Posts Tagged ‘cream golden retriever’

Yesterday, I picked up a young golden retriever puppy from European show bloodlines.  Her name is Aspen.


She is a natural retriever. She will already put that toy in my hand!

aspen cocky fetch

Yes. I said I’d never own one of these. I said the same thing about German shepherds.

And cats.

And here we are.




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You can see from this litter of golden puppies with a dark golden mother and cream sire what the inheritance is. These puppies’ ears tell us that most of them will mature fairly dark in color, though probably not as dark as their mother:

One of these puppies will likely be a light gold, but the rest will be middle to dark gold in color.

Cream is not dominant over the dark colors in terms of inheritance.


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(Source for image)

This is a Scottish golden retriever doing pick-up work for a rabbit shoot.

As I noted earlier, retrievers in UK are used to retrieve both hares and rabbits.

I have no idea why this use has never taken off here. It seems to me a very useful thing for retrievers to do.

Retrievers aren’t just bird dogs.

I’m sure you noticed that this is the first cream-colored dog I’ve posted in a while.

And it’s working.

There are lots of working cream goldens in the UK and other European countries. It’s just that most of the “English cream” goldens that are being sold in the US are generally of an inferior mass-produced stock.

They are great puppy mill fodder.

However, there are some breeders of good quality creams in the US. You just have to search for them.

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Here is the current range in color for goldens in the UK and FCI lines (these dogs are from Germany):

The dog on the right is more typical of the color one sees in the pet and conformation lines. The dog on the left is actually gold in color, but these dogs make up the minority of the population of KC and FCI dogs.

So I guess they would be better off calling their dogs “cream retrievers.”

However, in the 1930’s, this was the original color range:

The 1938 standard revision allowed cream, and cream-colored dogs became very popular within a period of 25-30 years. Currently, very dark dogs are almost nonexistent outside of North America, and virtually all goldens in Europe, especially in the show lines, are fairly pale in color.

Every once in a while, I get someone who make the claim that all the Guisachan dogs were cream. Not true, actually. They were gold, and some of the later dogs in the strain were fairly dark, though not as dark as those two 1930’s dogs in the image above.


The first image of those German dogs comes from one of the better golden retriever books, Valerie Foss’s The Ultimate Golden Retriever.

I found it on a breeder site while perusing Google Images. I recognized it instantly.

The book actually discusses the different types of golden. I was particularly enchanted with some of UK field-type dogs. They resemble our field-types almost exactly. One cannot say the same about field-type Labradors, which have diverged into distinct types on both sides of the Herring Pond.


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This light cream golden has very little pigment and may approach the "Albino" description of St. Hubert's May.

This light cream golden has very little pigment and may approach the "Albino" description of St. Hubert's May.

Colonel le Poer Trench’s Russian retrievers were founded by a bitch named St. Hubert’s May. You can read about this line of goldens called Russian retrievers here. His dogs were much lighter in color than the other three lines of retriever derived from the Tweedmouth strain. They were heavier in build, too.

May was said to be an albino, but I think she was actually an unusually pale dog with brown skin pigment, like this dog. Most light colored dogs today do not have this skin pigment. They are really black dogs with cream colored hair.

Some of the Tweed water dog/tweed water spaniels were of this color. However, most of the original golden people never bred for this color at all. Even the 1st Baron Tweedmouth intentionally tried to avoid producing very light colored dogs.

It is likely that May was whelped in a litter and culled for being the wrong color. She was then given to Col. le Poer Trench, who according to  his contemporaries, actually knew very little about retrievers. He was told that her light color was a sign of her “pure-breeding,” which he believed whole-heartedly. She was a good worker, so we know that she was not a true albino. Albino dogs usually are useless, because they burn easily and often have poor movement. They are also blinded by direct sunlight, which means that an albino retriever would never be able to mark shot birds as they fell.

She was bred to St. Hubert’s Rock, a dog that had been given to a ghillie by the 1st Baron Tweedmouth. He was a mid-gold color or a light gold in color.

All of their progeny, except for a very few, were light gold in color. None were as pale as their matriarch, however.

This line was kept separate from the other lines of Tweedmouth’s strain, registered as the yellow Russian retriever. It remained until the colonel’s death, and it is believed to have disappeared.

May’s light color is not the origin of the current fad of cream colored dogs, which much more of a fad in Europe than North America. Her line died out, and it was not interbred with the Ingestre, Noranby, and Culham lines.

Light colors appeared into those lines but were originally culled, because it was believed that light colored dogs were unable to work as well as dark ones. I disagree with this assessment, but light colored dogs are nearly absent from working lines of golden. If you find a light colored one, it is more than likely going to be a show dog, so a dark one is more likely to be a worker than a light one. However, color does not affect working ability, but the perception has greatly affected how these lines have developed.

Breeding for exreme palor in the golden, though, really only exists in the mid-50’s, when these dogs became in vogue in the UK. By the 1980’s, they had largely replaced the darker colors in Britain and much of Europe.

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I found this photo of an early “cream” golden. I don’t know the dog’s name or where it comes from, but I’m assuming that it’s British and dates to sometime in the 1950’s or 1960s, just 20 or 30 years after the very dark colored and lightly built dogs dominated the breed. It’s not that cobby or blocky, as you would find today in European lines of golden. Think of this dog as a transition from that type to the very cobby creams that exist today in Britain.


Compare this dog with Culham Brass (b. 1904)


And compare with what’s in vogue in the European show golden set:


It’s almost like a different breed, isn’t it? It reminds me of another breed, not a retriever but a livestock guardian breed.

The Kuvasz:


I think someone could make a lot of money selling Kuvaszok as “white golden retrievers.” They have about as much retrieving instinct and working ability as a retriever as most European show goldens!

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