The Truth About English Cream Golden Retrievers

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.


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Comments 23 comments

lrc7815 profile image

lrc7815 23 months 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

alexadry 23 months ago from USA Author

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

lrc7815 23 months ago from Central Virginia

I agree! lol

heidithorne profile image

heidithorne 23 months 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

alexadry 23 months ago from USA Author

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

MarieLB profile image

MarieLB 23 months 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 23 months 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

DDE 23 months 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 20 months ago

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

alexadry profile image

alexadry 20 months ago from USA Author

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

Navlynn 5 months ago

Great website

miss cellany 5 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

alexadry 5 months ago from USA Author

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.

Marie 5 months ago

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

Priyankar Das Dalal 3 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

alexadry 2 months ago from USA Author

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

alexadry 2 months ago from USA Author

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.

Priyankar Das Dalal 2 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?

Priyankar Das Dalal 2 months ago


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

alexadry profile image

alexadry 2 months ago from USA Author

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.

Charlie 7 weeks ago

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

Libby 3 weeks ago

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

alexadry profile image

alexadry 3 weeks ago from USA Author

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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    Adrienne Janet Farricelli (alexadry)1,687 Followers
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    Adrienne Farricelli is a former veterinary hospital assistant and now a certified dog trainer, behavior consultant, and author of dog books.

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