How can it be a Golden Retriever if it’s WHITE? This is a question I get a lot, so I’ve adapted the following to answer a few questions & clarify a few things…
The Golden Retriever pictured above is JCH Bulgaria Amore Veritas Think Me Twice “Hit,” an excellent example of an English Golden Retriever and the sire of our puppies. He is an imported English Cream Junior Champion of Russia & comes from an impressive lineage of Champions.
English Cream Golden Retrievers Are Not a Separate Breed
All Golden Retrievers are one breed and are registered as Golden Retrievers by the American Kennel Club (AKC). Outside the US & Canada the British Kennel Club (KC) breed standards are used and differ slightly from AKC standards. English Cream Golden Retrievers are Golden Retrievers imported primarily from Europe. These imports are bred to the KC standard instead of to the AKC standard for Golden Retrievers.
History of the “Breed”
A Scottish nobleman named Lord Tweedmouth bred the first Golden Retrievers in the highlands of Scotland in the late 1800’s. The Kennel Club in Britain first recognized them as a breed in 1911. Several years later, breeders began importing some of these original Golden Retrievers into the United States. In 1932 the Golden Retriever became an AKC breed. Over the years, AKC changed the standard to suite the tastes of Americans. The European standard took a slightly different direction.
Then about 20 years ago a few puppy mills began importing the lighter colored European dogs to the U.S. They gave them the name English Cream Golden Retrievers and began marketing them as if they were a separate breed. They often called them “White Golden Retrievers” as well as English Cream Golden Retrievers.
Good breeders also imported, though for different reasons. The puppy mills saw an opportunity for monetary gain. However, most often the good breeders saw some good qualities in the European lines. These breeders were trying to improve on something in their own lines. Structurally, the imports often had stronger front ends. Strong European fronts combined with strong hind quarters of a well-bred American Golden Retriever can produce very well structured puppies. These breeders rarely imported the European Goldens for color.
Differences Between American and English Golden Retrievers
The most obvious and eye-catching difference between the two types of Golden Retrievers is coat color. However, if you take a closer look, there are other differences. English Cream Golden Retrievers are bigger-boned and shorter than American Goldens. English Cream Goldens tend to have a larger, blockier heads than their American counterparts with larger and wider muzzles. Their coats are not quite as long. European coats can be a little wavier than their American counterparts. Their ears are a little lower set. There are many other differences. Some of these differences are discussed below. However, there are more similarities than differences.
English Cream Golden Retrievers are Slower to Mature
English Cream Golden Retrievers are slower to mature than American Goldens, with some lines maturing slower than others. Most English Cream Golden Retrievers will continue to develop for years. They fill out and mature in both their body and especially their head later than American Golden Retrievers. Many imported Golden Retrievers don’t reach full maturity until about 4 years of age. This may be part of the reason that English Cream Golden Retrievers live longer.
Health Differences Between American and English Cream Golden Retrievers
There are a few health differences between the two Golden Retriever types. Most notably, there is evidence that the cancer rate in Golden Retrievers is less in Europe than in the U.S. Cancer was the cause of death for 61.8% of American Goldens according to a 1998 health study conducted by the Golden Retriever Club of America, making it the breed's biggest killer (download PDF file of this study). Although we cannot rely exclusively on the results of one study, it is certainly notable that in this study the incidence of cancer among English Cream Golden Retriever bloodlines was lower than in the American Golden Retriever bloodlines. In fact the British Kennel Club (KC) did a very extensive study recently and found that cancer only caused the death of 38.8% of English Goldens (download PDF file of this study). The median age of an English Golden is 12 years and 3 months according to the study, whereas the median age of an American Golden is only 10 years and 8 months.
Nonetheless, there are a few health issues that both American and English Golden Retrievers are prone. Responsible breeders can provide genetic testing results, OFA hip certifications, & other health testing results.
Temperament Differences Between English and American Golden Retrievers
Generally, English Cream Golden Retrievers tend to have softer, calmer, and sometimes less confident/energetic temperaments than American Golden Retrievers. Field lines are the most confident and active Goldens.
Attributes Common to All Golden Retrievers
Because both types of Golden Retrievers are descendants of the same dogs, there are more similarities than differences. It doesn’t matter if American bred or European bred. Goldens are loving and sweet, gentle but playful, a devoted companion, and a friend for life.
Playful as Puppies
Golden Retrievers can be a handful as puppies and although sweet and loving, they also have an energetic, playful side. They settle down a good bit usually around the age of two if trained well as a puppy. To be calm adults, Golden Retrievers need consistent training for a good foundation. However, many people who have lived with an older Golden Retriever for years tend to forget those active puppy years. They forget all the work that an energetic puppy can be. A Golden Retriever is a puppy until he/she is two years old. They may remain a puppy at heart for many years later.
Love and Thrive on Being With People
Golden Retrievers love to be with people and therefore need to always be house dogs living inside with a family. They will become depressed if stuck out alone in a backyard. They might develop bad habits out of boredom, such as digging and chewing shrubbery. Few Golden Retrievers can tolerate being left alone for extended periods of time. When forced to do so, many will become crazily excited when they do get time with a human.
Not One Man Dogs
Although they love their own people most, Golden Retrievers are not “one man dogs.” They will love everyone who comes in contact with them. A well-bred Golden Retriever doesn’t make a good guard dog. Most Goldens will bark when a stranger comes to the house. However, they’d prefer to lick an intruder to death than to bite.
Enjoy an Active Outdoor Life
They love an active lifestyle with an outdoorsy family. They enjoy walks, hikes, camping, and swimming in any type water they can find. Unfortunately, they also enjoy the mud and don’t understand the idea that you may not.
Good With Children, As Service Dogs, In Obedience and Agility, and In Therapy Work
Golden Retrievers are wonderful dogs for families with children because of their gentleness. They are wonderful service dogs because of their willingness to please as well as their high intellect. They are wonderful dogs for those wanting to compete in obedience and agility because of their intelligence. And they are wonderful dogs in medical, trauma, & school settings as therapy dogs because of their loving dependable nature.
Minimal Temperament Differences Between Males and Females
With Golden Retrievers, there is not a lot of difference in the personality/temperament of boys and girls. Both are loving and sweet. The parents of a litter make a bigger difference in temperament than the sex of the puppy. However, with that said, within a litter, there are some small trends. A slightly larger percentage of girls are more independent. A slightly larger percentage of boys are more “velcro dogs” and less independent. These are only generalities though. There are many litters that are just the opposite. The biggest difference between the sexes is in size and look. Males are 10-15 pounds heavier. Males will have a bigger, blockier head whereas a female’s head will be more feminine. The only significant difference between male and female Golden Retrievers of any type is in size and appearance.
Adapted from material Copyright of