When you think of a Golden Retriever you probably think of a typical rich golden color. In fact, you wouldn’t even think that they come in different shades unless you saw then side-by-side. But the truth is Goldens come in a range of shades from light cream to dark red. However, they are not all acceptable for showing.

UKC Standard

According to the United Kennel Club, a Golden Retriever can be any shade of golden, as long as the color is rich and lustrous. Undesirable colors include those that lean more toward cream or red. The underbody and feathering may be lighter in color. Any white, black, or other color markings are not acceptable.

AKC Standard

The American Kennel Club has a similar stance on what is acceptable. A rich, lustrous golden shade that is not too dark, nor too light. The hair on the feathers and underside can be a bit lighter. Noticeable areas of black, white, of other “off-colors” are to be penalized. 

CKC Standard

The Canadian Kennel Club is similar to that of the UKC and AKC as far as Golden Retriever colors are concerned. Shades of golden that are rich and lustrous. No white, accept a few hairs on the chest, which is acceptable but not desirable. Large areas of white, black, or any other undesirable color are not permitted for showing.

Between the three standards, we can see that only light golden, golden, and dark golden are permitted to show. Not cream, white, red, black, or anything crazy like that. It makes sense that a Golden Retriever should be, well, golden in color!


It is okay for a puppy to be a bit lighter in color. Many Golden Retriever puppies will get darker with age. So, it can be a sort of a guessing game when trying to determine the adult color of a puppy Golden. However, the ear color will give you the best idea of adult coloring.

Light Golden

A light Golden Retriever has a coat that is a bit lighter than the typical color that you see, but it is darker than cream. I guess you could say that the light Golden Retriever has a coat that is about the same shade as the feathering on a regular Golden.

The Light Golden Retriever is another coat color officially recognized by the American Kennel Club. In fact, they’re one of the more popular colors and they’re literally everywhere in America.

The color is difficult to differentiate for the average person. However, dog enthusiasts and breeders will tell you that this color is somewhere between the standard gold and cream color variations of these dogs. 

The light Golden Retriever may be the second most common color for Golden Retrievers – second only to the standard gold. You probably have seen a lot of these in your life, you just weren’t able to tell there was a slight difference in shade.

The light variation, like with the dark, also has the same temperament as any other Golden Retrievers. Colors don’t matter with these dogs, so expect to get a cheerful and loving Golden Retriever no matter what color. 


When you think fo a Golden Retriever this is likely to color that comes to mind. This is because this is the most popular color of all Golden Retriever varieties. This is the color that you are most likely to see when you go to the dog park.

Dark Golden

Dark Goldens are a much darker version of the typical golden. They are, however, not red. They are missing the amber tone that is in the coat of a non-showable red golden retriever. However, a dark Golden is easier to confuse with a red Golden than it is to confuse with a regular Golden.

As mentioned, the Dark Golden Retriever looks fairly similar to the red variation. However, the key difference is that they don’t have the amber or red hue. Instead, they’re a much darker shade of the standard Golden Retriever. 

This is the first color of the Golden Retriever on this list that is actually recognized by the AKC. As a result, you are able to competitively show these dogs at AKC shows. Plus, they’re much easier to find with local breeders.

In terms of temperament and personality, they’re not much different from any of the other Golden Retrievers on this list. Despite the dark color, you still get the lively energy, cheerful attitude and friendliness of these dogs.

I would say the ears are a good guide to their true adult color, but they will probably always be a shade darker than the rest of his fur (especially when he gets older and gets his ‘mask’).

– Kittygoat (Reddit User)

These dogs will almost always be born lighter in color, compared to how they’ll look as an adult. A good way to gauge how dark they will get is by looking at the color of the ears.

Literally the only difference is the darker coat color, which is perfectly fine. In fact, many owners think this color is the most stunning of them all. For the most part, I agree with them.

Non-Show Golden Retrievers

You can find purebred Golden Retrievers that are light cream or very dark red. These could be puppies that inherited throwback genes. A good breeder is likely to sell them at a lower price because they are not suitable for showing. They may still be a well-bred Golden, however.

On the other hand, if you find a “Golden Retriever” that black, pure white, or a mixture of colors this is likely a poorly bred Golden. Well, either poorly bred or a mixed breed. If a breeder is trying to sell you a “white” Golden Retriever, find a better breeder. Albino creatures are likely to suffer from many more health issues than the typical animal.


Showable Golden Retrievers come in a variety of shades of gold. There are some shades of Golden Retrievers that are not acceptable for showing at all. These dogs can still make great pets, but you cannot show them at any major kennel club shows. The main colors that are acceptable for showing are light golden, golden, and dark golden. With golden being the most popular.


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