Black Golden Retrievers: What You Absolutely Must Know

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Ever seen a black Golden Retriever and wondered how on earth a Golden could be black? The truth is, they can’t. If you see a Golden that is all black, it’s likely another similar breed like a Flat-Coated Retriever. 

Black Flat-Coated Retriever
A Black Flat-Coated Retriever in the spring garden

But that doesn’t mean Golden Retrievers can’t have black markings. It all comes down to their genes, and we’ll explain everything you need to know. Ready to get into the science?

Myth or Reality: Does the Black Golden Retriever Really Exist?!

There are several genes that determine the color of a dog. Goldens have two recessive genes that make their coats either red or yellow. Even if they have a black ancestry somewhere in their line, a purebred Golden Retriever will never be all black

A Portrait of a Golden Retriever
A Portrait of a Golden Retriever

That doesn’t mean that genetic mutations can’t happen – they can and do! When this happens, you’ll see a Golden with a black patch of fur. Perhaps their face will be partially black or they’ll have a black tail. Often they’ll also have a black nose. 

These black marked dogs are considered purebreds, but they can’t be shown in AKC dog shows because they’re considered to have a fault that excludes them. That doesn’t mean they aren’t wonderful companions, though.

So what if you see a Golden Retriever that is totally black? It’s not an AKC-registered purebred. It likely has some mix of another breed in its recent history. That doesn’t mean that both of its parents weren’t Goldens. It could be that its black relative was one generation back. 

But that still means that it isn’t a purebred in the eyes of breed registries. 

The other option is that it’s a Labrador Retriever or a Flat-Coated Retriever that looks a lot like a black Golden. 

So what do they look like?

A purebred black-marked golden retriever will still have that trademark goldencoat. It won’t be brown or pure black. But they will have a black patch or two. This can appear anywhere and can range from a tiny little dot to a large patch that covers up to a quarter of their body. 

Sometimes they’ll have a half black face or a black tail.

They often have a darker coat than a standard Golden, but it will still be gold. They may have a black snout. Goldens come in a range of colors, including dark red, but also dark golden, gold, light golden, and very light cream.

Their eyes won’t be blue or black, they’ll have the same brown eyes that all Goldens have, unless they happen to have a genetic mutation in the genes that control eye color. That would be extremely rare!

Other than that, they are identical to their Golden siblings. They get the same size and they have the same shedding coat. If you covered up that black mark, they would be indistinguishable from any other purebred Golden. 

You may have seen a Golden Retriever with a black spot on their tongue or the roof of their mouth. That’s a different gene and not related to a black marked gene. Don’t worry, this isn’t usually a sign of a problem. 

Sometimes dogs just have black marks in their mouths, but have a vet take a look to be safe. Likewise, some Goldens have some black skin pigment or black underbellies. It’s normal.

There are lots of images online that you can find showing these unique dogs. Some people like to call these markings “birthmarks.”

What’s a Black golden retriever like? Are they just like a regular golden?

If you do some online research on black golden retrievers, some websites say they are more aggressive than typical goldens because of this recessive gene for a black coat coming out, but there are no studies to support this claim. 

The truth is, black-marked Goldens are just like any other Golden when it comes to personality. Coat color doesn’t impact their temperament. They should be outgoing, eager-to-please, friendly, and people-oriented goofballs, just like the AKC dictates.

They should be treated and trained in the exact same way that you’d train any other Golden. You should also groom them in the same way. For instance, you should never shave their coat to try and get rid of the black marking – that coat protects your dog from the heat and cold.

This video will help you groom your black golden retriever (or just a regular one).

Does their coloration make them less healthy?

Nope. Again, the only difference with black-marked Goldens is that they have a gene mutation that impacts their coat color. It doesn’t impact their health or their lifespan.

You still need to watch for all the same things that single-colored Goldens get. This includes cancer, cataracts, thyroid problems, hip dysplasia, patellar luxation, Von Willerbrand disease, epilepsy, and allergies.

I want one! How to find a black golden retriever

Good luck! A black-marked Golden Retriever can’t be intentionally bred. They are just a fluke of genetics, like a person with two different colored eyes. If you want to find a black golden retriever puppy, you have two options. 

The first is to just keep in contact with Golden Retriever retrievers, both Canadian and American, to see if they ever have a black marked pup in one of their litters. The other is to buy a puppy that is a crossbreed of a Golden and some other black breed. 

If you see black golden retriever puppies for sale, just remember that these aren’t purebreds. That’s ok, but if the breeder tries to convince you that they are, run away!

Adopting a black golden retriever

Your next option is to adopt a black golden retriever. You may be able to find one at your local animal rescue. Or check Golden Bond Rescue or the Golden Retriever Club of Greater Los Angeles Rescue. They may come across these dogs from time to time. 

You can also look for crossbreed Golden Retrievers that are mixed with another breed. 

What else should I know?

Say you want to adopt a crossbreed black Golden Retriever that has been bred with a Flat-Coated Retriever. What can you expect? 

Flat-Coated Retriever
A playful Black Flat-Coated Retriever

The AKC says that Flat-Coat, as they are sometimes called, is about as tall as a Golden, though they may be a touch taller. They are also a bit leaner and have a more narrow face. Their coat is similar to a Golden, but jet black or liver instead.

Flat-Coats are considered to be one of the happiest breeds out there and they stay puppy-like throughout their lives. 

They can be a little too high energy for kids and they need more exercise than a Golden. Otherwise, they are quite similar. 

Black Labrador Retriever
A Black Labrador Retriever sitting on a green grass

You may also see a Golden crossed with a black Labrador Retriever, sometimes called a black goldador. These dogs, according to the AKC, are about the same size as Goldens, with a shorter, harder coat. They are friendly, easygoing, and happy – much like a Golden. 

These crossbreeds may h ave a short coat.

You may also see a black golden retriever german shepherd mix, a golden husky mix, or a black goldendoodle. These are all uncommon crossbreeds that may look like a black Golden Retriever. 

Now you Know the Truth About Black Golden Retrievers

So now you know the truth, and when someone asks you if black golden retrievers exist, you can tell them… sort of. While purebred black Goldens aren’t a thing, they can have black markings.

Otherwise, you’re probably looking at a crossbreed of a Golden mixed with a black dog. 

Regardless, they all make lovely pets with the right training and home.

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