Colors of Golden Retrievers

Colors of Golden Retrievers

Different Colors of Golden Retrievers

Colors of Golden Retrievers

Golden Retrievers come in three general colors. The typical colors of Golden Retrievers are: light golden, golden, and dark golden. Here we discuss these colors as well as some variations on colors of Golden Retrievers.

Although there are three main types of Golden Retrievers, as defined by the location their breeding started from, they are further classified by their coat color. Unlike the breed standards that may differ across each country’s kennel club, the classification for the coat color is universal.

There are some cases of “retrievers” being a copper tone, white, or black; however, these coat colors are not accepted by the AKC as official colors of Golden Retrievers.

Light Golden Color

The lightest of the colors of Golden Retrievers is the “Light Golden” color. Light Golden Retrievers have a coat color that is just a little bit darker than complete “white”. This very light shade is typically called cream and is usually found in English Goldens (Sometimes referred to as English Cream Golden Retrievers).

The nearly white Golden Retriever is trending right now and all light Goldens Retrievers seem to be more popular now than the “Golden” Golden Retriever that was most common 20 years ago.

Some famous Light Golden Retrievers you may know are:

Golden Color

This coat color is the epitome of the Golden Retriever image. When you think of a Golden Retriever, this is the color that comes to mind; it’s in the name, after all!

Some famous Golden Retrievers you may know are:

  • Air Buddy the Dog – From the popular, “Air Bud” movie and “Full House” series, this famous stunt dog is a proud Golden Retriever. He was even nominated for a Kids’ Choice Award for Favorite Animal Star!
  • Tucker Budzyn – Another internet-famous Golden Retriever, only this time with over 3 million followers from all of his social media!
  • Pinkie – Not only winning Best in Breed for the Westminster Dog Show, Pinkie the Golden Retriever also mothered three orphaned Tiger cubs

Dark Golden Color

Commonly mistaken for their red or copper counterparts, the Dark Golden Retriever boasts a deeper tone of golden yellow. With such a darker tone, it is easy to understand how people mistake the shadows in the fur for a red tint. After all, the golden tone is achieved by combining shades of yellow and orange.

But it should be noted there is a distinction between the red-toned Golden Retrievers and the Dark Golden Retrievers, especially when it comes to dog shows. The red-toned retrievers will have a red tone to the feathery hairs behind their ears, while Dark Golden Retrievers will not.

Some famous Dark Golden Retriever owners you may know are:

  • George Clooney
  • Perry Mattfeld
  • Emma Stone

One of the benefits of Golden Retriever coat color is that the properties are hereditary. In most cases, whatever color the mother and dad are will be passed on to the entirety of the litter.

Colors of Golden Retriever Types For Competition

For Golden Retrievers in Show Dog Competitions, their coats need to meet a very specific standard in order to even qualify as Golden Retrievers! As defined by the American Kennel Club (AKC), their standard states the coat must be, “a rich, lustrous golden of various shades.”

This means that “extremely light” or “extremely dark” coats are disqualified as Golden Retrievers. Any Retrievers that fall within the pure white, red or copper, or black color for their fur coats are not seen as true Golden Retrievers, when it comes to Show Dog Competitions. However, it is left up to the judge to determine whether or not a dog’s coat color falls outside the parameter for “too light” or “too dark.”

It should also be noted that certain countries will not accept cream-colored Golden Retrievers in their dog shows. Specifically, the United States will not allow them in their shows; however, the UK happily accepts (and embraces) the cream-colored coat!

Other Colors of Golden Retrievers

Although none of the below are official colors of Golden Retrievers according to the AKC or British Kennel Club, they can be found and are often discussed in forums and on Golden Websites.

White Golden Retrievers

As mentioned above, “white” golden retrievers are almost always a very light variation on the cream Golden Retriever. If you look very closely (especially behind the ears) you may see some cream tufts of fur that give it away. There is no doubt that they are very pretty dogs and those looking to find one should look for English Cream Golden Retrievers.

Black Golden Retrievers

Black is not one of the recognized colors of Golden Retrievers. Purebred AKC registered Black Golden Retrievers do not exist. However, you may see what appears to be a black Golden, but it is either a non-AKC Golden, a mixed breed dog, or another similar breed.

We have written an entire article on Black Golden Retrievers including, if they can be purebred and what other breed the dog that appears to be a black Golden might be. Please check it out.

Fox Red Golden Retrievers

The term “fox red” is more often used when describing labrador retrievers but it is occasionally discussed for colors of Golden Retrievers. These dogs would be classified as dark golden by the AKC but would likely be disqualified for having a coat that is too dark.

Regardless of “showability”, the red color is certainly gorgeous and eye catching. This red color is much more common in hunting lines because red pups were often reserved for those activities. Although not favored for show goldens, this color does exist within the Golden Retriever genes because of the Irish setter bloodlines in the initial ancestry of the Golden Retriever.

Red Goldens can have more energetic personalities, not really due to their color, but because they are often from hunting lines which are more high energy than the show lines. See our article on Show vs. Field Golden Retrievers for more information.

Red Golden Retrievers Hunting

Whichever color you choose, it will not change that lovely personality that Golden Retrievers have. So no matter if your dog is white, golden, red or dark, you can expect the loyal, fun-loving, smart, and easy temperament that is inherent to the Golden Retriever.

Also check out our article on Types of Golden Retrievers.

Dr. Anne Traas

Anne Traas, DVM, MS, Diplomate ACT is a veterinarian and the new President of Golden Retriever Society. She is board certified (a specialist) in canine reproduction. In her day job, she is a leader in a small biotech where she and a team of veterinarians and scientists work to develop new medications for pets. She enjoys sharing her knowledge of this wonderful breed of dogs. She and her husband have 2 children, 3 dogs and one cat. They love camping and hiking and she can often be found with her head in a good book.

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