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Retriever Breeds – How Many Types are There?

Retriever Breeds
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Retriever breeds are a type of gun dog, and they retrieve stuffs for hunters.

Gun dogs are divided into three categories, which are pointing breeds, retriever breeds, and flushing spaniels. They all have the ability to retrieve anything you throw or shoot.

Primarily, retrievers were bred to retrieve birds and prey as they return them to the hunter without damage. Their nonslip retrieval is their primary function, and because of that, they have soft mouth, willingness to please, willingness to learn, and are willing to obey.

They need their soft mouth so they can retrieve things without harming or biting the prey. Hard mouth is a fault in a hunting dog, and it is not easy to correct.

Nowadays, however, retrievers are not used for bringing prey as much as they are used as family pets and therapy dogs. Their willingness to please plays a major role in them being popular disability assistance dog.

Their patient nature and trainability has earned them an outstanding reputation, and the Labrador Retriever and Golden Retriever are among the top 10 most popular dog breeds.

What does the word retriever mean?

Before we get to the retriever breeds, let’s explain the word retriever a bit more. Basically, it means “someone who recovers”, or in some cases, “someone who brings back”.

The word has such a huge and wide usage, that it has become popular in even non-English speaking countries. And it is all thanks to the popularity of the Golden and Labrador retriever.

When referring to these dogs, the term retriever is the most commonly used in Spanish-speaking countries. And they have a word for that, which is “cobrador”, and it is more suitable and appropriate.

However, the term retriever is just too popular to ignore. With that in mind, let’s take a look at the popular retriever breeds.

The 6 Main Types of Retriever Dogs

According to the American Kennel Club, there are six main types of retriever dogs. There are many other “retrieving” breeds, but these are the six recognized as a retriever breed.

Golden Retriever

Golden Retriever

Arguably the most popular and commonly known dog, the Golden Retriever breed is just a delight. For those of you that didn’t know, there are actually three types of a Golden retriever.

Those are the English, Canadian Golden Retriever, and American, with the English usually in white color. The three different colors you can find the Golden retriever are golden, light golden, and dark golden.

With that in mind, the Golden Retriever dog is the poster child of retriever type breeds. He is friendly with everyone, affectionate, loyal, playful, and can tolerate any other animal.

With his high intelligence, he can also learn a ton of commands and tricks.

Arguably the most sociable dog you will find. And that is why he is often a popular choice for families with kids.

Golden Retrievers come in two groups as well. The American Golden Retriever and the English Golden Retriever.

Labrador Retriever

Labrador Retriever

The Lab is actually No.1 on the most popular dog breeds list in America. He is almost the same as the Golden retriever in terms of character and traits.

The two main differences are the coat, with the Lab having short coat, and their loving nature. Unlike the Golden Retriever, the Labrador can be a bit suspicious towards strangers.

But that is just for a few seconds. Both breeds are extremely friendly and sociable.

The popular breed comes in three different colors, black, chocolate, and gold. Whatever you choose, it doesn’t matter.

All are perfect for people with families. And since he loves to play and exercise, the Lab is ideal for people with an active lifestyle.

Similar to the Golden Retriever dog, there are two types of labs, English Labrador Retriever and American Labrador Retriever.

Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever

Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever

Popularly known as “toller”, this dog is the smallest among retriever dog breeds. Some people mistake him for a small Golden Retriever.

And that can be understandable, since the Toller is quite similar in appearance, but he is just smaller.

He has high instincts, and thanks to his intelligence, the Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever is easy to train. Enthusiastic and cheerful, he requires a lot of physical activity.

Just be careful, he is not a city dog. The toller might feel frustrated in the city. He loves water, and would do great in a rural surrounding.

Flat-coated Retriever

Flat-coated Retriever

Think of this dog as something of a mix between the Irish Setter and the Golden Retriever. And in black color.

His appearance is quite similar to the Irish Setter and the Golden Retriever. But he comes generally in black color. Although, there are versions in dark brown, or even yellow. However, those are rare.

He is a gentle and docile dog that loves spending time with his family. As long as you do not mind the shedding, he is just ideal dog. And you have to remember that he loves to be wet.

All retriever dogs love water, but the Flat-coated retriever is just the worse in that regard. If he could, he would stay in water for the whole day.

He has a relaxed character, but exercise is important to prevent behavioral problems.

Curly coated retriever

Curly coated retriever

This is the tallest of the retriever type breeds, and he is easily distinguished by the mass of tight curls on his body.

The name is self-explanatory, unlike other retrievers, he has a curly coat. He was originally bred in England for bird and waterfowl hunting.

He is also special in another regard. Unlike other retriever dogs, he is shy, and is not that friendly with other dogs. No, he is not aggressive, he just doesn’t love to play as much. He loves, however, spending time with his family.

At the moment, he is in the list of vulnerable native breeds in the UK.

Chesapeake Bay Retriever

Chesapeake Bay Retriever

This large-sized dog looks like a Labrador, but with longer coat, similar to that of the Golden Retriever. He is referred to as Chessie. Developed in the United States of America during the 19th century, he has a very special temperament.

He is different from other types of retriever dogs because he is more protective. He is more of a guard and watch dog than others.

He can be suspicious of strangers, and more difficult to train. Proper socialization is essential so that he doesn’t develop destructive behavior.

He loves children, but he is not as sociable with other animals. Some Chessies have even demonstrated aggression toward other dogs.

Other Retriever Type Dogs

We talked about the six main retriever breeds, but there are more different types of the popular dog breed.

To be fair, any dog breed can be used as a retriever if trained to do so. However, these were bred for retrieving.

Portuguese Water Dog

Portuguese Water Dog

The dog was originally bred in the Portuguese region of Algarve. From there, it expanded to all around Portugal.

They were taught to herd fish into fishermen’s nets, retriever lost tackle, and act as couriers from ship to ship. In some cases, they were couriers from ship to shore.

He is a true type of retriever dog, with a friendly and loving nature. Perfect family pet. Even better, he is considered hypoallergenic and does not shed.

English Setter

English Setter

The Setter is a medium-sized dog, part of the setter group, which also includes the Irish Setter. He has a white body coat, with long silky fringes on the back of the legs and on the tail.

He is smart, but matures slowly and needs gentle training. Once he learns something, however, he will never forget it. In the field, the English Setter often makes his own decisions. And that behavior often comes back home.


Standard Poodle

You would be surprised, but the Standard Poodle was originally used as a retriever dog. They were used for retrieving a Mallard.

Nowadays, however, the Poodle is rarely used for retrieving. He is a great companion and ideal family pet. Highly intelligent, poodles require mental and physical stimulation.



This gun dog was bred for bird hunting. He is referred as a spaniel type dog, but he is more of a pointer and setter.

Developed in France, they are athletic, energetic, and solidly built without being heavy.

They come in wide range of colors.

English Cocker Spaniel

English Cocker Spaniel

This gun can produce most varied number of pups in a litter. Active and good-natured, the Cocker Spaniel can be used for different purposes.

They can be used as field dogs, working dogs, and show dogs.

Tibetan terrier

Tibetan terrier

Despite the name, this dog does not classify as a terrier type dog. He was given the name by terrier by European travelers because it resembled known terrier breeds.

He originates in Tibet, where his name is Tsang Apso, translating to “shaggy or bearded dog”.

They were kept as a good luck charm and mascots, and used to retrieve articles that fell down mountainsides.

They were never sold. Instead, they were given as gifts by monks to promote good health.

Retriever breeds

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