different colors of golden retrievers

5 Different Colors of Golden Retrievers

Do you know about the five different colors of golden retrievers? What about which ones are considered standard and why? While goldens are well-loved and highly in demand, not everyone understands much about these dogs from a deeper standpoint. They have a long, rich history and were built for speed and agility to allow them to catch birds for hunters.

As for their appearance, there are various shades. As long as there’s some hint of golden yellow in the color, your golden can be this shade. However, these colors are lumped into 5 certain categories, which this article will explain.

5 Different Colors of Golden Retrievers

There are five different colors that are available for a pure golden retriever. They are all very close in color and are mostly just a couple of shades different.

  • Standard-Colored Golden Retrievers


The standard is a traditional golden color you’ve probably seen in many goldens online and around your area. This is the most common shade of golden retriever.

  • Light and Dark-Colored Golden Retrievers

Light and Dark

Then there are light and dark, which are just a shade lighter and a shade darker than the standard.

  • Red-Colored Golden Retrievers


Some golden retrievers are red – a similar shade to golden, but with a hint of a red hue. Red golden retrievers are a more unique color. They are often mixed up with dark golden retrievers, but there is a little more of a red hue. It was thought that this came from golden retrievers being mixed early on with Irish setters, and sharing that mahogany hue.

Like with cream-colored golden retrievers, there is a bit of a physical difference. The first is that red goldens tend to have shorter hair, and the fur is a bit straighter. Sometimes they will also have less feathering and are more compact and leaner.

  • Cream-Colored Golden Retrievers


Cream is a lot lighter, almost white in color. The cream color looks very similar to the coloring of a Labrador retriever, with a faint hint of yellow to it. This cream color isn’t very popular in the United States. It’s actually a lot more common in the UK.

This coloring is often given a different name, and dogs with this yellow-cream color are often associated with English golden retrievers rather than just golden retrievers. They are the same dog but have gotten a unique nickname due to their popularity in certain regions.

There are also slight differences in the build of dogs with this cream color. They tend to be a bit stockier and have bigger and rounder eyes. They may also be a bit smaller and have a thinner coat, though that doesn’t prevent shedding. While this color isn’t often seen in the US due to it not being as popular as the standard colors, it isn’t super rare, no matter what a breeder will say.

Are There Colors That Aren’t Approved?

While there are a total of five colors, according to the American Kennel Club (AKC), there are only three colors that are approved. These are the standard, light, and dark.

They are officially called golden (code 093), dark golden (code 080), and light golden (code 119). However, this really only applies to competitions. So as long as you don’t want a show dog, you can have any of these colors with your golden retriever.

There are also two main colors that a golden retriever will never come in if it is purebred. These are white and black. Though golden retrievers can be pretty light in color, they are never pure white. Additionally, they can never be pure black. They don’t have the genetics that allows them to turn black unless they breed with another dog that has the dominant black genes.

Who Determines Which Colors Are Accepted?


It’s important to note that these colors aren’t banned or illegal in any sense. Dogs can have certain colors and still be purebred or healthy. However, there are certain colors or amounts of a certain color that aren’t accepted for all breeds.

Sometimes this is because there is a genetic defect. For example, in some breeds, if the dog is pure white, they are more likely to have problems like being deaf, because the gene for the color and the gene for hearing are connected.

For French bulldogs, pure white and pure black dogs can produce dogs with hearing problems, and sometimes eye problems as well. Liver and chocolate colors can lead to yellow-eyed Frenchies that are likely to become blind or get cataracts at a young age.

These colors are often rare, for good reason, and good breeders know to never try and get these colors from their pups as they are very unhealthy. Some colors can also cause hair loss, dry skin, and skin issues. For golden retrievers, it is likely more based on the fact that the shape of the dog changes rather than the health.

Since they lose some of their characteristics and change weight and size a little with the rarer color changes, they can’t be a standard color, because it also causes too many differences in the body, even if they are healthy.

What Does It Mean If a Golden Retriever Isn’t a Standard Color?

It doesn’t mean much if your golden retriever isn’t a standard color. There aren’t any health issues with these other colors, just a slight change in body shape and structure.

For the most part, people with a non-standard coloring of golden retrievers won’t notice much of a difference. The only time it really matters is if you want to register your dog, get into breeding, or enter competitions. Since these aren’t standard colors, they cannot be used for these purposes officially.

What’s the Most Popular Golden Retriever Color?


The standard color of a golden retriever is by far the most popular. This is why it became the standard and is the most common coloring. The light color is probably the next most popular.

Though most people still find themselves thinking that the dark golden is pretty and stunning, it isn’t quite as popular. Most people that are going out of their way to get a purebred golden retriever want one that looks like the standard. Those that are just looking for a dog and end up with a golden retriever often enjoy the darker color.

What’s the Rarest Color for a Golden Retriever?

The red golden retriever is the rarest color. They aren’t terribly rare, and still can be found, but they can be a little difficult to find. Red is an umbrella term and covers a golden in every shade of red, including red-gold, dark brown, mahogany, and more. Creams can be somewhat rare in the United States, but are common in other countries, and therefore aren’t quite as rare.

3 Different Types of Golden Retrievers

Golden Retrievers

In addition to the five different colors of golden retrievers, there are three kinds of golden retrievers.

1. Canadian Golden Retriever

The Canadian golden retriever stands out the most here. They are usually a bit darker in coloring than the other two, and also are a bit leaner and shorter. Additionally, their heads are more defined, and their ears are more angled rather than round. Finally, their ears are set back a little more behind the head than the rest of the body.

They usually weigh around 60 to 75 pounds and are 21.5 to 24 inches in height. They can stand up to two inches taller than the other two versions of the golden retriever on average. In Canada, specific retrievers weren’t separated until 1927. This is also when golden retrievers were first accepted as a breed by the Canadian Kennel Club.

2. British/English Golden Retriever

Then there are the English golden retrievers. These are closer in appearance to the American golden retriever. However, the cream coat color is considered a standard there, unlike in America.

Additionally, the body is built a little differently. They are a little more stocky and heavier built. Their eyes are large and round, and are level with the ears. The muzzles are also wider. They’re a little smaller as well. Usually ranging between 20 and 24 inches and 50 to 75 pounds.

3. American Golden Retrievers

Finally, there is the American version of the golden retriever. These come in rich shades of gold. Their fur tends to be water-repellent, heavy, thick, and long, especially where feathering occurs. Their eyes are actually lighter than the other two versions as well, and more almond in shape. This version tends to be leaner, but bigger. They range from 21.5 to 24 inches and weigh between 55 and 75 pounds.

No matter which variety you get, these dogs all have very similar temperaments. They can be loving, calm, close to their family, energetic, and patient. They are all, additionally, very tolerant and easy to train due to their high intelligence.

How to Tell A Golden Retriever Apart from Other Dogs

There are nine main ways to tell goldens apart from other dog breeds, no matter which type of golden you choose.

1. Size: Golden retrievers tend to be medium in size, usually around 20 to 24 inches tall and 50 to 80 pounds.
2. Ears: Goldens have ears that are relatively short for their size. They are usually attached just above the eyes and tend to extend no more than the cheeks of the dog.
3. Eyes: Goldens also have eyes that are medium to large in size. They are usually some shade of brown. Despite the different shapes they can take, they always give off a friendly and wise expression.
4. Tail: The tail of a golden is thick and full of muscles. They usually curl upwards and outwards as well.
5. Color: No matter which type of golden or color you pick, they should have a shade of golden-yellow to them.
6. Fur Type: The fur should be thick and have two coats. The outside should be glossy while either being straight or having a slight wave to it.
7. Body Shape: Like all retrievers, the golden is built for hunting. They are fairly lean and full of muscle, especially on their legs.
8. Feathering: Feathering is where the fur is longer in certain areas. In goldens, this is around the legs, neck, tail, chest, and ears. Sometimes, this bit of fur can be lighter in color.
9. Temperament: All goldens should share a similar temperament. They will be patient, playful, genteel, and quick to adapt.

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