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The Truth About English Cream Golden Retrievers

Updated on May 21, 2016
alexadry profile image

Adrienne Farricelli is a former veterinary hospital assistant and now a certified dog trainer, behavior consultant, and author of dog books.

An English cream golden retriever
An English cream golden retriever | Source

Everyone knows what a golden retriever is: a beautiful dog blessed with a long shiny coat, in some shade of gold, and a wonderful demeanor.

But you may have seen pictures in a magazine of "English cream golden retrievers," or seen ads from breeders selling them. What are these dogs and where can you get them? What makes an English cream golden retriever different from the golden retriever we're used to seeing every day in America? Are they the same breed? Is the only difference the coat color? In this article we will take a look at some differences and learn the truth about English cream golden retrievers.

The Truth

An "English cream golden retriever" is basically a golden retriever in a very pale shade of gold!

Cream-colored dogs--very pale yellow dogs--who otherwise meet the standard are accepted as "golden retrievers" by English and Canadian authorities, but not by the American Kennel Club. So your cream-colored dog can be official in those countries, but not in the US.

Be very skeptical of any claims by breeders that your cream-colored retriever is healther, longer-lived, or more valuable than a darker gold-colored dog. Although English dogs are genetically slightly different from American ones, a cream-colored dog is not better than a darker one just because of its color. A dog's quality depends on its bloodlines and the care it is given. And don't believe any claims that a truly white or "platinum" retriever can be recognized as a golden retriever at all, because that's not the case.

Cream golden retriever and darker golden retriever.
Cream golden retriever and darker golden retriever. | Source

Questions and Answers About "English Cream" Golden Retrievers

In your search for a golden retriever, you may stumble on websites managed by breeders who claims that the English cream is healthier or more valuable than the darker counterpart. Is this true? Let's go through the questions these claims raise.

Are They Golden Retrievers? Yes.

It's incorrect to call a lighter-colored golden retriever by a new and different name. Sometimes this is just a breeder's tactic to attract buyers by persuading them these lighter-colored dogs are rare. Indeed, some breeders like to call them "Rare White European Golden Retrievers" or "Exquisite Platinum Imported Golden Retrievers." Some breeders promote cream-colored goldens as being the dogs Oprah Winfrey owns. But whatever they are called, they are golden retrievers; they are recognized as such by English and Canadian authorities.

Are Cream-Colored Dogs Healthier Than Darker Dogs? Almost Certainly Not.

The color of a coat has nothing to do with a dog's health.

Are American Golden Retrievers Genetically Different From English Ones? Somewhat.

Even though American goldens descend from English lines imported to the USA via Canada, in the United States the breed evolved and developed differently than its English counterpart, because of its different bloodlines, and because it was bred according to the American Kennel Club standard, rather than the standard of the Kennel Club of the UK. Let's take a look at a few differences.

The English golden retriever generally has:

  • a heavier, stockier build;
  • a broader head;
  • rounder eyes;
  • a darker nose;
  • a more protruding chest;
  • a straighter top line;
  • and yes, a generally lighter coat color. But both light- and dark-colored goldens can be found among American and English dogs.

The American has a leaner, more lightweight appearance, the back end is sloping, and the coat color is yes, generally, darker.

Are English-Bred Golden Retrievers Healthier? Possibly.

There is at least a little evidence that on average the English bloodlines are healthier. A 1998 study found that 61.8 percent of American goldens died from cancers such as hemangiosarcomas, lymphosarcomas, mast-cell tumors and osteosarcoma; whereas a 2004 British Kennel Club study found that only 38.8 percent of goldens from English bloodlines were affected by cancer. Also, studies found that goldens from English bloodlines had an average lifespan of 12 years and 3 months, whereas, for American goldens the average was 10 years and 8 months.

This data might sound impressive, but is an English retriever is immune from cancer and will die only at a ripe old age? No, there is plenty of anecdotal evidence for English retrievers dying from cancer and living shorter lives than expected. The truth is, it's all about good breeding lines, not about whether a golden retriever is English or American, cream-colored or toffee-colored. The secret to health and longevity is ultimately a combination of nature and nurture, that is, good genes plus optimal care by responsible owners.

Can Cream Goldens Be Officially Recognized by the AKC? No.

If you found a breeder of cream-colored goldens in the States, consider that since this color is frowned upon by AKC, it'll be particularly challenging to find any dogs in the States with conformation titles. Take a look at the discussion below of what American, English, and Canadian authorities say about standards for golden retrievers; it's very hard for a cream-colored dog to pass an American test. If an American breeder is offering cream-colored goldens, and charging a premium price for them, this is a big red flag that you may be dealing with an unethical breeder. If the average rate for a golden retriever is $1,300-1,500, beware of breeders trying to sell a cream-colored golden for $2,800, because you won't be getting the documentation that would justify that extra-high price.

Is There Such a Thing as a White Golden Retriever? No.

Those who are looking for a "white golden retriever" or platinum golden retriever will be disappointed. A "white" golden is frowned upon, as any amount of pure white hair is considered a fault and penalized both by the Kennel Club of the UK and the American Kennel Club. While some goldens may appear very light in color, they are actually NOT white. White is a color that genetically doesn't appear in this breed. Any ad offering "rare white golden retriever puppies" should be interpreted as a scam!

Ultimately, choosing a good golden retriever shouldn't be based on coat color alone but a combination of factors such as structure, temperament, and health. Breeders who breed for platinum, cream, or white coats as their primary goal are raising a red flag. When choosing a good dog, you want to find breeders who breed for good health and temperament and have great lines, not breeders breeding mainly for money and looks, and making false claims just to attract buyers.

The bottom line: There are good breeders of American goldens and good breeders of English goldens. It's totally up to you to do your homework to find them. Look for ethical breeders that adhere to the Code of Ethics of the Golden Retriever Club of America (GRCA). Look for good structure, good temperament, full clearances and great bloodlines. A good breeder shows his dogs in conformation, obedience tests, and hunt tests, and offers a history of health and longevity in his bloodlines. And remember: a golden retriever is still a golden retriever, regardless of what color its coat is.

The History of Golden Retrievers in the US

All golden retrievers, whether they are American, Canadian or English/British retrievers, descend from ancestors originating in Scotland in 1868 when sportsmen were trying to breed a superior hunting dog. The first goldens were registered with the Kennel Club in 1903; back then they were listed as flat-coat goldens. The breed didn't become popular in the United States until the 1920's, when anything British was cherished, including dog breeds. Finally, in 1932, the American Kennel Club recognized the breed.

English cream golden retriever puppies tend to darken in color as they grow.
English cream golden retriever puppies tend to darken in color as they grow. | Source

What Different Countries' Kennel Clubs Say About Cream-Colored Retrievers

According to the American Kennel Club website, the standard coat color of the golden retriever is "rich, lustrous golden of various shades." The club further adds: "Predominant body color which is either extremely pale or extremely dark is undesirable. Some latitude should be given to the light puppy whose coloring shows promise of deepening with maturity."

On the other hand, the Golden Retriever Club of Canada, in its "Golden Retriever Club of Canada Illustrated Breed Standard," seems more inclusive of pale dogs. "The acceptable range of colour in the Golden Retriever is broad. While a medium gold is always correct, coat colour can range from cream to a darker coppery gold. " The Club adds that as long as specimens are within this color range, they should be judged equally.

The Kennel Club of the United Kingdom seems to agree with the Canadian club's standard when it comes to cream coats; it accepts as a golden retriever "any shade of gold or cream, neither red nor mahogany."

So Canada and the UK seem to accept a broader range of coat colors within the golden retriever standard than the American Kennel Club does.

The Golden Retriever Club of Canada goes on to add that the cream color was added to the English standard in 1936. After years of selective breeding, these lighter specimens were given the name of "English Cream Golden Retrievers." Today, these light-colored specimens may also be called English Golden Retrievers, European Golden Retrievers, Blond Golden Retrievers, Light Golden Retrievers, White Goldens, Platinum Blond Goldens, and White Golden Retrievers.


Golden Retriever Puppies


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    • lrc7815 profile image

      Linda Crist 2 years ago from Central Virginia

      My favorite dog as a child was a golden retriever but you have sure taught me something with this hub. I have never heard of the English Cream and I have fallen in love all over again. What beautiful animals they are. I just loved this hub.

    • alexadry profile image

      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 2 years ago from USA

      They are such beautiful dogs and the puppies are adorable! I must confess though that the name given sort of makes me hungry, I can't help it but keep thinking of a wonderful dessert!

    • lrc7815 profile image

      Linda Crist 2 years ago from Central Virginia

      I agree! lol

    • heidithorne profile image

      Heidi Thorne 2 years ago from Chicago Area

      One of my goldens is cream color and has retained his color into middle adulthood (he's about 6). His head is extremely broad and his hair is silkier and thinner than any of the other goldens I've raised. As well, he's pretty tall and lean. He's a stray rescue so we don't exactly know if he's technically a cream golden, a golden/lab mix or something else. Either way, he's beautiful. Thanks for sharing the info! Voted up, beautiful and interesting!

    • alexadry profile image

      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 2 years ago from USA

      Heidithorne, regardless of what heritage he is, your dog sounds very handsome! Thanks for the votes up, Adrienne

    • MarieLB profile image

      Marie L B 2 years ago from Yamba

      Yet another great article about dogs Adrienne. It is so good to have someone with so much knowledge sharing it around with us. Thanks for a great read.

    • Eiddwen profile image

      Eiddwen 2 years ago from Wales

      Even though I cannot have a dog at the moment it doesn't stop me from enjoying wonderful reads like this gem. Great work and voted up.


    • DDE profile image

      Devika Primić 2 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      Beautiful dogs and you certainly enlightened me here on these breeds. Informative and very helpful hub.

    • Julie K Henderson profile image

      Julie K Henderson 2 years ago

      This is a very informative article. They are beautiful animals.

    • alexadry profile image

      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 2 years ago from USA

      I love English cream goldens too, they are very pretty.

    • profile image

      Navlynn 14 months ago

      Great website

    • profile image

      miss cellany 14 months ago

      Colour should be removed from all dog breed standards in my opinion. It's such a shallow characteristic to breed for. The American kennel club would reject a golden with perfect conformation and health because it's not gold enough? Ridiculous. Dogs should be bred for health, sound structure and temperament / breed specific behaviour. Not colour.

    • alexadry profile image

      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 14 months ago from USA

      There are many things people do not agree with when it comes to AKC rules. I agree with you and would focus on mostly breeding for temperament and health. When breeders focus too much on looks, problems are likely to arise.

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      Marie 14 months ago

      Golden Retrievers are, in my book, the king of the doggie world. Thanks Alexadry.

    • profile image

      Priyankar Das Dalal 12 months ago

      Sorry to disagree with your views.

      1. British golden retrievers were the first golden retrievers to be bred. US and Canadian ones came much later.

      There are differences in height, weight, build and temperament. They have more gentle temperament. Breeders sometimes import these dogs for incorporating these temperamental advantages in the US type.

      2. Cream golden retrievers are accepted at AKC. It's completely wrong to say they aren't accepted.

      In fact the standards were revised at 1936 and the mistake of non-inclusion was accepted.

      Refer to this article for details

      Please do research before posting.

    • alexadry profile image

      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 12 months ago from USA

      Priyankar Das Dalal, I am sorry but Wikipedia is not a reliable source to gather information. It's just information compiled by the average Joe. I did do a lot of research on the topic before posting and even consulted with a friend of mine who breeds Goldens. Please look up the American Kennel Club website instead: among colors accepted it only lists 3 colors: dark golden, golden and light golden. Also per standard " lustrous golden of various shades. Predominant body color which is either extremely PALE or extremely dark is UNDESIRABLE. Some latitude should be given to the light puppy whose coloring shows PROMISE of DEEPENING with maturity."


    • alexadry profile image

      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 12 months ago from USA

      Priyankar das dalala, I took a peak to the wikipedia link you provided to give benefit of doubt, and it looks like you misinterpreted what it was saying the wikipedia link clearly states "Originally, cream was an unacceptable colour in the UK standard, but the standard was revised in 1936 to include cream." We are talking UK hear, whereas I am talking about AKC, the American Kennel Club. In the UK cream is an acceptable coat colour, whereas in the US it is likely to be frowned upon judges.

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      Priyankar Das Dalal 12 months ago


      I agree with your point that Wikipedia might not contain accurate information. I'll also go ahead and have a look at the AKC norms about colour.

      However regarding the Wikipedia information, I can still infer that exclusion of cream colour was a mistake and it was rectified. I'll quote the lines that made me think so.

      "Originally, cream was an unacceptable colour in the UK standard, but the standard was revised in 1936 to include cream. At the time of this revision, the exclusion of cream as a colour was agreed to as a mistake, as the original "yellow" retrievers of the 19th century were actually lighter in colour than was permitted by the standards used before 1936"

      I liked reading your article. It was informative as well.

      We all love and enjoy the companionship of our golden furballs regardless of their colour, isn't it so?

    • profile image

      Priyankar Das Dalal 12 months ago


      I guess the link is talking about UK standards being revised. In that case my apologies.

    • alexadry profile image

      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 12 months ago from USA

      Yes, regardless of coat color we do love them all, I definitively agree! No worries about the UK standards, it can get really confusing and the breed registries aren't always really clear.

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      Charlie 11 months ago

      I have an English cream that is recognized by AKC as were her 3 prior generations.

    • profile image

      Libby 10 months ago

      CREAM color does not exclude a Golden Retriever from being AKC registered. I have several and love them all!

    • alexadry profile image

      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 10 months ago from USA

      Yes, they can be registered but they are not AKC' s preferred colors for this breeds. According to the American Kennel Club website, the standard coat color of the golden retriever is "rich, lustrous golden of various shades." The club further adds: "Predominant body color which is either extremely pale or extremely dark is undesirable. Some latitude should be given to the light puppy whose coloring shows promise of deepening with maturity."

    • profile image

      Bob 9 months ago

      We are looking at adopting an English golden from a breeder that comes highly recommend with certifications of health, bloodlines and tempermant. With that in mind are you saying that $ 2800 is still suspicious or is that in line with pricing when you have the certifications and recommendations? Thanks!

    • alexadry profile image

      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 9 months ago from USA

      Is this breeder advertising them as "cream goldens?" That could be a red flag. A breeding program that mostly focuses mainly on coat color should be seen with some skepticism. I would expect the average price would be around 1200 up to perhaps 1800, but it could be higher in some cases, considering some exceptions.

      Certainly health certificates and proof of temperament testing is a good thing. Will the breeder actually provide them as proof though? What about the papers, are they AKC papers? Is there a health guarantee? Any hesitancy in providing these should be a red flag. Is the breeder showing the dogs? Adhering the code of ethics for the breed?

      At that 2,800 would expect more show quality dogs, rather than pet quality, perhaps with the father being a champion. I would proceed with caution and familiarize with all the red flags of unethical breeders to be aware of . Best wishes!

    • profile image

      Allie 8 months ago

      Actually I have an English Cream Golden that is registered with AKC......they just have to be coded as "light" golden...which is an actual breed of golden.....also my dog DOES have white hair?

    • alexadry profile image

      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 8 months ago from USA

      Allie, that's interesting. Do you have full registration or limited registration? Most English cream golden breeders seem to provide for the most part limited AKC registration. Limited registration is different than official full registration as the pups are ineligible to be entered in a breed comforrmation competition.

      I guess at this point that the color is prone to personal interpretation. Another name for English cream goldens is white retrievers, so that makes one think they are more white than light golden.

      However, one must also consider that unethical breeders can even register mutts, as AKC does not control what is being papered nor approves litters, so it's just a piece of paper for what it's worth. Regardless, all goldens are wonderful dogs regardless of coat color or whether they have papers or not!

    • profile image

      carly 7 months ago

      do they shed?

    • profile image

      Randy Kee 6 months ago

      The only thing I do know is the English Cream Golden I have is amazing, so focused and full of love, has the best temperament of any dog I have ever seen. I love his stocky head and front chest and how hard he works. That all I really know.

    • profile image

      Granny72 6 months ago

      Actually, the American Standard does accept pale shades of Gold, but not white. There are many very light-colored Goldens who have AKC Championship titles. Some judges may not like those dogs as well as dogs with more color, but that kind of judging variation is not limited to color preference.

      Not all European/UK Goldens are light in color! Some of them are of medium gold. I've not seen any here in the US that were deep reddish gold. The European Goldens who compete more in field tend to be of the darker colors. Some of them seem to be of the reddish gold.

      Limited registration also precludes that dog producing offspring that are AKC registerable. The AKC created this tool to discourage the indiscriminate breeding without taking the time to become familiar with the various health screenings used for many breeds. There is a lot to learn before taking responsibility for bringing these loving animals into the world; a responsibility that lasts for the life of the puppy.

    • alexadry profile image

      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 6 months ago from USA

      Granny72, thanks for stopping by.

      Yes, the standard accepts dark golden, gold and light golden, but would an English cream be considered light golden? It seems that the coat color tends to be more on the very pale golden or the extremely pale side. Of course, color is prone to personal interpretation so things can get quite confusing.

      Yes, not all European goldens are light in color. I have met several when I was in Italy last year and actually I saw more golden goldens that cream ones.

      However, from my references AKC registration isn't something that can be reliable. From what I have heard, AKC registration does not guarantee quality and those "papers" are much like the title of a car. A fancy Ferrari can be registered just as the old junk Ford. The intentional motive behind registration may be ethical, but the people registering might not.

      Also, I would assume that complete official registration is meant for the dog that conforms to the standard. Dogs registered fully must therefore "breed true" as to perpetuate the purity of breeds that adhere to the standard. Providing limited registration IMO is a bit fishy and grants some investigation.

      I wrote this article several years ago, so if you have any proof that AKC standard does accept English cream Goldens in their official standard, please send to me so I can adjust my article accordingly. Many thanks!

    • profile image

      Ashley 5 months ago

      The AKC simply follows the standards set by the GRCA. I find it strange that the GRCA does not follow the standard set by the breeds country of origin as does the FCI. I feel like it has really left the breed open for exploitation. People looking for a puppy don't realize that much of the world finds a lighter shade perfectly normal. There are a handful of "British" style Goldens that have earned AKC championships. One of my favorites is a grand champion imported from Spain. It depends on what the judge is looking for. If the dog is faulted for color, he needs to be nearly perfect in other areas.

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      Nancy H 3 months ago

      I have an English Cream Golden.... a rescue.... she is the sweetest!

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      Ruth McCreary 3 months ago

      Can you shave or trim a English Golden?

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      alice smith 3 months ago

      I have a cream golden retriever who is a registered with the akc they are not frowned upon they are the same as a golden one

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      Ali 3 months ago

      I live in hot and dry climate and do hourse riding. Is golden retriever a suitable dog for me, reminding there are many stray dog in the region?

    • profile image

      Emily 2 months ago

      Can I just post a comment on here, ask a question.. and someone will try to answer me....?

    • profile image

      erik wennen 3 weeks ago

      We just recently lost a golden member of our family to cancer.

      The Vets call these dogs " heartbreak dogs" because of their cancer rates. These surgery bills are not cheap! And any member of my family is ALWAYS worth trying to save. Putting him to sleep WAS THE HARDEST thing you can ever do. So we decided to pay alittle more and get a cream with excellent blood lines. We figured the higher cost up front is better spent than what you will do in the end.

      Either way you CANNOT go wrong with any golden- you just cant

      and we dont really care about recognized or registered......we just want an awesome dog!

      Alaskan approved

    • profile image

      Don 3 weeks ago

      Looks like a hybrid between a Golden Retriever and a Great Pyrenees to me.