5 Golden Retriever vs Labrador Differences – Which Breed is Better for You?

As a pet parent of Angel, our Golden retriever, we have become acutely aware of how we are different from Labradors’ owners and the subtle differences between the two breeds. We always have interested people asking us the Golden Retriever vs Labrador differences and if Goldens are “more difficult to care” compared to labs.

Golden Retriever vs Labrador Differences

The answer, however, is that they are similar, but not the same. Both breeds are pretty similar as both of them were bred for hunting or to ‘retriever’ the hunt. They were always domesticated and so both the breeds are very caring family dogs.

Golden Retriever vs Labrador differences
Golden Retriever vs Labrador Retriever – Which one is right for you?

When buying or adopting a dog, especially when it is one that will live with a family with children, it could be important to be clear about the qualities that define the character of each breed. Two of the most demanded breeds, golden retrievers and Labradors, are often confused with each other, as they have similar characteristics.

Here, we analyze further some of the common traits and differences between these two dog breeds that are perfect for families.

Hair and Grooming – It’s all about Fur

The first major concern for everyone – Hair or Fur – This is the biggest attraction as well as the biggest deterrence w.r.t. Golden Retrievers. The hair makes the golden more adorable, more cuddly, cuter – especially so because Goldens are more demanding to be petted.

Goldens have a double coat but they have longer hair compared to Labradors. They tend to shed once or twice a year so an undercoat rake must be used to remove all the loose hair. A bath every week with a gentle dog shampoo is good enough and ears and teeth must be cleaned regularly.

Golden Retriever vs Labrador differences
How often does a Golden Retriever need grooming?

The Labradors also have a double coat which protects their skin from the cold. They have short hair but here too, their coat must be combed regularly to remove dead hair from the undercoat. They too should be bathed twice or thrice a month. Their teeth should be brushed in the old ages and their ears must be cleaned every now and then. Regular visits to the groomer are not necessary but they should be kept clean and hygienic.

From what we have heard from our lab owner friends, Labs shed hair too but their hair is short and feels as though they shed less. Overall, both breeds shed hair – and you cannot completely run away from it.

Temperament – Golden Retrievers vs Labrador Retrievers

Compared side-by-side, we feel Golden Retrievers are slightly more excitable and friendlier and seek more petting compared to Labrador Retrievers.

The golden retriever has medium to high energy and excitement level. They are very excited and playful in the early years but tend to calm down after they become adults. To tend to the energy and excitement, daily walks and play time is a must. Golden Retrievers are said to be one of the most intelligent breeds because they are quite easy to train.

Golden Retriever Temperament - need more petting and affection

Moreover, they are eager for praise, love, and affection and so they are not a good breed to keep as guard dogs. Don’t be surprised if your Golden retriever asks for pats from the burglar instead of guarding your house against one! They are very social and are good with kids and other animals like cats. They are immensely popular for being therapy dogs because of their patience and attentiveness.

The Labrador is a bundle of joy, excitement, and playfulness. They have enthusiasm for play, work, and activity especially if it involves chewing. Most Labradors have separation anxiety and hate to be left alone. They are eager to learn and experience new things but are easily excited. They too are family dogs and not good as guard dogs.

Read Also: 50 Golden Retriever Dog Things to Know

Life Span and Body

Golden Retriever: 10 to 12 years
Labrador: 12 to 13 years

The Labradors, are medium-large size, have a broad skull, strong muscles, and a weight that ranges between 25-40 kg. Also, their coat is resistant, hard, short, smooth, and dense. They are always of a single color – in shades of black, gold, or chocolate brown – and, normally, they do not show any kind of stains.

Both breeds almost coincide in size and weight, although the golden can reach 38 kg, surpassing the Labrador. However, if a single differentiating physical point had to be highlighted, it would be the one that refers to hair, which in the case of Golden retriever is long, soft, wavy, shiny, and with golden tones.

Golden Retriever Health Issues

Goldens are prone to cancer and neutering a female Golden Retriever increases the chances of it getting cancer. They can inherit heart diseases from their previous generations and are more prone to allergies. But overall, if you are able to get a healthy bloodline Golden pup from a good breeder you won’t have many problems.

Labradors are also prone to cancer when they get older. A more common problem is that they get obese easily and overfeeding can result in joint diseases. As they get very excited easily, Exercise-induced collapse is very common. It happens when they get too excited and it results in fainting.

Golden Retriever vs Labrador – History of Breeds

The Golden Retriever was founded by Lord Tweedmouth by crossing a wavy coat retriever with a Tweed water spaniel in Scotland. They were initially bred as hunting dogs.

The hunters would take these retrievers along with them and they were sent to find and bring back the birds shot by the hunters. They would bring back the dead birds for the hunters and the body of the bird would never be damaged even if it had been in the mouth of the dog for a long time.

Golden Retriever vs Labrador differences
Golden Retriever vs Labrador – Breed History

This is why the Golden retrievers are said to have a very soft mouth which means that they can hold things in the mouth gently without damaging them for a long time. Over time, variations appeared in the breed and 3 major types of Golden retrievers were formed: the British, American, and the Canadian.

The British Golden retriever was larger and muscular and had a lighter coat and the American Golden retriever had a dark coat and it was taller and on the leaner side. The Canadian Golden Retriever was bred to love water and they had a thick inner coat to protect themselves from cold.

The Labrador was developed in Newfoundland (Canada). They were bred as water dogs to help the fishermen to retrieve the fishing nets and haul gear and also for hunting. This is why the Labradors tend to love water and to have a lot of energy.

Over time, 2 variations appeared in this breed: the working and the show.

The working breed as the name suggests was bred to be sensitive, intelligent, and to have a lot of energy to work for humans. The show Labrador was bred as a show dog and it is larger, calmer, and is less energetic but easy to train. After several years of crossing with other English, Irish and Portuguese breeds, the San Juan Spaniel among them, the dog we know today emerged. Their coat ranges from cream to chocolate brown or black.


The cost of maintaining a Golden Retriever or a Labrador is around the same on the basis of the brand of dog food u get and all the other extras. The cost of Dog food, dog treats, dog toys, dog beds, and other dog supplies vet visits, grooming, etc. cost more or less the same.

Both breeds are large dogs so both will require almost the same amount of food. Golden retrievers may need to be taken to groomers once in a while and that may add up to the cost but in the case of labs, it is totally optional. Collars, leashes, food, and water bowls would cost similarly since all are breed non-specific but similar-sized.

Read Also: Dog Maintenance Cost Guide

Final Words

In Conclusion, both the breeds are excellent family dogs, and whichever breed u choose to adopt, they will give you loads of love, and they will stay by your side, and they only ask the same thing in return.

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Also Read: Labrador vs Golden Retriever – Which is the best for you? on Labrador Central

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