The Truth About English Cream Golden Retrievers
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.
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.
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.
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.
- American Kennel Club Golden Retriever Standard
- Golden Retriever Club of America (GRCA)
- Wyndance Goldens, What Exactly Is An “ENGLISH” Golden Retriever?