Golden Retriever vs Labrador Retriever: An Ultimate Guide

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golden retriever vs labrador retriever

Are you trying to decide between a Labrador Retriever or a Golden Retriever as your next family pet? The decision to choose between both retriever breeds is not an easy one, as these two are great family pets.

To help you decide what’s best for your family (and pet), continue reading about their similarities!

Labrador Retrievers and Golden Retrievers are very similar dogs, but they also have many distinct characteristics. They are both sweet and intelligent dogs who have been widely praised as popular dog breeds.

However, their energy levels are different. Golden Retrievers are more relaxed compared to Labradors who are high-energy dogs. And also Goldens requires more grooming than the Labrador, due to their making golden retriever puppies slightly cheaper compared to a Labrador puppy!

If you are looking for information about the differences between breeds, then this article is for you.

There is a lot of fantastic information that can help you make an informed decision on which breed suits one’s lifestyle best!

The Dog Breeds History

These curious canines, despite looking very similar, have very different backgrounds and are from different parts of the world.

Although, both were originally bred to be working dogs and over time became great family pets.

The Golden Retriever

The Golden Retriever’s story began in Scotland, Great Britain, in the 19th century. Lord Tweedmouth I, a clever nobleman, wanted hunting dogs unlike any other.

He was a dog breeder and created the Golden Retriever we know today. It was created from a mixture of the extinct Tweed Water Spaniel and the Irish Setter.

This ideal hunting dog was able to detect his master’s prey and collect it without mauling him. This is called soft mouth in the gun dog world.

Lord Tweedmouth was the perfect gun dog engineer for 50 years. His sons took him across the Atlantic to America where the Goldens first became popular as hunting companions.

Americans fell in love with his impeccable work skills but also his beauty and grace.

The Golden was especially popular after the 38th President of the United States, Gerald Ford, adopted Liberty, a Golden Retriever.

You could often see her on television as a wonderful, very happy family pet.

The Labrador Retriever

Although the Labrador Retriever is also a 19th-century breed, he hails from Canada. He is a working dog just like the Golden Retriever. However, he prefers to work on the water than the land.

He was the favorite fisherman’s dog and was well-known for his collection of small water creatures, including ducks and fish.

Labrador Retrievers gained popularity after English nobles took him back to Britain. Ironically, he’s not from Labrador but is actually from Newfoundland.

It’s still unclear why English nobles named him that. They have been a family favorite around the globe compared to other dog breeds ever since.

Size Comparison: Golden Retriever vs Labrador

Both the Labrador Retrievers and Golden Retrievers have similar appearances and are medium-sized dogs. The Labrador is slightly taller at 24.5 inches (paw to shoulder), which is only half an inch higher than the Golden Retriever.

On average, the Labrador weighs five more pounds than the Golden.

Female Golden Retrievers are 21-22 inches taller than Labradors, who average 21.5-23.5 inches in height.

Male Golden Retrievers are slightly taller and stand at 22-24 inches high, compared to the male Lab which stands at 22.5-24.5 inches.

Female Labs and Goldens weigh in around 55 to 70 pounds.

The male Labrador Retriever weighs 64 to 80 pounds, while the male Golden Retriever is slightly lighter at 66 to 75 lbs.

The Labrador Retrievers weigh more, however Golden Retrievers are slightly larger and have longer noses.

Labradors also have a stronger-looking head shape.


Golden Retrievers vs Labradors in Appearance

Because the Golden Retriever is shorter than the Labrador, he looks more graceful versus the Labrador who appears a lot beefier.

To keep him warm, the Golden Retriever has a double coat. However, his outer coat is longer and more flexible, making him look elegant.

The Labrador has an under- and outer coat in the same way, but his outer is shorter and denser. The Labrador’s coat functions in a similar manner to a wetsuit.

It traps body heat and keeps him warm in the cold Canadian waters. Both coats are water-resistant. However, the Labrador’s coat is ice resistant.

Labradors have a wider range of coat colors compared to the wavy-coated retriever. The Labrador’s most loved color is a yellow lab, followed by the chocolate lab, and finally black.

Although there are also red Labradors, but many breeders do not recognize them as purebreds.

The Golden has one color. However, there are many shades of golden. The Golden Retriever’s color changes in maturity to an almost white or dark golden-red hue, while the Labrador retains his color with a few grey hairs.

The Goldens tail is another beautiful feature. It is long in length, and his hair is plumed. He walks with it just like humans, and it shakes side to side. Labradors have a different tail.

Although it is long, the Labrador’s tail is thick with short hair resembling that of an otter.

When swimming in the water, his thick tail is a great help. The tales act as a rudder, steering him in the water. The fisherman can pull him by his tail if he becomes too stuck or fixated.


The popularity of the Golden Retriever vs Labrador is very similar! The American Kennel Club (AKC) states that the Labrador is America’s most popular dog breed out of 193 breeds.

The Golden Retriever follows closely at number 3. Side note: The German Shepherd is number 2, if anyone is curious as to which dog has managed to slip between them.

According to the AKC, the Labrador vs Golden Retriever have maintained their top spots since 2013. Other online resources suggest that the Labrador has held its top spot for more than a quarter-century.

This is quite impressive, by any standard.

Both have similar temperaments and are known for being friendly, kind, obedient, and affectionate dogs. They are both favored to crossbreed with other dogs like the poodle.

They have a few traits that make them different, and these temperament differences are often the key to helping families choose which breed is best for them.

Golden Retriever: Temperament at Home

Once Golden Retrievers have completed their daily exercise, they love to relax and snuggle with the family. Oh, what a sweet boy he is!

A day spent exploring would be a great day for the Golden Retriever, but he would also enjoy relaxing. If his owners must leave him at home, he will entertain himself or take a nap if he is tired of being entertained.

Labrador Retriever: Temperament at Home

The Labrador Retriever is lively and boisterous. He requires more entertainment and intense and longer exercise than the Golden Retriever.

Additional mental stimulation such as puzzles or tricks for intelligence-boosting games that will tire out your Labrador without making them too tired (and forgetting) so he can enjoy cuddles too!

They are both equally energetic, but they are just as sweet and loving as one another. Both are great with children and other pets, making them great family dogs.

Although the Labrador may be better suited for a family with older children because he is more energetic. Because of his stocky stature and lively nature, he could prove too difficult for younger children.

Golden Retriever vs Labrador in Overall Temperament

Both breeds are affectionate, loyal, friendly, social, and have wonderful temperaments.

They are America’s most popular dog breeds.

The Golden Retriever is gentler, more patient, and more sensitive when compared to the Labrador.

The gentle nature of Golden Retriever shines through their interactions with children as they are gentle and careful.

Labrador Retrievers can also be great with children, but they tend to be more excited and bouncy in comparison to the Golden.

Golden Retrievers love a quiet and peaceful environment. Labradors, on the other hand, are not easily tired and are ready to play whenever you are.

The Golden Retriever


These canine companions are both working dogs and require a lot more exercise than average dogs. They should both be getting 60 minutes of exercise each day.

Both enjoy retriever fetching objects like frisbees and balls and can be trained to do so. Labradors love swimming so taking them to a lake to play would make them so happy.

They make great running partners too but be sure to take your companion to the Veterinarian to ensure that your buddy can run long distances.

Labradors are lively dogs that can easily become restless due to their vibrant personality and were originally bred as sporting dogs.

Making sure your pup is meeting the required 60 minutes of exercise a day is important. They also can become anxious when you leave the home, so be sure to keep them busy with puzzle-filled toys.


Both Labrador Retrievers and Golden Retrievers are intelligent breeds and love to please their masters. Which makes it easy to train because of this combination.

This is why Labradors and Golden Retrievers are chosen as guide dogs for blind people and therapy dogs, among other canine professions. Be sure not to take their temperament for granted though.

Being consistent with their training is how you’ll get results and well-mannered doggies.

These dogs are friendly and easy to train, but they need to be taught from an early age. It is important to socialize your pups so they become a good-mannered member of the family.

To make sure they feel comfortable in any situation outside the home, you will need to teach them recall commands.

Golden Retriever vs Labrador in Health

Labrador Retrievers and Golden Retrievers are both healthy dogs. As with all dogs, there are health issues to be aware of that may run in their family. Both breeds are predisposed to the following health problems:

Progressive Retinal Atrophy

This is the gradual degeneration of the retina that can lead to vision loss. This condition is possible in both dog breeds.

Hip and Elbow Dysplasia

This is an inherited condition and a common problem in large and medium-sized dog breeds. This is an abnormal formation of the elbow and hip joints. This can lead to crippling lameness and painful arthritis.

Exercise-Induced Collapse

This isn’t a common condition. But can happen to either Labrador or Golden dog. Causing the dog to lose their muscular control after a prolonged period of exercise.

The symptoms can include dragging their legs behind them when they run, collapsing and becoming completely unable to move.

Rarely, its causes the dog to die immediately. Less serious cases may last for up to 25 minutes.

Keep in mind, if you are considering bringing a Golden Retriever into the family, he is especially susceptible to cancer. In 1990, 61% of Golden Retrievers who died were found to have been affected by it.

Scientists suspect that this mutation is due to the North American Golden gene pool. At 38%, the mortality rate for the European Golden Retriever was lower.

It is important to inquire about the health of Labradors and Golden Retrievers parents. Breeders who are reputable should never breed from cancer-suffering dogs.

You can maximize your chances of getting a healthier dog by being selective.

You should be familiar with the symptoms and any possible health problems. And should immediately consult a veterinarian if your dog is showing signs of illness.

Life expectancy Golden Retrievers vs Labradors

Both Labradors and Golden Retrievers are overall healthy pups.

The average life expectancy for Golden retrievers is between 10 and 13 years, compared to the Labrador’s 10 to 12 year life expectancy.

Both dogs have health issues that can be detected by routine checkups at their Vet.


Labrador Nutrition

They both require around three cups of food per day. Good quality food is essential for keeping your pooch happy and healthy.

To keep their coats healthy, Golden Retrievers need to eat high-quality dog food that is rich in omega 3’s. Labradors need to eat dog food that is designed for active breeds.

It doesn’t matter what brand of dog food it is, it should be appropriate for your pet’s age. Puppy food is very calorific, so don’t give it to a puppy if you aren’t sure he’s a puppy.

Both breeds are known for their love of food. However, the Labrador more so than the Golden Retriever. They can quickly gain weight if they aren’t kept in check.

While treats are great for rewarding good behavior, be cautious not to go overboard with the Scooby snacks.


Labrador and the Golden Retriever both have double coats. This is their natural defense against the elements. Both breeds need to be brushed once or twice per week.

However, they will require more when it is shedding season, which is often twice per year. The most useful thing people can do when owning one of these furry bundles: regular groomings are essential.

Their undercoats become thicker and denser in winter to keep them warm. Then, when spring and summer arrive, their undercoats shed. Their shedding can take up to three weeks.

You can expect to groom them more frequently during this time, about three to four times per week.

Because he needs more grooming than just brushing, Golden Retrievers are slightly more demanding than the Labrador.

The Golden Retriever’s coat is longer so he requires more attention. Which causes him to shed more dog hair during the shedding season than the Lab.

To prevent his fur from growing too long around his ears, neck, legs, feet, and tail it needs to be trimmed every two months. The Labrador does not require this making him low maintenance in the fur department.

Golden Retrievers requires more trimming due to its longer, silkier hair. Baths are required for the average dog every 4 to 6 weeks.

A bath is necessary for Golden Retrievers every 4 weeks, and Labradors every 6 weeks to keep them happy and healthy.

Doggy wipes, dry shampoo or doggy perfume can be used to clean up any dirt that may have occurred between baths.

You should not bathe them for more than recommended. This can cause damage to their natural oils and dry their skin.


The prices of the two breeds vary. On average, the Golden Retriever can cost between $1,000 to $1,300 while the Labrador Retriever can cost between $1,000 and $2,500.

You have a greater chance of getting a sick pup if you buy from disreputable breeders. Ask for the recommended health certificates of any breeder you’re considering buying a puppy from.

This will ensure that your pup is healthy. This is especially important for Golden Retrievers, who are more likely to develop cancer.

Overall Thoughts

Both the Labrador Retriever and Golden Retriever are popular choices. It’s easy to understand why with their easygoing personalities.

They’re friendly and have a lot of fun. Love to explore, play in the garden and splash around in the local lakes. And are extremely intelligent and eager to please their masters.

After daily exercise, Goldens prefer a calmer and more relaxed environment versus the Labrador Retriever who is more active and boisterous compared to other dogs.

Labradors will also be more successful in a home that is lively and provides stimulation.

These breeds make great additions to any family. You will have a dog that everyone loves, regardless of whether you pick a Labrador Retriever or a Golden Retriever. Heck!

You can adopt both of these breeds if you are unable to decide!

Golden Retriever vs. Lab: Which Pup is Right for You?

We don’t really want to claim that one breed is better than another. It just depends on your lifestyle. So we have created a cheat sheet just for you.

If you are leaning more towards the Golden Retriever:

  • You’ll be her sun, moon, and stars, and she will be yours!
  • A pooch who is happy to be there, even though she may not have any ideas of her own.
  • Wonderful family dog.
  • She is able to give a solid foundation for training so that she can be a willing helper in the home.

If you’re leaning more towards the Labrador Retriever:

  • Loyal and intelligent breed.
  • Keep him interested in physical and mental activities, and you will be able to recognize how intelligent he is.
  • Can manage his need to find a balance between work and play due to their high energy.
  • You can train him to do useful tasks such as hunting, fishing, and swimming.