Golden Retriever and Labrador Retriever are two of the most popular dog breeds in the United States, but what is the difference between them?
In this post, we are going to share the history, breed characteristics, appearance, temperament, and more to give you clear-cut insights about these two amazing dog breeds.
Let’s dig into by starting with the origin of these family dogs.
Breed History: Golden Retrievers Hail from Scotland and Labradors from Canada
Both of these dog breeds are world-renowned now but they didn’t start out that way!
History of the Golden Retriever
The Golden Retriever originated in Scotland as the ideal gundog for the Baron of Tweedmouth, Dudley Majoribanks. As weapons and hunting improved in the 19th century, hunters needed more sophisticated gundogs to retrieve downed birds. Thus, the Golden was bred into existence, and it was bred to have stamina, power, intelligence, and a gentle mouth for retrieving birds without destroying them. This breed was also bred with waterdogs so that it could have a water-resistant coat and transition from retrieving small game in water and on land, in the marshes of Scotland.
History of the Labrador Retriever
The Labrador was bred for similar reasons to the Golden Retriever, but more focused on waterfowl hunting. This sporting breed came about when owners in Britain wanted to improve upon the now extinct St. John’s Water-Dog. The St. John’s Water Dog was an excellent fishing dog for icy Canadian waters, pulling in fishing nets for their owners. When British duck hunters saw the love for water found in these breeds, they wanted to improve upon it and make them exceptional waterfowl retrievers. Thus, the Labrador Retriever was born.
Breed Comparison: Golden Retriever vs Labrador Retriever – What’s the Real Difference?
Golden vs Labrador Appearance: Size, Height, Weight
According to the AKC, The Golden Retriever is a medium to large size dog that usually weighs between 65 to 75 pounds in males and 55 to 65 pounds in females. This dog breed also measures up to about 23 to 24 inches in males, and 21 to 23 inches in females. The Golden has a luxurious outer coat that is wavy and feathering. It has a more slender face and builds as compared to the Lab.
The Labrador Retriever has a muscular, stouter build, with a wider snout. The AKC states the average weight for Labs is 65 to 80 pounds in males, and 55 to 75 pounds in females. Their average height is 22 to 25 inches for males and 22 to 24 inches for females. The breeds are very similar in height and weight, but the Lab does weigh an average of 5 pounds more than the Golden.
Golden Retriever vs Labrador Retriever: Temperament and Traits
Golden Retriever is a very energetic, family-oriented, intelligent breed. They do not make great watchdogs as they are very open to strangers and love to make new friends. They have quite a high energy level and are fairly playful. These dogs love the outdoors but also love to cuddle and be lapdogs at the end of the day.
Labrador Retrievers, like Golden Retriever, love children and other animals. They are a great choice for a family dog. They enjoy everyone and are open to strangers, making them not the best watchdog. They have high stamina and love water as they were bred for water terrain and swimming. This dog breed is more playful and slightly more energetic than the Golden Retriever. However, both breeds are almost identical in temperament.
Golden Retriever vs Labrador Retriever: Grooming & Shedding
These two breeds were bred for similar purposes, but have variations in their coat structures, based on the environments in which they originated. These variations are easy to see and cause quite a difference during shedding season. Both breeds should be extensively brushed twice a year during shedding seasons.
The Golden Retriever has a double coat consisting of an inner and outer coat. The outer coat is the long wavy, feathering that adds eloquence to the breed during dog shows. Due to their longer outer coat, they require extra grooming this isn’t needed for Labs. Their fur can become matted in their inner coats, or from playing outside in grasses or nettles.
They will have to be brushed with an inner coat rake to make sure all parts of the coat are brushed. The longer coat also means they will need trimming that would not be necessary for Labs. Their coats are water repellant as compared to the completely water-resistant coat of the Lab.
The Labrador Retriever also has a double coat, consisting of an inner and outer layer. The Lab has a much denser coat than the golden, and it does not typically grow as long. This means they are a bit easier to take care of than the golden’s coat, but they will still need to be extensively brushed during shedding season, twice a year.
Their coat is water-resistant as well, so it is important to make sure that during baths, you are getting both layers of the coat lathered and rinsed well. After baths, it is very important to make sure to dry them thoroughly, as they are not used to having water penetrate their inner coats, and it can make them shiver due to the cold.
Golden Retriever vs Labrador Retriever: General Lifespan and Health Problems
Golden Retrievers have an average lifespan of 10 to 12 years; both dogs have similar health problems like hip dysplasia, which increases the risk of arthritis in joints, retinal atrophy or progressive loss of vision, and exercise-induced collapse. While not a common disorder among dogs, exercise-induced collapse is present in both Golden Retrievers and Labradors and comes after periods of very extensive exercise. This condition, when it is mild, could result in loss of muscle control and dragging of limbs for up to 30 minutes, but in rarer and more severe cases could result in sudden death for the dog. An unfortunate and unique health issue to Golden Retrievers, especially those in North America, is the high risk of cancer.
Labrador Retrievers have an average lifespan of 10 to 12 years and share many of the same predispositions, such as retinal atrophy, hip dysplasia, and exercise-induced collapse. While obesity can be an issue with both breeds, it is more of a risk in Labs, which means a consistent and healthy diet is of the utmost importance, or the increased weight increases the risk of hip dysplasia and arthritis. Another issue is a condition in which the eyelid has a malformation and rolls in to cause irritation, and laryngeal paralysis, which is a condition that affects older Labs and partially paralyzes their voice box and hinders breathing.
Golden Retriever vs Labrador Retrievers: Exercise
The Golden is a hyper breed and wants constant attention and play. These dogs will need at least 30 minutes to an hour of exercise daily to prevent them from becoming restless or reckless.
Having slightly higher energy and levels of playfulness, a Labrador Retriever will require much more attention and have a higher risk of separation anxiety which will cause them to act out. They also need about an hour of exercise a day to keep them calm and satisfied.
Training A Golden Retriever vs A Labrador Retriever
The Golden Retriever breed is highly intelligent and excels in obedience training. A working dog who is a born people pleaser, they are consistently looking for ways to make you happy. Both dogs make great service dogs because of their ability to retain training commands.
Identical to the Golden Retriever, the Lab is very intelligent and loves to please their owner. Both make great service dogs, due to their great temperament with people and their ability to follow commands. Both breeds are also popular visitors of hospitals because of their calming traits around those in need.
Golden Retriever vs Labrador Retriever – Which breed is the best family dog?
The Golden Retriever and the Lab are both very open and loving dogs; while the Golden may be faintly calmer than the Lab, it is still energetic and playful. They will open to other animals and people whenever they meet them.
The Lab and Golden have been battling for the title of the best family dog for quite some time, but I believe it is safe to call it a tie. Both breeds have the same amount of loving, playful energy, and would give anything to please their owners. The only difference may be the marginally higher level of play and attention needed for the Lab.
Golden Retriever vs Labrador Retriever – Who is the Better Guard Dog?
Being so open to new people and animals, the Golden will not be a great guard dog, as they tend to view new faces as potential friends and not a threat.
Labs are also in the same boat as the Golden, because they love to meet new people, and they have no problems letting people in and asking them for their attention.
The Golden Retriever vs Labrador Retriever – Which One is Really Better?
Even though these dogs originated an ocean apart, both of these breeds are so similar you may just have to visit a few and play with them to make your final decision. The differences between these two breeds are very minimal, so it all comes down to specific preferences or if you meet with a few puppies, whichever one makes a lasting impression on you.