(photo from http://www.over-the-moon.us/.)
Golden puppies are usually born a different color than the one they have when they are mature Most mid-gold and light-gold puppies are born cream or even off-white. The darker-colored ones, though, very often do not look gold or reddish at all when they are first born.
Very dark golden retrievers–the tawnies, the coppers, the golden reds, the reds, and mahoganies– are born in two basic colors. Some puppies are born in their adult color. Others are born with natal coats of a dun color. The dogs in the photo above are of this dun color.
Elizabeth Marshall Thomas writes about this color in The Hidden Life of Dogs. One of her dogs is a full dingo of the typical red color. The dog had two litters, one with a springer spaniel and one with a white husky. In both cases, the puppies were born of a dun coloration. The spaniel cross puppies were more of a beagle color, but their tan coloration was dun. In the husky cross puppies, the color was all dun, and the puppies matured into reddish husky-type dogs with blue eyes.
Dingoes almost universally come in this recessive red to yellow color, and is not Australian dingoes come in this color. Virtually all dingoes throughout southern Asia and Indonesia are of this color. It is also a very common color in Asian dogs. One only has to look at the Korean Jindo and the Japanese strain of Akita to understand that this color is well-known in Asia. We now believe that dogs have an origin in Asia, and it is poossible that this color could be the oldest color in domestic dogs. It might be that a clear red color was an identifying characteristic of domestic dogs that separated them from wolves. A red dog-like animal wouldn’t get killed on sight, while a gray dog dog-like animal would. It is also possible that people just liked that red color. This selection for red has gone on in several different cultures. The Masai livestock guardian dog, which is smaller than a border collie yet guards against lions, is usually red in color. The Masai love that color, so they have selected for it. Europeans have selected for it in golden retrievers and Irish setter for no other reason other than its novelty. (Although a case can be made for goldens that their color is good camouflage.)
This phenomenon of reddish dogs being born dun is a very common characteristic.
However, it is not universal.
Irish setters are born full red in color.
And some red goldens also with their coloration approaching that of their adult pelage.
These golden retriever puppies are from Zomarick. They were born red, which is the color of both of their parents. The puppies appear at 3:02. Yes, that’s the sire of the litter helping the bitch lick the puppies clean!
The dun-colored whelps usually have a red muzzle and ears and a reddish shaded stripe that runs down their backs. As they mature, the red gradually spreads over the puppies.
The first litter of golden I ever saw were dun-colored. I thought they were mixed with Norwegian elkhounds. It was only when they matured into rather dark golden retriever puppies with no elkhound features at all that I realized that this dun coloration was a very common coloration in dark golden retrievers when they are first born.
Golden retriever puppies, then, come in a very wide range of colors when they are first born. But they all mature into dogs that range from almost white to mahogany. Gold coloration is truly a many-splendored thing.