Show Golden Retrievers vs. Field Golden Retrievers

Show Golden Retrievers vs. Field Golden Retrievers

Most people think that all Golden Retrievers are created equal. While it is true that they are fun-loving, energetic, and loyal canine companions, there are differences in terms of the work for which they are designed and trained to perform. These subtle distinctions can have an impact on the type of personality you might look for or expect when adding a Golden Retriever to your family.

Differences Between Show Golden Retrievers and Field Golden Retrievers

While both a Show Golden Retriever and a Field Golden Retriever are the same breed, the differences are found in their specialization, their features (size, coat, build), their temperament, and their general care requirements. Both types are very family friendly dogs.

Below I will compare these two types of Goldens and describe, in detail, what you can expect from each dog. Each type of these Goldens has a different set of needs, and we will cover what you will need to do to care for them.


Within the Field and Show types of Golden Retrievers, there are also further specializations based on their intended purpose. Whether you are looking for a hunting companion, a competitive show dog, or simply a family pet, understanding these specializations can help you find the perfect Golden Retriever for your needs. Here is more on the different specializations within Show and Field Golden Retrievers.

Field Golden Retriever

Field Golden

A Field Golden Retriever has been trained to work from a very young age. Much of the work they need to do is performed outdoors, which is why the term “field” applies here. A field Golden Retriever is used in hunting and can be trained to retrieve downed game. Birds and waterfowl are the most common type of game that they can retrieve.

Field Goldens can also work with search and rescue teams, and many are excellent athletes for agility courses. If your Golden has a phobia when it comes to loud noises and gunfire, he may not be ideal for work in the hunting field.

There are Golden Retriever breeders that focus on field Golden Retrievers specifically for hunting enthusiasts and there are special titles they can earn for their hunting talents.

Show Golden Retriever

Show Golden

A Show Golden Retriever does not usually receive formal training. They are bred with a certain appearance in mind because judges at dog shows are looking for specific criteria when it comes to awarding the competitors. Show Goldens learn the basics like standing, walking, and being handled by different people in the show ring. However, some show dogs can help their people in a therapy or service dog capacity.

There are different titles for “hunting” field Golden Retrievers than titles for conformation (“show”) Golden Retrievers. A list of potential titles and what they mean is available on the American Kennel Club (AKC) website. Some exceptional breeders breed dogs that have both show and field titles, these are called “Dual Champions.”

Features (Size, Build, Coat)

When considering a Golden Retriever, it’s important to understand the physical differences between the Field and Show types. While both share many traits, such as their friendly nature and love of exercise, their features can vary significantly. In this section, we will take a closer look at the distinct features of the Field and Show Golden Retrievers, including size, build, and coat type. By understanding these differences, you can choose the type of Golden Retriever that best suits your lifestyle and needs.

Field Golden Retriever

Field Goldens are the more athletic of the two types, so they tend to have smaller frames and slimmer physiques like a track runner. Their heads have more of a wedge shape with a longer snout. Field Goldens’ coats tend to be darker in color, and the length of their fur is kept short so that it is easier to maintain when out in the fields.

Show Golden Retriever

Show Goldens have bigger, stockier builds and have block-shaped heads with shorter and more square-shaped muzzles. Their hair coats are lighter in color and longer in length, which means they tend to shed a little more than Field Goldens. Longer hair coats can also become knotted or matted very easily, so frequent brushing is important.   


When it comes to Golden Retrievers, their temperament is often a defining factor for many prospective owners. The temperament of Show and Field Golden Retrievers can vary due to the purpose for which they were bred. In this section, we will delve deeper into the unique temperament traits of both types. By understanding the differences, you can make an informed decision on which type of Golden Retriever is the right fit for you.

Field Golden Retriever

Field Goldens tend to have higher energy than the show goldens. A great deal of stamina is necessary for outdoor work, and Field Goldens have a terrific drive when it comes to vigorous running and jumping. Show Goldens can still be very energetic, but they are less likely to be wound up in situations where calm and quiet are necessary.

Show Golden Retriever

Even though Field and Show Goldens can vary when it comes to maximum energy levels, both types of Goldens maintain sociable and friendly personalities. They tend to get along with other animals and people well, and they are both eager to please. Show Goldens may be a little better than Field Goldens in public places like hospitals and nursing homes, but both can be trained to perform this kind of work.

Care Requirements

Golden Retrievers are a beloved breed, but their care requirements can differ depending on whether they are bred for the field or the show ring. When it comes to care, Field and Show Golden Retrievers have distinct needs. Let’s take a closer look at the care requirements and how they differ.

Field Golden Retriever

Field Goldens require much more exercise and activity. If they are intended to live an indoor and sedentary lifestyle, they may be more likely to develop anxiety problems down the road. This anxiety can manifest in the form of destructive chewing behaviors. When Field Goldens play, they can be a little too rough with smaller pets and young children. 

Show Golden Retriever

Show Goldens require mild exercise and activity to keep their body weight steady and their minds sharp. They tend to be great in families with small children because they are less likely to play too hard with babies or toddlers. However, routine grooming is extremely important because mats of fur can get out of control very quickly, and infections of the ears and skin can be missed under all of that hair!


Field and Show Golden Retrievers

Field Golden Retrievers are dogs who mostly perform work outdoors and have very athletic builds. Show goldens have stockier builds and mostly perform indoor work, either at dog shows or in a service dog capacity.

Both Goldens are lovable, sociable, and loyal dogs who would make a great addition to any family. Knowing the differences between the two can guide you to forming a more perfect relationship with your new furry family member!

To learn more, be sure to check out our article on the Types and Colors of Golden Retrievers. You can also visit our section that covers Golden Retriever Breed Information.

Dr. Erica Irish

Dr. Erica Irish graduated from the University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine in 2013 and currently practices at a 24/7 small animal hospital in Central Florida. She is particularly interested in cardiology, dentistry, dermatology, and integrative medicine.

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