Female vs. Male Golden Retriever Differences

Eduarda Piamore
By Eduarda Piamore, Expert in canine and feline psychology, education and training.. January 17, 2024
Female vs. Male Golden Retriever Differences
Golden Retriever

Animal file: Golden Retriever

Determining whether a Golden Retriever is male or female is difficult without looking at their reproductive organs. While they have very specific differences, male and female dogs are not very sexually dimorphic. This means they do not differ greatly in terms of appearance according to sex. They do differ greatly according to breed, something that we can see in the distinctive Golden Retriever. One of the most popular breeds in the world, they are known to be almost the perfect companion dog. This doesn't mean a family might not be better suited with a male or female Golden Retriever depending on their situation.

If you are thinking which to adopt, AnimalWised explains the female vs. male Golden Retriever differences. We look at the physical and behavioral differences to help you make your decision.

You may also be interested in: Male vs. Female Pitbull Differences
  1. Female vs. male Golden Retriever size
  2. Female vs. male Golden Retriever character
  3. Reproductive differences between male vs. female Golden Retrievers
  4. Should I adopt a male vs. female Golden Retriever?

Female vs. male Golden Retriever size

The differences between male and female Golden Retrievers are most evident when we look at their physical characteristics. While their reproductive organs will confirm their sex, there are general differences in their build which can help us tell from a distance. Generally speaking, female Golden Retrievers are smaller and less robust than males, but there are always exceptions. The breed standards for each are the following:

  • Male Golden Retriever: The International Canine Federation (FCI) and the Kennel Club (UK) agree that the average height at the withers of an adult Golden Retriever can vary from 22-24" (56-61 cm) at the withers in males. The American Kennel Club (AKC) considers a height at the withers of between 23-24" (58.5-61 cm) for male Golden Retrievers. Their weight should be 65-75 lb (29.5-34 kg) for adult males.

  • Female Golden Retriever: according to the FCI and the Kennel Club, the height at the withers of females ranges from 20-22" (51-56 cm). As for the AKC, it determines a height of between 21.5-22.5" (54.5-57 cm) for females. Likewise, it states that females should be between 55-65 lb (25-29.5 kg) in adulthood.

There is also certain difference depending on the type of Golden Retriever. The appearance of a male or female Golden Retriever of European line is slightly different from that of the American line of the breed. In general terms, we observe a dog with a slightly elongated body, but well proportioned and harmonious in appearance and with a kind expression.

Regarding the colors of the Golden Retriever, there is also a consensus among canine federations, which all consider different shades of gold acceptable. These range from cream to gold, while they reject extremes such as red, mahogany or white. These shades can occur in both males and females.

Female vs. Male Golden Retriever Differences - Female vs. male Golden Retriever size

Female vs. male Golden Retriever character

It is important to note that a dog's character and behavior will be largely determined by their education, experience and environment. Socialization is particularly important for when a dog interacts with other individuals, stimuli and environments. With this in mind, we can say that breed does influence general behaviors. Often this can be related to the breed's traditional role. For example, working dogs may have certain traits lapdogs do not.

General Golden Retriever temperament

In general terms, Golden Retrievers are known for their very stable personality and gentle temperament. While this personality can differ according to the individual, they are intelligent dogs with a great predisposition to training. It is for this reason they are so often employed as guide dogs, security dogs or in other working capacities such as therapy dogs.

It is important to start teaching your dog basic obedience commands from the moment they arrive home. Their socialization training should begin when they only a few weeks old, something particularly important if they live with kids. They are generally very good dog for children, but both the dog and the children in the home need to learn boundaries.

The Golden Retriever's aptitude for work does not mean they need to be a working dog. For many, they are also the quintessential companion animal. It does mean they need a certain level of education and training to help keep them cognitively stimulated. If they do not have regular physical, mental and emotional engagement their temperament can become negative. Fortunately, training is both relatively easy and very fun.

It must be taken into account that Golden Retrievers take time to mature. This is especially do with males. The result is that they can behave like big puppies for a long time, even years into adulthood. The exact age at which we can consider a golden retriever to be an adult can vary according to individual, but it is estimated that at least three years are necessary for them to complete their cognitive and emotional development.

The main difference between a male and female Golden Retriever's temperament will depend on their training and experience. However, we can say that males may be a little more immature for longer. The other differences are related to their reproductive behaviors, something we explain further in the section below.

If you are thinking of adopting one of these dogs, take a look at our article which provides names for male and female Golden Retrievers.

Female vs. Male Golden Retriever Differences - Female vs. male Golden Retriever character

Reproductive differences between male vs. female Golden Retrievers

The main difference between female and male Golden Retrievers is their sexual reproductive systems. Male dogs have a penis and testicles which produce sperm to fertilize the female's eggs. Female dogs have a vagina for intercourse and a uterus to develop their embryos after fertilization.

The behaviors of male and female Golden Retrievers change due to sexual reproduction. Females have an estrus cycle, commonly known as the heat cycle in dogs. This occurs once the dog reaches sexual maturity. Females usually start to each this a little earlier at between 6-12 months of age, while males do so a little later at 9-12 months of age. As we have mentioned, Golden Retrievers can take a little more time to mature in general.

  • Males: once they reach sexual maturity, male dogs will be willing to mate throughout the year and almost their entire life.

  • Females: the heat cycle in females is divided into four phases (proestrus, estrus, diestrus and anestrus). It is only during estrus that females are fertile and receptive to males. A female usually experiences two heats per year, lasting a total of 15 to 21 days. The estrus only lasts 6 to 9 days.

There are also differences in behavior when males and females are sexually active. Both will be restless due to their hormones compelling them to mate. This can lead to behaviors such as mounting objects, marking and escapism. Females will typically present vaginal bleeding with inflammation of the dog's vulva. Females tend to be more affectionate and demand more attention during the proestrus phase.

Unneutered males do not have a heat cycle, but will behave differently when they are around a female who is in heat. They can become aggressive if they think another dog is a rival, they can become generally frustrated and they will often try to escape to mate.


Marking in dogs not only occurs for reproductive purposes, but also for territoriality, communication or as a response to certain emotions. Males and females can mark differently. Generally male Golden Retrievers will raise a leg to mark against vertical surfaces, while females will squat on the ground. Females in heat mark to alert males of their presence. Males do the same, but also to warn off potential rivals for the female Golden Retriever.

Both marking and sexual reproductive behaviors can be problematic for your Golden Retriever and the household. They will generally be less stable and can behave inappropriately in certain situations. For this reason, it is recommended you spay and neuter your Golden Retriever. This also helps avoid very serious physical health problems and reduces the rate of unwanted dog pregnancy.

Female vs. Male Golden Retriever Differences - Reproductive differences between male vs. female Golden Retrievers

Should I adopt a male vs. female Golden Retriever?

Although it is helpful to know the differences between male and female Golden Retrievers, it is important not to make it the main consideration when choosing to adopt. Each dog is an individual and it is their own personality you need to consider. Both sexes of Golden Retriever will demand the same space in the home and require the same care and dedication from their guardian.

We can use the breed to help us make this decision. Some may live in a small apartment, making Golden Retriever not the most ideal for this situation. Some people may have quite sedentary lives, meaning they will need a dog with less energy levels than a Golden Retriever. You will also need to ensure you can meet the responsibility in terms of time, family dynamic and even money.

Many say that female Golden Retrievers tend to be more affectionate than males, but a dog's affection is not based on sex. Instead, their behavior will be dependent on the care they receive, their socialization and their education levels. When training any dog, it is important you use positive reinforcement and avoid scolding or using physical violence. Doing the latter will result in behavioral problems in males or females.

Keep in mind that neither a male or female Golden Retriever is a lapdog. Despite this, they can show extreme loyalty to their family. They will want to protect them and will develop strong bonds with more than one guardian.

In terms of physicality, Golden Retrievers are dogs prone to obesity. This means we need to ensure we provide them with the right diet and not overdo it with treats. Beyond taking them for walks, we encourage exercising with your Golden Retriever and engaging them in active training sessions. This applies to female and male Golden Retrievers equally.

Neutering/sterilization of male and female Golden Retrievers

The physical and behavioral differences between a male and female Golden Retriever do not have to influence the decision to adopt one sex or the other, but there may be some considerations. Neutering/sterilization is one of them. The cost of surgery for females is higher because it is more complex than that for males. Females that are not spayed are also more prone to various diseases such as pyometra or breast cancer in dogs.

With males, neutering also helps to prevent fights with other dogs which can cause injuries. It can also make living with them difficult, something especially problematic in larger dogs such as the Golden Retriever.

In any case, the advantages of neutering male and female Golden Retrievers are very important. They are not only likely to benefit you financially, but it will improve their health and make it easier for them to live in the home.

However, it is equally important to know that you don't necessarily need to adopt a purebred Golden Retriever. Take a look at our article on reasons to adopt a mixed-breed dog to learn more.

If you want to read similar articles to Female vs. Male Golden Retriever Differences, we recommend you visit our Comparisons category.

  • American Kennel Club. Dog Breeds: Golden Retriever. Retrieved from:

  • FCI - Standard Nº111. Golden Retriever or Golden Retriever. Retrieved from:

  • Morrill, K., et al. (2022). Ancestry-inclusive dog genomics challenges popular breed stereotypes. Science (New York, N.Y.), 376(6592), eabk0639.

  • Coren, S. (2006). The Intelligence of Dogs: A Guide to the Thoughts, Emotions, and Inner Lives of Our Canine Companions.

  • The Kennel Club – Breed Standards: Retriever (Golden). Retrieved from:
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Female vs. Male Golden Retriever Differences