Black Golden Retrievers (Flat-Coated Retrievers)

Black Golden Retriever

Many breeds of Retrievers look and act the same. Sometimes it can be challenging to tell the difference between the different breeds.  In this article we will discuss why the Flat-Coated Retriever and the Golden Retriever are similar, but different breeds. We will also look at the science behind these two breeds and discuss some other breeds that are very similar.

Do Black Golden Retrievers Exist?

There is no dog breed that is a Black Golden Retriever. However, there is a breed called a Flat-Coated Retriever that shares many of the same characteristics as a Golden Retriever. A purebred Golden Retriever cannot be black because their color is a result of two recessive alleles on a chromosome.

If you are looking to purchase a Black Golden, then there are a few breeds to consider. Below we will cover some dogs that appear to be a Black Golden Retriever, but are not.

What Is A Black Golden Retriever?

Genetics is the main reason a Black Golden Retriever does not exist. All Golden Retrievers have the e/e recessive genotype; therefore, it is impossible for a Golden to pass on the dominant E allele. The Flat-Coated Retrievers or mixed breeds have the dominant E allele which produces the black or liver color in skin or fur. The recessive e allele will always produce a coat that is yellow or red in color.

A Black Golden Retriever is not a breed. If you see a dog that appears to be a Golden, but has a black coat there are four possible explanations.

Flat Coated Retriever

Flat Coated Retriever

It is possible you are seeing a Flat-Coated Retriever. They may look and act remarkably like a Golden Retriever, but they are their own breed. They can only be black or liver in color.


Hovawart Dog

A Hovawart looks like a mixed breed of a Golden Retriever and a Rottweiler or Doberman, but they are their own breed. They are larger than a Golden and have about the same body and shape. 


Newfoundland Dog

A Newfoundland is like the Golden Retriever. They have the same blocky head and similar facial expressions. The big difference is they are twice the size and shed twice the amount of fur than Golden Retrievers.

Mixed Breed

Mixed breeds can absolutely appear to be a Black Golden Retriever but are not full blooded Goldens. They are a mix of a Golden Retriever and another breed. 

Common Black Colored Mixed Breeds:

  • Black German Shepherd and Golden Retriever
  • Black Lab and Golden Retriever
  • Mixed Labrador and Golden Retriever mix

If a genetic mutation occurs in a Golden Retriever it will show up as a black patch on the skin or fur, not the whole coat. If interested, this is explained more in depth on website.

Golden Retriever vs Flat-Coated Retriever

Golden Retriever vs Flat Coated Retriever

The most common breed mistaken for a Black Golden Retriever is the Flat-Coated Retriever.  Golden Retrievers and Flat-Coated Retrievers have similar characteristics, so it is easy to think they are both Golden Retrievers. Below we will explain the differences between these two breeds.


Color– The first difference you will see is the color in the coats. The Golden Retriever will have a cream, yellow or red coat while the Flat-Coated Retriever will have a black or liver color coat. The liver color is described as brown mixed with red.

Texture– The textures of their coats are different as well. The Golden Retriever has more wave and feathering while the Flat-Coated is flatter with some feathering around the legs, ears, chest, and tail.

They both shed, but the Golden Retriever tends to a little more in the spring and fall as they have a double coat. 

Face Shape– The face shape of these two breeds is distinctively different. The Flat-Coated Retriever has a more sophisticated look with a slender face. The Golden Retriever’s face is more box-like and wider. Even though the Golden Retriever has a wider face, it is still the most popular of the two breeds.


Both the Golden Retriever and Flat-Coated Retriever have easy going temperaments. However, the Flat-Coated Retriever has a higher energy level. It is often called the “forever puppy” because it does not seem to lose that puppy energy as much as the Golden Retriever. They require more daily exercise (about 90 minutes) and are more apt to jump on people. 

The Flat-Coated Retriever is an independent dog that does not require as much attention as the Golden Retriever. Golden Retrievers do not like to be left alone for long periods of time. Some Golden Retrievers become very anxious, whereas the Flat-Coated handles being alone better. 

The Golden Retriever can be a high energy dog, but can be calmer than the Flat-Coated Retriever when in a calm environment.


Both the Flat-Coated Retriever and the Golden Retriever have health issues related to being a large breed. Hip and joint problems are quite common to both breeds. Overall, the Golden Retriever has a few more health issues than the Flat-Coated Retriever.

Health Issues: Flat-Coated Retriever

 Below is a list of health issues commonly found in Flat-Coated Retrievers:

  • Hip Dysplasia
  • Knee Dysplasia
  • Eye Problems
  • Ear Infections
  • Tooth Decay
  • Cancer

Flat-Coated Retrievers have a higher rate of cancer than Golden Retrievers. The most common is malignant histiocytosis. Other cancers that have been found in Flat-Coats are lymphosarcoma, Hemangiosarcoma, and osteosarcoma. 

Health Issues: Golden Retriever

Below is a list of health issues commonly found in Golden Retrievers:

  • Elbow and Hip Dysplasia
  • Cataracts
  • Pigmentary Cystic Glaucoma – an inherited eye disease in Golden Retriever breed
  • Retinal Atrophy
  • Epileptic Seizures
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Allergies
  • Von Willebrand’s Disease- A disease in which blood does not clot properly.

Golden Retrievers can be quite prone to many health issues or diseases. To find out more information about these health issues, check out our article Golden Retriever Health Issues: Common Problems.


According to the American Kennel Club, both the Golden Retriever and the Flat-Coated Retriever are two of the most popular breeds of retrievers. They both make great family pets and hunting companions. They both have similar qualities, but the Golden Retriever is the most popular among retriever owners.

The Golden Retriever is ranked the 3rd most popular dog in the United States, whereas the Flat-Coated Retriever is ranked 91st

Comparison Chart for Flat-Coated Retriever vs Golden Retriever

Flat-Coated RetrieverGolden Retriever
Life Expectancy: 8-10 yearsLife Expectancy: 10-12 years
High Energy: requires 90 minutes of daily exerciseCalm: requires 30 minutes of daily exercise
Color: Black or Liver Color: Cream, Light Golden, Gold, Dark Golden, Red  
Sheds longer hairSheds shorter hair

How To Find A Black Golden Retriever? 

Find a Black Golden Retriever

Whether you are looking to purchase a Flat-Coated Retriever, Golden Retriever, or a Mixed Breed Retriever make sure that you are using a reputable breeder that knows the genetic and health background of the parents and the puppy. If they do not have a lot of knowledge about the breed or puppy, it would be best to find another breeder.

Breeder Warning!

If a breeder tries to tell you they are selling Black Golden Retrievers, then you should look for another breeder. They are more than likely trying to sell a “rare Golden Retriever” just to make a few extra bucks. While it is ok to purchase these dogs, I would avoid paying extreme prices for what is truly a Flat Coated Retriever, or a Mixed Breed Dog.

Flat-Coated Retriever

Flat-Coated Retrievers almost went extinct in the 1900’s due to the growing popularity of the Golden Retriever and Labrador, so they are a bit harder to find. They are still out there, but you may have to do a little more research to find one. Find a reputable breeder that can give you useful information about the dog’s health and temperament. 

Mixed Breed Retriever

Mixed Breed Retrievers are easy to find. There are some dogs that are a mix of Golden Retriever and another breed. Be sure the breeder provides you with all the necessary information about the different breeds involved as well as health and temperament information.

Golden Retriever

Golden Retrievers are the third most popular breed in the United States. It will not be hard to find one. Be sure to find a reputable breeder that can provide you with information about the dog’s health and temperament.

Other options for finding a Golden would be to check your local Golden Retriever Rescues or Adoption Agencies. There are many Goldens out there that need some love.


Golden Retrievers come in many colors and types. However, the infamous “Black Golden Retriever” does not exist. There are many options if you are looking for a Golden Retriever type of dog with a black coat. Your options would be a Flat-Coated Retriever, Hovawart, Newfoundland, or a Mixed Breed.

If you would like to learn more about the types and colors of Golden Retrievers, check out our article Types and Colors of Golden Retrievers.

Corey Rawlins

Corey spends every day with his Golden Retriever named Brady. He enjoys training him, but most of all, playing with him. Corey is the Founder of Golden Retriever Society and loves working with the Veterinarian Advisors and other writers on the staff.

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