White Golden Retriever

white golden retrieverThe white golden retriever, also called the English cream golden retriever, might appear to be a different species than its tawny American cousin. In fact, despite the former’s platinum coloring, it is just as much a golden retriever as the darker dog.

Whereas the American Kennel Club influenced the development of the classically gold-coated golden retriever, the Kennel Club of the UK governed the development of the white golden retriever and all of its unique characteristics.

English White Golden Retriever vs. American Golden Retriever

The differences between the American and English golden retriever go beyond coat color. White golden retrievers tend to have more level shoulder-to-tail profiles, or toplines, while the American goldens have sloping backs. The English cream’s head is wider, its eyes are bigger and rounder, and its ears are are set lower and further forward than its counterpart. Its tail extends level with its back and does not have the upward curve of the American variant’s tail.

An average male white golden grows to 22-24 inches tall; a female just 20-22 inches. It has a stocky build and a long, protruding neck. Compared to the American retriever, is it less furry, but it still sheds just as much.

Perhaps the most notable discrepancy between the two types of golden retrievers is their health. Studies support the strength of the English bloodlines over the American ones. English cream golden retrievers have a longer average life expectancy: 12 years and 3 months, as opposed to the American golden’s 10 years and 8 months.

Furthermore, a 1998 study found a 61% cancer rate in American golden retrievers, while the UK Kennel Club’s 2004 research showed that just 38% of English cream goldens are affected by cancer. The health differences observed are due to ancestry, not coat color. And of course, an individual dog’s health is largely dependent on its specific genes and its owner’s choices.

White Golden: Past and Present

Like all golden retrievers, the English cream golden descended from Scottish stock in the Victorian Era. The light-colored dog was officially recognized in England in 1936, four years after the darker golden retriever was sanctioned by the American Kennel Club.

Today, most white golden retrievers are bred not in the UK but in North America, Australia, New Zealand, and a range of European countries. Breeders extol the virtues of the platinum pup, but the white retriever is not any more rare or special than its gold and auburn cousins. On the contrary, kennel clubs often penalize the paler coat.

According to the AKC, golden retrievers are the third most popular dog breed in the United States. (They rank eighth in the United Kingdom.) Intelligent and energetic, they have affable personalities and relish human attention. Golden retrievers of every coat color have earned roles as therapy dogs, search and rescue dogs, arson detection dogs, movie stars, hunting dogs, and of course, beloved family members.

Raising Retrievers: The Good

White goldens are loyal and capable companions. They will gladly accompany their owners on a jog, a game of catch, or a day at the lake. Agile and obedient, they will play all day and not get tired. They are approachable and child friendly and can be trained to perform many tasks.


Raising Retrievers: The Not-So-Good

Although the white golden is less hairy, it still boasts a thick double coat that can be difficult to maintain. It typically sheds most in the spring and fall. These dogs love getting dirty–and the cream coat won’t hide any of it.

This dog is bursting with energy that can’t be contained in a small apartment. If its need for physical activity is not met, it will likely become destructive in its boredom. An English cream golden retriever is also not suited to a life of pacing the backyard. It needs mental stimulation and companionship or it will be lonely.

Unfortunately, reckless breeding has left all golden retrievers susceptible to a host of health issues. They are predisposed to genetic hip and elbow deformities, eye problems, heart disease, skin and ear infections, epilepsy, and hypothyroidism.

As such, prospective white golden owners should seek out a breeder with a good reputation. A dependable breeder will be able to provide proof that the dog’s ancestors have been screened and declared healthy for breeding.

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