labrador vs golden retriever

Labrador vs Golden Retriever: What are the Differences?

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Updated November 13, 2019

So, you’re trying to decide on a Labrador vs a Golden Retriever. You want a high energy dog that is good around kids, loyal, easy to train, and a great companion. But, you just can’t decide which one of these breeds is best for you and need a bit more information to make a final decision. 

As two of the most popular breeds in the United States, they both make fantastic pets. They are loving, playful and loyal dogs who acclimate well into most families.

Because they have similar energy levels, and a lot of traits that make them similar in appearance and behavior, it can be hard to make a decision between the two. 

Both Labs and Goldens are undoubtedly similar in many ways, but they do have a few key differences, which you’ll want to consider when looking for the newest addition to your family.

In this guide, you will learn everything you need to know about Labs vs Golden Retrievers, in order to find out which breed is best for you and your growing family.

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Labrador vs Golden Retriever: Info at a Glance

Before we dive deep into this breed breakdown, let’s take a look at some of the similarities and differences between Golden Retrievers and Labs. Note that both breeds are remarkably similar, but there are also a few important differences:

TraitGolden RetrieverLabrador Retriever
Height21.5 to 24 inches21.5 to 24.5 inches
Weight55 to 75 pounds55 to 80 pounds
Typical Lifespan10 to 12 years10 to 12 years
Coat LengthMediumShort
Coat ColorLight to Dark GoldBlack, Chocolate or Yellow
Friendly with Other Dogs?UsuallyUsually
Gentle with Children?UsuallyUsually
Energy LevelHighHigh
Common Health ProblemsHip dysplasia, cancer, at risk for bloatHip dysplasia, obesity, at risk for bloat

As you can see, both breeds share a lot of similarities. They are very similar in their energy levels, intelligence, and friendliness with children and other dogs. Both breeds are relatively the same size, with Labs getting a bit bigger on average. They also share the same common health problems.

Some of the biggest physical differences you will note include the length of the coat, small size differences, and the color of their coats. 

While these factors are important in helping you make your decision, especially if you have someone in the home with allergies to longer coats, temperament, and personality are very important for you to consider.

Now that you have a basic understanding of the similarities and differences between Labs and Golden Retrievers, let’s take a deeper look at some more important factors when it comes to picking your new pup, such as: 

  • Energy Level 
  • Protection 
  • Work 
  • Hunting 
  • Training
  • Food & Diet 
  • Breeding & Costs 
  • And More…

Knowing these factors will help make your decision easier, and might even prevent unpleasant surprises when it comes to some of the main characteristics you look for in a dog. 

golden retriever vs labrador retriever

Golden Retrievers vs Labrador Retrievers: The Basics of Each Breed

Currently, both breeds are remarkably popular. The Labrador Retriever is the most popular dog breed in the country, while the Golden Retriever is the third most popular breed. There are many good reasons why, including their friendly disposition, energy level, and more.

In this section, we breakdown everything you need to know about Labradors vs Golden Retrievers, covering key characteristics like: 

  • Work & Energy Level 
  • Protection 
  • Hunting 
  • Training 
  • Play 
  • Popularity 
  • Breeding & Costs 
  • Food & Diet
  • Size & Weight 
  • Health & Habits 
  • Grooming

This should help to expand on the table above, teaching you more about each breed and how they differ from one another – and showing you exactly why they are so popular, and why they are the go-to companion for so many Americans. It should also help to answer some major questions you have about each breed – in order to help you determine which one is best for you and your family. 

Work & Energy Level: How Are Both Breeds Wired? 

Both of these breeds were wired to be working dogs. Their work and energy levels are equally high because they were bred to do things like accompany their humans on a hunting trip to retrieve waterfowl that were shot down or to go out on the water with fishermen and help pull in the nets. They really like to be active and helpful so they are both hard workers bread to be out and about.

This means that if you are considering either breed, you should be able to take them out often to play and give them enough space to roam around freely. Otherwise, you may find their high energy levels tend to get them in trouble around the house – acting out by running around, playing games, or perhaps even chewing something to get your attention.

Labs are a little more intense and independent than Goldens are, so they may benefit from a little more “serious” playtime than happy-go-lucky Goldens will.

Labradors are more likely to wander off and go explore the world compared to Golden Retrievers, so you’ll save yourself a lot of games of unwanted chase or unexpected hide and seek if you keep them on a leash.

Protection: Do They Make for Guard Dogs? 

While Goldens and Labs both make for wonderful companions and will serve you well, you shouldn’t rely upon them as guard dogs. They are simply too friendly.

Both breeds will certainly alert you to when someone shows up at the house but they won’t do well as the protective gatekeeper; all it takes is one dog treat or a playful game of fetch for them to befriend the mailman or the best friend walking up your driveway.

Looking for a more protective breed to watch over the nest when you’re gone? This guide to the Best Guard Dogs reviews the most protective breeds to help you find the right guard dog.

Hunting: Do They Make for Good Hunting Dogs? 

Both breeds make for exceptionally good hunting dogs, especially if you use them for retrieval of hunted game. Again, it’s literally what they were bred to do, so if you want to take them with you out on the hunt, you are both sure to have a great time.

They obviously require a bit of training to keep quiet and still while on a hunt, but if you can get them focused on a reward system, you should have no problem turning your pup into the perfect hunting partner with either of these breeds. 

Labradors do tend to have a slight advantage in the hunting world, just because some have brown coats which tend to blend in better in wooded areas, and they also have shorter hair and shed less – which can give away the scent of Golden Retrievers in some hunting situations. 

Interested in finding the best breed of hunting dogs? This guide to the 7 Best Duck Hunting Dog Breeds should have everything you need to know.

Training: How Easy Are They to Train? 

Both of these breeds are very easy to train thanks to their high energy and intelligence levels. As long as you maintain a good regiment with them and start them young, you should have no problem teaching them dozens of commands, and molding them into perfect companions for hunting and other sporting events, even dog competitions.

Looking to get a headstart by training your puppy early? Our Puppy Crate Training Guide is filled with all the tips you’ll need to get your puppy trained at an early age.

Play: How Do They Do With Other Dogs? 

If you already have an older dog at home, or you enjoy taking your dog out to parks and making doggy dates with friends, you may be worried about how Labrador or Golden Retrievers get along with other dogs.

Both breeds will play well with other dogs and are friendly around them – especially if you take the time to properly introduce them, you make it a point to introduce them when they’re young, and you keep up on their training.

Popularity: How Common Are These Breeds? 

Both Labs and Golden Retrievers are among some of the most popular dog breeds, so they will be very easy to find. These dogs are also very lovable and have few major health problems, making them easy to find and purchase from reputable breeders.

Looking for a popular breed that doesn’t shed as much? Our Guide to Popular Large Short Haired Dog Breeds features 10 of the most common and preferred breeds. 

Breeding & Costs: How Much Do Golden Retrievers and Labs Cost

We always recommend working with a reputable and trusted breeder when it comes to getting a new puppy of any breed. You might be able to find Labs or Golden Retrievers from a rescue center or an animal shelter, but they may have a range of health issues that are genetic because of their breeding, or have bad habits from their old owners. 

That said, purchasing a Labrador or Golden Retriever from a breeder allows you to have access to information about their genetics, their family history, and verify the risk level that your dog may have for certain pre-existing conditions.

In terms of cost, Golden Retrievers range between $800 and $1,200 on average. Labradors range between $900 and $1,500 on average. These prices vary based on where the breeder is, the specific type of breed (i.e. Golden Lab vs. Black Lab), and the lineage of the dog – how close it is to purebred. 

Food & Diet: What Should You Know? 

Golden Retrievers are more susceptible to skin conditions and food allergies, so over the course of their life, you might have to invest more money in high-quality hypoallergenic dog food.

By comparison, Labradors can have a genetic mutation that severely impacts their predisposition to obesity, so you’ll have to pay more attention to providing a healthier and limited diet to prevent overeating and regulate their appetite for them.

Both dogs will eat between 2-3 times per day and can eat between 2-4 cups of food, depending on their size, diet, and exercise levels. You should ask your vet for more information on feeding, as they will know what health your dog is in and what will work best for their body. 

Size & Weight: How Big Will They Get?

Below is a quick table to show you the American Kennel Club average sizes and weights for both breeds, so you can make sure the one you pick will be a size you can handle.

Golden Retrievers

Males23-24 inches in height65-75 lbs
Females21 ½ -22 ½ inches in height55-65 lbs

Labradors

Males22 ½ -24 ½ inches in height65-80 lbs
Females21 ½ -23 ½ inches in height55-70 lbs

As you can see, both breeds tend to be around the same size – with Labradors being slightly bigger on average. Golden Retrievers are known for their more elegant and symmetrical shapes and sizes while the Labrador retrievers are a solid, sturdy breed by comparison.

You should also note that these are just the average sizes and weights for the different breeds. The dog you choose to adopt could, of course, be slightly smaller or slightly larger, depending on a wide variety of factors, especially if it is not a purebred.

Temperature & Environment: Where Do Labs and Goldens Thrive? 

With both breeds, it is important to know that temperature will affect them because of the thick coats they have.

We’ll explain a bit more about this later so that you have a better understanding, but to keep things short, both breeds have two layers of their coat – one of which is shed in warmer conditions. So, if you have a home in a particularly warm area they might shed more often throughout the year compared to someone who lives in a colder area where that double layer of insulation is needed.

Similarly, both breeds will do well in any type of house and, of course, they’d prefer environments full of love and affection, but there are a few health concerns that, if your dog has, could be exacerbated by certain elements in your home. 

For Example:  If you have a lot of stairs in your home, this could be a problem down the line with a Labrador Retriever which has malformed elbows and knees. It could also be a problem down the line if you have a Golden Retriever with hip dysplasia. These are some things to keep in mind, but that usually does not become relevant until your dog has reached its older years.

bathing golden retriever shedding

Grooming Differences Between Labs and Goldens

While neither of these breeds requires the amount of grooming as Poodles and other high-maintenance breeds do, Golden Retrievers require much more grooming than Labs (Labs don’t need any grooming other than regular baths and nail trimming).

READ MORE: Do Labs Shed? How Much and When?

Labs

Labs will coat your home in shed fur twice a year; so they may not be a great choice for allergy sufferers. Generally speaking, Labs are likely the better option for owners who prefer a tidy home than Goldens are.

Golden Retrievers

Be sure you won’t mind visiting the groomer regularly (or learn how to groom your dog) before selecting the long-locked Golden Retriever. Golden Retrievers will be harder on your home than Labs will, thanks to their propensity to shed heavily. Goldens also drool a bit more than Labs do, which may be off-putting to some owners.

READ MORE: 7 Tips to Manage Golden Retriever Shedding

labrador compared to golden retriever

Origins: The History of the Golden and Labrador Retriever

Golden and Labrador Retrievers are both sporting dogs, who have relatively similar histories. We’ll explain each in more detail below.

Labrador Retriever History

Despite being used extensively as a bird dog in the modern world, Labrador Retrievers – who were originally called St. John’s Dogs – were originally tasked with an entirely different game. Instead of being expected to retrieve ducks and other birds downed by their owners, these early Labs were employed by fishermen.

Among other things, the dogs would accompany their owner aboard boats, help their owner haul in and retrieve lines, and catch fish that escaped from a hook or net. Some people suspect that modern Labs descend from a variety of different water-loving breeds, including the Newfoundland.

Eventually, hunters started noticing the incredible retrieving skills and sweet disposition, so they began employing the dogs in bird-hunting contexts. And while they excelled at most types of gun-dog work, they showed the most aptitude for retrieving ducks and other waterfowl.

golden retriever lifespan

Golden Retriever History

Golden Retrievers were originally bred in the 19th century, by a Scottish animal breeder named Lord Tweedmouth (go ahead and chuckle – I did).

Tweedmouth was trying to create a talented, water-loving retriever, which would bond more strongly with its owner than many of the other bird dogs used at the time. He also selected for pet-like traits, such as a gentle disposition.

The breed’s history is a bit murky, but it appears as though Tweedmouth created some of the original dogs by crossing an un-specified black-coated retriever with a Tweed Water Spaniel (a breed that is now extinct).

Several other sporting dogs were later incorporated into the breeding project, including the Bloodhound and Lesser Newfoundland.

In the ensuing years, the dogs made their way to the United States, becoming an AKC-registered breed in 1925. Their popularity grew steadily and hit a fever pitch in when President Gerald Ford’s Golden Retriever “Liberty,” became known to the public.

Golden Retriever Vs. Labrador Retriever

Labrador vs Golden Retriever: Important Similarities and Differences

The above chart should help you see some of the primary similarities and differences between Golden Retrievers and Labrador Retrievers, but we’ll discuss these and other traits of the two breeds in greater depth below.

Physical Traits: How Are Golden Retrievers and Labs Different?

Appearance & Face 

Goldens and Labs both have the same basic head and face shape, which seems to carry a perpetually friendly expression. Yet despite their similar appearances, you can learn to distinguish between the two pretty easily with practice.

Among other differences, Labs often have wider, blunter faces than Goldens do, and Goldens typically have smaller, narrower eyes than labs.

Labs also possess very prominent eyebrow ridges, while Goldens have rather subtle eyebrow ridges. Some people think that this makes Labs more “expressive,” but Golden Retrievers certainly make plenty of adorable (and informative) facial expressions that are just as easy to note and decipher.

Size & Build

Both breeds have a relatively similar athletic build, although some individuals are heavier or thinner than others.

There is plenty of variation in size among both breeds, but most Labrador and Golden Retrievers are big dogs, who weigh between about 50 and 80 pounds or so.

Nevertheless, Labs are a bit larger than Goldens on average; exceptionally large or overweight individuals may approach 90 pounds or more in weight.

Both breeds reach similar heights, but the largest Labs may grow about 1 inch taller than the largest Goldens do.

 

labrador vs golden retriever

Colors & Coats

Labrador Retrievers come in three color variations: black, chocolate and yellow. By contrast, golden labs are, well, gold.

However, Golden Retrievers come in a wide variety of golden shades, ranging from nearly white to strawberry blonde, so they don’t all look alike.

Note that while it won’t matter to pet owners, white fur is considered a fault for Golden Retrievers, according to the AKC breed standard.

The hair length is variable in both breeds, but Goldens tend to have moderately long hair, which far exceeds the length of most labs’ coats.

Golden Retrievers also have lots of “feathering” on the neck and shoulders, as well as the tail. Some Golden Retrievers also have significant feathering on their legs and belly.

Both Golden Retrievers and Labrador Retrievers have webbed feet and otter-like tails. Accordingly, both are excellent swimmers – they’re likely among the best of all canines.

Paws, Claws, Teeth & Ears

Golden Retrievers will need extra care for paws, claws, and teeth. You will have to trim their nails and clean their teeth and give them baths on a slightly more frequent basis compared to Labrador Retrievers. Labs still need regular care for teeth and nails, but they require less frequent baths to keep their coats clean. 

Both breeds have longer ears and because of that, they are prone to ear infections. So you will want to make sure to clean their ears frequently, and also make an effort to dry them off well after playing in water or giving them a bath – in order to reduce bacteria growth. 

Fur & Shedding 

You may not want to deal with a dog that is always shedding, or, you may have allergies that require a breed with shorter hair and less dander. 

Golden Retrievers have a medium length, with a double coat. The topcoat is water repellent and the undercoat is a softer coat. It has longer feathering fur around its neck, its tail, and its legs. There are certain breeds you can find that have much longer, silkier coats for those who are looking for a longer haired breed.

The Labrador Retriever has the same double coat for water protection, but its hair is shorter in length. There is also no feathering to their outer coat.

Why does this matter? Because the extra feathering requires extra trimming, so when it comes to maintaining your dog’s coat, Golden Retrievers will need more trimming around the neck, ears, and tail – making for more shedding and hair care than Labradors.

Given that both have the undercoat and the topcoat, they will shed on a daily basis and you will want to rake the undercoat especially in warm weather to help with shedding. This is something you should do outside as it will help limit the amount of hair that ends up all over your furniture. 

Golden Retrievers shed a lot more – not only on a regular basis but in warm weather. Both breeds should be brushed an average of twice per week with Golden Retriever requiring a better trim around the neck, tail, and legs as mentioned.

Once warm weather hits, both breeds will do what is called “blow the coat” where they shed their thicker undercoat at once. This can make for a lot of hair in your home, but if you maintain it with regular brushing and baths, it should be nothing to worry about.

SEE ALSO: Our Guide to the Best Dog Shedding Shampoos

golden retriever vs labrador

Personality Traits: What Are Golden Retrievers and Labs Like?

Intelligence & Disposition

Labrador Retrievers and Golden Retrievers are both very intelligent dogs, who excel at a wide variety of jobs and roles, including service, police and search-and-rescue work.

But their gentle, affectionate nature and temperament also make them remarkable therapy dogs who can quickly relieve their owner’s anxiety, stress, and depression.

Both breeds are also occasionally used to monitor biological signs in their owners.

For instance, some are used to detect changes in blood sugar for diabetic owners. Once the dog appreciates the drop in blood sugar, he will alert his owner, who can then take the necessary steps.

Golden-Labrador mixes have even been employed in trials designed to determine if dogs can detect cancer in humans.

Training & Playing 

Because of their high intelligence, Golden Retrievers and Labrador Retrievers are both very easy to train – trying to draw distinctions between the two with regard to intelligence or trainability is an exercise in futility.

Even first-time dog owners should be able to teach either of these breeds basic obedience, and most are very capable of learning amusing tricks.

Most Labs and Goldens love learning dog commands and pleasing their owners, so they’ll often approach training sessions with the same enthusiasm and vigor that they do for playtime.

Both breeds will bark at odd sounds or unfamiliar visitors, but they aren’t terribly suspicious, and generally make quick friends with anyone they meet.

Don’t select either of these dogs if you want a watchdog – they’d probably greet an intruder with their tennis ball in hopes of an impromptu game of fetch.

When it comes to playing and training, both breeds are easily trained and both are incredibly playful. The key difference though is that Labradors will play better with kids, as kids tend to match the high energy level of a Labrador. Golden Retrievers, on the other hand, are slightly calmer and do better in quieter houses.

SEE ALSO: Boxer Lab Mix – 15 Important Facts About the Playful Boxador

How Are They With Kids?

Because they are bird dogs, both breeds were bred to have a “soft mouth,” meaning that they typically bite down gently when carrying things. This was important to ensure that these dogs wouldn’t mangle a downed duck while retrieving it.

This trait often makes parents more comfortable with these (and other bird dogs) than Terriers, Rottweilers and other breeds who typically bite down on toys (and prey, when applicable) very hard.

One of the few relatively common distinctions between the two breeds with regard to personality is the level of sensitivity exhibited by the two. There are certainly exceptions and plenty of cross-over, but generally speaking, Golden Retrievers are generally the more sensitive of the two breeds.

Energy Level

Don’t misunderstand: Both breeds are generally outgoing and adventurous. But Goldens are generally the more retiring of the two.

Many people view Labrador Retrievers as the more energetic of the two breeds. This may be true, but the difference between the two is subtle at best. Both are high-energy breeds who will require at least 30 minutes of vigorous play every day.

It is also important to note that both Labrador Retrievers and Golden Retrievers tend to bond strongly with their owners. They will rarely feel completely comfortable when separated from their “pack,” and they require a lot of attention from their owners.

Do They Make Good Working Dogs? 

The nice thing about the Labradors and Golden Retrievers is that both can work well as service dogs, guide dogs, or search and rescue dogs. They do well in water, they are very loyal, and they are easily trained so if you are looking for a guide dog or a service dog, you will benefit from choosing either breed.

golden retriever vs labrador

Health Traits: Are Labs and Golden Retrievers Healthy Dogs?

Both breeds have similar average lifespans of between 10 and 12 years, and they are both susceptible to many of the same illnesses and health problems.

Golden Retrievers appear more likely to suffer from skin problems (especially food allergies) than Labs are, and cancer appears to be much more common in Golden Retrievers and Labradors.

Both breeds are very susceptible to joint problems. Hip dysplasia (and to a lesser extent elbow dysplasia), is common in both breeds.

Both of these conditions are caused by malformed joints (and potentially exacerbated by environmental factors), and they can lead to lameness and chronic pain if left untreated.

READ MORE: 7 Best Joint Supplements for Dogs

However, conscientious breeders will usually screen their breeding stock for these conditions, so be sure that you enquire about the health status of any dog’s parents before picking out a specific puppy.

Osteoporosis

Osteoarthritis is also very common among Golden Retrievers and Labs. You can help prevent this from occurring, however, by keeping your pet’s weight in the appropriate range and employing a sensible and safe exercise schedule. It is also wise to prevent your dog from repeatedly jumping great heights (such as into and out of the car).

Obesity & Weight Gain

Labrador Retrievers tend to struggle with obesity more often than Golden Retrievers do, although both breeds are susceptible to the problem.

A genetic anomaly is part of the reason Labs are more likely to gain weight than Goldens. Approximately 12% of all Labrador Retrievers have a genetic mutation in the POMC gene, which increases their food drive and makes them more likely to gain weight than dogs without the mutation.

Fortunately, there are genetic tests available that can detect this mutation. This allows breeders to screen their breeding stock for the mutation. With time, it may be possible to completely eliminate the mutation from the gene pool.

Bloat – Stomach Problems from Certain Foods & Lack of Exercise

Like most other large breeds (particularly those with deep chests), Golden Retrievers and Labrador Retrievers are also susceptible to bloat.

Bloat is a life-threatening medical emergency, which occurs when a dog’s stomach fills with air.

The stomach also twists on its axis in many cases, which traps the air inside the stomach.

Bloat is very painful for dogs, and it can quickly prove fatal. Emergency veterinary care helps to save many dogs, but others will perish, even with high-quality medical care.

Accordingly, it is important to be observant of the symptoms of bloat – including abdominal swelling or pain, unusual body postures, and pacing or panic.

It’s also a good idea to ensure that your dog eats at a reasonable pace and that you do not allow him to exercise for about 20 to 30 minutes following meals (or anytime he drinks a lot of water).

Want to know the best foods to feed your Labrador or Golden Retriever to prevent bloat?  These guides will help you find safe and healthy food at affordable prices:

Hip Dysplasia

Hip Dysplasia occurs commonly in many purebred breeds, including both the Golden Retriever and to a slightly lesser extent, the Labrador. 

Hip dysplasia means that the hip socket was abnormally formed. If your dog has a severe case of hip dysplasia it can lead to painful arthritis in their joints, especially the hips, and as they get significantly older it can cause crippling lameness.

Exercise-Induced Collapse

Exercise-induced collapse occurs in Golden Retrievers.

It is because of this that more active people should consider Labradors. If you want to take your dog out when you go camping, hiking, swimming, and more, this type of high-energy exercise is better suited for the Labrador. While the Golden Retrievers are considered high-energy dogs, they are more likely to need frequent breaks and potentially collapse as a result of significant exertion.

If you are just a casual exerciser though, you usually have nothing to worry about. This typically only happens in very high temperatures, from intense exertion. 

Cancer

Cancer occurs in Golden Retrievers.

60% of Golden Retrievers suffer from some form of cancer in their lifetimes. Most commonly the result of a genetic mutation, Golden Retrievers will suffer from either:

  1. Hemangiosarcoma, or
  2. Lymphoma

These conditions can be difficult and expensive to treat, and not enough is known about them to truly prevent against them in any type of guaranteed way. 

Obesity

Obesity is a serious risk of Labradors. 

Because of a genetic mutation of the gene POMC, Labradors have a problem regulating appetite and subsequently battle obesity. Dogs that have two copies of this problematic gene tend to be 10 pounds heavier on average compared to dogs that only have one copy.

Laryngeal Paralysis

Laryngeal paralysis is another problem for Labradors.

This problem affects older dogs and can inhibit proper function of the larynx which means that your dog won’t be able to use his vocal cords the way it once did. While this usually doesn’t bring with it any other extensive health problems, it can be sad to see your little buddy lose his voice over time, and is something you should be aware of as a dog owner. 

Malformed Knees & Elbows 

Malformed knees and elbows are another issue that Labradors are at risk for.

This is very similar to hip dysplasia in so far as Labradors can have malformed knees and elbows which can cause problems going up and down stairs especially as they get older, and put some of the higher risk for arthritis in their joints.

golden retriever vs labrador retriever 3

Golden Retriever vs Labrador Retriever: The Best Dog Breeds for Families

If you have a large family with kids, you will have slightly different needs in your canine companion compared to a more relaxed, retired couple. That is why you need to understand which dogs fit which scenario best.

There are a few key distinctions between Labs and Golden Retrievers that can help you make the best decision, but in truth, these distinctions are very subtle. Almost all families would enjoy having either breed, but one may be best for you based on your situation.  

Labs and Goldens are among the friendliest breeds in the canine world, and they are generally trustworthy with children and other dogs. Many of them will even tolerate cats living in the home.

But where does the distinction lie, however subtle? Well, Goldens are probably slightly more forgiving than Labs, so they may be ever-so-slightly better suited for families with lots of other pets than Labs are. 

For instance, if a small child steps on its tail, or pulls its ear, a Golden would be far less likely to bark or nip at the child than a Lab would be. That’s not to say a Lab is dangerous to children by any means, but Goldens are simply a bit more passive. 

Another slight distinction lies in their abilities to cope with being alone. You shouldn’t leave either dog alone for long periods of time because they are family dogs and they need your companionship, but if you have to travel a lot or you work long hours, Labradors will be slightly more tolerant of this absence than Golden Retrievers.

Again these are very subtle distinctions and no matter which breed you choose, you’ll still need to give these dogs plenty of attention, and you should try to involve them in as many family activities as possible.

Which Breed is Best for Me – Golden Retriever or Lab? 

So, which is better – a Lab or a Golden Retriever? Obviously you want the best breed for your family and your home, but knowing which one is right for you can be difficult with so many shared traits and similarities.

Who is a Golden Retriever Best For? 

Realistically, Golden Retrievers are best for people who want a loving, kind, gentle dog. This breed is especially best for people who work structured hours, don’t end up staying late at the office too often and can get home to give care to their pup. 

Families with children and existing pets like other dogs or cats would also do best with a Golden Retriever. Retired couples who are still active would do well to invest in this breed. Just make sure that you have it tested for any pre-existing genetic conditions.

Who is a Lab Best For? 

Labrador Retrievers are better for those who want energetic, intelligent, and more outgoing dogs. Individuals, couples, and families that have active lifestyles with or without children and want an outgoing dog to keep up with that lifestyle would do well to invest in a Labrador.

This dog is better for people who travel for work, might be gone a bit more often for work, as the breed can cope with some longer absences. Just make sure that you get a healthy puppy and you monitor its weight.

golden retrievers vs labs - which breed is best for you

Golden Retrievers vs Labs: What Are the Different Types? 

You need to find the best type of dog for you and that is why it’s important to understand the different types of breeds out there.

Types of Golden Retrievers

For Golden Retrievers, there are a few main types you can choose between: 

  • British
  • American 
  • Canadian

All three share the same risk of health problems, very similar traits as listed above. The main difference is in the size and the coat. 

British Golden Retrievers 

British Golden Retrievers are usually known for their:

  • Slightly larger and more muscular build compared to the American Canadian
  • Light golden to white coat color

Overall, they share a lot of similarities with other Golden Retrievers, but …

American Golden Retrievers 

American Golden Retrievers are usually known for their:

  • Slightly darker coats

Canadian Golden Retrievers 

Canadian Golden Retrievers are usually known for their:

  • Thinner coats

Types of Labs

The same is true for Labs. The main two types of Labs you will find are the American Labrador or the British Labrador. But, there are also two distinct types of Labs based on color – the Golden Lab and the Black Lab. 

American Labrador

American dog, commonly called the working dog, is more active, more intelligent, and more sensitive. 

British Labrador 

The British dog, called the show dog, is larger in size, calmer, and slightly less energetic.

Golden Labradors 

Sometimes confused with golden retrievers because of the color and they’re retreating skills, the golden Labradors are very playful and enter

Black Labradors 

Black labradors love to be outside, they will eat anything you put in front of them, and they are easily left alone with children.

flat coated retriever

Other Breeds That are Similar to Golden Retrievers and Labs

If you are considering getting a Golden Retriever or Labrador Retriever, you may want to consider some of the breeds closely related to the two as well.

Most are quite similar to Labs and Goldens, but they will exhibit subtle differences in personality, appearance and grooming requirements.

Just make sure to research each of these breeds carefully before deciding to add one to your home.

Labrador Retriever vs Golden Retriever

Not Sure Which One is Best for You? A Labrador Golden Retriever Mix May Be the Solution! 

Labs and Goldens are both awesome dogs, so, unsurprisingly, they make pretty good mixed-breed mutts when combined. So, if you can’t make up your mind between Labradors vs. Golden Retrievers, why not get the best of both worlds with a Golden Retriever Lab Mix – more commonly known as a Goldador.

Goldador

LifespanSize Weight
Lives 10-15 years1 foot, 10 inches to 2 feet tall at the shoulder in height60-80 lbs

Golden Lab mixes (aka Goldadors) generally exhibit a mixture of traits from both parent breeds, but they’ll usually favor one parent or the other. This means you’ll usually end up with a Lab-like mix or a Golden-like mix.

The problem is, it isn’t always easy to tell which breed a given Goldador puppy will resemble more closely. But because these breeds are both very similar, you’ll usually be happy with the result.  

You will still have to contend with issues like obesity, issues that come from the Labrador. But you also get the benefits of moderate shedding, the playfulness and energetic energy from both Golden Retrievers and Labradors. Do you also get a hybrid dog that is great with kids and great with other pets.

Unlike purebred Labrador Retrievers and Golden Retrievers, mixes of the two will rarely fetch prices comparable to either breed. In fact, you’ll often be able to obtain a Golden Retriever Lab mix for a significantly lower price.

Want to find a breed that will be with you for a while? Knowing the average lifespan of your pet is important to cherishing their memory and finding the right breed for your family. Learn more about How Long Labs Live in this complete guide.

Finding a Reputable Breeder for Golden Retrievers and Labradors

Once you decide which breed is best for your family, it is very important that you take the time to research and find the most reputable breeder in your area.

Your veterinarian is always a good place to start because they often work closely with breeders in the area and can advise you on who you can speak to. You also want to avoid any breeders that sell their puppies to a pet shop or don’t thoroughly vet potential pet parents.

A reputable breeder only has the dog’s health and overall wellbeing of the puppies and dogs at heart and will even spend the money necessary to ensure they receive high-quality care and eat only the best and most nutritious dog food.

Finally, a good breeder can be found by visiting the AKC Marketplace: Puppy Finder. All the puppies that can be found on this site are from American Kennel Club registered litters.

If you choose to look elsewhere other than the kennel club, a good breeder should be able to provide you with at least two references from the past so you can get a better idea about any problems and how they were handled if there were any.

Labradors vs Golden Retrievers – Which One is Best for You? 

If you are considering a Lab or Golden Retriever, both are amazing pets for you if you are looking for a companion that is: 

  • Loyal 
  • High Energy 
  • Intelligent 
  • Easy to Train 
  • Capable of Being a Service Dog 
  • Healthy 
  • Large 
  • Fun 

At the end of the day, both breeds have a lot of similarities, such as size, diet, personality traits. Both breeds have high energy, love to play, are friendly, easy to train, and great around kids and large families. They are protective and make for good house dogs, as well as partners for outdoor activities like hunting and fishing – what they were bred for. 

Overall, the main differences between Golden Retrievers vs. Labs are:

  • Labs tend to have more energy 
  • Goldens shed more frequently
  • Labs can be more stubborn 
  • Golden Retrievers can have more sensitive skin
  • Labs deal better with being left alone 
  • Golden Retrievers tend to be more forgiving 

Labs are probably best for you if you are looking for a high energy dog that can deal with being home for brief periods of time while you are out. They tend to be a bit more protective, and love the water. They are great with kids and families, but definitely need a lot of playtime. 

Golden Retrievers shed a lot. There is no getting around it. This is probably the biggest downfall to the breed, but if you can maintain a regular brushing and washing schedule, you can make it a bit better, but you will still see golden hairs everywhere in your home. However, goldens are a bit less stubborn, and have lower energy levels – but they also deal worse with being left alone for long periods of time. It’s a trade-off. 

Both breeds are wonderful dogs and make for great companions. As long as you can match their energy level, let them get out, and you train them well – they will make for amazing house pets and will be great with your family as it grows. 

labrador retriever vs golden retriever - which is best

Golden Retrievers vs Labrador Retrievers: FAQ 

Have even more questions about Golden Retrievers and Labs before making your decision? No worries, at Canine Weekly, we understand that finding the best puppy for your family is extremely important. So, we wanted to take the time to answer a few more frequently asked questions from people comparing Goldens vs. Labs – in order to help you find the best dog for your family.  

Are Golden Retrievers bigger than Labradors?

Generally, no, Labradors are slightly larger in height and weight. However, with either breed the males will be slightly larger than the females.

Are Golden Retrievers high energy?

Golden Retrievers are considered a high-energy dog, but they will do well with moderate exercise, especially if you give them a yard to run in on a regular basis.

What is the difference between an American Golden Retriever and an English Golden Retriever?

The main difference between the American Golden Retriever and the English Golden Retriever is the size and the coat. The English version is slightly larger and more muscular with a different coat.

Do Golden Retrievers bark a lot?

Golden Retrievers will bark a lot, especially if new people are frequent in your home but you can monitor their barking by training them from a young age and maintaining that obedience throughout adulthood.

Are Golden Retrievers the nicest dogs?

Golden Retrievers are certainly one of the nicest dogs you will find, especially if they have good owners who play with them regularly and if they are well-trained.

What is the best Golden Retriever mix?

The best Golden Retriever mix is really based on what you want in a dog. Some mixes might be better served with an active couple that already has dogs or cats in their home while other mixes work better for retired couples with no other pets for children. It’s important that you find a dog with a personality and traits that work best for your needs. The golden retriever and Cocker Spaniel mix is the most popular bringing all the traits of a golden retriever with a slightly smaller size. 

Are Golden Retrievers protective of their owners?

Golden Retrievers are incredibly loyal, so in a sense, they are protective of their owners and they will always want to be near you. If you adopt a Golden Retriever, it will remain loyal to you for as long as you have it.

Are Golden Retrievers dangerous dogs?

Generally speaking, Golden Retrievers are not dangerous dogs. They are not prone to aggression but you will want to train it the same as you would any other dog you have. If they are well-trained, with their active temperament they will remain calm and safe.

Can Golden Retrievers be left alone?

You can leave your Golden alone, but it’s recommended that you don’t do it for long periods of time. Golden Retrievers do not tolerate long absences very well. If you are unable to be at home, it’s always recommended that you find a reputable dog sitter to look after your dog in your absence. This is true even if you have to work late one week or you have to travel for business.

Is a Golden Retriever right for me?

This is really based on what your needs are. If you want an active dog that you can take out on the water, one that will remain gentle and loyal, this might very well be the right dog for you. Realistically, these dogs were bred to be active and to be with their humans all day so if you are willing to put in the time and effort to be with your dog most of the time, a Golden Retriever is right for you.

How much do English Golden Retrievers cost?

The cost ranges between $800 and $1,200.

Are male or female Golden Retrievers better?

This is really based on what you want in a dog. Both are similar in temperament but the biggest difference is their size. The males are slightly larger than the females so you need to take into consideration how much space you have and what your needs are. Males also tend to be slightly more aggressive and territorial than females. 

What is bad about Golden Retrievers?

Bad is in the eye of the beholder. There really isn’t much bad about them other than the fact that they are energetic and playful. For some people who want a dog that doesn’t need a lot of maintenance and doesn’t need a lot of attention, this could be considered bad but for others, it would be considered just right.

Are Golden Retrievers Intelligent?

Yes, Golden Retrievers are very intelligent. That is why they make such great service dogs, search and rescue dogs, and can be well trained. They are considered the smartest dog breed after Border Collie, Poodle and German Shepherd. 

Are Golden Retrievers high maintenance?

Golden Retrievers are not necessarily high maintenance, but they do require a lot of your time. They love to spend time with their humans and they love to play. They also need to be groomed weekly and can require a bit of effort to clean up after, especially when shedding. 

Is there a Golden Retriever that doesn’t shed?

No. Your Golden Retriever has two coats, one of which is heavier and thicker than the other, and will be shed every year as it gets warmer. Additionally, they will shed every day.

Are Golden Retrievers good house dogs?

Golden Retrievers are good house dogs, especially if you train them well from a young age.

Are Golden Retrievers stubborn?

Golden Retrievers can be stubborn, but they are not as stubborn as Labradors.

Are Labs high energy?

Absolutely, Labs are some of the most high-energy dogs. For that reason, they do well with owners who have active lifestyles and can take them out regularly.

Do Labs bark a lot?

Yes, Labradors will bark a lot to inform you of someone showing up at your house, or if they are excited and want to tell you something, but you can always train them to get a handle on the barking.

Are Labs the nicest dogs?

Labradors are considered one of the nicest dog breeds out there. It is for this reason that they are among the most popular dog breeds for pets.

What is the best Lab mix?

This is really based on what you want. Consider the yard you have and the amount of space you have for a dog, how much attention you can give them and so on before you determine which lab mix would best fit what you have to offer. The Goldador is one of the most common lab mixes, a cross between a Labrador and a Golden Retriever and is the most popular dog for search and rescue or guide dogs. Another popular option is the Labradoodle which is a mix between a Labrador and a poodle, one that sheds less and is smaller perfect for those with allergies or smaller homes.

Are Labs protective of their owners?

Labs are protective of their owners, but it is mainly because they are a very loyal breed. That loyalty can come off as a protective nature.

Are Labs dangerous dogs?

Labs are not generally considered dangerous dogs. They don’t have a history of aggression, but they do need to be brought up in a good home, well-tended to, and cared for.

Can Labs be left alone?

Labs can be left alone slightly longer than Golden Retrievers, but it’s still not recommended to leave them alone for extended periods of time. If at all possible, you should always have a dog sitter or a friend who can come by and play with them in your absence.

Is a Lab right for me?

This is a question you will have to ask yourself. Take into consideration the features, the characteristics and the temperament of a Labrador and your availability as a dog owner

Are male or female Labs better?

This is based on your preferences and what you have available. Males tend to be slightly larger than females and you might not have the space for that. Males are also more aggressive and territorial by nature than females. You might also prefer a female simply because you already have female dogs or vice versa.

What is bad about Labs?

“Bad”, again, is in the eye of the beholder. Labradors are very high energy which many people might consider to be bad, but if you have the time for them and are looking for an energetic companion, this may be perfect for you.

Are Labs Intelligent?

Yes, Labs are very intelligent. In fact, their intelligence is one of the main things that allows them to be so easily trained and so loyal.

Are Labs high maintenance?

Some people consider them to be high maintenance. Labs are very energetic and playful and need to be exercised daily. However, if you refer to a high maintenance dog is one that requires a lot of grooming maintenance, the Labrador is less high-maintenance than the Golden Retriever. It also has very few natural health problems, and the ones they do have are typically mild and just come as signs of old age. 

Is there a Lab that doesn’t shed?

No, all Labs shed. However, Labs do shed less than Golden Retrievers. And with regular brushing, you can eliminate how much of the undercoat makes its way all over your black pants.

Are Labs good house dogs?

Yes, Labs are good house dogs especially if you train them from a young age. They will get along well with other pets even cats, and kids.

Are Labs stubborn?

Yes, Labs are slightly stubborn. They are more stubborn than Golden Retrievers but that doesn’t mean they won’t be loyal, or that they can’t be trained. 

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