The Truth About English Cream (White) Golden Retrievers
Everyone knows that golden retrievers are beautiful dogs blessed with long, shiny coats in some shade of gold — and they have wonderful demeanors to boot.
If you've seen the English cream golden retriever, or "white" golden retriever, in magazines or ads, you may be wondering what it is and where you can get one. What makes them different from the average golden retriever that you see 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.
Are Cream Golden Retrievers Still Golden Retrievers?
Yes. It's incorrect to call a lighter-colored golden retriever by a different name. Sometimes, breeders change their name to trick buyers into thinking that these lighter-colored dogs are rare. Some breeders incorrectly call them "rare white European golden retrievers," "exquisite platinum imported golden retrievers," or "English cream golden retrievers." But, no matter what they are called, they are golden retrievers; they are recognized as such by English and Canadian authorities.
An "English cream golden retriever" is basically a golden retriever in a very pale shade of gold!
Are American Golden Retrievers Genetically Different From English Ones?
Somewhat. Even though American goldens descend from English lines imported to the U.S. via Canada, the breed evolved and developed differently than its English counterpart 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 of the differences.
English Golden Retriever vs. American Golden Retriever
Back slopes down a little
Narrower profile that blends into skull
Round, level eyes
Level with eyes
Behind and just above the eyes
Long, protruding neck. Clean and often trimmed ruff.
Medium length, muscular, and untrimmed
Level with back
Slight upward curve
Heavier, stockier build
Leaner, more lightweight appearance
Male: 22-24 in. Femaie: 20-22 in.
Male: 23-24 in. Female: 21.5-22.5
Do English Retrievers Shed Less?
Because English retrievers have less hair, you will notice less hair around the house, but this does not mean that they shed less compared to their American counterparts. All retrievers shed at the same rate and usually shed the most during spring and fall.
Are Cream or White-Colored Golden Retrievers Healthier Than Darker Goldens?
The color of the coat has nothing to do with a dog's health. But ancestry could possibly have an effect on health.
- There is at least a little evidence that, on average, English bloodlines are healthier.
- A 1998 study found that 61.8 percent of American goldens died from cancers, such as hemangiosarcoma, lymphosarcoma, 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.
- Studies also found that goldens from English bloodlines had an average lifespan of 12 years and 3 months whereas American goldens lived for an average of 10 years and 8 months.
- This data does not necessarily mean that an English retriever is immune from cancer and will die only at a ripe old age.
- There is plenty of anecdotal evidence of English retrievers dying from cancer and living shorter lives than expected.
- The health of your dog will depend on good breeding lines not on whether it is English or American, cream-colored or toffee-colored.
- The secret to health and longevity is ultimately a combination of nature and nurture—good genes plus optimal care by responsible owners.
Are White Golden Retrievers Rare?
No. Those who are looking for a "white" or "platinum" golden retriever will be disappointed. While some goldens may appear very light in color, they are not actually white. The color white doesn't genetically appear in this breed. Any ad offering "rare white golden retriever puppies" should be interpreted as a scam! Terms like "white," "platinum," "rare," or even "English cream" are marketing words used to trick buyers into paying more for an ordinary retriever with a lighter coat color.
A "white" golden is also frowned upon by both British and American kennel clubs. Any amount of light-colored hair is considered a fault and will be penalized.
Golden Retriever Colors
- Light Golden
- Dark Golden
The cream color was added to the English standard in 1936. After years of selective breeding, these lighter specimens were given the name "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, or platinum blond goldens.
How Much Do Cream (White) Golden Retrievers Cost?
Golden retrievers—no matter their color—cost anywhere between $500 to $2,500, depending on the location, the reputation of the breeder, and whether the puppy descends from champion lines.
If you adopt a golden retriever puppy with no health clearances or lineage documents, expect to pay around $500 or less. Anything above this range is a rip-off.
Depending on how reputable the pet store is and how well the puppy has been bred, the price can range anywhere from $500 to $1000.
The cost of a healthy puppy from a reputable breeder will set you back $1,500 to $2,500. Dogs descending from champion blood lines will be on the higher end of this price spectrum.
It is a huge red flag when a breeder tries to advertise their golden retriever puppies as "white," "cream," or "rare." A reputable breeder will not advertise color, but rather health and bloodline.
Things to Keep in Mind When Buying a "White" Golden Retriever Puppy
- Make sure you are ready and that you go through the list of things to know before adopting a dog.
- Cream-colored dogs—very pale yellow dogs—who otherwise meet the standard are accepted as golden retrievers by English and Canadian authorities. The American Kennel Club doesn't accept any other colors others than dark golden, golden and light golden.
- Don't believe any claims that a "white" retriever will be recognized as a golden retriever by the AKC because that will not be the case. These dogs may be "registrable" but people bypass the system by registering them as light golden, which is not the case with white specimens.
- Be very skeptical of any breeder who claims that cream-colored retrievers are healthier, longer-lived, or more valuable than a darker gold-colored variety.
- Although English dogs are slightly genetically 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.
- Look for good structure, good temperament, full clearances, and great bloodlines. A good breeder shows his/her dogs in conformation, obedience tests, and hunt tests, and offers a history of health and longevity in its bloodlines.
- A good breeder will interview you to make sure that you and your home environment will be a good fit for their puppy.
- A good breeder will also show you the parents and allow you to socialize with the puppy as well as watch the puppy socialize with other dogs and other people.
There are quality, ethical breeders out there. It's 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).
Can Cream-Colored Goldens Be Officially Recognized by the AKC?
No. Currently, the American Kennel Club allows registration only for goldens under the following standard colors: dark golden (registration code 080), golden (registration code 093) and light golden (registration code 119). Many breeders are registering their whites under the light golden category, which is not accurate.
If you find a breeder of cream-colored goldens in the States, it'll be challenging to get conformation titles because this color is frowned upon by the AKC. It's 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. 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.
What Different Countries' Kennel Clubs Say About Cream-Colored Retrievers
Both Canada and the U.K. accept a broader range of coat colors within the golden retriever standard than the American Kennel Club does.
According to the American Kennel Club website, the standard coat color of the golden retriever is a "rich, lustrous golden of various shades." The club further adds that the "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 seems more inclusive of pale dogs. They state that "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 a golden retriever that is "any shade of gold or cream, neither red nor mahogany."
Brief History of American Golden Retrievers
All golden retrievers, whether they are American, Canadian, or English, originated in Scotland in 1868 where they were used as superior hunting dogs by sportsmen. The first goldens were registered with the British Kennel Club in 1903. Back then, they were listed as flat-coat goldens. The breed didn't become popular in the U.S. until the 1920s when anything British was cherished, including dog breeds. In 1932, the American Kennel Club officially recognized the breed.
Golden Retriever Information: Temperament and Health
- They need a lot of exercise—a couple of walks a day at the very least. They love outdoor activities, especially swimming.
- While active outdoors, they are also calm indoors, making them ideal family pets.
- They are easy to train. They are people pleasers and are extremely intelligent.
- They are one of the best dogs for kids.
- They are even-tempered, well-behaved, and extremely faithful.
- They are social animals. They can develop separation anxiety if left alone for long periods of time.
- They shed profusely, especially in the fall and spring. You must regularly brush them (at least twice a week).
- They will need 3 meals a day as a puppy and 2 meals a day as an adult. Each meal should be around 1/3 to 1/2 of a cup of dry food.
- Golden retrievers are prone to cancer, hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia, cataracts, and hypothyroidism.
- Before you get a Golden Retriever, make sure you are aware of the above traits and the care that Golden Retrievers specifically need.
The Bottom Line
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, or those making false claims just to attract buyers.
White Golden Retriever Puppies
- American Kennel Club Golden Retriever Standard
- Golden Retriever Club of America (GRCA)
- Jennifer Holland, "English Retrievers vs. American Retrievers," EnglishRetriever.com, October 14, 2016. Accessed September 13, 2017.
- Summer Brooks Goldens, "Frequently Asked Questions About the Breed." Accessed September, 13, 2017.
Questions & Answers
I have a white golden retriever, and she is absolutely registered with the AKC. Why would you state otherwise?
The American Kennel Club only allows registration for goldens under the following standard colors: dark golden (registration code 080), golden (registration code 093), and light golden (registration code 119). There is no white golden option as it's not a color currently accepted by the AKC standard. If you registered a white, you most likely had to register under light golden and had the pup's parents registered with the AKC. Technically, you can "register" a white this way, but it's not accurate.
Where would you suggest getting a retriever?
You should get one from a reputable breeder who breeds in the best interest of the breed. Look for breeders who health test and breed for good temperament, and that focus on these important aspects rather than color alone.
If you don't think that a European Descent Golden Retriever that is very light cream should be registered as light golden with AKC, how do you think it should be registered? AKC gives registration to Golden Retrievers that are light in color, so how should these be registered with the American Kennel Club? Does AKC agree that European Descent Goldens should not be registered as light golden?
Light cream is different than extreme pale or white. Owners of "white" goldens have bypassed this by registering their dogs as light golden. The problem is that dogs can be "registered" even if they have serious faults. Therefore, specimens with super pale coloring or off colors are being registered, but these super pale/white colorings are faults.
I looked up the AKC website and here is what it says about registering dogs who are not listed as standard colors, "While some colors may be disqualifications within the breed standard, dogs of a disqualifiable color may still be registered. However, AKC may ask for color pictures of the dogs before registration." I am guessing upon seeing some dogs; if they are truly "white" and don't look like purebred goldens, their application may be rejected.
Now, things are different if you have a light golden. Fact is genetical, goldens are various shades or golden ranging from dark to light. A white color should be impossible to produce in the breed due to their genetic makeup which should produce only gold, hence why the option of registering any other color other than dark gold, gold, and light gold is not offered.
What should I think if the breeder doesn’t allow you to visit the kennel? Or see and interact with the puppy as well?
I would be suspicious of a breeder who doesn't allow you to visit their kennel. However, there are exceptions at times. Some breeders are worried about their delicate puppies catching diseases from visitors. Yes, it helps to leave shoes outside, wear surgical booties and cleaning with disinfectants post visit, but some breeders may be reluctant to show their puppies when very young (like under six-weeks-old) to prevent stress to the mom and for disease control. I would inquire whether there are good reasons why you cannot visit, and whether it's a temporary thing.
© 2014 Adrienne Janet Farricelli