Thinking about adding a new member to your family? A retriever might be the one you’re looking for.
Retrievers are fun, intelligent, and have amazing personalities. They were originally bred to retrieve games to hunters, but right now they’re very popular as family dogs who will bring so much fun to your household whether you live alone or with a big family.
In this article, we’ll go through the most significant retriever breeds, highlighting their traits. Each breed has different traits and needs, so keep on reading to find the one that you can match with.
What are Retrievers?
Non-slip retrieval is the primary and most distinguished feature of these dogs. They can return a bird or any other prey, without damage to the hunter. As a result, these dogs were bred to have soft mouths so they’re super fun and safe to be around. Moreover, they have a willingness to obey and please.
A hunting dog, on the other hand, will have a hard mouth and is quite difficult to control. It will not easily let go of the prey or will do so after damaging it.
As part of hunting activities, retrievers are easily trained to be quiet and motionless. They won’t get confused when other dogs are hunting around and they generally have a gentle temper when they’re living with a family.
Retrieval, sporting or collector dogs come in various breeds. They’re generally medium or large-sized dogs with muscular bodies and the ability to learn various skills.
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31 Types of Retriever Breeds
The AKC recognizes 31 breeds as members of the Sporting Group. Here are the most popular retrievers.
1. Golden Retriever
Golden retrievers are gentle large-sized dogs. This is the perfect family dog because it’s energetic but very friendly. They will play around for hours, but don’t mind curling up the couch with you.
Goldens are popular as guide and assistance dogs. They can also be trained to search and rescue. However, they don’t make great guard dogs.
Just like many other retrievers, Goldens are quite easy to train. There are three types of Goldens: British, American, and Canadian. British Goldens are more muscular than the American type. The Canadian type is the least muscular of all.
These dogs have a coat that ranges from light golden to darker golden hues. Their topcoat is water-resistant and they shed excessively, so daily brushing is needed. Golden Retrievers live up to 12 years and weigh between 55 and 75 pounds.
2. Chesapeake Bay Retriever
This is a large-sized all-American breed that is also known as the CBR. It was developed in the 19th century to pull fishnets and retrieve waterfowl, and grew to be a loving family companion. They weigh between 55 and 80 pounds.
CBRs are known to be extremely intelligent, happy, funny, and willing to work. They also love to play and work around the water so they will love swimming with your family. Dogs are likely to have amber or yellowish eyes and a double coat that waves around the shoulders.
These dogs come in three basic colors; brown, sedge, and dead grass. They’re independent but are somehow slow learners. CBRs live up to 13 years, and they’re very protective of their owners so they make good watchdogs.
3. Labrador Retriever
Labradors are outgoing, funny, active, and intelligent. There are two types; the American and the English. The size of the English Labrador is smaller than the American one. The American Labrador is more energetic, has a less dense coat, and likes to run around.
Because they’re very loving, they’re often trained to help kids and adults who have autism. They’re generally very gentle with kids of all ages as well as other animals, so they make great family pets.
They have coats that are yellow, golden, butterscotch, brown, liver, chocolate, or black. Their coats are naturally dry and oily so they won’t get cold easily. They weigh between 55 and 80 pounds and live up to 12 years.
4. Curly Coated Retriever
Often called the Curly, this dog was originally bred in England for upland bird hunting. Curlies are tall and have tight curls covering the whole body. They weigh between 60 and 95 pounds and live up to 12 years.
The Curly is a loyal confident dog and is very protective of its family. As a working dog, you can depend on it because it won’t quit easily. However, it gets bored easily and needs regular activities. It loves swimming and is not a suitable companion for someone who can’t give their full attention to a dog in the house.
5. Flat-Coated Retriever
Flat-coated retrievers are cheerful and alert. This breed looks like a liver or black-colored Golden Retriever, but it has more energy. The dog weighs between 60 and 70 pounds and lives up to 10 years.
These dogs stay energetic throughout their lives and are probably the happiest of all breeds. They like to play in the mud and might be a little bit difficult to train. They’re a handful to take care of, especially with children in the family.
6. Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever
Originally bred for duck hunting, these dogs are suitable for active families because they love to have fun. Tollers are sometimes mistaken for smaller Golden Retrievers but they’re totally different. They’re more mentally and physically active, and unlike Goldens, they won’t easily settle for an evening on the couch.
They have reddish coats that can be as light as golden red or as dark as copper red with white markings on the nose, chest, and tip of the tail or feet. Some have white markings on their shoulders and back of the neck or silver hair on their backs, but these are disqualified from conformation shows.
Physical stimulation should be provided on a daily basis to keep them motivated. They weigh between 35 and 50 pounds, so they’re the lightest of all six types of retrievers. They live up to 14 years.
In addition to the main 6 Retrievers, there are other dogs in the Sporting Group that also have excellent retrieving skills.
7. American Water Spaniel
This happy dog is distinguished by its curled or wavy rich brown coat. It’s a great swimmer and can withstand cold temperatures. This rare breed is suitable for apartment life as it usually bonds well with one person. Unless kept busy, the American Water Spaniel might get too vocal.
8. Boykin Spaniel
It’s a medium-sized dog and is known for its rich brown coat. The Boykin Spaniel has long ears that hang close to the cheeks, giving it a thoughtful look. It’s friendly and lovable, so it’s extremely stable around children and other animals.
The Brittany is a tireless dog that is very fun to have around because it’s always happy. It’s the perfect pet for an active, outdoorsy family but needs to be socialized at a very young age. The Brittany has a white coat with orange and liver markings.
10. Clumber Spaniel
This is one of the largest of the Spaniels and has a white coat with sparse orange or lemon markings. It moves easily through the thick cover in the field but has a few qualities that might not appeal to some people, including excessive shedding and snoring. It enjoys curling up on the couch and sleeping with its partner, as it’s very loyal and affectionate.
11. Cocker Spaniel
This happy dog has big sweet eyes that show its affectionate nature, which made suitable for the role in Lady and the Tramp. It makes a great companion for kids, and it doesn’t respond well to harsh training methods because it’s very sensitive. The coat comes in various shades of black, liver, red, and golden.
12. English Cocker Spaniel
This dog is responsive, merry, and is always willing to please. It has a medium-length coat that comes in various colors and feels extremely smooth to touch. The English Cocker Spaniel doesn’t like to be left alone and will always prefer one person in the family.
13. English Setter
The English Setter usually has a white coat with silky fringes on the back of the leg, on the belly, and tail. It’s very gentle and needs plenty of exercise. It’s very happy among children and loves visitors.
14. English Springer Spaniel
This excitable dog is a quick learner and loves to obey. It’s probably the fastest among other Spaniels, loves water, and enjoys the company of kids and other pets. It has a shorter coarse coat that sheds only in the summer. It can be black, liver or tan with multiple markings.
15. Field Spaniel
The Field Spaniel is a sweet and sensitive dog that loves to have a purpose. It has a glossy smooth black or liver coat and feathery ears. Field Spaniels have loving eyes and enjoys being around kids. They don’t like being left alone.
16. German Shorthaired Pointer
GSPs have streamlined and powerful bodies in addition to webbed feet that allow them to swim. A GSP is smart, enthusiastic and loves to run around with its family. It makes an excellent watchdog and has a water-resistant coat which can be brown, liver, liver roan, black roan, white, or white roan.
17. German Wirehaired Pointer
The wiry coat is probably the most distinctive feature of this dog. It could be white, brown or liver and it protects the GWP from rough weather conditions and thorns while it’s retrieving. The dog is determined, active, and loyal to its family.
18. Gordon Setter
The largest of setters, the Gordon has a smooth and straight black coat with tan markings. Gordons are confident, smart, and bold. They’re patient, but might not be suitable for a family with very young children.
19. Irish Red and White Setter
These dogs need firm and continuous training, but they’re very affectionate. Give the dog space to run freely and activities to keep it busy and it will become a great family companion.
20. Irish Setter
Also known as the Red Setter, this dog requires frequent brushing and lots of attention. Irish Setters love activities and should be given the chance to run off-lead, but after they’ve been well-trained. They’re active, outgoing, and they do well with other pets.
21. Irish Water Spaniel
The IWS has a beautiful curly liver-colored waterproof coat that sheds very little. It’s active, hardworking, and easy to train. Early socialization is a must because it might not get along with strangers and other pets.
22. Lagotto Romagnolo
This Italian curly-coated dog is very loyal and loving, so it’s an excellent family companion. It might look like a plush toy but it’s a very hard worker.
23. Nederlandse Kooikerhondje
You’ve probably seen this white and orange dog in Rembrandt’s paintings. This dog is quiet, good-natured, and well-behaved. It’s always willing to please its owner but might not immediately like strangers.
As the name suggests, this dog points at game birds. It’s a loyal hard-working dog that has a short and smooth coat. It’s generally white with liver, lemon, black or orange markings. Pointers are clean, intelligent, and have high energy levels. They live happily with other pets in the house.
25. Spinone Italiano
This Italian dog is loyal, friendly, and alert. It was typically used for retrieving, but it’s so smart it can be trained to be an assistance dog when needed because it’s patient and docile.
Most people think that it has human-like eyes because it shows understanding and intelligence, so it should be handled with care due to its gentle nature. The coat is tough and slightly wiry and can be white, white with orange or brown markings, and orange roan or brown roan with orange or brown markings.
26. Sussex Spaniel
This dog looks similar to Clumber Spaniel, but it’s distinguished by its golden-liver coat. It might have a frowning expression, but it’s merry and has an even temper. The Sussex Spaniel is a great family pet but can also be a therapy dog if it manages to keep control of its enthusiasm.
This dog originated in Hungary as a retriever due to its excellent nose and remarkable trainability. It can work on the field, in forests or bodies of water, and also makes a great family companion.
The dog is easily recognized due to its elegant golden-rust color, although some dogs will have some other color variations in a saddle pattern. Vizslas are affectionate and loyal and they will quickly form bonds with children and strangers.
This friendly and fearless companion was originally used by royalty on hunting events. It has a low-maintenance short and smooth coat which can be silver-gray, charcoal blue or silver-blue. It doesn’t have an undercoat and won’t withstand very cold conditions.
The Weimaraner is energetic and active. It makes a great family pet as it likes children, but it’s likely to chase any small animal that enters the garden.
29. Welsh Springer Spaniel
This dog makes a great family companion due to its happy and upbeat nature. It has a catchy white and red coat that’s weatherproof, waterproof, and thorn-proof. It usually becomes very attached to its family members.
30. Wirehaired Pointing Griffon
This people-oriented dog usually has a wiry steel gray coat with brown markings. It could also be white and brown, chestnut and brown, roan, and white and orange. Its eyes are covered by long eyebrows and it has a distinctive beard. This devoted dog is trainable but doesn’t respond well to harsh training methods.
31. Wirehaired Vizsla
This dog has a robust build and wiry golden rust coat. Just like the Vizslas, these dogs are energetic, loyal, and affectionate. They don’t bark unless they’re provoked and should be gently trained as they’re naturally very sensitive.
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Humans managed to breed dogs highlighting the physical and mental traits that would suit their purpose. Retrievers are still used as hunting companions, but they’re highly trainable so they’ve become excellent family dogs.
These intelligent dogs will bring so much love and affection to your household. They don’t get angry and everyone will fall in love with them.