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Can Golden Retrievers Have White Markings, Spots or Patches?

Last Updated: December 23, 2023

Purebred Golden Retrievers are renowned for their lush, golden coats, but have you ever wondered if they can have white on them, such as white markings, spots, or patches?

Purebred Golden Retrievers can have white markings, particularly around their chest area. This is known as “white spotting” and is a genetic trait that can be more pronounced in puppies. It does not signify a mixed-breed lineage. While these white spots often fade as the dog matures and develops their first adult coat, in some cases, they persist.

In this blog, we delve into the genetic and environmental factors that can lead to white markings on Golden Retrievers, exploring whether these features are common, accepted within breed standards, or indicative of a unique lineage.

Join us as we unravel the mystery behind these beautiful and occasionally multi-hued companions.

A Golden Retriever with white markings on its chest.

White Chest Markings

Purebred Golden Retrievers can have white on their chest, but because this trait isn’t desirable in the US dog show circuit, it is being bred out. As a result, white spotting is becoming less uncommon among purebred Golden Retrievers.

Since Golden Retrievers are descendants of the St. John’s Water Dog from Newfoundland, they carry the genes that are responsible for white markings on the chest, just like Labrador Retrievers and Flat Coated Retrievers. But Goldens carry other genes that dominate their golden coat colors.

“The St. John’s Water Dog, the Golden Retriever’s predecessor, was known to have white tuxedo markings on the chest, with white paws, chin, and muzzle.” – World of Dogz

These markings were carried down through the generations of the first Labrador Retrievers. And, as history tells us, Golden Retrievers were bred in Scotland by cross-breeding Flat-coated Retrievers with Tweed Water Spaniels (now extinct) with some other mix of Labradors, Red Setters, and Bloodhounds.

While white chest markings or tufts of white still happen occasionally, it does not mean your dog is not purebred. Still, the dog’s markings might lead to penalizing in shows because only a few white hairs on the chest are acceptable.

According to the AKC official standard for the Golden Retriever breed, it’s acceptable, though not ideal. An exception is the whitening or greying of the face or body due to senior years.

“As a puppy, my dog had white markings on her chest although they soon vanished and merged with her adult coat. I was kind of upset to see them go because I thought they were rather cute.” – World of Dogz

White on the Paw Tips

Golden Retrievers can have white on their paws in rare instances, depending on the dog’s parents. The white tips of the paws will usually disappear as the pup grows, similar to white markings on the chest. The white paws will be barely noticeable if your Golden is a light cream shade.

Whether you get a dog with white paws is down to genetics and depends on the dog’s parents. If you are looking to put your dog in the conformation ring, he would be classed as a fault and unsuitable for showing.

A Golden Retriever with white paws and white facial markings.

White Spots or Sporadic Markings

Purebred Golden Retrievers can have white spots or sporadic markings. White spots are usually determined by the genes on the S locus and are caused when the dog’s skin cells can’t produce any pigment, so the fur becomes white.

White spots are more noticeable in Golden Retrievers’ cousin breeds like Labrador Retrievers, especially the black and chocolate varieties. But Goldens have dominant coat color genes and are usually seen in different shades of gold only.

If your Golden Retriever is a puppy, his white fur might seem significant enough to be considered “spots.” However, those are just light markings that will likely go away with time.

Watch This Video To Learn More About “White Spotting.”

White Markings (Tip of Tail & Muzzle)

Purebred Golden Retrievers can have white markings, but it is not as common an occurrence as it used to be a few decades ago as it has been gradually bred out of the lines.

Purebred Golden Retrievers can have some white in the extremities, such as the tip of the tail, muzzle, chest, and tip of the paws.

The most common region for white markings among Goldens is the chest which is why even the AKC accepts a little white in the chest area. This is what they say:

“Any white marking, other than a
few white hairs on the chest, should be penalized according to its extent.” – World of Dogz

White color doesn’t reflect your dog’s pedigree but occurs when the cell’s pigment doesn’t migrate entirely in the developing embryo. This condition is known as residual white and is occasionally brought on by a slight sickness in the mother. 

Mismarked Golden Retrievers

A mismarked Golden Retriever is one with colors outside the accepted standard golden coat, but these are rare. They do not mean that your pup has mixed ancestry.

Mismarks are more common in Labradors, and this breeder collects pictures of them.

If you don’t plan on showing your dog, mismarks can be beneficial. Breeders often sell mismarked puppies for a lower price than their unicolored siblings, and they are just as friendly, intelligent, and loving as any other Golden Retriever.

On the contrary, some breeders will refer to any mismarking as extremely rare and try to charge more.

Can I Show My Golden Retriever With White Markings?

Not every variation in fur color is considered a mismark. Some minor marks, such as on the chest, still allow you to show your dog in competitions.

However, you can likely expect your Golden Retriever to be marked down in its final score because the white markings are considered less ideal than a pure coat. Despite this, breeders and judges generally understand that a mismarked coat is not an indication of mixed parentage.

But what about other countries such as the UK, Europe, Canada, and worldwide?

In contrast to the AKC, English and Canadian Kennel Clubs and the FCI accept cream-colored dogs that otherwise fit the standard of Golden Retrievers.

Do you want to know more about the different types of Goldens? Check out this article, Golden Retriever Types (With Pictures!).

Golden Retriever With White Chest Markings sitting on a plain floor

Can Purebred Golden Retrievers Be All White?

Purebred Golden Retrievers cannot be white because the genes required to produce an entirely white coat are absent from the Golden Retriever bloodline.

Although some dogs may be very light in color, they are not actually white. The color white doesn’t genetically appear in the breed.

The confusion lies with the English Golden Retriever, not the American variety. English Golden Retrievers are a very pale shade of gold or cream color, almost having the appearance of white, whereas American Golden Retrievers are generally darker.

You can read more here, English vs. American Golden Retriever: What’s The Difference?

How to Tell a Purebred Golden Retriever

You might want to confirm that your Golden Retriever is a purebred if you want to show him, raise him to be a stud, or just out of curiosity.

In all cases, you cannot rely on color alone to confirm your hypothesis because dogs without markings aren’t always purebred, while ones with markings aren’t always cross-bred.

To tell if a Golden Retriever is purebred, you should look at his paperwork and AKC Pedigree. Purebreds have a certified pedigree that features the name and registration number of the dog.

Without this, you can ask for its parents’ paperwork or proof of their performance in dog shows.

Since most dog shows do not allow mixed breeds to participate, this can be seen as sufficient proof.

However, an unethical breeder might falsify the dog’s parentage, which is why a breed identification test is necessary for any transaction where the dog’s paperwork isn’t complete.

The quickest and easiest way to tell a purebred Golden Retriever is to get a dog DNA kit, such as the Embark Breed Identification Dog DNA Test from Amazon.

Note: Clicking the above link(s) will take you to Amazon or an online store where we have an affiliate relationship. If you make a purchase, we may earn a commission at no additional cost to you.

Veterinarians have developed this test. It screens over 350 breeds, and you can see a family tree and connect with other dogs that share your dog’s DNA.

They promise that their accuracy is more than twice as high as their rivals, and I trust their claims because they have more than 14,000 positive reviews.


Is it normal for purebred Golden Retrievers to have white markings?

Yes, it’s perfectly normal for your purebred Golden Retriever to have some white markings. White spots or patches on the chest, paws, or elsewhere come from genetics and don’t indicate mixed breeding.

So long as your pup is from parents that are both purebred Goldens, small white markings won’t affect its pedigree status. Enjoy your uniquely colored purebred pup!

Can breeders predict if a purebred Golden Retriever will have white markings?

While white markings on Goldens can’t always be predicted, breeders do have some insight. By examining the parents’ coloring patterns and coat genetics, your breeder may be able to estimate if your purebred puppy is more or less likely to have white fur popping up.

Still, it’s ultimately up to your pup’s individual genes, so some white surprises can’t be avoided!

Final Thoughts

White marks aren’t uncommon among purebred Golden Retrievers. They can have a few white hairs on their chest and other extremities, including paws, muzzle, and chin.

The reasons for this are varied and complex, depending on genetics and parentage. However, significant white spotting is pretty rare among the breed.

Regardless of whether your pup has a little white blaze on his chest or is mismarked, the only drawback of a Golden Retriever is that he might not be fit for the show circuit.

But if you don’t plan to show your dog in a pageant, the markings are irrelevant as they make adorable pets and do not affect your dog’s capacity to love, protect, and play with you.

Sharon Waddington
Sharon Waddington is the founder of World of Dogz. With over 30 years of experience working with dogs, this former Police Officer has seen it all. But it’s her trusty German Shepherd, Willow, who steals the show as the inspiration behind this website. As Sharon’s constant companion Willow has played a pivotal role in shaping her passion for dogs. Recently, Sharon has become deeply passionate about the plight of rescue dogs and is an active advocate for dog rescue, striving to make a difference in the lives of dogs in need.

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