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First of all, they are not two different breeds. They are both recognized by the AKC as golden retrievers. The term "English Cream Golden Retriever" is used in the U.S. to distinguish dogs whose very recent genetic lines are from European kennels. Overseas, they refer to their beloved dogs as just "Golden Retrievers".
But, because of the different genetic lines in the English or "European" goldens, there are 4 main differences:
Health – The English retriever is definitely a healthier dog than the American retriever. Comparing studies from the Golden Retriever Club of America vs. the British Kennel Club, you can see that:
Sadly, it is estimated that greater than 62% of all American goldens will die each year due to cancer. Whereas, English goldens have been rigorously tested for multiple generations to weed out dogs with higher genetic tendencies toward problems chronic to the golden retriever breed such as cancer, hip dysplasia and elbow dysplasia. The result of these high health standards is that the English lines encounter very few health problems and end up living longer, happier lives.
Temperament – Even though American goldens are great, you have to experience the slightly more mellow temperament which set the English goldens apart and endear them to so many families.
Structure – The English retriever has a bit stockier build, a blockier head, and is built a little lower to the ground.
Coloring – The English retriever has a lighter colored coat than an American.
Because of the superior health and temperament of the English golden retriever, we are forever committed to only breeding 100% English Cream golden retrievers!
If planning to show in IABCA events this is the description of breed standard used in judging.