Red golden retrievers are gorgeous dogs with lustrous mahogany coats and a wonderful temperament.
However, this golden retriever color is surrounded by controversy and misconceptions because of its formal status.
Red golden retrievers are purebred goldens, but they are rare and never seen at dog shows. These dogs also have slight distinctions from their gold counterparts in terms of temperament.
Still, red golden retrievers make excellent family and service dogs. They have everything golden retrievers are loved for.
If you’re considering buying a red golden retriever, learn about its appearance, formal recognition, temperament, health issues, and price to avoid disappointment.
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How Did Red Golden Retrievers Acquire Their Color?
Red golden retrievers are relatively uncommon – according to surveys, it’s the rarest golden retriever color in the U.S. Out of 600 survey respondents, only 100 owned a red retriever and 500 gold.
However, the rich mahogany color isn’t some kind of a rare genetic mutation. A dog’s coat color is determined by the MC1R gene, also known as the E-locus, which controls pigment production in melanocytes.
The dominant allele, “E,” produces black pigment, and the recessive allele, “e,” produces yellow or red pigment. All golden retrievers have an “e/e” genotype, so they can range from the lightest gold to mahogany but are never black.
Red golden retrievers originated from the same bloodline as any other golden retriever. They aren’t a different breed, but they are a different type.
Golden retrievers result from several dog breeds, including the flat-coated retriever, Newfoundland, Tweed water spaniel, and Irish setter. Perhaps the latter is responsible for some goldens’ rich, red coat color.
As a rule of thumb, purebred show golden retrievers don’t have mahogany coat color because it goes against the breed standard – more on that in a minute.
So, red golden retrievers are usually born from field goldens or a mix of field and show golden retrievers.
Red Golden Retriever Formal Recognition
The primary difference between red and gold golden retrievers is the formal recognition. Golden retrievers come in several types – American, English, Canadian, show, and field.
The American, English and Canadian golden retriever types belong to the show class and have slightly different breed standards. However, neither of them recognizes red as an official golden retriever color.
According to the American golden retriever breed standard, the coat color can range from the lightest to darkest gold, but mid-gold is preferred.
English and Canadian standards also accept various shades of gold, but British dog judges favor lighter shades and Canadian darker.
Nowhere in the breed standard is red recognized as an acceptable color, and the English standard even explicitly states the coat should be “neither red nor mahogany.”
Does it mean that red golden retrievers aren’t real golden retrievers? Not really. Red golden retrievers cannot participate in shows but can be registered in a kennel club, have a pedigree, and serve as working dogs.
Even if a red golden retriever is allowed to participate in a show, it will likely lose significant points because of the coat color.
Red golden retrievers belong to the field retriever type. Field golden retrievers are intended for the breed’s initial purpose – hunting, but they are equally great family dogs.
If you plan on participating in dog shows or breeding your golden, red color may not be the best option, but if you’re looking for a loving pet and admire the color, formal recognition doesn’t matter.
Red Golden Retriever Appearance
Color aside, the red golden retriever’s appearance isn’t different from other goldens.
These dogs are medium-sized, with females reaching 21-22 inches in height and males 23-34 inches. Golden retriever females weigh 55-65 pounds on average, and males 65-70 pounds.
However, red golden retrievers typically lie on the lower end of these ranges because field retrievers tend to be leaner and more athletic. Show retrievers are stockier.
Red golden retriever coat is moderately long and can be wavy or straight, but the latter is more common because straight fur is easier to maintain, which is beneficial for hunting dogs.
Like all golden retrievers, red goldens have a dense, water repellent undercoat that sheds intensely twice a year. The good news is that red golden retrievers tend to have a shorter coat than show goldens.
Their coat doesn’t need excessive grooming – regular brushing, occasional bathing, and feather trimming are sufficient.
Red golden retrievers have short, hanging years set on the line with eyes and an intelligent facial expression. Their muzzles are a bit narrower and longer than those of show goldens.
Red Golden Retriever Temperament
Red golden retrievers have everything that makes goldens so popular – they are loving, friendly towards strangers and other animals, affectionate, energetic, and playful.
Like any golden retriever, red goldens retain their puppy goofiness in adulthood but obey the orders when necessary. They are easy to train and very intelligent.
However, because red field golden retrievers have a different purpose than show goldens, they have higher stamina and aren’t as gentle with kids.
Red golden retrievers are in no way aggressive, but because of their high energy levels, they may accidentally knock over a toddler or be overly jumpy. For this reason, they require more exercise than an average golden.
Red goldens also are a bit mouthy because they are intended to retrieve waterfowl. If you don’t want a red golden retriever to chew your furniture, provide it with plenty of chew toys.
Red Golden Retriever Health
Red golden retriever’s life expectancy is 10-12 years, which isn’t much but adequate for a large dog breed. For comparison, Bernese Mountain dogs live for seven to nine years and German shepherds for eight to ten years.
Like all golden retrievers, red golden retrievers are prone to cancer, hypothyroidism, hip and elbow dysplasia, seizures, eye disorders, and skin conditions.
Cancer is the most common cause of death in golden retrievers and cannot be prevented, but you can avoid many other health issues by requesting a health clearance from the breeder.
To rule out inherited conditions, responsible breeders conduct genetic tests for all their adult dogs and puppies.
Obesity and skin conditions can be prevented by feeding your dog high-quality food and providing it with sufficient exercise.
Red Golden Retriever Price
Golden retriever puppy price ranges from $500 to over $3,000, depending on the bloodline, compliance with the breed standard, location, breeder’s experience, and other factors.
Red golden retriever price is slightly higher despite the unsuitability of red dogs for shows. The reason for this is their relative rarity.
Although the golden retriever breed standard doesn’t recognize red coat color, many people favor rich, mahogany shades and want a red dog regardless.
Because the demand exceeds the supply, red golden retriever puppies usually don’t cost under $1,000.
If you’re buying a red golden retriever from a well-known, reputable breeder, it may cost over $3,000. However, if you don’t have much money, you may find a red golden retriever in local shelters and rescue organizations.
Red golden retrievers also make excellent service dogs. Because of the extensive training required to teach a dog to perform complex tasks and behave well in any environment, service red golden retrievers may cost over $20,000.
Are Red Golden Retrievers Rare?
Red golden retrievers aren’t as common as dogs of golden shades. Because the red color gene is recessive, even two red goldens aren’t guaranteed to make a red puppy.
Furthermore, not many breeders want to breed red dogs because of their low odds of winning a show. In England, a red golden is guaranteed to be excluded from participation.
For these reasons, finding a red golden retriever puppy isn’t simple. And if you find one, it may not meet your expectations temperament-wise. But if you’re dedicated enough, you’ll find your perfect puppy eventually.
How to Choose a Red Golden Retriever Puppy
The universal tips for choosing a golden retriever puppy relate to all puppies regardless of their color. Ask the breeder whether they provide a contract of sale, registration papers, pedigree, and health documentation.
Knowing the breed standard to evaluate the puppy’s appearance is handy, but an inexperienced dog enthusiast may have difficulty distinguishing between correct and wrong traits.
A much easier way to determine a puppy’s compliance with the breed standard is seeing the parents and asking the breeder whether they have any titles.
The puppy’s parents can give you an idea of what the puppy will be like when it grows up. Find out whether the puppy’s parents were bred to hunt or to be companions because it could affect the puppy’s temperament.
Be careful with breeders who don’t ask you questions. Reputable breeders genuinely care about their puppies and are interested in where they will go.
Breeders refusing to show you where the puppies live or their parents aren’t worth your trust. Good breeders are always willing to show the puppy living conditions.
Ask the breeder how they socialize their dogs and whether the puppies are used to other animals and children. Lastly, find out when you can take the puppy home – a reputable breeder will only give you the puppy after eight weeks old.