Fact or Fiction: Examining the Short Haired Golden Retriever

Pet Type


June 17, 2020

When you imagine a Golden retriever, one of the characteristics you likely envision is the long golden coat that is often attributed to the breed. Of course, dogs with longer coats tend to shed more significantly, which often leads potential dog owners to consider alternatives. One such alternative that is often a topic of debate is the short-haired Golden Retriever.

Although many people will say they have seen these dogs, others claim that it’s simply not possible for a Golden retriever to have short hair. What’s the truth? If you’ve been searching for a short-haired Golden retriever to introduce into your family or as a new companion, but you’re not sure whether this unique type of Goldie even exists, here are some key points to keep in mind.

An Introduction to the Short Haired Golden Retriever  

If you’ve spent any length of time around Golden retrievers or browsing online to check out pictures of them, you’ve most likely seen a short-haired Golden retriever at some point. Long coats are typically common among this breed, causing a moment for pause when someone encounters a Goldie with a shorter coat.

While the existence of a short-haired Golden retriever isn’t impossible, it is often suggested that such characteristics reflect that a Golden retriever isn’t purebred or that dog lovers fail to recognize the characteristics of a different breed. Yet, many Goldie lovers declare with certainty that their fuzzy friend is indeed a Golden retriever with a short coat. 

The American Kennel Club has never provided any recognition to the possibility of a short-haired Golden retriever. This is not uncommon, as it is worth noting that the club also doesn’t recognize different coat colors or patterns of specific types of breeds, such as brindle variations.

Since the AKC doesn’t attribute short hair or shorter coat lengths to the overall breed of Golden retrievers, acknowledging short-haired counterparts isn’t possible because these dogs aren’t purebred by the kennel club’s standards. This is not to say that short-haired Goldies don’t exist at all, but rather, they simply aren’t recognized by kennel clubs as being a type of Golden retriever due to purebred criteria.  

Why Does My Golden Retriever Have Short Hair?  

If you’re reading this article, there’s a high possibility that either you have a short-haired Golden retriever or you’re interested in getting one. Although kennel clubs may not recognize this type of Golden retriever, that doesn’t necessarily mean that they aren’t truly Goldies by definition. Many dog owners don’t consider their pooches to be any less of a Goldie simply because of the shorter coat. In actuality, there are a few reasons why a Goldie can have short hair. 

Sometimes, a Golden retriever might have a different coat compared to most because of genetic variations in the dog’s family. Every Golden retriever won’t have a long coat, and one can only expect that as breeding continues, genetic differences will eventually lead to different colors and coats in comparison to what is commonly recognized.

These types of Goldies are simply unique or rare. Although some may argue that they might have been crossbred at some point, even genetic testing reflects that they are genuinely Golden retrievers without any other breeds present in their genetic background. 

Of course, short hair can also develop as a result of crossbreeding as well. Sometimes, a Golden retriever will have this characteristic because there was a dog of another breed within their family history at some point. Labradors are commonly bred with Golden retrievers due to their appearance similarities.

This can potentially result in a litter of puppies that may have the appearance of the short-haired Golden retriever. Other breeds that are frequently crossbred with Golden retrievers include the Curly coated retriever, Chesapeake Bay retriever, and Flat-coated retriever. If any of these breeds are present in your retriever’s family history, this may be why they share the characteristics of a shorter coat. 

Outside of crossbreeding with Golden retrievers, the other possibility that often results in a coat with shorter hair is the misidentification of the retriever breed itself. There are a variety of retriever breeds, and many of them look similar, so it’s not uncommon for someone to believe that they have a short-haired Golden retriever when they have one of the previously referenced breeds instead. Further, a dishonest breeder may sell a different type of retriever that looks similar to a Goldie and charge a higher price under the claim that it is a Golden retriever with unique characteristics. Although unfortunate, this is a common practice.  

Has Your Short Hair Golden Retriever Been Misidentified?  

Having acknowledged that there are instances where one might mistakenly identify their dog as a Golden retriever or potentially invest in what they believed to be a purebred Goldie, you may be wondering whether your pup has been misidentified. In general, there are two ways that you can address this situation to try to find some answers about your dog’s background and family history. As you might expect, the first option is to reach out to your dog’s veterinarian. 

Veterinarians have undergone many years of rigorous study to understand and provide care to your dog. As a result, they tend to have a significant amount of resources and knowledge regarding the typical characteristics of different dog breeds and how to identify them. If you’re skeptical of whether your short-haired Golden retriever is a Goldie at all, you can certainly reach out to the veterinarian for an exam and a second opinion. Most veterinarians are great at identifying dog breeds and can usually clear all suspicions of whether any crossbreeding occurred.

Another potential option that is increasing in popularity is dog DNA tests. Some veterinarians offer these tests in their offices and may even recommend it to you after the exam if you’re still uncertain. Genetic testing can provide some general insight into the various breeds that may have been present throughout different generations in your dog’s family. These tests are often used to verify if a Goldie is indeed a purebred pup or not. 

Despite curiosity, the fact remains that whether your short hair Golden retriever is a Goldie or not, you will still love them or her all the same. Although misidentification can be disappointing if you’ve made a financial investment in a dog that you believed to be purebred, it ultimately doesn’t impact your relationship with your dog or anything else otherwise.

Additionally, short hair Golden retrievers have not been shown to have more or fewer health concerns than any other type of Goldie, so the only overall difference is that you might gain new insight into your dog’s background. 


As we’ve have learned, there are a few reasons why a Golden retriever may have short hair. Whether due to genetics, crossbreeding, or misidentification, the shorter hair in combination with the traditional Golden retriever characteristics presents a unique appearance that garners widespread curiosity among dog lovers.

While it is very possible to have a Goldie with shorter hair, it’s typically uncommon. If you have a true Goldie with this characteristic, your canine companion is considered a rarity!