These retrievers could tolerate the frigid Bay waters because to their greasy, thick double coat. The third most common breed of retriever in the country, chessies are known for their intellect and bright, joyful personality, just like goldens and labs.

    Breed Overview

    Group: Sporting (AKC)

    Height: 21 to 26 inches

    Weight: 55 to 80 pounds

    Coat and Color: Short, wavy, waterproof coat; comes in solid shades of brown, deadgrass, and sedge

    Life Expectancy: 10 to 12 years

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    The friendly, happy, and active flat-coated retriever has feathers at the legs and tail and, as its name implies, a flat-lying coat that is either black or liver in color. To reduce shedding, brush this breed once a week, just like you would with golden retrievers. Prior to the popularity of the Labrador and Golden Retrievers, flat-coated retrievers were initially developed in the middle of the 1800s and were known as "gamekeeper's dogs." In Britain, flat-coated retrievers were the most popular breed. When it appeared that the breed might become extinct during World Wars I and II, its numbers drastically decreased. In the 1960s, their popularity started to increase once more. Although flat-coated retrievers are often easy to train, they don't fully mature until they are 3 to 5 years old. They are referred to as the "Peter Pan" of retrievers because they appear to never mature, continuing to act like puppies well into old age.

    Breed Overview

    Group: Sporting (AKC)

    Height: 22 to 24.5 inches

    Weight: 55 to 70 pounds

    Coat and Color: Moderate length coat that lies flat; comes in solid black or brown

    Life Expectancy: 8 to 10 years

    Continue to 5 of 6 below.
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    The oldest breed of retrievers is the curly-coated retriever. The early eighteen hundreds saw its debut. Their tightly curled, water-resistant coat comes in either black or liver color. The curly-coated kind of retrievers has a tapering, wedge-shaped head in contrast to other retrievers. Despite being affectionate and lively with family members, this kind of retriever is less amiable to strangers and is more independent than other variations. The English water spaniel and the retrieving setter, two extinct dog breeds, are said to have been the ancestors of curly-coated retrievers. Some believe the characteristic, low-shedding curls may also be a result of a poodle-cross.

    Breed Overview

    Group: Sporting (AKC)

    Height: 23 to 27 inches

    Weight: 65 to 100 pounds

    Coat and Color: Short, tight curls lying close to the body; solid black or liver

    Life Expectancy: 10 to 13 years

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    The smallest of the retrievers is the Nova Scotia duck tolling retriever. However, it is a stunning, little dog with a rich double coat that is reddish-golden to dark copper on the body with white markings on the face, chest, and paws. Due to its double coat, the tolling retriever requires weekly brushing for the most of the year and daily brushing during the shedding season. Nova Scotian breeders produced this retrievers. It is inquisitive and moves quickly to capture ducks. Tolling, as the breed is known for, is the act of luring waterfowl toward the hunter in the manner of a fox. The AKC sports organization welcomed Nova Scotia duck tolling retrievers in 2003.

    Breed Overview

    Group: Sporting (AKC)

    Height: 17 to 21 inches

    Weight: 35 to 50 pounds

    Coat and Color: Short to medium length coat, usually straight; copper, crimson, and golden-red

    Life Expectancy: 10 to 14 years

Breeds to Avoid

Dogs that are the complete opposite of retrievers in that they are more difficult to teach, look more distant or obstinate. These dogs aren't "evil," they're just more autonomous (like spitz types), and although they often seem to have their own minds, they are frequently among the brightest breeds. These dogs include chow chows, shiba inus, and akitas.

The soft mouth or mild bite of retrievers is another distinguishing feature. Dogs like hunt in a different way; they capture the rats or other vermin they are supposed to kill, shake them violently, mangle them, and then destroy them. Jack Russell terriers, rat terriers, Cairn terriers, or should probably be avoided.

  • Are retrievers good family dogs?

    Yes, retrievers are active, energetic dogs that get along well with family members of all ages.

  • What are retrievers known for?

    Retrievers are known for being loyal, affectionate, trustworthy, and eager to please.

  • What's the difference between a golden retriever and a Labrador retriever?

    While they are both fantastic dogs, the biggest difference between the two is that the golden retriever is more relaxed, needs less grooming, and may be less expensive than the Labrador.