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Is there a brown golden retriever?

Golden retrievers are one of the most popular dog breeds in the world. They are known for their friendly temperament, intelligence, and loyalty. The typical golden retriever has a lush golden coat, which is where they get their name. However, there are some variations when it comes to the color of a golden retriever’s fur.

Standard Golden Retriever Colors

The American Kennel Club (AKC) breed standard lists light golden, dark golden, and golden as the acceptable coat colors for golden retrievers. This covers the normal range of golden shades, from nearly white to a rich reddish gold.

Here are some specifics on the standard golden retriever coat colors:

  • Light golden – Very light cream to nearly white color.
  • Dark golden – Rich, reddish-gold hue.
  • Golden – Mid-range golden shade.

While variation exists, the coat of a typical golden retriever will be some shade of gold. Next, we’ll look at some of the more unusual coat colors that can occur outside the breed standard.

Non-Standard Golden Retriever Coat Colors

Although less common, golden retrievers can also have coats that are darker than the breed standard gold. Here are some of the colors that may appear:

  • Mahogany – Deep reddish-brown color.
  • Dark red – Very rich red hue.
  • Copper – Warm reddish-brown shade.
  • Champagne – Lighter golden brown color.
  • Platinum – Very pale, silver-tinged coats.
  • Gray – Blue-gray shade, often with darker gray furnishings.

The coats listed above occur due to different pigments being expressed in a golden retriever’s fur. While less common, they can still meet the breed standard as long as the color is solid and not patchy throughout the dog’s coat.

Sable Golden Retrievers

In addition to unusual colors, some golden retrievers have a sable coat. Sable refers to multi-colored guard hairs interspersed with a lighter undercoat. It creates a mix of shades throughout the fur, which can include:

  • Gold
  • Red
  • Brown
  • Gray

Sable golden retrievers may exhibit a range of colors at the tips of their fur, while the undercoat remains lighter. This is just another variation that occurs outside the typical golden coat color.

English Cream Golden Retrievers

English cream is a term for very light-colored golden retrievers. Their fur can range from pale gold to an off-white cream shade. While some think English creams are a separate breed, they simply represent golden retrievers that fall on the far lighter end of the acceptable coat colors.

Here are some quick facts about English cream goldens:

  • AKC does not recognize “English cream” as separate from golden retrievers.
  • Breed standard allows very light “white” golden shades.
  • English creams result from selective breeding for paler coats.
  • There are no differences in temperament from other goldens.
  • They are not guaranteed to remain extremely light colored.

English cream golden retrievers make up a subset of very pale goldens. But they are not a distinct breed from other golden retrievers.

Rare Golden Retriever Colors

Most golden retrievers have coats in various shades of gold. However, over the history of the breed, some rare and unusual colors have appeared. Here are a few of the rarest coat colors occasionally seen:

  • Black – Solid jet black coat color. Extremely rare.
  • Gray – All gray fur, may be dark slate gray or silver-gray. Very uncommon.
  • Brindle – Tiger-striped pattern, usually a mix of brown and black. Rare pattern.
  • Spotted – White spots on the coat, mostly when mixed with another breed. Unusual for purebred goldens.

The colors above are quite rare in golden retrievers. When they occur, it is usually because another gene for an alternate coat color gets expressed. Next, we’ll look at why variations in coat color appear within the breed.

Causes of Non-Standard Golden Coat Colors

Why do some golden retrievers have such different colored coats from the typical gold shade? There are a few genetic reasons that unusual colors can show up.

  • Recessive genes – Alternative coat color genes that remain “hidden” for generations.
  • New mutations – Spontaneous changes in genes affecting coat pigment.
  • Improper breeding – Crossbreeding with other breeds that introduces different colors.

Even when golden retriever breeding selects for the ideal golden coat, recessive genes can produce different colors. Reputable breeders work to minimize undesirable traits, but surprising colors can still appear.

Do Brown Golden Retrievers Exist?

This brings us to the original question – do brown golden retrievers exist? The answer is yes, golden retrievers can indeed have brown coats. However, it represents one of the more uncommon colors outside of the breed standard.

Here are some key facts about brown golden retrievers:

  • Brown coats result from a recessive mahogany gene being expressed.
  • The shade can vary from light brown to a richer chocolate brown.
  • True brown goldens will have brown noses and paws to match the coat.
  • Their eyes are typically brown instead of the usual black.
  • Temperament is not affected by coat color.

While not seen that frequently, brown does occur as a variation in golden retriever coats. Next, we’ll look at what causes brown fur to appear in some golden retrievers.

Genetics Behind Brown Golden Retrievers

The genetics behind coat color in dogs is quite complex. For golden retrievers, the standard gold shade comes from two copies of the e gene (ee). This e gene produces the rich gold pigment.

Brown golden retrievers occur when an alternate form of the e gene (eb) is present. This is the mahogany version of the e pigment gene. When a golden has one eb and one regular e gene (ebe) it leads to a brown coat.

This brown mahogany gene is recessive. That means both parents must carry it for brown coat puppies to potentially occur. That is why the trait remains relatively uncommon compared to the regular golden shades.

Origins of Brown Golden Retrievers

Where did this alternate brown gene come from in golden retrievers? Brown likely first appeared when golden retrievers were crossed with other breeds many generations ago. Some possibilities include:

  • Flat-Coated Retriever – Common ancestor of golden retrievers. Could carry brown gene.
  • Irish Setter – Red-gold coat color can produce brown mixed with golden line.
  • Chesapeake Bay Retriever – Recessive brown dilute gene present in the breed.

Once introduced, the recessive brown gene was passed down over the years in certain golden retriever lines. It continues to spontaneously resurface, producing brown as an uncommon but possible coat color.

Controversy Over Brown Golden Retrievers

Because they fall outside the breed standard, brown golden retrievers are controversial. Some key considerations surrounding brown goldens include:

  • Brown is linked to inferior breeding practices by some breeders.
  • May indicate crossbreeding occurred somewhere in lineage.
  • Banned from conformation showing and breeding programs.
  • No differences in health or temperament compared to goldens.
  • Makes no difference as family or working dog.

There are strongly held opinions on both sides regarding brown coats. But it’s simply a cosmetic trait, not anything that affects the dog’s abilities.

Quick Facts About Brown Golden Retrievers

To summarize what we know about brown golden retrievers:

Trait Description
Coat Color Light to dark brown fur
Nose/Paw Color Brown
Eye Color Typically brown eyes
Origins Recessive mahogany (eb) gene
Controversy Considered inferior by some breeders
Temperament Same wonderful golden retriever personality
Rarity Uncommon coat color

This summarizes the key points that identify and characterize golden retrievers with rare brown coats. They represent just one example of the color variations that can turn up even in long-established breeds.

Finding a Brown Golden Retriever Puppy

For those interested in acquiring a brown golden retriever puppy, here are some tips:

  • Search for breeders known for producing brown lineages.
  • Be prepared to be waitlisted, as litters with browns may be small.
  • Ask about health clearances for the parents.
  • Make sure you meet both parents if possible.
  • Work with an ethical, responsible breeder.
  • Avoid breeders who can’t provide background on brown line.

With care and patience, it’s possible to find a beautiful brown golden retriever puppy that will grow into an amazing companion.

Caring for a Brown Golden Retriever

In terms of care, a brown golden retriever has the same needs as any other golden retriever. Here are some key points for raising a healthy, happy brown golden:

  • Groom regularly using a slicker brush and metal comb.
  • Provide at least 60 minutes of exercise daily.
  • Train and socialize from a young age.
  • Feed a high-quality commercial dog food.
  • Supply fresh water at all times.
  • Clean ears weekly to prevent infections.
  • Brush teeth frequently with a dog toothpaste.
  • Trim nails as needed, usually every few weeks.

While their coat color is different, brown goldens have the same care needs as any other dog of their breed. With proper nutrition, activity, training, and veterinary care they can live a long, healthy life.


While uncommon, brown golden retrievers do exist. They come about when a recessive mahogany gene affecting coat color gets expressed within certain golden retriever lineages. The brown coat represents a rare but naturally occurring variation in golden retrievers.

Brown goldens exhibit all the same traits that make the breed so popular and beloved. Their only difference is the unique color of their lush, water-repellent double coat. With their amiable temperament, intelligence, and handsome looks, brown golden retrievers can make wonderful family pets and companions.