Learn The English Cream Golden Retriever

What is special about English Golden Retrievers?

The materials presented below are from hours of personal study and years of experience by Recherche Goldens. First, let’s look at the most common name given to our dogs… “English Cream Golden Retriever.” There is controversy over the name. We will break it down so that it will make more sense.


This term does not mean that all English Cream Goldens are imported in from England. England has very strict quarantine laws making it very difficult to import directly from England. The truth is that all Golden Retrievers have an English origin (read the History of the Golden Retriever at the bottom of this page) and most “English Cream” Goldens are not from England at all.

Why do we call them English Cream Golden Retrievers? The reason is the standard by which they are judged. The 2 major breed standards in the Golden Retriever world today are the AKC (American Kennel Club) and the KC (British Kennel Club). Most of the world, outside of the US (and Canada) go by the KC (British Kennel Club) standards. “English Cream Golden Retrievers” is the name given to Goldens that have been bred according to the British Kennel Club standards.

The British Kennel Club and the American Kennel Club have different standards that are very pronounced today (Below we will go into detail concerning their differences). The breed’s name is the most common name given to the light colored European Goldens in America. Recherche Goldens did not make up the name. The name is of no importance…the STANDARD by which they are judged is vital.


Another common misconception is that all European Goldens are cream. That is not true at all. European Goldens can go from dark red to almost solid white. Recherche Goldens has chosen, out of personal taste and nothing more, to purchase light cream or white colored Goldens. We believe the cream-colored Golden Retriever has a much more beautiful look. The color has nothing to do with their health or their temperament.

Another very controversial term is “White Golden Retriever” when made in reference to the English Golden. There have been pages written on the internet criticizing the term. Is there even such thing Golden Retriever that’s white? The answer lies in your strict interpretation of “white.” Recherche Goldens have several Goldens that you would be hard pressed to deny their “white” color distinction. You couldn’t even see cream on their ears or anywhere on their body. If you put them next to a white piece of paper or freshly fallen snow, then you would see the slightest hint of color.

The truth is that almost anyone who saw the dog in person would say the Golden is white and not cream. Many breeders get caught up in semantics. Recherche Goldens have very light cream Goldens and also some Goldens that are almost white. Some people have also tried to state that there are health defects associated with the “cream” colored Golden Retriever.

As you will read below, there are scientific studies from the GRCA and the British Kennel Club disproving that color has any association whatsoever with health defects. In fact, the “English Golden” has been shown to be healthier and live longer than the American Golden Retriever, but it has nothing to do with the color of the dog.

See some of our available English Golden Puppies below:

What’s The Difference Between the American Golden Retriever & the English Golden Retriever

Health Differences

The health differences between the English Golden and the American Golden are staggering. It is the greatest reason why a serious dog seeker will consider purchasing an English Golden over an American Golden. The money saved in purchasing an American Golden pales in comparison to the vet bills accumulated over the dog’s life span.

Cancer was the cause of death for 61.8% of American Goldens according to a 1998 health study conducted by the Golden Retriever Club of America, making it the breed’s biggest killer (CLICK HERE to see the study). The most common types of cancers in Goldens are hemangiosarcoma, followed by lymphosarcoma, mast cell tumor, and osteosarcoma. The incidence of cancer among English bloodlines is significantly lower than in the American lines. In fact the British Kennel Club (KC) did a very extensive study recently and found that cancer only caused the death of 38.8% of English Goldens (CLICK HERE to see the study).

The median age of an English Golden is 12 years and 3 months according to the study, but the median age of an American Golden is only 10 years and 8 months. This means that on average an English Golden will live 1 year and 7 months longer than an American Golden and English Goldens get cancer almost 1/2 as often as American Goldens.

Temperament Differences

This is the newest section on this webpage. Only after several years of breeding and training English Golden Retrievers and interacting with hundreds of previous owners of American Golden Retrievers can we give a consistent difference in the English Cream Golden Retriever personality versus the American Golden Retriever.

First of all, Recherche Goldens have never bred or owned an American Golden Retriever. Recherche Goldens only owns imported English Goldens from the best breeders in Europe.

On the other hand, we have come in contact with dozens of American Goldens at dog shows, dog parks, veterinary hospitals, etc… We have also done stud service to American Goldens and had them live in our house for 2-3 weeks at a time. More importantly, most of our clients have owned or currently owns an American Golden Retriever. The same observations are noted by almost everyone.

It’s quite obvious that English Goldens are more often calmer than American Golden Retrievers. They are rarely hyper or high energy. Many American Golden Retrievers have a lot of energy and are very athletic. European Goldens are calmer, more mature and easier to train.

Many of European Goldens are now becoming the therapy dog of choice not only because of the health benefits but because of their calm disposition. Not all American Golden Retrievers are hyper and not all English Golden Retrievers are calm but there definitely is a CLEAR difference overall.

Color of Coat

See the differences between the AKC and KC standards for Golden Retriever coat color.AKC: Rich, lustrous golden of various shades. Feathering may be lighter than rest of coat. With the exception of graying or whitening of face or body due to age, any white marking, other than a few white hairs on the chest, should be penalized according to its extent. Allowable light shadings are not to be confused with white markings. 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.

KC: Any shade of gold or cream, neither red nor mahogany. A few white hairs on chest only, permissible.

The AKC and KC standards don’t sound very different but they have definitely made a few major distinctions. AKC penalizes for the white or cream colored coats and the KC does not. Therefore, you will find many World & International cream-colored Goldens in Europe but you will never find that in an AKC show. Once again, not all English Goldens are “cream” but rarely is a highly pedigreed American Golden Retriever “cream.”

Topline & Hindquarters

AKC: Strong and level from withers to slightly sloping croup, whether standing or moving. Sloping backline, roach or sway back, flat or steep croup to be faulted.

KC: Calls for level top line. Loin and legs strong and muscular, good second thighs, well bent stifles. Hocks well let down, straight when viewed from rear, neither turning in nor out.

topline-hindquarters2 topline-hindquarters topline-hindquarters3

Again, the standards sound similar, but the results are quite different. English Goldens have a straighter topline than American Goldens on average. The German Shepherd in America is having the same problems. They are simply a couple of decades further down the line.

There are many German Shepard Dog breeders who want to change the standard back, but they lack reliable older type stock. The front is walking, the back looks like it is crawling.

It seems that some people want to shape a Golden Retriever this same way. This sloping tendency is not limited to just American Goldens.

Head, Neck, Eyes and Ears


  • Head- Broad in skull, slightly arched laterally and longitudinally without prominence of frontal bones (forehead) or occipital bones. Stop well defined but not abrupt. Foreface deep and wide, nearly as long as skull. Muzzle straight in profile, blending smooth and strongly into skull; when viewed in profile or from above, slightly deeper and wider at stop than at tip. No heaviness in flews. Removal of whiskers is permitted but not preferred.
  • Eyes- friendly and intelligent in expression, medium/large with dark, close-fitting rims, set well apart and reasonably deep in sockets. Color preferably dark brown; medium brown acceptable. Slant eyes and narrow, triangular eyes detract from correct expression and are to be faulted.
  • Ears- rather short with front edge attached well behind and just above the eye and falling close to cheek. When pulled forward, tip of ear should just cover the eye. Low, hound-like ear set to be faulted.
  • Neck- medium long, merging gradually into well laid back shoulders, giving sturdy, muscular appearance. No throatiness.


  • Head and Skull – Balanced and well chiseled, skull broad without coarseness; well set on neck, muzzle powerful, wide and deep. Length of foreface approximately equals length from well defined stop to occiput.
  • Eyes – Dark brown, set well apart, dark rims.
  • Ears – Moderate size, set on approximate level with eyes.
  • Neck – Good length, clean and muscular.

In both standards there is no clear indication concerning how big the head must be in comparison to the rest of the body. These different specs somehow resulted in a generally smaller head in American Goldens than in British Goldens. This is usually more visible for males than for females.

British standard calls for a clean and muscular neck. It is perfectly understandable that for holding a bigger head, a dog will need a more muscular neck. Still, there is no mention of grooming, clipping, or whisker trimming in KC standard. And that is one of the fundamental differences. KC Standard concentrates on description of ideal specimen. The basic function of dog titles is to make its progeny spread. Trimming, clipping and other procedures are irrelevant as far as offspring of this specimen is concerned. In America, the manner of showing the dog is frequently more important than the dog itself.

Muzzle: Another very characteristic difference is foreface and muzzle. AKC standard wants the muzzle to be straight but also states the foreface should be nearly the length of the skull. This resulted in smaller muzzle and more conical shape. Despite its more laconic form, the KC standard is more precise. It wants the length of the foreface to be approximately equal to the distance between stop and occiput. English Goldens definitely have bigger and wider muzzles which influences stronger jaws.

American_Golden_Muzzle English_Golden_Muzzle

Eyes – “Pure” American Goldens usually have their eyes set very well apart, while English type usually do not. Because US Golden Retrievers’ eyes are so well apart, they tend to be slanted, narrow, triangular and detract from correct expression sometimes. In this, their eyes are defying their own standard in contrast to the British Goldens (see pictures below).

200269640-001 English_Golden_Eyes

Ears and specifically their position are another point of difference between the two types of goldens. AKC wants ears well behind and above the level of eyes. KC wants them at the level of eyes. This causes two very different looks. See pictures below.

English_Golden_Ears American_Golden_High_Ears

English-type Goldens are bigger-boned and shorter, with a more square head and or muzzle and are generally slightly heavier. The British Kennel Club standard calls for a level topline and straight hindquarters without the slight rear angulation found in American lines. The eyes of American line dogs tend to be set further apart than those of British lines and can appear to be slanted and triangular in shape by comparison.


Characteristics Of The Golden Retriever