6 Golden Retriever Colors Explained (With Pictures)

Six Golden Retrievers in different shades of color

Despite their name, Golden Retrievers don’t exclusively come in golden coat color. In fact, this breed comes in various coat colors and depends on the type of Golden Retriever you have.

If you are determined to get the beautiful Golden Retriever as your new companion, it’s worth considering what coat color you prefer them to have. Would you go for a darker or lighter shade of fur?

In this article, you’ll learn about the different Golden Retriever coat colors that can help you make an informed decision. You’ll also gain information about the genetics behind this breed’s astonishing hues. So, keep reading!

6 Golden Retriever Coat Colors

The Golden Retriever colors come in six distinct hues: golden, light golden, dark golden, red, cream, and white.

You may find backyard breeders or puppy mills advertising exotic or rare Golden Retriever coat colors; however, these dogs are most likely mixed or different dog breeds. On the other hand, reputable breeders focus more on the breed’s standard colors.

Hence, it’s important to identify a purebred Golden Retriever through the breed’s recognized coat colors. The list below enumerates and discusses the six Golden Retriever colors.

1. Classic Golden Retriever

Classic Golden Retriever exploring the woods

Classic gold is the typical coat color of a traditional Golden Retriever. This golden shade is not too light nor too dark.

As the most common coat color, you will often find Golden Retrievers with golden coats, especially American Golden Retrievers.

This rich golden hue is prominent throughout the dog’s body but may be lighter at the feathering on the chest and legs.

Classic Golden Retrievers often compete in the show ring, provided that they meet all of the kennel club’s breed standards. Aside from the dog’s coat color, they also look at the color of the eyes and nose.

For instance, the American Kennel Club (AKC) only accepts medium or dark-brown eyes with dark, close-fitting rims. The nose, on the other hand, should be black or brownish-black.

2. Light Golden Retriever

Light Golden Retriever sitting indoors

Like the classic golden color, light golden is also one of the most common colors of Golden Retrievers. However, unlike their classic standard Golden Retriever cousins, these pups are covered in light golden fur.

Light Golden Retrievers are often mistaken for cream-colored Golden Retrievers; however, the former sports a darker shade.

Moreover, both color variations belong to separate types of Golden Retrievers. Light Golden Retrievers are mostly American Golden Retrievers, while cream Golden Retrievers are usually English Golden Retrievers.

Like the golden variety, a light Golden Retriever can also be a show dog. However, it should be noted that having an extremely light coat is not desirable.

As a breeder of standard colors of Golden Retrievers for 6 years, the light Golden Retriever has the most demand due to its much gentler and purer appeal.

Though many Golden Retriever lovers also look for English creams, especially those that are almost already white in appearance, most of them would end up with the light Golden Retriever due to its more affordable price range as well.

3. Dark Golden Retriever

Dark Golden Retriever sitting on the veranda

The dark Golden Retriever is another color variation of the breed that exhibits striking dark golden fur. Because of this, they are often confused with a red Golden Retriever.

While they bear a close resemblance to red Retrievers, dark Golden Retrievers don’t possess the amber or red hue of the latter. Instead, they have a deeper shade of gold than their classic golden counterparts.

Moreover, dark Golden Retrievers are usually born in a lighter shade. To determine how dark they will become in adulthood, you can look at the color of your Golden Retriever’s ears.

As puppies, their ears are normally darker than the rest of their body. This will give you an idea of what color they will have once they mature.

In addition, Canadian Golden Retrievers are known to have darker coats than American Golden Retrievers. However, not all of them have dark gold fur.

A Canadian Golden Retriever can still bear the standard golden and light golden coat colors.

4. Red Golden Retriever

Red Golden Retriever on a hill

Like dark Golden Retrievers, red Golden Retrievers have an eye-catching coat color. Their rich, dark golden fur with red undertones gives them a stunning mahogany double-layer coat.

Many experts believe that red Golden Retrievers originated in Ireland, where standard Golden Retrievers were crossed with Irish Setters. Some even mistake a red Retriever for an Irish Setter.

This is also why you will notice that red Golden Retrievers have leaner and more compact bodies. Feathering around the legs and tail is also less noticeable.

If you want to own a red Golden Retriever, you should know that they are not recognized by any major kennel club because red is a non-standard Golden Retriever color.

To witness the striking coat of a red Golden Retriever, check the video below:

Red Golden Retriever - Real life with 10 weeks puppy - ゴールデンレトリバー

5. Cream Golden Retriever

Cream Golden Retriever tongue out

Cream Golden Retrievers are the most prevalent Golden Retriever color in the United Kingdom. For this reason, these canines are often referred to as English Golden Retrievers.

Unlike the light Golden Retriever, this pup exhibits a thinner coat with an off-white cream color. They also have notable differences compared to classic Golden Retrievers.

English cream Golden Retrievers have sleeker bodies, deeper muzzles, rounder eyes, and broader heads, which makes them frequently mistaken for Labradors.

Unfortunately, like the red Golden Retriever, the cream-colored Golden Retriever can’t participate in dog shows because it is not one of the recognized colors for standard Golden Retrievers.

6. White Golden Retriever

White Golden Retriever on gray background

Some breeders claim to produce white Golden Retrievers. These dogs are actually not pure white. They have light cream or pale cream coats falsely advertised as pure white color.

So, to clear things up, a pure white Golden Retriever can’t exist. Even though they may appear pure white as puppies, they will eventually display a cream color. 

Similar to cream-colored Golden Retrievers, white Golden Retrievers are not a recognized color and, therefore, not eligible for dog shows.

Moreover, although most Golden Retrievers have long hair that can be straight or wavy, not all Golden Retrievers have this hair type. In fact, red Golden Retrievers and field Golden Retrievers have shorter coats.

Regardless, all standard and non-standard colored Golden Retrievers shed their fur throughout the year. Hence, you should add grooming expenses to your total Golden Retriever costs.

Golden Retriever Breed Standards & Disqualifications

Major kennel clubs in the United States, such as the American Kennel Club (AKC) and United Kennel Club (UKC), uphold standards regarding the Golden Retriever’s coat color.

According to both organizations, an American Golden Retriever should possess a rich and lustrous golden coat to be qualified for the show ring.

The only accepted Golden Retriever colors are golden, dark golden, and light golden. Those that lean toward a light cream or red color are not acceptable, as well as completely black Golden Retrievers. Moreover, any white or black markings are also penalized.

However, some leniency is given to Golden Retriever puppies with light coloring that has a high possibility of darkening in adulthood.

Nonetheless, a white Golden Retriever or one that has a pale coat color is not recognized.

The Golden Retriever Club of America (GRCA) also adopts the AKC breed standard in evaluating and registering Golden Retrievers.

Meanwhile, the Canadian Kennel Club (CKC), unlike the aforementioned clubs, accepts Golden Retrievers with cream and golden coats of the darkest shades.

Lastly, The Kennel Club (TKC) also accepts cream-colored Retrievers of any shade. However, they consider a red or mahogany coat in an English Golden Retriever as a fault.

Both the CKC and TKC accept a few white hairs on the chest of Golden Retrievers.

Golden Retriever Coat Color Genetics

Two Golden Retrievers tongue out

The genetic makeup of a Golden Retriever puppy, regardless of its gender, determines the coat color it will exhibit.

This means that Golden Retriever colors are dependent on the dominant and recessive genes a dog inherits from its parents.

In Golden Retrievers, the double-recessive e/e gene inhibits the eumelanin or black pigment in the dog’s coat. This is why all purebred Golden Retrievers display a golden or red hue instead of black.

Moreover, all Golden Retrievers that carry this gene will pass this trait to 100% of their litter.

In the case of cream-colored Golden Retrievers, genetic studies show that the second copy of their gene contains multiple alleles. One of these alleles dilutes the pheomelanin or yellow pigment in dog hair.

Thus, a Golden Retriever puppy with this genetic makeup exhibits a pale cream color.

Do Golden Retriever Colors Affect Behavior and Health?

Some owners associate Golden Retriever colors with their dog’s behavior. Others may be inclined to get a specific color because they believe it has a better temperament than others.

However, a dog’s coat color does not affect its personality at all. Its behavior is affected by its environment, training, and affection received from the owner.

A Golden Retriever is a great family dog regardless of its shade. This breed is loyal, trustworthy, outgoing, and eager to please. These dogs are known to display puppy-like behaviors until adulthood, making them irresistible.

As family pets, Golden Retrievers have some quirky antics. They often bring their owners random things with their soft mouths and may sometimes howl like wolves.

Golden Retrievers love to be around other people, and it’s no surprise that they get along well with other dogs.

With regards to health, all colors and types of Golden Retrievers are susceptible to hip dysplasia and certain types of cancer, including hemangiosarcoma and lymphosarcoma.

However, a 2004 health survey found that a lesser percentage of British Golden Retrievers suffered from cancer compared to American Golden Retrievers.

Research also suggests that English cream Golden Retrievers have a longer average lifespan than their American counterparts.

Do Golden Retriever Puppies Change Colors as They Grow?

Golden Retriever puppy running outdoors

Your dog’s age can affect many aspects of its life, including its physical characteristics. As Golden Retriever puppies get older, you will notice how their coat colors change.

Golden Retriever puppies are typically born in a lighter color which gets darker as they age. However, you shouldn’t expect them to turn into other dark colors, such as black or brown.

If your Golden Retriever puppy is born with a light golden color, it may grow to have a standard or dark golden hue.

Most Golden Retriever owners observe that the color change begins once the puppy reaches eight weeks old.

However, in some cases, the change can be noticed around 2 to 3 months. Some puppies may not change their color at all.

To monitor this more closely, you can take photos of your growing Golden Retriever every week to compare their fur colors.

In addition, during old age, your Golden Retriever may develop a lighter coat. So if you notice these changes, there is nothing to worry about.

What Color Will My Golden Retriever Puppy Be?

Predicting the shade of your puppy from the several Golden Retriever colors mentioned doesn’t come easy. There are many factors that can influence their final coat color.

Nevertheless, there are methods that can help in determining your Golden Retriever puppy’s adult color.

The first thing you can do is check the ear color of your puppy. This is because, in theory, all Golden Retrievers will match the color of their ears once they mature.

At birth, you will immediately notice that your pup’s ear is darker than their bodies. As such, their final color won’t deviate too much from this shade.

The second method to predict your puppy’s coat color is to look at its parent’s coat color. If its parents are both dark Golden Retrievers, you can expect your pup to acquire the same hue.

However, this doesn’t apply if you have a mixed breed since the color genetics of hybrids are far more complicated and unpredictable than in purebreds.

This is why it’s also important to purchase a Golden Retriever from a reputable breeder or a reliable rescue organization that can give you a better idea about your dog’s coat.

Furthermore, the diet you choose for your Golden Retriever can also affect its coat health. Giving them dog food with adequate nutritious ingredients and fatty acids can help bring out the shine and color of its coat.

Frequently Asked Questions

Golden Retriever sitting outdoors

Which Golden Retriever Color Is the Best?

There is no best shade among the Golden Retriever colors since all of them are majestic in their own way. This ultimately depends on your preference.

If you want a Golden Retriever that can be registered at a kennel club and compete in the show ring, you should choose among the standard Golden Retriever colors.

On the other hand, if you are not interested in showing your dog, you can get a Golden Retriever with a non-standard color, such as white, cream, or red.

What Is the Rarest Color of Golden Retriever?

In the United States, the rarest Golden Retriever colors are red and cream. This is because they are not accepted as standard colors in major kennel clubs, such as the AKC and UKC.

Pale cream can also be considered the rarest color since this shade is considered undesirable, and only a few breeders produce this variation.

What Is the Most Common Golden Retriever Color?

The classic golden color of this recognized breed is the most common Golden Retriever color.

According to a survey among 600 Golden Retriever owners in the United States, more than 50% of them owned a pup with the traditional golden hue.

However, these figures aren’t the same in countries where other shades are more popular. In Canada, red Golden Retrievers are more common, while in the United Kingdom, cream Golden Retrievers are more prevalent.

Final Thoughts

Golden Retrievers come in fun and attractive fur colors. They are excellent family dogs with lovable personalities regardless of their shade.

Nonetheless, a light golden, golden, dark golden, red, or cream Golden Retriever will only be a wonderful companion at the hands of a patient and loving owner.

If you wish to involve your Golden Retriever in dog events and competitions, you must ensure that its color meets the breed standard set by the canine organizations in your area.

Do you own a Golden Retriever? What coat color does your Golden have? Share your stories in the comment section!

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