What are English Cream Golden Retrievers? Are they different from American Golden Retrievers? How are they similar? Are there REALLY health differences? Are there exaggerations on the internet? What is the history of the breed? You will find answers to these questions and more on this page.
The Golden Retriever pictured above is our Micah who is an excellent example of an English Golden Retriever. He is a champion of 6 countries, an FCI International Champion, and a Canadian Grand Champion.
English Golden Retrievers Are Not a Separate Breed
All Golden Retrievers are one breed and are registered as simply Golden Retrievers by the American Kennel Club. However, there are two different types of Golden Retrievers bred to two different standards. The type commonly referred to as English Cream Golden Retrievers are actually Golden Retrievers imported primarily from Europe. These imports are bred to the FCI 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
Then about 20-25 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.
Good breeders in the past rarely called their imports English Cream Golden Retrievers. Still today, it is difficult for most good breeders (including us) to refer to these imports as English Creams. However, the term has become commonplace amongst Americans.
English Golden Retrievers Are Not All Cream
Golden Retrievers living in Europe are not all cream. Their color can range from a light cream to a deep gold. You will find all the beautiful shades of cream and gold in Europe. You can even find all shades of color within the same litter. However, Golden Retrievers in Europe are never truly white. The lightest colors you will find are a pale cream.
Nonetheless, Americans attached the name English Cream Golden Retrievers to those imported Golden Retrievers that are lighter in color. These imports can be from England, Europe, Australia, and even Canada. Many Americans have become enamored with the cream color.
However, it is more than just their color that makes the European Golden Retrievers beautiful. Breeders on the separate continents are breeding to a different standard.
Differences Between American and English Golden Retrievers
The most obvious difference between the two types of Golden Retrievers is coat color. Cream is an acceptable coat color for Golden Retrievers in Europe. It is not in the U.S. However, if you take a closer look, there are other differences. The head in Europe has a bigger blockier look. European dogs are also slightly shorter and heavier. 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 Golden Retrievers are Slower to Mature
English Golden Retrievers are slower to mature than American Goldens, with some lines maturing slower than others. Most English Goldens 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 Golden Retrievers live longer.
Health Differences Between American and English 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. Click Here to see results of a study done by the Golden Retriever Club of America on cancer. Click Here to see results of a study done by the Kennel Club in England on cancer. These studies were not meant to be compared. The sample was not large enough to make the results conclusive. However, the difference is noticeable. About 60% of American Goldens die of cancer. 40% of Golden Retrievers in England die of cancer. You cannot ignore these results. We think that the overall health of English Goldens is better. The average life span is more than a year longer.
Nonetheless, there are a few health issues that both American and English Golden Retrievers are prone. Go to our Health page to read about several of these problems and what can be done to minimize them . This page also discusses how we test to screen for those problems.
Is Hip and Elbow Dysplasia Less a Problem in English Golden Retrievers?
Some breeders say that there is less hip dysplasia in English Golden Retrievers. However, I do not believe that to be true and have never seen any evidence that supports such statements. Read our page on Hip Dysplasia in Golden Retrievers to understand the different ways that hips are tested. This page also discusses how the criteria for what is considered an acceptable dog to breed differs between the continents. Read our Elbow Dysplasia in Golden Retrievers for information on this health issue. Hip and Elbow Dysplasia is a problem in all Golden Retrievers. Your best chance of getting a dog free from hip and elbow dysplasia is two-fold. Get a puppy whose parents and other relatives have been tested and received good test results. Take care of your puppy’s growing joints while he/she is young.
There is no evidence of any kind pointing to the imports having better hips and/or elbows. On the surface, it might appear as if the imports have better hips and elbows. However, the reality is that MANY breeders in the U.S. are exaggerating the results of hip and elbow test results. Read our page on How to Choose a Good Breeder to see how. Hip and elbows like many other genetic diseases are primarily in certain lines. You can find good lines and bad lines in both the imports as well as American Golden Retriever pedigrees.
Temperament Differences Between English and American Golden Retrievers
Generally speaking, Golden Retrievers from imported lines tend to have softer, calmer, and sometimes less confident temperaments than American Golden Retrievers. Field lines are the most confident and active Goldens. See our page on the Golden Retriever temperament for more details and information.
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 hospitals serving 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. Boys are 10-15 pounds heavier. Boys will have a bigger, blockier head whereas a girl’s head will be more feminine. The only significant difference between male and female Golden Retrievers of any type is in the size and the appearance.