If you are in the market for a family dog, there may be no better two to choose from than the Golden Retriever and the Labrador.
These two dogs are some of the world’s favorite breeds and for good reason! They are both highly intelligent, family oriented, great with children of all ages, eager to please, and easy to train.
Both breeds are similar in a number of ways as well, which can make it tough for some families to choose between the two. How does someone look into those adoring faces and decide on just one?
Here’s the thing. While Golden Retrievers and Labradors may be similar in several aspects, they are also quite different in a few ways that might really matter to you and help you decide which of these two amazing breeds would best fit into your life.
That’s why we are going to go over everything you need to know about the Golden Retriever and the Labrador and help you compare the two in order to decide which breed would be best suited for your family, home, and lifestyle.
Let’s start by meeting the Golden Retriever!
Meet The Golden Retriever!
The Golden Retriever is one of America’s most popular family dogs.
Sitting at number 3 out of 194 on the American Kennel Club’s list of most popular dog breeds, the Golden Retriever is a beloved family dog for both his looks and his personality.
He is intelligent, loyal, and a friend to all, making him an excellent addition to any home with children and other household pets.
Goldens are happy dogs who enjoy life and are eager to please, easy to train, and enjoy making new friends of all shapes and sizes.
Golden Retrievers are also famous for their gorgeous, golden coats which are long, wavy, and soft. They are hardworking dogs and are some of the most popular choices for service dogs and emotional support or therapy dogs due to their loyal nature and ability to quickly and effectively learn.
Meet The Labrador Retriever!
The Labrador has been considered the number one breed in the United States for a number of years.
The Labrador Retriever has been considered America’s top dog for years now. In fact, on the American Kennel Club’s list of America’s Most Popular Dog Breeds, the Labrador Retriever sits proudly at number one!
The Labrador hails from humble working roots and brings his athletic, energetic enthusiasm to homes all across the globe.
He is a sweet, loveable breed who gets along well with just about anyone and everyone. He knows no stranger!
Labrador Retrievers are known for their intelligence and ability to learn. They are excellent additions to active households and will add a bit of cheery fun to any family outing.
Golden Retriever Vs Labrador Origin
Both the Labrador and the Golden Retriever come from working roots.
Due to their intelligence, it may come as no surprise that both the Golden Retriever and the Labrador Retriever hail from working backgrounds.
These double-coated breeds boost similar skill sets and both have backgrounds as water retrieving dogs. This attributes to their enthusiasm for water play and athletic, energetic natures.
The Golden Retriever was bred and refined in Scotland in the mid 1800’s by first Lord Tweedmouth, Dudley Marjoribanks. The Golden is believed to be a mix between the now extinct Tweed Water Spaniel and the Yellow Retriever, as well as the Bloodhound and irish Setter.
It was Marjoribanks’ desire to create a dog who would be able to withstand the cold, rainy weather conditions of the Scotish Highlands and be able to explore rough terrain with ease.
The Golden Retriever we know and love today is the result of generations of careful breeding and refining, and what we now have is a clever, adorable dog who is not only highly intelligent and friendly but also beautiful to look at.
Initially bred for hunting and water retrieving, the Golden Retrievers of today enjoys a simple life with family. Working Goldens are known to thrive as service dogs, therapy dogs, and guide dogs.
The Labrador Retriever hails from Newfoundland, Canada and, like his Golden Retriever counterpart, is the result of careful and refined breeding over generations, starting in the 1800’s.
The Lab is a bred water dog whose dense, double layered coat and “otter tail” made him the ideal swimming champion to retrieve duck and fish who got free from his master’s netting. The Labrador is also known for his large, webbed paws which help him to swim to and from boats in the chilly Canadian waters.
The Lab may have become known for his swimming abilities but the longevity of his popularity is no doubt due to his lovable nature.
Sitting at number one on the American Kennel Club’s list of America’s most popular dog breeds isn’t an easy task, especially considering the competition, but the Labrador Retriever has won the title year after year due to his devotion, friendly nature, work ethic, intelligence, and adaptability.
So, it sounds like both the Labrador and Golden Retriever were bred for similar purposes, and they have become family favorites over the years due to their infectious and loving personalities.
But what differences do they have in temperament? Let’s take a look.
Golden Retriever Vs Labrador Temperament
Both Labs and Golden Retrievers are ideal family dogs who get along with children and other pets.
It is true that both the Lab and the Golden Retriever have winning dispositions and are family favorites due to their sweet nature, but in what ways are they alike and what ways are they different?
Let’s take a closer look at the temperaments of both the Labrador Retriever and the Golden Retriever to get a better idea.
The Golden Retriever, for starters, is famous for his friendliness to both family and strangers. He is a trusting breed who is highly devoted to his family. His eagerness to please also makes him a wonderful and easy dog to work with and train.
Furthermore, Golden Retrievers are beloved for their intelligence. They are hard workers who like to stay busy, and prospective owners should remember that intelligent dogs with working backgrounds can be prone to boredom, depression, stress, anxiety, and destructive behaviors if not kept both physically and mentally stimulated.
If you are looking for a good family dog, the Golden Retriever is a wonderful choice as he is patient and playful with children. He also does well with other household pets, although smaller pets should be supervised with the Golden Retriever as he may see them as prey he should “retrieve”.
The good news is that the Golden Retriever is gentle and has incredible control over his mouth. In fact, it was his duty to retrieve shot ducks and other game without damaging the body or meat, thus leading to his gentle retrieval skills.
The Labrador Retriever is regaled for his friendly nature and outgoing spirit. He is said to be more athletic and active than his Golden Retriever counterpart and may need more time outside and more devotion to walks and exercise.
With that said, the Labrador Retriever is an excellent addition to any family as he is sweet natured, friendly, loyal, and fun-loving.
He is a wonderful dog for families with children and other household pets, although he is also highly intelligent like the Golden Retriever and should be kept busy and mentally stimulated throughout the day to help keep him from developing behavioral problems or becoming bored and destructive.
And while both the Golden Retriever and the Labrador Retriever are known for their friendly, affectionate, and joyful dispositions, it’s important to remember that both nature and nurture play a role in how they will behave in your family.
Like all dogs, Labrador Retrievers and Golden Retrievers should be properly socialized at an early age. This means exposing them in a positive way to a number of different experiences, sights, and sounds as early as possible to help them adjust and grow up into well rounded and confident dogs.
Labs and Golden Retrievers should also be trained consistently throughout their lifetime to help keep them mentally and physically sound, and parents with children should supervise youngsters around the family dog to ensure playtime is safe and gentle for all.
Most experts and dog trainers also suggest that parents work with their children before getting a dog to help their child understand how to safely and respectfully handle a family dog.
Golden Retriever Vs Labrador Retriever Physical Appearance
The Golden Retriever’s long, wavy coat sets him apart from the short-coated Labrador.
The Labrador Retriever and the Golden Retriever get mixed up with one another quite often, and it’s easy to see why. They are generally the same size and have fairly similar personalities, histories, and intelligence levels.
However, one of the easiest ways you can tell the difference between a Labrador and a Golden Retriever is by their appearances. While at first glance the two breeds may look similar, taking a longer look will easily tell you what dog you are face to face with.
The Golden Retriever’s coat is the biggest giveaway that he is a Golden and not a Lab. Golden Retrievers have longer, wavy coats that are typically gold or cream in color.
Labs, on the other hand, have short, dense coats that lay flat. Their muzzles tend to be boxier and their tails are thick and strong. Labs also come in three different colors, while the Golden Retriever comes in two with slight variations of shade.
Below is a brief overview of the Golden Retriever’s physical appearance.
Golden Retriever Height: 21.5 to 24 inches
Golden Retriever Weight: 55 to 75 Pounds
Golden Retriever Coat Color: Golden, Cream, Light Gold, Dark Gold
Golden Retriever Coat Type: Thick, weather-resistant double layered coat with the undercoat being dense and woolly and outer coat being longer and wavy.
And below is a brief overview of the Labrador Retriever’s physical appearance.
Labrador Retriever Height: 21.5 to 24.5 Inches
Labrador Retriever Weight: 55 to 80 Pounds
Labrador Retriever Coat Colors: Chocolate, Yellow, Black
Labrador Retriever Coat Type: Double layered coat with the undercoat being dense and woolly and outer coat being short and water-resistant.
Golden Retriever Vs Labrador Retriever Grooming
Grooming for double coated dog breeds can take some time and commitment from owners.
All dogs require a bit of maintenance when it comes to grooming, and the Golden Retriever and Labrador dogs are no exception.
But does one breeds require more grooming maintenance than the other? Actually yes.
In fact, experts agree that, due to the Golden Retriever’s longer fur, he requires more routine brushing than his Labrador counterpart.
To keep your Golden Retriever’s fur looking golden, experts suggest grooming him with proper deshedding tools and grooming brushes at least twice a week. During shedding season, which occurs twice a year, Goldens should be brushed daily.
If left unbrushed, the active and inquisitive Golden Retriever can be prone to painful mats and tangles in his luxurious locks.
The Labrador is also a heavy shedding dog who will need to be occasionally brushed and groomed, however brushing him will take less time and will require less of a commitment.
Most experts suggest that Labs be routinely brushed at least once a week, and more often during shedding season.
Both the Labrador and Golden Retriever will need occasional bathing, especially if they get into something dirty, wet, or mucky.
The good news is that Labs and Golden Retrievers are relatively clean dogs whose water resistant coats keep them dry and tidy most of the time.
You don’t want to over-bathe your Labrador or Golden Retriever as doing so could result in their coats being stripped of the natural oils that keep them shiny and healthy.
When you bathe your Lab or Golden Retriever, be sure to use high quality shampoos that are specifically made for dogs.
Both the Labrador and Golden Retriever will need their ears cleaned often to keep them from becoming infected or impacted with waxy buildup, moisture, or other residues. Furthermore, they will need their nails trimmed regularly to keep them from cracking or breaking during play and other activities.
And because oral health is a rising issue in many dogs, we also recommend routine brushing of your Lab or Golden Retriever dogs’ teeth using a quality dog toothbrush and dog-safe toothpaste.
Lastly, we want to note that it is not a good idea to shave your double-coated dog, even when the weather outside feels particularly warm.
Just as a Labrador and Golden Retriever dogs’ coats serve to protect them from harsh elements like winter weather and icy waters, their coats also serve to insulate them and keep them cool during very warm seasons.
When you shave a dog’s double coat you in turn expose him to the elements and leave him vulnerable to heatstroke, sunburn, and other issues his coat is protecting him from.
All of this ties into the overall health of your Labrador or Golden Retriever, but what other health issues should you know about, and which of the two breeds is the healthiest?
Keep reading to find out.
7. Golden Retriever Vs Labrador Lifespan and Health Issues
Like all dogs, both the Lab and the Golden Retriever can be prone to suffering from hereditary health issues.
All dogs can be predisposed to serious genetic health issues, which is just one of the reasons it is so important to make sure you are going through proper channels when getting your Lab or Golden Retriever from a breeder or shelter.
But in general, which out of the two breeds is healthiest and who lives the longest? Let’s see.
Golden Retriever Lifespan: The Golden Retriever has a decent lifespan for a larger dog, living anywhere from 10 to 12 years, according to the American Kennel Club.
And while the Golden Retriever is, for the most part, a healthy dog, he can be prone to a number of serious health issues a prospective owner should be aware of.
Golden Retriever Health Issues:
- Elbow dysplasia
- Hip dysplasia
- Juvenile cataracts
- Pigmentary uveitis
- Progressive retinal atrophy
- Subvalvular aortic stenosis
- Ear infections
- And Dental issues
Labrador Retriever Lifespan: The Labrador Retriever has a good lifespan as well, living just as long as his Golden Retriever counterpart with experts giving him a good 10 – 12 years.
Good breeding practices and a healthy lifestyle will help to keep Labs living long and thriving, but it is important to keep in mind that they too can be susceptible to a number of serious genetic health concerns.
Labrador Retriever Health Issues:
- Elbow dysplasia
- Canine hip dysplasia
- Heart disorders
- Hereditary myopathy
- Progressive retinal atrophy
- EIC (Exercise induced collapse)
- And Bloat
As we mentioned above, all dogs can be prone to genetic health issues, but you can stay on top of your dog’s health and start him off right by getting him tested and health screened by a professional so you know what preventative measures, if any, need to be taken to keep him happy and thriving.
You can also help to keep your Golden Retriever or Labrador in ship shape by maintaining proper grooming practices, keeping them on a healthy diet, keeping up with routine vet visits, and making sure they get the right amount of exercise each and every day.
But what if you have a very busy lifestyle and you don’t have much time to walk, run, or otherwise exercise your future dog?
Which breed out of the Labrador Retriever or Golden Retriever is going to require the most exercise and training commitment from you?
Let’s find out!
Golden Retriever Vs Labrador Training And Exercise Requirements
Labradors and Golden Retrievers are both athletic, energetic dogs who need plenty of exercise.
Well, if you feel that you don’t have much time to exercise and train your future dog, then you probably won’t want to get a Labrador Retriever or Golden Retriever.
Why? Because these two brainy breeds both need lots of exercise, playtime, training, and socialization.
While both breeds are eager to please and easy to train, they can become easily bored and may be prone to destructive behaviors if not kept mentaly stimulated.
Puzzle games and fun mental exercises can help keep your Golden Retriever or your Labrador happy mentally, while nice long walks or jogs once or twice a day will keep them healthy and fit.
Both the Lab and the Golden Retriever will also need plenty of playtime, so they would ideally be able to run free in a backyard or have some playdates at local dog parks.
If you are super busy but still want to invest in a Labrador Retriever or a Golden Retriever, you may also opt to invest in a good dog walking service to help keep your pooch healthy and happy.
When it comes to training, remember that both of these breeds are eager to please so they will respond best to positive reinforcement methods using treats and praise as opposed to punishment and scolding methods.
Golden Retrievers and Labs can be sensitive and their eagerness to please means they can be easily hurt and may even shut down if they feel they have done something wrong, so work with them using your happiest voice and a hand full of tasty training treats and you should see wonderful results!
Golden Retriever Vs Labrador Pros and Cons
All dogs come with pros and cons, and the Golden Retriever and Labrador are no different.
All dogs come with a list of pros and cons. Let’s take a look at how the Golden Retriever compares to the Labrador to help give you a better idea of which breed would fit best in your lifestyle.
Golden Retriever Pros And Cons
- They are naturally good-natured
- Goldens are smart and easy to train
- They do well with families, children, other dogs and even cats
- Goldens keep their delightful puppy-persona throughout their lifetime.
- They are, for the most part, quiet dogs
- Golden Retrievers shed heavily and require routine grooming
- They need lots of exercise every single day
- Golden Retrievers are large and eat a lot of food, which can get expensive
- Golden Retrievers can suffer from separation anxiety and prone to destructive behaviors
- Golden Retrievers are not good apartment dogs
- Some of their health issues can be expensive and require lots of care
Labrador Retriever Pros And Cons
- Labs are friendly and happy dogs with great emotional intelligence
- Labradors are patient and are ideal for families with children
- They are smart, eager to please, and easy to train
- Labs love to swim, hike, and explore
- They are healthier than many other breeds
- Labs are adaptable to different living spaces, including apartments
- Labs are highly energetic and need lots of exercise
- They shed year-round and very heavily during shedding season
- Labs will eat until they get sick so they must be monitored
- Labrador Retrievers can be prone to bloat, which is serious and life threatening
- Labs are often more expensive than other breeds due to their popularity
- This is a curious breed who can get himself into trouble if not watched
- Labs tend to chew out of boredom so dog proofing your house will be necessary
- Labs need lots of mental stimulation to keep from becoming destructive
What Is The Ideal Home Type For A Golden Retriever?
Golden Retrievers do well in homes with children and other pets to play with.
The energetic, enthusiastic Golden Retriever does best in homes with active families and in homes that offer him space to run around in both inside and out.
Golden Retrievers need lots of exercise so they will love having a backyard or, at the very least, an owner with enough time to walk and jog with him every day and then take him to the dog park once in a while.
Golden Retrievers are social dogs who don’t do well left home alone for long periods of time, so an ideal owner will be able to have a flexible schedule or be able to invest in a good dog walking company or doggy daycare for the longer days at work.
11. What Is The Ideal Home Type For A Labrador?
Despite being energetic, Labradors adapt well to different living spaces.
The Labrador Retriever may keep his youthful pizazz well into middle adulthood, but this spunky pup does well in homes of all sizes and spaces.
He makes for a good companion in a number of different homes and with different family types so long as he is properly exercised and given enough time to burn off excess energy every day.
Labrador Retrievers are highly intelligent and become very emotionally attached to their owners. They will do best in homes with owners who are around more often than not and owners who can devote enough time to training them and keeping them mentally stimulated.
Labs get along wonderfully with children due to their patient nature and they love having other doggy siblings in the home as well.
12. Picking Your Puppy Or Rescue Dog – Expert Tips On Finding The Healthiest Golden Retriever Or Labrador Possible
Puppies should come from reputable breeders.
So, have you decided which breed would be right for you? If you have, then you’re ready for the next steps.
Raising the healthiest puppy or rescue dog starts at the source, meaning the place in which you get your Labrador or Golden Retriever could very well have an impact on your dog’s overall health moving forward.
This is why the steps in which you take to get your dog should be the same regardless of which breed you choose to go with.
It’s important to do plenty of research on the breeder or rescue you choose to go through to get your new Golden Retriever or Labrador dog.
And while going through a breeder can get pricey, experts urge you to stay away from online sellers, backyard breeders, and pet stores. While the price may be less off the top for your new dog when you cut a few corners, it could cost you in the long run both emotionally and financially if you wind up with an unhealthy puppy.
When going through a breeder, do thorough research to ensure the breeder is someone you can trust, is educated on the puppies they are breeding, and is able to offer you health certificates proving their puppies have been health screened and cleared before going home with you.
One of the great things about going through a reputable breeder is that you will be able to get a sense of the size, appearance, and temperament of your puppy based on the size, appearance, and temperament of his parents. Some breeders may even allow you to meet the mother dog!
If you have your heart set on rescuing a Labrador or a Golden Retriever, that’s even better. There are plenty of breed specific rescues all over the United States that focus on getting these breeds into good homes.
One of the great things about rescuing, aside from giving a homeless dog a forever home, is that the price of rescuing a dog is a fraction of going through a breeder.
Furthermore, many shelters will provide your dog with a free vet exam before sending him home with you.
Whichever route you choose to take and whichever breed you opt to adopt, we are sure you are going to enjoy your new furry family member. Both Labradors and Golden Retrievers have so much to offer, so enjoy your new dog and keep us posted on your endeavours!
Do you have questions or comments about Golden Retrievers vs Labrador Retrievers? Don’t be shy. Drop us a note in the comments section below.
Madison Guthrie (also known as Sonny Mackenzi) is a pet care specialist and positive-reinforcement trainer who works most closely with anxious and reactive dogs. Born and raised in Littleton, Colorado, Madison developed a love for animals at an early age and spent most of her childhood outdoors rescuing stray pets and helping to rehabilitate injured wildlife. Along with animals, Madison also developed a love for writing and music. Over the past five years, she has worked to use her passions to help the pets and pet parents in her community build stronger bonds and live happier, healthier lives together. Currently, Madison lives in South Pasadena, California where she owns and operates Miss Madison LLC, a marketing company that focuses on helping privately owned veterinary establishments and pet care companies grow and thrive. She also works as a dog trainer at My Dog Spot, which is an award-winning pet care and training establishment in Pasadena, California.