The Short Answer is:
Don’t panic if your goldie has a few stray black hairs; it is just a result of how some genes affecting hair color are interacting. There is nothing wrong with your dog from a health standpoint. There is no such thing as a black golden retriever and they aren’t allowed in any show rings
In this article you will know the answer to the query “Why does my Golden Retriever have black hairs?“.
- Dog’s genes
- Black Golden Retrievers
- What is a golden retriever?
- The different shades of Golden Retrievers
- Do the breed standards allow for black golden retrievers?
- Breeds that look like black golden retrievers
- Other Breeds with complete opposites
A few random black hairs have appeared on the coat of your Goldie. Are you concerned? Does anything seem amiss? Is it possible that this could be the start of a complete color transformation?
You need not be concerned (unless you intend to exhibit this specimen) and these rogue hairs are genetically related.
I would like to put this topic into some kind of perspective before we dive into the role genes play in the color of your dogs coat.
The following are some fascinating facts about dogs that will blow your mind.
In that the largest specimen (Great Dane) is about 40 times the size of the smallest specimen (Chihuahua) dogs are by far the most diverse land mammals in the world.
We constantly breed different breeds of dogs to make new variations because we are always tinkering.
Additionally the American Kennel Club (AKC) is constantly adding new breeds to its official register.
There have been two new breeds added in 2020 alone- the Dogo Argentino and the Barbet.
The Kennel Club last recognized a new breed in Britain in 2018 the Black and Tan Coonhound.
If you consider all of this is it any wonder that a few stray black hairs appear once every Blue Moon on a goldfish?
There are nearly nineteen thousand genes in a dogs genome but scientists believe that only eight of them determine coat color.
A dogs coat is colored by three pigments that interact with each other.
The list is as follows:
Black chocolate brown or gray eumelanin
The phenomenon pigment is either gold tan or red
White because of lack of melanin
There are eight genes that determine if these colors are present and how they are distributed across a dogs coat.
Golden retrievers have mostly pheomelanin pigments while eumelanin and melanin pigments are recessive.
In order for “rogue” colors to appear a gene must slightly malfunction.
Compared to that humans have twenty to twenty-five thousand genes (that we know about at the moment) and 124 of these are involved in determining our hair color.
Black Golden Retrievers
While some of you might be worried about the odd black hair on the coat others are curious about whether there is such a thing as a “black golden retriever”?
I am referring to a golden retriever with no other color than black hair.
As these points of view here here and here detail this is a very contentious issue on the Internet.
According to some sources a flat-coated Retriever was introduced into the mix at one time.
People who insist there is no such thing as a black goldie insist that golden retrievers are really another purebred such as a flat-coated Retriever or a crossbreed.
Now that we have learned how hair color is determined in a dog about the odd black hair that appears on a golden retrievers coat and about some gossip about the existence of a black golden retriever lets ask the experts.
What is a golden retriever?
There are many different kinds of dogs that have ever existed as I mentioned earlier.
Its because there have been so many experiments with mating different breeds of dogs over time.
Although dogs are mans best friend we are constantly striving to improve the quality of this friendship by trying out different combinations.
On the other extreme established breeds have a protected status which is monitored by various kennel clubs around the world.
The largest kennel clubs for golden retrievers are the American Canadian and British.
These kennel clubs publish breed standards for every dog in their pedigree.
A breed standard is a detailed description of the qualities a dog should possess in order to be perfect.
These are typically two pages long and contain about ten different characteristics such as:
- Size and Proportion
Breed standards specify allowable variations and characteristics that will lead to disqualification.
The different shades of Golden Retrievers
American British and Canadian golden retrievers are the three varieties.
You can read about the American breed standard here the British standard here and the Canadian standard here.
It is to be expected that the vast majority of breed standards are the same.
There appears to be very little difference in coloring as the descriptions within each breed standard mention “lustrous shades of golden.”
According to Wikipedia British goldies are generally lighter than their American and Canadian counterparts.
What is the position of each country on “black hair”? Lets investigate.
Do the breed standards allow for black golden retrievers?
There is a very clear “no” to this question.
Lets take a look at each breed standard individually
Breed Standards for American Dogs
Under “color” it explicitly states that “any noticeable area of black hair is a serious defect.”
Breed Standard for British Dogs
Under “color” the following sentence can be found: “serious fault: Any noticeable black hair”
Breed Standards in Canada
There should be no black. hair in any visible area
Since we have seen what the experts say about black hair on golden retrievers I want to continue “playing” with this idea of a golden retriever with a solid black coat
Breeds that look like black golden retrievers
I had to narrow down the candidates a bit in this category because there are so many.
Those whose pedigrees most reflect that of a black golden retriever will be my focus.
It is evident however that several mixes of these pedigrees could create an even closer clone of a black golden retriever.
Our joint top contenders for dogs that are most likely to be mistaken for black golden retrievers are these two.
They are very similar in terms of temperature and playfulness. In general their coats tend to be longer and flatter and their heads tend to be much thinner.
Only after doing some research for this article did I discover that black Hovawarts existed.
Purebred dogs’ coats are too long and too flat but I think that their heads are very similar in shape and size.
Yet I believe that they are right up there with the flat-coated retriever as a dog “most likely to be confused with”
A lab is another retriever and it is believed that a yellow retriever may have been part of the original mix when goldies were first introduced to Scotland.
In spite of their shorter stature labs are usually slimmer and thinner than golden retrievers- partly because their coats are thicker and flatter.
Despite this they share very similar temperaments and a love of food tennis balls and sticks.
Even though they might be a bit far-fetched Newfoundlands are just adorable are not they?
Do you have any experience with them swimming? This is truly a sight to behold.
On land their movements are best described as lumbering but in the water they transform into 70 kg ballerinas!
Although their heads are much much bigger than a goldies they have a very similar shape as well as similarly shaped eyes that are kind and gentle.
What do you mean? You are now completely lost.
However hear me out.
Although golden retrievers are believed to be a mix between a yellow retriever and a spaniel soon after a bloodhound was introduced “into the mix” in order to improve the dogs’ scenting abilities.
Do you see? What I said wasnot entirely true.
Other Breeds with complete opposites
However golden retrievers are not the only ones who have complete opposites that can be counted or not.
One of the most obvious examples is dalmatian culture
Officially they are black or liver spotted but longhaired versions are also available.
Donot panic if your goldie has a few stray black hairs; it is just a result of how some genes affecting hair color are interacting.
There is nothing wrong with your dog from a health standpoint.
There is no such thing as a black golden retriever and they are not allowed in any show rings
Nevertheless if you find a goldie clone that behaves and looks exactly like a goldie just cuddle it and thank your lucky stars.