6 Types of Retriever and Their Characteristics

There are six types of retriever in this breed category. Together they share characteristics in common and some traits that are different. For example, all are water dogs. They love the water and were bred to retrieve hunted prey from lakes and ponds. They are not, however, the same size, colors, or temperaments.

There are six retriever breeds recognized by the American Kennel Club.

Types of Retriever Breeds

  1. Labrador Retriever – The Lab is number one in popularity among dog breeds overall by the American Kennel Club. This 55–80-pound dog stands 21-25 inches tall and is thought to be the ultimate family dog. They are great with small children and other animals, those in the family and strangers alike. The labs short, dense coat comes in black, yellow, and chocolate. Labradors have pronounced eyebrows which sets them apart from other retriever breeds. Learn more about the Labrador Retriever.
One of the types of retriever is the Labrador
Three black labs on a dock
  • Golden Retriever – The Golden ranked number four on the AKC’s list in 2020. Goldens are known to be amazing family dogs, good with children of all ages and other dogs as well. They stand 21-24 inches tall and weigh 55-75 pounds depending on sex. They have dense, feathery, golden fur that requires daily brushing. Goldens seem to smile at you. Learn more about the Golden Retriever.
Golden retrievers are happy, loyal dogs and are great with families.
Golden retriever by the shore
  • Cheasapeake Bay Retrievers – Chessies come in at number fifty on the AKC list. This breed is slighty taller at 21-26 inches at the shoulder, but still weighs between 55-80 pounds. The Chessie is a gundog. They make excellent hunting dogs and watchdogs. They are affectionate family dogs but should be monitored around small children and other animals they do not know. This breed has an oily, waterproof coat. Their wavy fur comes in chocolate, sedge, and deadgrass which compliments their yellow eyes.
Two Chesapeake Bay Retrievers splashing through a stream
Chesapeake Bay Retriever
  • Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retrievers – The Toller ranks ninetieth on the Most Popular dogs list by the AKC. This breed is the smallest of the retrievers standing 17-21 inches tall and weighing only 35 to 50 pounds. These athletic gundogs are not short on energy. They are equally good with their families and as hunting dogs. Tollers have red coats with white markings and almond shaped eyes. Learn more about the Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever.
One of the types of retriver specifically known for collecting waterfowl out of the shallows of lakes and ponds is the Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever
Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever
  • Flat-Coated Retrievers – Flat-Coats come in at 102 on the AKC’s list of the most popular dogs. They are the same height as a Golden or Lab but are slenderer in build. They make an excellent family dog being good with small children and other animals. As their name implies, they have a flat-lying coat that comes in either black or liver. They have feathering on their legs and tail.
Flat-Coated Retriever with a stick in the woods
Flat-Coated Retriever
  • Curly-Coated Retrievers  – The Curly weighs in 159th on the list. They are more stately and polished than other retrievers. They are shrewd, poised and proud. These retrievers stand the tallest at 23-27 inches at the shoulder. Their tightly curled, short coat is waterproof and repels thorns and brambles. Like the Flat-Coat they are either black or liver in color. The Curly is the only type of retriever with a wedge-shaped head. Curlys make excellent family dogs and are good with small children but should be monitored around other dogs and pets.
The Curly-Coated Retriever is the tallest of the different types of retrievers.
Curly-Coated Retriever

There are seven characteristics of retrievers common to all retriever breeds. Their shared name gives it all away. Retrievers were bred to do exactly that, retrieve. They are gun dogs, whose job it is to recover the fallen quarry from the field or from water.

The primary attribute they all share is a love of the water. They are eager and enthusiastic to play and work in lakes and streams. Another of the characteristics of retrievers that makes them perfect for water is they all have webbed feet. This allows them to get around easier when going to fetch the prize.

Characteristics of Retrievers

  • Retrieve quarry
  • A love of water
  • Webbed feet – As water dogs that retrieve waterfowl, they have a flap of skin between their toes to aide in swimming.
  • “Soft mouths” – This means they do not bite hard. They are retrievers and they are taught and know instinctively to be gentle with the items they pick up.
  • Folded ears – Retrievers ears fold down and hang over in a tear drop shape.
  • Long tails – Their tails are over half the length of their bodies.
  • Happy, enthusiastic expressions – These dogs just seem to smile at you.

Retrievers overall make good family pets. They are considered medium to large sized dogs but would require a large PlexiDor Dog Door. Contact our Customer Service Team to find out more about our secure, energy efficient dog doors. They are available in white and bronze and made for installation in walls, doors, and glass. Contact us today!