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Differences Between Male & Female Golden Retrievers

| Updated September 26, 2017

The primary difference between male and female golden retrievers is in their size and structure. There is little difference in temperament between the two sexes. Golden retrievers are known for being devoted, friendly and intelligent dogs. The temperament of an individual golden retriever of either sex does depend on the dog's owner and how much love, attention and training the owner gives his dog.

Size and Structure Differences

  • The Golden Retriever Club of America lists the size standard for male golden retrievers as 65 to 75 pounds and 23 to 24 inches tall at the withers. The size standard for female golden retrievers is 55 to 65 pounds and 21.5 to 22.5 inches tall. 
  • When it comes to the structural differences between male and female golden retrievers, males generally have broader heads, longer coats, thicker ruffs and increased musculature.

Temperament Differences

The differences in temperament between male and female golden retrievers are minimal; however, there are some. R. Ann Johnson, who has a master's in zoology from Rutgers University, and is an award-winning breeder from Gold-Rush Goldens in Wrightstown, New Jersey, says male golden retrievers display the ancestral survival trait of worshiping their pack leaders. This behavior is exhibited by a dog's concern for his owner's moods and feelings. Female golden retrievers don't worship their owners to the extent males do, but they are still devoted and loving.

Skip and Lyndsey Keller of Genuine Goldens in Minford, Ohio summarize the temperament differences as follows:

"Females love you. Males are in love with you."

Training Differences and Suggestions

  • There are varying opinions regarding differences in the difficulty of housebreaking males compared to females, but the general consensus appears to be that neither sex is easier to train
  • Spending time with your dog during behavioral training allows the two of you to develop a strong, positive relationship, which will have a beneficial influence on your dog's temperament.  When you use positive training methods with a cheerful, upbeat voice and start with the basic sit, stay and down commands, you will be off to a great start with your golden retriever.


  • Both physical and behavioral differences between male and female golden retrievers are minimized when a male is neutered.

    A female golden retriever should be spayed if you don't want to have a dog that goes into heat twice a year.