Red Golden Retriever: The King of Goldens

Golden Retrievers are a very popular breed that seems to be in every home in America! We are so used to seeing Golden Retrievers, that many of us have never seen the Red Golden Retriever. Very few people are familiar with this red color.

Red Golden Retrievers are a red variation of the classic Golden color.

As well as their mahogany color, Red Goldens have more energy and different personalities from standard Goldens.

If you have the money to buy one of these rare dogs, you will turn heads as you walk down the street. It is almost impossible to not stare at their beautiful dark red fur.

In this article, we will cover the differences between the Red and standard Golden. We also cover the reason for why these dogs are red, how to spot a red puppy, and how to best care for them.

Red Golden Retriever Overview

Red Golden Retriever

Red Golden Retrievers are not a separate dog breed, rather a color variation of the beloved Golden Retriever. Their coat is a much darker shade of red. Red Goldens are just less common siblings of the famous Golden Retriever.

Red is not a common color because many Kennel Clubs considers it a serious fault. Many breeders do not purposely breed for Red retrievers.

But not many can resist the adorable smile of a Red Golden Retriever. Dog owners are willing to pay extravagant prices for these undoubtedly gorgeous red dogs. They also turn heads wherever they go, the general public is not familiar with Golden Retrievers that have such a strikingly beautiful color.

It is thought that the red color comes from their Irish Setter ancestors. All Goldens have Irish Setter genes in them; however, only a handful of them retrain that gorgeous red color Irish Setters are known for.

When Golden Retrievers were first bred, red puppies were typically reserved for bird hunting. Their waterproof, dense red fur is even designed for hunting. It can keep them warm in just about any climate. Over time, Red Golden Retrievers became more athletic and energetic because of this selection process.

This is an example of a dog that has been perfected for the job they were designed to do. These incredible hunting dogs are strong swimmers, endurance runners, and retrievers with soft mouths.

Red Golden Retrievers may be skilled hunters, but they are also incredible service dogs, therapy dogs and search and rescue dogs.

With genes from breeds like the Tweed Water Spaniel, Irish Setter and Bloodhound, it is no wonder they have turned out to be such a well-rounded dog. The best traits of all these breeds were combined to make a dog that is treasured by hunters, law enforcement and individuals with disabilities.


Golden Retriever
This breed holds its head high and has a regal appearance.

It is uncertain when the first Red Golden Retriever appeared. But this color has probably existed almost as long as the typical Golden Retriever. It is likely that there were always some puppies that were red.

Golden Retrievers have a history that dates all the way back to the mid-19th century. This working breed was created by Lord Tweedmouth, also known as Dudley Marjoribanks, in the hills of Scotland. He wanted to create the perfect gun dog that could retrieve game on land and water.

Lord Tweedmouth devoted fifty years of his life to breeding Tweed Water Spaniels to Irish Setters. He also added in the genes of Bloodhounds and some speculate the genes of Labradors.

The breed that Tweedmouth created became the Golden Retriever.

This dog had a waterproof coat that was thick enough to keep them warm in the cold. They also had an excellent sense of smell that helped them track down game. The most important trait they were bred for was a ‘soft mouth,’ which helped them to gently carry game.

All of these traits created an incredible gun dog.

Golden Retrievers have been a favorite hunting dog, as well as a family pet, for over one hundred years. A working breed at heart, these dogs are still incredible family dogs. They are outgoing and make friends wherever they go.

Red Coat Golden Retriever Appearance

Long Haired Red Golden Retriever
The Red Golden Retriever is a magnificent dog to see.

Clearly, the most striking aspect of Red Golden Retrievers is their red fur! This ‘red’ is not red like a firetruck, but rather a deep mahogany color that is more of a red-brown mix. Their fur color can range from a very deep brown to being a sandy red.

Their red fur is beautiful and very different from the typical gold coat you can see on Golden Retrievers. For this reason, they are highly sought after.

All Golden Retrievers have long, cascading fur that feathers around their neck, tail, belly, and ears.

Red Golden Retrievers have a similar coat. However, their outer coat is slightly shorter, and their feathering is less prominent. Their overall coat length may be shorter, but these dogs still have the beloved soft, wavy outercoat of Golden Retrievers.

Having a slightly shorter coat means less shedding, but they will certainly still shed. If you are allergic to the dander in a dog’s fur, this is not the breed for you. A better suited breed would be the Australian Labradoodle or other hypoallergenic breeds.

The undercoat of a Red Golden Retriever is the same as a standard golden; short and dense.

Red Goldens tend to be smaller than Golden Retrievers. They are lighter and shorter because they were bred for hunting, so they needed a more agile body type.

Male Golden Retrievers are 65 to 75 pounds and females are a bit smaller at 55 to 65 pounds. Expect your red retriever to be on the lower end of the weight chart below:

AgeWeight RangeAverage Weight
3 Months16-43 pounds22 pounds
4 Months25-44 pounds30 pounds
5 Months27-57 pounds40 pounds
6 Months29-72 pounds44 pounds
7 Months32-78 pounds48 pounds
8 Months49-85 pounds55 pounds
9 Months45-77 pounds61 pounds
10 Months50-77 pounds63 pounds
11 Months+55-77 pounds68 pounds

What Do Red Golden Retriever Puppies Look Like?

Two Golden Retriever Puppies
Ear color is the only way to know what color your puppy will be when they are fully grown.

Golden Retriever puppies change their coat color as they age. This can make it hard to identify a red puppy. To spot a red-furred puppy, you have to look closely at the color of their ears. Red Golden Retriever puppies will have beautiful mahogany ears (pictured above). This color will spread to the rest of their body as they grow older.

Not many breeders specifically breed for red puppies as it is considered a ‘fault’ by the American Kennel Club. Because of this, and their high demand, the chances of finding a red puppy are very rare.

A Red Golden Retriever puppy comes with an adorable smile and a big price tag. If you are purchasing a puppy from a breeder they often cost $2,000 to $3,000. This is much more than standard Goldens at $800 to $1,500.

If you can afford one of these stunning dogs, ask yourself a few more questions:

  • Do you have the lifestyle suitable for a gundog?
  • Are you willing to commit to raising a puppy?
  • Are you ready for your house to be coated with fur?

These are all important questions to consider because buying a puppy.

Red Golden Retrievers demand a huge amount of exercise each day. They easily become bored and will chew on belongings in the house if you are not devoted to giving them the workout they need. Active individuals or families are much better suited to this dog.

These dogs also shed a lot. If you are allergic to dogs, this is certainly not the breed for you. But if you are willing to deal with the brushing, vacuuming, and lint-rolling that accompany having a high-shedding dog, then you are prepared to care for one.

Red vs. Gold Differences

Red vs. Gold Difference

Red Golden Retrievers are very similar to Golden Retrievers. However, there are some slight differences you should take note of before beginning your search for one of these red dogs.

The first difference is seen in their energy levels.

Both retrievers were bred as gundogs, but Red Golden Retrievers are more athletic and agile. They have higher energy levels and will need more frequent and more intense workouts. Standard Golden Retrievers still have plenty of energy, and need a good amount of exercise each day, but Reds need slightly more.

This difference in energy levels is very similar to that of English Labs vs. American Labs. English Labs are a bit lazier like a standard Golden. American Labs, which were also bred for hunting, have more energy like a Red Golden.

The next difference is in their appearance. The obvious one is their color. These gorgeous dogs are a deep mahogany color that is a beautiful blend of red and brown. It is much darker than the traditional gold or cream.

This is not the only difference their appearance has. Their fur is shorter and the trademark feathering of Goldens is also a bit less prominent on a Red Golden Retriever.

They are a bit smaller than a standard Golden Retriever too. This is because these dogs were built for sport and hunting rather than conformation shows. They needed a more compact body that could carry them gracefully through water and across land.

Red and standard Goldens have an almost identical personality. They are friendly, outgoing, sweet, and playful. They get along with everyone they meet and are very affectionate. They even have a happy smile on their face all day long.

Why Are They Red?

Red Golden Retriever Dog

The beautiful deep mahogany that Red Golden Retrievers have is the result of genetics at work. This gorgeous shade is very similar to the Irish Setter genes that were first used to breed Golden Retrievers.

Genetics can be a bit complicated to understand, so we are going to break it down slowly.

Each dog cell has 39 pairs of chromosomes. One chromosome comes from the mom and one comes from the dad. This gives each puppy traits from both parents. In each chromosome there are lots of genes. These genes control important characteristics like a dog’s coat.

There are actually ten genes that dictate coat color, intensity, length and pattern.

Each gene pair has regions that code a specific instruction. The B, C, and E regions are what we are going to focus on for the Golden Retriever’s red coat color.

B and E are responsible for determining coat color. The C region determines the intensity of a color. C region genes are the most important to consider when looking at a Red Golden Retriever. These genes are also the same genes responsible for Blue Nose Pitbulls.

Red Golden Retrievers are affected by the C region gene. These genes can either be dominant (known as C) or recessive gene (known as cch). The dominant or recessive genes will change the intensity and shade of the red color:

  • Retrievers with C + C genes will have that rusty, mahogany color.
  • A dog with C + cch genes will result in a coat that is a sandy red.
  • A cch + cch recessive dog will have a white coat that has no red coloring whatsoever.

Genetics can be confusing to understand!

The most important take away is that C region genes determine what shade of red your Golden Retriever will be. These genes are inherited only from Golden Retriever’s with Irish Setter ancestors in their bloodline.

What Is A Red Golden Retriever Called?

The shades of red vary in Golden Retrievers. Because of this, so do their names.

Red Goldens are not red like a tomato, but rather a red/orange, red/golden, or deep red/mahogany color. It is quite easy to spot the difference between them and the standard Gold coat.

Despite their shade of red, they are all called Red Golden Retrievers.

Some people call them dark red or fox red golden retrievers. But, the term ‘fox red’ is typically reserved for Labrador Retrievers.


Young Red Golden Retriever Dog Sitting
Goldens are a gentle breed that never show aggression.

Golden Retrievers are treasured for their beautiful personality. These lovely dogs are a great family dog. They have a highly affectionate personality and a remarkable patience to match it.

The Red Golden Retriever gets along well with children, adults, elderly individuals, dogs, and other types of pets. They are perfect for just about any home.

These big babies love to snuggle. If they see an open spot on the couch, you can be certain they will fill it. They just want to be as close to you as they possibly can. For this reason, they will likely want to sleep in your bed and will not stray far from you when you go on walks.

Golden Retrievers may bark to alert you to an approaching stranger, but they will eagerly greet strangers. They are too friendly to ever chase anyone away. Do not expect them to be good guard dogs.

Everyone they meet is their new best friend, no matter what age. They even love walks through crowded areas so they can meet new human and canine friends.

In addition to being outgoing and loveable, they have bundles of energy and love to play.

Playing fetch, hiking, running, tug-of-war, frisbee, and swimming are all great activities for Golden Retrievers. These dogs love swimming more than anything else. Once they are in the water, it will be hard to get them out.

The most unique personality trait about Red Golden Retrievers is they love to have things in their mouth. This is a direct result of their retrieving instincts. Many Labradors are the same because of their hunting genes.

Do not be surprised to constantly be greeted with toys, bones, shoes, or whatever they can get into their mouths to bring you as a gift.

Breed Characteristics
Family Friendly★★★★★(5)
Energy Levels★★★★(4)
Ease of Training★★★★★(5)
Shedding Frequency★★★★(4)

Breeds Mistaken for a Red Golden Retriever

Many people are very unfamiliar with what Red Goldens look like. It is easy to mistakenly label them as Golden Retrievers, especially as puppies. It is also easy to misidentify any long-haired brown dog for a Red Golden Retriever.

Irish Red Setter
Irish Red Setter

The obvious breed people often mistake for a Red Golden Retriever is the Irish Setter (pictured above). This is a common mistake. Irish Setters are ancestors of Golden Retrievers. They are responsible for giving these beautiful dogs their mahogany fur.

There are also two more breeds that are often labeled as Red Golden Retrievers:

  • Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever
  • Red Flat-Coated Retriever
Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever
Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever

The Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever is a beautiful dog that shares the same red fur of the Red Golden Retriever. These dogs also have feathering around their neck, tail, belly, and ears. Their face structure and ears are also remarkably similar to a Golden Retriever.

Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retrievers are a rare breed that not many people have seen or heard of. It is not surprising that this breed is often mistaken for the Red Golden Retriever.

Red Flat Coated Retriever
Red Flat Coated Retriever

Another breed often mistaken as a Red Golden Retriever is the Red Flat-Coated Retriever.

The Flat-Coated Retriever is another uncommon breed. Just like the Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever, they also look very similar to a Red Golden.


The Red Golden Retriever is a beautiful color variation of the standard Golden Retriever. Owners love this breed because of their unique mahogany red color.

Red Golden Retrievers are just as loving, social, intelligent, and joyful as any Golden Retriever. But, there are some noticeable differences.

They are smaller with a shorter coat that does not shed as excessively. They are also much more athletic and energetic than other Goldens. This is because red puppies were selectively bred for hunting.

These subtle differences make them a very unique variation of the standard Golden. You will treasure this red beauty for many years and be showered with endless love and adoration!

If you are still on the lookout for even more rare Goldens, why not look for a Golden Retriever Mix?

Let us know in the comments below which Golden you prefer.


  1. I had a red head golden retriver for 10 year. Very active, was my buddy. I miss her dearly even today. This article pinned her to the T. I now have an English cream golden. I love her also, but she isn’t for activity. Abby won a second place finish in a dock dog jumping contest her first time. She loved the water.

  2. We just were able to find our Red retriever, he is a rescue dog and just a year old. He is the most beautiful , intelligent, and loving dog we have ever had. We are so glad we found each other.


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