Types of Golden Retriever Colors & Shades

What if we told you that golden retrievers don’t only come with the signature golden fur? Maybe you knew this, maybe you didn’t.

Nevertheless, we’re here to set the record straight when it comes to golden retriever colors.

That being said, if you want to find out more about these beautiful doggos with good-natured personality, keep reading.

5 Types of Golden Retriever Colors

In addition to the standard gold coloring, golden retrievers come in cream, dark golden, light golden, and red/brown coating colors. Even though there are five different shades of the golden retriever, the AKC does not accept all of them as “standard colors.” Only golden, lighter golden, and darker golden are the approved shades of this precious dog breed.

In their official standard for the golden retriever, they mention the following: “Predominant body color which is either extremely pale or extremely dark is undesirable. Some latitude should be given to the light puppy whose coloring shows promise of deepening with maturity. Any noticeable area of black or other off-color hair is a serious fault.”[1]

Let’s take a closer look and explore the different color shades of golden retrievers, starting from the lightest one.

1. Cream Golden Retrievers

First up on the list are cream-coated golden retrievers, or—as some people like to call them—English golden retrievers. The cream golden retrievers have an off-white coat coloration and a blocky head, which are quite similar to the white labrador breed. Interestingly, the cream variant is far more popular in the UK than in the US—perhaps that’s why the AKC disapproves of this coat color.

On the other hand, the UK Kennel Club breed standard is another story. This is why they call them English golden retrievers in the first place. They say the following: “Any shade of gold or cream, neither red nor mahogany. A few white hairs on chest only, permissible.”[2]

2. Light Golden Retriever

Next is the second-brightest coated goldie, the light golden retriever. The American Kennel Club has officially approved this coat color, which means you can compete in show rings with it.

In fact, they’re one of the most popular hues because they’re practically everywhere throughout America. According to dog experts and breeders, their beautiful long coats come in shades of gold and cream.

The light golden retrievers have the same temperament, keen intelligence, and activity levels as any other retrievers. Males weigh 65–75 lbs and stand 23–24 inches tall, while females weigh 55–65 lbs and stand 21,5–22,5 inches tall. Retrievers are completely grown in height and weight by the age of two.

3. Standard Golden Retriever

The standard golden retriever has a double-layered, warm, blond-ish golden coat. They shed quite a lot, so regular grooming is a must to avoid them shedding their long, heavy coats. Besides their coat colors, there’s not much difference between the OG golden retriever and any other colored retriever. They’re very much alike in terms of weight, size, coating, and facial structure.

The golden retriever is one of the most popular dog breeds. These canines are among the three most well-known dog breeds in America for a reason. In fact, they’ve been in the top three for a long time, and you better believe that won’t change anytime soon. I mean, what’s not to like? They are pet-friendly, kid-friendly, very smart, energetic, and extremely loving dogs. What more could you want in a dog?

4. Red/Brown Golden Retriever

Red (commonly called brown) golden retrievers are a “love at first sight” type of dog. They have a thick coat with accents of amber and mahogany red. Many people confuse them with dark golden retrievers. However, unlike the dark-coated ones, the AKC does not recognize these puppies.

It’s said that the regular golden retriever and the Irish Setter were crossed in Ireland to create this breed. These dogs with rusty-colored coats are often thinner than other golden retrievers and have less feathering on their legs and tail, so this argument is somewhat valid, although not 100% confirmed. This dog, like the others, is still a purebred golden retriever in every other aspect.

5. Dark Golden Retriever

Dark-colored golden retrievers are the third color permitted for competitions by the US Kennel Club—their deep gold-colored markings are indisputable. It’s important to remember that while they seem quite similar to red goldies, they don’t have the same red undertones. Their coat has a pure gold hue that is somewhat darker than the standard goldie.

These puppies will have a lighter-colored coat at birth, which gets darker as the dog grows. Pro tip: You can easily predict what color your dog is going to be by just looking at its ears. This is because the ears start to change color first, then the rest of the body.

If you’re worried about the dog’s temperament, intelligence, and overall personality, each canine type mentioned will bring you the same love and dedication that you’re looking for in a “standard” golden retriever. It’s just a matter of whether you want to show off your dog in a show ring or not.

Traits of a Golden Retriever

Golden retrievers are medium-sized dogs recognized for their obedience, trainability, and intelligence, making this breed popular with both large and small households. In addition to basic grooming (brushing the loose hair out and regular baths), daily exercise, and a balanced diet, these canines are very easy to take care of.

Golden retrievers like water, making them the ideal pets if you love the beach, go on walks by the lake, or are searching for a hunting buddy. Their strong activity level makes them outstanding companions for lengthy walks in rural locations.

Despite having diverse ancestries and coloring, there are three different sorts of golden retrievers:

  • American golden retriever,
  • English (or British) golden retriever, and
  • Canadian golden retriever.

Even if there are tiny variations among all three breeds, most individuals unfamiliar with each sort could not tell the distinctions.

The snout tip should slope smoothly toward the rear of the skull of an American golden retriever. There shouldn’t be any lumps, wrinkles, or abnormalities along the forehead. The eyes should not be recessed into their sockets. The front and rear legs should be somewhat muscled, and the pelvic bone should be at a 30-degree angle to the spine.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the rarest color of a golden retriever?

The deep and vivid red shade is considered the rarest golden retriever color thus far.

Which color of golden retriever is best?

We wouldn’t categorize in that way because, at the end of the day, all colors have the same vibe. They’re all wonderful family dogs who get along with both animals and children. This dog breed is among the three most popular breeds in the world, and the most popular coat color is the standard golden retriever.

Key Takeaways

So, what are the most common types of golden retriever colors? The standard goldie is the most common and available, while the red- or brown-coated retrievers are the rarest.

When we look at it from the perspective of competition, unfortunately, their coat determines their eligibility. However, if you’re looking for more than just a show dog, each of these is no less of a retriever when it comes to personality, so it doesn’t matter which one you go for.


[1] AKC

[2] UK Kennel Club

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