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The Truth About English Cream (White) Golden Retrievers

Updated on October 17, 2017
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Adrienne is a former veterinary hospital assistant, certified dog trainer, behavior consultant, and author of "Brain Training for Dogs."

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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.

The Truth

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

White retriever puppy
White retriever puppy | Source

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

 
English
American
Color
Generally Lighter
Generally darker
Topline
Level slope
Back slopes down a little
Head
Broader head
Narrower profile that blends into skull
Eyes
Round, level eyes
Slanted
Ears
Level with eyes
Behind and just above the eyes
Neck
Long, protruding neck. Clean and often trimmed ruff.
Medium length, muscular, and untrimmed
Tail
Level with back
Slight upward curve
Built
Heavier, stockier build
Leaner, more lightweight appearance
Height
Male: 22-24 in. Femaie: 20-22 in.
Male: 23-24 in. Female: 21.5-22.5
Lifespan
12 years
10-11 years
Cancer Rate
38.8%
60%

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.

English Golden Retriever
English Golden Retriever | Source

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.

White golden retriever puppy
White golden retriever puppy | Source

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.

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

Golden Retriever Colors

  • Cream
  • Light Golden
  • 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.

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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.

Adoption

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.

Pet Store

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.

Breeder

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.

Warning

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 but not by the American Kennel Club.
  • Don't believe any claims that a "white" or "platinum" retriever will be recognized as a golden retriever by the AKC because that will not be the case.
  • 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).

White golden retriever puppies
White golden retriever puppies | Source

Can Cream-Colored Goldens Be Officially Recognized by the AKC?

No. 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.

White golden retrievers
White golden retrievers | Source

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.

U.S.

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."

Canada

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.

U.K.

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."

Source

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.

Source

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

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      Monomer 6 weeks ago

      The problem is its too easy to cheat the AKC system. There is no real proof required to show pups are from the parentage that's claimed on the form. So, yes, there are now breeders who sell AKC registerable "white" golden retriever puppies. The reality is the AKC is set-up to cash checks and not to insure a closed gene pool. I've seen plenty of AKC goldens who look a little more like a flop-eared Chow Chow and some huge goldens resemble yellow St. Bernards, short muzzles and creased foreheads, etc. To see what an "original" golden retriever looked like one just needs to look at pictures of famous and champion Golden Retrievers from 60 years ago (I have several breed books dated from the 1950s with photos in them from the 1920 on up). Kennel club registrations (all kennel clubs not just AKC) are geared more to operate as profit centers than to certify a gene pool... but then, perhaps cheating the stud books is better in the long run for a breed's health. A truly closed system to genetic diversity is a slow death spiral for any breed.

      Let me add this: Sadly "rare white" Golden Retrievers can be purchased from eastern European countries for around $4000 shipped by air to the states. Many "backyard" breeders are purchasing them to immediately breed and sell these pups for $2400 and more. Goldens typically have 8-12 pups in a litter... you do the math. These breeder don't pay taxes. This year it seems to have reached epidemic proportions in our area (Michigan) as there are now more "rare white" golden puppies for sale than there are takers... the asking prices this summer plummeted from near $2500 at the beginning of summer to $1000 or less, especially for older puppies. Some of the breeders we visited had dams showing fear and aggression issues... who's to say if those temperaments are genetic or lack of socialization. In either case it buyer beware... a very sad state of affairs for such a lovely and sensitive breed to suffer.

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      Don 3 months ago

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

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      erik wennen 3 months 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

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      Emily 4 months ago

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

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      Ali 5 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?

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      alice smith 5 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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      Ruth McCreary 5 months ago

      Can you shave or trim a English Golden?

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      Nancy H 5 months ago

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

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      Ashley 7 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.

    • alexadry profile image
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      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 9 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!

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      Granny72 9 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.

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      Randy Kee 9 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.

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      carly 9 months ago

      do they shed?

    • alexadry profile image
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      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 10 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!

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      Allie 10 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
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      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 11 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!

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      Bob 11 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
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      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 12 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."

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      Libby 12 months ago

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

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      Charlie 13 months ago

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

    • alexadry profile image
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      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 14 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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      Priyankar Das Dalal 14 months ago

      @alexandry

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

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      Priyankar Das Dalal 14 months ago

      @Alexandry

      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?

    • alexadry profile image
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      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 14 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.

    • alexadry profile image
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      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 14 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."

      Source:

      http://www.akc.org/dog-breeds/golden-retriever/

      http://images.akc.org/pdf/breeds/standards/GoldenR...

    • profile image

      Priyankar Das Dalal 15 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

      https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Golden_Retriever

      Please do research before posting.

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      Marie 17 months ago

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

    • alexadry profile image
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      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 17 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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      miss cellany 17 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.

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      Navlynn 17 months ago

      Great website

    • alexadry profile image
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      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 2 years ago from USA

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

    • Julie K Henderson profile image

      Julie K Henderson 2 years ago

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

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      Devika Primić 2 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

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

    • 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.

      Eddy.

    • MarieLB profile image

      Marie L Boler 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.

    • alexadry profile image
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      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

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      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!

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      Linda Crist 2 years ago from Central Virginia

      I agree! lol

    • alexadry profile image
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      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!

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      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.