Golden Retriever vs. Labrador Retriever: What’s The Difference?

Last Updated on November 13, 2022 by Becky Roberts

Quick Summary: The Golden Retriever and the Labrador Retriever look very similar. Their popularity is also identical. According to the American Kennel Club, the Labrador is the most popular breed in America out of a whopping 193 breeds. The Golden Retriever closely follows at number 3. These dog breeds are very intelligent, and they both have easygoing personalities. In grooming, the Golden Retriever is more demanding than the Labrador because their fur is more complex and needs grooming more than just brushing. The Labrador Retriever and Golden Retriever are generally healthy dogs and can live anywhere from 10 to 12 years.

The Labrador Retriever and the Golden Retriever are very close dogs. They are, however, quite distinct in many aspects. Both are sweet-natured, caring family dogs that have been widely regarded as the best family pets in the world.

They are, however, both very different in terms of their energy levels. The Labrador is more relaxed than the Golden Retriever. The Golden Retriever also requires more grooming than the Labrador. 

Whether you’re here to decide which breed is best or simply to learn more, we hope you find what you need!

Golden Retriever vs. Labrador Retriever

Breed Background and History

Despite looking very similar, these curious canines have very different backgrounds and come from opposite ends of the world. Both breeds were bred to work in similar conditions. Both dogs are great family pets.

Golden Retriever: An Overview

The Golden Retriever’s life began in Scotland in Great Britain in the 19th Century. Lord Tweedmouth I, a clever nobleman, wanted a gun dog unlike any other. With his dog breeding expertise, he created the Golden Retriever we have today. It was created from a mixture of the extinct Tweed Water Spaniel and the Irish Setter.

The perfect gun dog could find his master’s prey and collect it without mauling him. This is called ‘soft lips.’ After 50 years of engineering the perfect gun dog, Lord Tweedmouth’s sons sailed him across the Atlantic sea to America, where the Golden’s popularity began.

Americans fell in love with Ford’s grace and his beauty. The Golden became particularly popular when America’s 38th president Gerald Ford adopted a Golden Retriever named Liberty. She was a very happy family pet and could often be seen on TV.

Labrador Retriever: An Overview

The Labrador Retriever also hails from the 19th century, but this guy is from the other side of the pond in Canada. The Labrador, like the Golden Retriever, is also a working dog. However, they worked more on the water than the land. He was the favorite fisherman’s dog and was well-known for collecting small water creatures, including ducks and fish.

The Labrador Retriever gained popularity after visiting English nobles took him back to Britain. Ironically, he is not from Labrador but actually from Newfoundland; it is still unknown today why the English nobles called him the ‘Labrador Retriever.’ They have been a family favorite around the globe ever since.

Appearance, Size, and Coat Colors

The Labrador Retriever and the Golden Retriever look very similar. They are both medium-sized dogs, and the Labrador only beats the Golden by half an inch in height at 24.5 inches at the withers (paw to shoulder). On average, the Labrador weighs five more pounds than the Golden.

The Golden is graceful due to his slimmer frame, while the Labrador appears a little beefier because of his coat. The Golden Retriever has an undercoat and an outer coat to keep him warm. However, his outer coat is longer and more flexible, making him look elegant.

The Labrador has an outer and undercoat. However, his outer coat is shorter and denser. The Labrador’s outer coat functions in a similar manner to a wetsuit, trapping body heat and keeping him warm in the Canadian winter. Both coats are water-resistant. However, the Labrador’s coat is ice-resistant.

The Labrador offers a wider range of coat colors than the Golden. The Labrador’s most loved color is yellow, followed by chocolate and black. There are red labradors as well, but many breeders don’t recognize them as purebreds.

The Golden is only able to wear one color: Golden. However, it can be tanned in different shades. The coat color of the Golden Retriever changes to almost white or dark red, while the Labrador retains its color, with a few gray hairs.

The Golden’s tail is another beauty. It is long and has plumes. Just like human arms, it moves from one side to the other as he walks. Labradors have different tails. Although it is very long, the Labrador’s tail is short and thick. It resembles the tail of the otter.

His thick tail was a great asset when swimming in the water. The tales of the fisherman act as a rudder that steers him in the water. The fisherman can pull him by his tail if he becomes too stuck or fixated.

Grooming Requirements

Labrador and the Golden Retriever have double hair, their natural defense against the elements. This was necessary for both the Scottish Highlands as well as the Canadian winter. Both breeds need brushing at least once a week, but they require more when it comes to shedding, typically twice a year.

In winter, both their undercoats become thicker and denser to keep them warm. Then when spring and summer arrive, their undercoats shed. Their shedding can take three weeks. During this time, you can expect to groom them more frequently, about three to four times per week.

The Golden Retriever is more demanding than the Labrador because he needs to be groomed more than just brushing. The Golden Retriever’s fur is more complex and requires extra care. This longer fur means the Golden Retriever sheds more during shedding season than the Lab.

The longer fur around the Labrador’s ears, neck, legs, and feet needs trimming once every two months to keep it from growing too long. This extra trimming is unnecessary for the Labrador, so he requires a little less grooming.

The Golden Retriever requires more trimming. His longer, silkier hair also means that he needs to be bathed more often. A typical dog needs a bath every four-to-six weeks. To maintain a healthy Golden Retriever, he needs a bath every four to six weeks. Labradors need a bath every six weeks.

If your dog gets dirty between baths, you can use dry shampoo or doggy perfume to keep him clean. You should not bathe them for more than recommended. This can cause damage to their natural oils and dry their skin.

Temperament and Personality Traits

The popularity of the Labrador Retriever and the Golden Retriever is similar! According to the American Kennel Club (AKC), the Labrador is the most popular breed in America out of a whopping 193 breeds, and the Golden Retriever closely follows him at number 3. On a side note, for anyone wondering which dog managed to slide between them, the German Shepherd sits at number 2.

According to the AKC, the Golden Retriever and Labrador have stayed in their spot since 2013, with other online resources further suggesting the Labrador has maintained his top spot for over a quarter of a century, which by anyone’s standards is pretty impressive!

They both share similar temperaments. Both are known to be friendly, kind, sociable, and obedient dogs. This has made them both favorites to crossbreed with other dogs, like the poodle. They have a few traits that make them different. These temperament differences are often the key to deciding which breed is best for them.

Golden Retrievers at Home

Once the Golden Retriever is done with his daily exercise, he’s a very chilled pooch. He loves to have fun and play, but he also likes to snuggle and cuddle with his family.

The Golden Retriever would love to go on a day of exploring but, equally, would like to relax. If his owners leave him, he will happily entertain himself. Or if he is tired of being entertained, he will take a nap.

Labrador Retrievers at Home

The Labrador Retriever is an energetic, boisterous dog. He requires more entertainment than the Golden Retriever. Labs require more intense exercise and a longer time.

They also require mental stimulation. A Labrador is rarely tired, and he loves cuddles, but he’s often too busy to remember that. Once Labs calm down, they are happy to be couch potatoes around the home and tend to love being near their families at all times.

Despite their differences in energy, they are equally loving as well as sweet-natured, making them an excellent choice for a family pet. Both are great with children and other family pets. 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.

Exercise Requirements

Both of these dogs are working dogs. They both require a lot of exercise, much more than an average dog. It is recommended that they both get 60 minutes of exercise a day.

Both breeds will love retrieving objects. Both breeds will enjoy agility courses and buying frisbees and balls. They make great running partners. Talk to your Veterinarian to ensure that your Labrador can run long distances. You can also play in the local lake with your Labrador, as he loves swimming!

The Labrador’s energetic personality makes it easy for him to become restless. Restless dogs become destructive dogs. If he is not home, he can become anxious. He can also suffer from separation anxiety. Leave him puzzle-filled toys to help him stay busy while you’re away.

Training and Socialization

The Labrador Retriever and the Golden Retriever are intelligent puppies. Both dogs love to please their master. The perfect combination makes both breeds relatively simple to train.

This training ability is why Labradors and Golden Retrievers are chosen as guide dogs for blind people and sniffer dogs, among other canine professions. This is not a guarantee. You must still teach them the ropes. If you want to get results, you must be consistent.

These dogs are friendly and can be trained early on. Socialization is an excellent way to make sure they become a well-mannered family member. To make sure they feel comfortable in any situation outside the home, you will need to teach them recall commands.

Nutritional Guide

Both breeds have similar nutritional needs. They both require three cups of food per day. Good quality food is essential for keeping your dog happy and healthy. Golden Retrievers should eat high-quality dog food with plenty of omega 3’s to keep their coats healthy. Labradors should eat dog food made for active breeds.

No matter what brand of dog food, it should always 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.

Both breeds are equally known for their food orientation, but the Labrador is slightly more so than the Golden Retriever. If they’re not monitored, they can easily pile on the pounds. While treats are great for rewarding good behavior, be cautious not to go overboard with the Scooby snacks.

Health Issues

The Labrador Retriever and Golden Retriever are healthy dogs. However, like all dogs, there are health issues to be aware of that may run in their bloodlines. These health issues may be passed on to both breeds. Both breeds are predisposed to the following health problems:

Hip and Elbow Dysplasia

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

Progressive Retinal Atrophy

This is the progressive degeneration of the retina that can lead to vision loss. This condition is possible in both dog and cat breeds. It’s possible for any breed to be affected.

Exercise-Induced Collapse

This is not a common condition. This can happen to Labradors as well as Golden Retrievers. Following a period of excessive exercise, the dog can suffer a loss of muscular control. The symptoms can include dragging their legs behind them when they run, collapsing, and becoming completely unable to move. In very rare cases, the dog can die immediately. But, less serious cases can last up to 25 minutes.

If you consider bringing a Golden Retriever into the family, there is an unfortunate distinction. He is predisposed to developing cancer. A study in the 1990s identified that 61% of Golden Retriever deaths were due to cancer of some form. Scientists suspect that the genetic mutation in the North American Golden gene pools is responsible for this increase in mortality. The mortality rate in the European Golden Retriever was much lower at 38%.

It is important to inquire about the health of their parents. It is important to check that the breed’s family has not been affected by cancer. Reputable breeders should never breed from cancer-suffering dogs. You can maximize your chances of breeding a healthy dog by being selective.

Be familiar with your dog’s symptoms, as with any possible health problems. You should immediately seek professional advice if your dog suffers from any health issues.

Reputable Breeders and Puppy Prices

There is a difference in price between the two breeds, the Golden Retriever will cost, on average, anywhere between $1,000 and $1,300, and the Labrador Retriever will cost anywhere between $1,000 and $2,500.

Buying from unreliable breeders can increase your chances of getting a sick pup. Ask for their recommended health certificates if you want to ensure a healthy puppy. Due to their higher cancer rate, this is especially important for Golden Retrievers.

Conclusion

The Labrador Retriever and Golden Retriever are two of the most loved dog options in the world. It’s easy to understand why with their easygoing personalities. Both breeds are friendly and a lot of fun. Both love to explore, play in the garden, and splash around in the local lakes. Both breeds are intelligent and eager to please their masters. They are friendly and easy-going dogs that are great fun to be around.

The Labrador Retriever and the Golden Retriever are slightly calmer temperamentally. After daily exercise, they prefer a calmer and more relaxed environment. Labrador Retrievers are more active and boisterous than other dogs. They will be more at ease in a home that is lively and provides stimulation.

Both of these breeds make a great addition to your family. Whether you’re looking for a Golden Retriever to match your budget or a Labrador Retriever to fill your home, you will be able to bring home a dog everyone loves and adores. Don’t forget that if you can’t decide between them, you can always adopt a mix of the two breeds!

Becky Roberts

Becky Roberts

One of Becky's favourite things to do every morning is to browse the top pet-related forums, looking for issues and questions that people have. She then shortlists the most common ones, and turns them into blog posts for Fuzzy Rescue. She's had over 4 cats and 2 dogs over the past decade, so she does know a thing or 2 about raising/training, and more importantly, loving them. She's the only one on our team that doesn't like coffee, but it seems to us she really doesn't need more energy :). We're very fortunate to have her on board as she does most of the heavy listing for the site, outputting an insane amount of content each month. Read More

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