Long Hair vs. Short Hair Golden Retrievers

Golden Retrievers are unique dogs; their personality, physical characteristics, and breeding make them amazing. As one of the most popular dog breeds, they are beloved by many for their versatility and adaptable nature.  One thing they don’t have is short hair. Their hair is beautiful and comes in three distinct colors, light golden, golden and dark golden. The fur is long, smooth, silky, and feathery, which many people find stunning. Besides having three fur coat colors, they also have long hair, and while there might be some Goldens with shorter than normal hair, they don’t have typical short hair.

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Why does my Golden Retriever have short hair?

A Golden Retriever with naturally short hair is incredibly rare. If your Golden Retriever has short hair, it’s likely a mixed breed. Age, health, medicine, grooming techniques, and nutrition can also cause a Golden Retriever to have short hair. 

Genetics determine a dog’s breeding, physical attributes, emotional state, and behavior. The genetics that comes from Golden Retrievers’ ancestors determine how they behave, what they look like, how they learn, and many other characteristics of who they are as a dog.

Long Hair versus Short Hair Golden Retriever

When it comes to the Golden Retrievers’ appearance and hair, a specific gene determines that. The gene determining the length of a Goldens hair is a recessive genetic mutation gene FGF5.

This gene will control how long the hair grows and when it stops. Other factors determine hair growth, including the dog’s age, how healthy they are, medication use, grooming habits, and nutrition.


A Golden Retriever puppy will have shorter hair because their hair isn’t fully developed until they are about two to three years old. During the first years of life, their hair will appear shorter because it hasn’t fully grown in and matured.


Health issues, including the Golden Retrievers’ hair, can affect any body part. Certain health conditions can cause permanent damage to the hair follicles and shaft and slow or stop growth.

Any number of issues can arise depending on the severity of the health problem the Golden Retriever is suffering. If a health issue can be resolved or managed with medication, sometimes problems with the hair resolve themselves with time.


Sometimes medications are a part of life; health issues happen whether mild or severe, short-term or long. Whatever the situation, medications can have side effects affecting any part of the body, including the Golden Retrievers’ hair.

Poor Grooming

Poor grooming habits can cause unhealthy hair and skin. Pulling at the hair during brushing, using the wrong grooming products, and not addressing skin or hair issues when discovered can cause hair loss, damage, slowed growth, and other issues.


Poor nutrition, like health issues, will directly affect every aspect of a Golden Retrievers’ body, including its fur.   Poor nutrition from puppyhood to adulthood can cause fuzzy puppy hair to grow into shorter adult hair.

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How to promote a healthy and long coat of hair for a Golden Retriever

The best place to begin promoting a healthy and long coat of hair is with diet. A healthy diet is the foundation of every aspect of the Golden Retrievers’ life. A nutritious diet, including protein-rich treats and free of unnecessary additives, promotes wellness.

All parts of the Golden’s body will benefit from a nutritious diet, from a long coat of hair to its eyes, organs, and skin.

Next, a balanced lifestyle promotes wellness and healthy hair that’s long and luxurious.   A balanced lifestyle will include good amounts of rest and sleep, healthy amounts of exercise, a happy and loving home, plenty of affection, fun and social time, and home life that is calm and free of major stress.

Healthy grooming habits promote a healthy and long coat of hair for a Golden Retriever. Even though a Golden Retriever puppy doesn’t necessarily need to be groomed, it’s good practice. Healthy grooming habits should begin early in life and be a fun experience.

Grooming can be done in the home or by a professional; it should include regular brushing and inspecting the skin and hair for issues. The Golden Retriever should be bathed regularly with a gentle, dog-specific shampoo.

It would be best if you had grooming habits for your Golden Retriever, so they have healthy long hair, including brushing and combing with a quality slicker brush.   Whatever tool you choose for brushing and combing should have smooth teeth and be of the best quality.

Many professional groomers choose slicker brushes for durability, comfort, and quality. A steel comb is also another good choice for professionals. This comb should have smooth edges, so the tool doesn’t hurt the dog.

A spray bottle can help keep their hair smooth during grooming and brushing. When doing the actual brushing and combing, you will want to use certain techniques to bring out the best in your Golden Retrievers’ hair.

Brushing and Combing

In the beginning, it is best to work in sections, such as the chest area. Spray the area and use the slicker brush to remove tangles and work from the skin area to the edge of the dog’s hair, making it soft, smooth, and velvety.

Go slow and push the brush gently through the hair, then pull it out gently to remove dead hair and anything unwanted. When you’ve used the slicker brush on the entire Golden Retriever, you will want to move to the comb.

The comb provides that finishing touch, removing leftover tangles and dead hair. Suppose there is a rough spot; the slicker brush can be used again. The object is to be able to run the comb through the hair easily.

The process can take about a half hour, depending on how fast it goes. During the regular seasons, when their hair isn’t shedding its double coat, this can be done once or twice per week unless they are extra dirty.

This continual brushing, combing, and bathing can help maintain long, silky hair and make your Golden Retriever look stunning. The process should start early in their puppy phase, so they get used to the idea of being handled.

The process will be slightly different and less time-consuming, but by the time they are two or three years old, a Golden Retriever should be used for the ritual. Just don’t forget the treats; little morsels are best, as the Golden retriever might end up being overfed in one session.


Begin by wetting your Golden Retriever down to its skin using lukewarm water for its protection. Then, use a rag, sponge, or another applicator, which can even be your hands, to message a gentle dog-specific shampoo into the hair.

The focus should be on areas with long and thick hair, like their paws. Give the Golden Retriever a good rinse to remove all the soap, and if you want to have another round of suds, you can apply again and rinse again to ensure their hair is clean.

The shampoo can cause skin issues if any is left behind so take extra care to ensure it’s all washed out, then use a bath towel to pat and dry as much water from their hair. Please pay attention to delicate areas that hold moisture and ensure they are dry.

At this point, the dog can air dry if the weather permits, or you can use the low setting on the hairdryer to dry their lovely hair gently. Once it’s dry, you will want to brush and comb.

Grooming should also include other areas of the Golden’s body, like teeth, nails, and ears. Healthy grooming habits, which change at different points in their life, will promote healthy long hair. Any issues with the Golden’s skin should be addressed immediately, so it doesn’t affect the hair and body.

Do Golden Retrievers have only long hair?

Yes, Golden Retrievers only have long hair. While the hair is long on all Golden Retrievers, show-quality dogs will have slightly longer hair than the field bred, which is necessary for what they are bred to do.

Regardless of what they were bred to do, their hair will never be as short as other dog breeds like the Labrador Retriever or other dog breeds.

It’s rare for a Golden Retriever to have short hair according to their breeding and genetics. It can happen, but when it does happen, there is a specific reason, like a health issue.

If my Golden Retriever has short hair, does it mean they are not a purebred dog?

If your Golden Retriever has short hair, it can mean that they are not a purebred dog, but before you worry, consult the breeder, pedigree documents, and veterinarian.   Certain health issues and the above-listed issues can cause shorter than normal hair for a Golden Retriever.

While it is possible they are not purebred, if you have documents proving such, it could be something else, like the grooming habits you keep for your Golden Retriever or their diet.

Most often, taking a step back to address this concern with an open mind and, like an investigator, will provide the cause of the problem and relief from worry.

Whatever the outcome, even if your Golden Retriever isn’t a purebred dog and you’ve discovered it by examining their short-haired coat, they are no less loveable and still amazing.

Do I choose show quality or field quality if I want a Golden Retriever with really long hair?

You will want to choose show quality if you want a Golden Retriever with long hair. Field-bred Golden Retrievers are known for having hair that is a tiny bit shorter than their show-quality relatives, and both will have long hair, but show-quality has slightly longer hair.

Show quality dogs of any breed are the perfect example of the breed standard according to the American Kennel Club and other organizations.

Closing Points

No Golden Retriever has short hair based on genetics. Other issues can cause short hair for a Golden Retriever, which can be explored if a parent notices their hair doesn’t grow to its full length.

With long, feathery hair, Golden Retrievers are beautiful and memorable. If their hair is a bit shorter, it’s no cause for alarm and just a product of who they are as a dog!

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