Labrador Retrievers vs Golden Retrievers: 10 Differences You Should Know

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Retrievers are well-known across the world as family pets, thanks to their good temperament and outgoing personalities. However, choosing a dog requires thoughtful consideration.

If you want a retriever, you might feel confused between getting a labrador retriever vs golden retriever. While both dogs are amazing companions and have many similarities, you can distinguish them significantly from each other.

First and foremost, golden retrievers are cheaper to buy compared to labradors. However, you might need to spend more on grooming a golden than a lab.

So before you bring that doggie home, know the differences between a labrador retriever vs golden retriever first. This way, you can easily know what you are getting yourself into.

10 Differences Between Labrador Retriever vs Golden Retriever

1. They came from different parts of the globe.

Both dog breeds were bred as working dogs. But, they have different jobs and they came from different countries.

Golden retrievers originated from Scotland during the 19th century. Lord Tweedmouth I, a nobleman, wanted a companion who would serve as his gun dog.

He developed the golden retriever by crossbreeding a retriever and water spaniel. Then, the offspring were crossed with bloodhounds, St. John’s water dog, and other retrievers. It took 50 years for Lord Tweedmouth to perfect the breed.

Meanwhile, the labrador retriever, called a yellow lab, also started during the 19th century in Canada. Labrador retrievers were developed to do tasks in the water rather than on land.

The labrador retrievers’ primary work then was to collect ducks, fish, and other water creatures. It is an active, working dog. That is why it was the best companion for fishermen back then.

2. Labrador retriever vs golden retriever differs in size.

Generally, goldens are smaller than labradors. A golden retriever measures 21 to 24 inches in height and weighs between 55 to 75 lbs.

Female golden retrievers can stand between 21 to 22 inches, while the males can stand between 22 to 24 inches. Female goldens weigh from 55 to 70 lbs, and the males can weigh from 66 to 75 lbs. Nonetheless, each is a large dog.

On the other hand, labradors can grow up from 21.5 to 24.5 inches as an adult dog and weigh from 55 to 80 lbs. Female labrador retrievers’ height may range from 21.5 to 23.5 inches, while the males stand tall from 22.5 to 24.5 inches.

When it comes to weight, female labrador retrievers share the same weight range of 55 to 70 lbs as their golden counterparts. However, male labs tend to weigh more than male golden retrievers at 64 to 80 lbs.

The differences in height and weight between the two breeds are very minimal and insignificant, so you don’t need to worry about which to choose between a labrador retriever vs golden retriever when it comes to size. After all, size does not matter if you are with a great dog companion.

3. The colors of the two breeds are different.

You can differentiate the two breeds through the color of their coat. Color is considered by many to be one of the key factors in differentiating the two breeds, though both breeds have a double coat.

In a nutshell, a golden retriever’s coat is gold, hence the name golden retriever. But the shades may vary from creamy off-white to reddish hues.

Meanwhile, a labrador retriever can be yellow, chocolate, or black. These three colors serve as the official colors associated with the labrador retriever based on the American Kennel Club.

However, labrador retrievers may also have a different color of red and silver. Unfortunately, the American Kennel Club does not officially recognize these two colors. This is different from a flat-coated retriever, which usually has a black or gray shiny coat.

4. The more patient dog breed is golden retrievers…

When it comes to temperaments, both retriever breeds make great pets. They are both loving and fun to be with. Moreover, both breeds make an excellent family dog, since they are loyal and affectionate to their family.

But one of the most important considerations is that golden retrievers tend to be more patient than labs. This means that goldens are more patient and sensitive when around kids.

They are also an excellent guard dog or service dog. Golden retrievers have a gentler nature when they interact with kids. They are also very soft and careful when around little children.

Golden retrievers need a quiet and relaxed environment as much as they need their daily exercise. Once a golden retriever has his usual dose of exercise for the day, he loves to chill out and snooze. In short, golden retrievers are more relaxed than labs.

5. While labrador retrievers have more energy.

When it comes to the energy level between labrador retrievers vs golden retrievers, labs easily win this case. Labs are just plain energetic! Even when their pet parents and family members are tired, you can still see a fully-charged labrador!

Labs are so energetic that they rarely get tired. They love children as much as golden retrievers do. Unfortunately, they do not know they are large dogs and play excitedly, so they sometimes knock kids over.

Regardless, labrador retrievers are so affectionate and caring, so if you choose one for a family pet, that’s still fine. Just make sure that you keep an extra eye on them, especially if you have little kids in the house.

Another thing to take note of when it comes to labrador retrievers is the fact that they need more intense exercise, both physically and mentally. So after that 60 minutes or so walk outside, prepare some extra toys at home to stimulate him.

6. Labrador retrievers tend to suffer from separation anxiety more.

Labradors have higher energy levels than golden retrievers. Thus, they need an outlet where they can positively release all their pent-up energies.

Labradors tend to feel anxiety when their parents leave the house and they are left alone. Since their breed is naturally clingy to humans, they feel a significant level of stress when no one is around.

Oftentimes, this distressing situation leads to destructive behaviors with cushions ripped, chairs destroyed, and the house a total mess.

Dogs suffering from separation anxiety also create loud noises, pant, and drool. Once you take your keys out, your dogs already know that you are about to leave, and he will start manifesting such behaviors.

So if you have an active lifestyle that requires you to be out of the house often, then you might have to reconsider getting a labrador retriever puppy, unless you can properly train him to manage his separation anxiety well.

Fortunately, separation anxiety can be treated. Visit the vet for professional advice. Your dog may benefit from behavioral therapies and crate training.

Several products can also help calm your dog whenever you are away, such as a dog anxiety jacket or calming diffusers.

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7. Golden retrievers have longer coats than labrador retrievers.

Aside from the coat color difference, labrador retriever vs golden retriever coats also differ in length. Golden retrievers have longer coats that can either be straight or wavy.

The coat of golden retrievers is feather-like around their body. The areas in the ears, neck, tail, and paws are usually extremely puffy, which makes for a good cuddle, whereas the coat of labrador retrievers are short, straight, and smooth.

The two breeds enjoy double coats. This means that they have inner and outer coats covering their bodies. The outer coats are also water-resistant, which make these breeds’ best companions during water adventures.

Meanwhile, the thick inner coat serves as a protection against debris and weather changes, especially the harsh cold of winter.

A dog lover with hypersensitivity reactions to animal hair must stay away from both breeds of retrievers as they tend to shed a lot.

It can be helpful to use an undercoat rake or to trim their coats often with regular grooming. Those with allergies need to get hypoallergenic dogs such as Poodles or Shih Tzus.

8. Grooming labrador retrievers is easier.

Since both dog breeds have thick coats, you should expect that they are heavy shedders too. Truth be told, both breeds are extremely known in the dog world to be notorious shedders. That translates to labor-intensive grooming as well!

However, labrador retrievers do not require as much grooming as goldens do! Since labs have shorter hair, they do not need regular trimming.

But that does not mean you have to lag off grooming. You still need to do weekly brushes and give them regular baths to keep the shedding under control.

Conversely, golden retrievers need brushing daily or every 1 to 3 days. Brushing frequently helps prevent matting of their long coat. It further helps get rid of any dead skin and fur.

Trimming a golden may be tiresome, since you have to pay proper attention to the ears, neck, tail, and paws. These areas usually have longer hairs.

Other grooming essentials are the same for both breeds. Brushing the teeth needs to be done daily. Ear cleaning must be done once a week and nails need to be trimmed every two weeks.

It is best to start the grooming routine while the dogs are still young. This way, they will get accustomed to it, and it’ll make every grooming routine easier as time passes by.

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9. Labrador retriever vs golden retriever has different medical condition risks.

Health is an important consideration for many pet parents. You want to live with your beloved canine for a long time. Hence, you don’t want to pick up an unhealthy breed. The life expectancy for both breeds is between 10 to 12 years.

Each retriever breed is at risk to suffer from laryngeal paralysis, hip dysplasia, certain heart conditions, and progressive retinal atrophy. Both also have an increased risk for cancer, ear infections, and obesity.

Medical conditions specific to labrador retrievers include an abnormality in the eyelids called entropion. This condition is characterized by the inward rolling of the eyelid, which irritates the cornea.

Labradors may also suffer from an exercise-induced collapse. This condition happens when a young adult lab gets over-excited while doing intense activities and exercises.

Meanwhile, golden retrievers may suffer from elbow dysplasia where there is an abnormal growth along the elbow joint. It is also common for golden retrievers to experience seizures as well as hot spots.

Allergies may become a common occurrence among goldens too. They tend to suffer from skin allergies brought about by infections and rashes more often than any other dog breeds.

No matter what breed a dog owner chooses, the risk of developing certain diseases is inherent to their nature. But with proper care and regular vet visits, you can give a quality, healthy life to your pooches. As pet parents, the health of your dog relies on your care, as well as the professional service of the vet.

10. Labrador retrievers win the popularity contest.

The American Kennel Club lists the best dog breeds that people in America love the most. While golden retrievers make the list, the top spot always belongs to the labs.

Americans love lab retrievers so much that it has become the most popular dog breed in America for the last 20 years! Meanwhile, golden retrievers ranked 3rd place after German shepherds in the list as of 2019.

Regardless of their popularity and rankings though, we still love both breeds. They have inherent traits and specialties that are uniquely their own. Surveys don’t mean much when we talk about what matters in our hearts when choosing a fur friend.

Golden Retriever

Final Thoughts

Choosing between a labrador retriever vs golden retriever can be taxing. When you have a heart that goes out to all the animals out there, you can’t simply just choose and ignore one! But still, you have to make an important decision based on your personal preference.

You also need to consider your lifestyle. Having a pet is an added responsibility that you have to adhere to for the rest of your pet’s life. You cannot simply get a pet and ignore him. Pet parents need to be there for their pets most of the time.

Despite the differences between the two breeds, we believe that they are each special in their own right. So when the choosing gets hard, let your heart decide!

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