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This early light-colored dog from the 1950's or 1960's is still darker than the legions of "white" dogs that swarm European lines.

This early light-colored dog from the 1950's or 1960's is still darker than the legions of "white" dogs that swarm European lines today.

In North America, our lines of golden have largely been immune to what I call the “‘white’ dog craze” that has already rocked Europe. Our show dogs were a bit heavy in the bone and heavy in the coat, but they largely weren’t coarsely built dogs that lumber around like bears.

Those days have changed.

All you have to do is go on youtube and type into the search function “white golden retriever,” and a plethora of European show-style golden breeders have videos on there. I don’t mind promoting you dogs online, but I wonder if these breeders are doing health checks and screening of their stock?

Never mind that European show goldens can’t work as long or as well a field type. Never mind that possessive aggression appears to be heritary in these lines. (A recent episode of the Dog Whisper had one with that issue. Although I don’t much like the show, this dog was the first golden I’ve ever seen snarl.) Never mind that the breed’s founders, including the 1st Baron Tweedmouth, always bred for darker dogs. Mrs. Charlesworth, although a proponent of the Russian circus dog hoax, refused to breed any dogs that were very pale in color. And in her day, they weren’t “white.” They were light golden dogs with some cream shadings.

Of course, none of this matters to people who want to sell you a dog for exorbitant profits. They tell you that the dogs are much calmer than the American and certainly more so than the field types. Then they quote the KC (of the UK) standard, which doesn’t allow for dark dogs (however, that standard is not the standard we use here.) Then they claim, although somewhat correctly, that the first litter that the 1st Baron Tweedmouth bred from Nous and Belle were creams. They were creams or really light golds, but they weren’t “white.” And it’s pretty obvious that the 1st Baron Tweedmouth did try to darken up his dogs quite a bit by adding “red setter” (probably Irish) blood to his strain.

Breeding “rare white goldens” that are “calm” is not really a breeding strategy for the best dogs. It is breeding for a market.  A market that is highly susceptible to fads. In fact, it is based on nothing more than fads. We want “white goldens.” Why? Because Oprah has some!

My advice is not to refuse to buy a light colored dog, but if it lacks working conformation or refuses to work itself. Don’t buy it. Do  you really want a white furry rug that lies around the house all day?

If you do, then really don’t want a golden retriever. You just want the idea of having a golden retriever. And you really don’t need one. There are plenty of very low energy nonworking breeds that you can buy. Plus, there are lots of good mongrels that have those characteristics.

Those little “Knut” polar bear golden puppies might be really cute, but this is what they mature into. A dog that lies around all the time, and when it does move, it’s really slow. Generally, their lumbering gait gets slower by age 5 and, by 10, they don’t want to move much at all. It’s nice if you want a dog to just lie around all day. It’s not very nice if you want a real golden retriever.

In British trials, you do see some of these light lumbering dogs around, but their field lines are very much like ours. Check this out, if you’d like to see it in practice. The dog in the top picture is the only European show type dog doing anything. And I’m sure that after about an hour of hard work, it will be down and out, exhausted or in pain.

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