young golden retriever puppy exploring the san dunes

Labrador Retriever and Golden Retriever: Things You Need to Know

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Nutrition and Exercise

Both breeds–the Labrador Retriever and Golden Retriever, need a well-balanced diet that meets their nutritional requirements for every stage of their lives. Both breeds can easily become obese or undernourished on poor diets, so you have to carefully watch that they are fed the correct foods properly. You must also be sure they get plenty of good exercise.  A high-quality, Vitamin and natural fiber enriched dog food that contains wholesome meat protein, healthy Omega-3 fats, and good carbs is recommended.  Avoid feeding your dog table scraps and cheap, filler boosted, poorly balanced dog food as these foods can cause all sorts of health problems.

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Exercise Your Dog Daily

Labs and Goldies are both high-energy dog breeds.  They need lots of exercise and physical activity to stay fit, healthy and happy.  At a minimum these dogs should get 30 to 45 minutes of moderate to intense exercise every day, such as brisk walks, runs, swimming, or fetching.  Regular exercise helps maintain the dog’s weight and improves their general well-being.

Feeding your Lab or Goldie a well-balanced ration, giving him or her daily exercise and a mentally stimulating activity like fetching is essential for their overall health and happiness. Proper nutrition and exercise are key for your best friend’s long and healthy life.

Common Health Issues

Under favorable living conditions, both the Labrador Retriever and Golden Retriever are normally healthy breeds.  But, both breeds are prone to several health problems. These issues are mentioned here so that you are better informed and you won’t be overly shocked if and when problems arise.  Certain steps can be taken to detect health problems early and take the necessary steps to effectively treat the issue. Here are some common health problems to be on guard for:

  • Hip and elbow dysplasia
  • Genetic disorders
  • Various cancers
  • Epilepsy
  • Eye diseases
  • Hearing problems
  • Heart or lung diseases
  • Injury and infection

Regular veterinarian examinations will usually catch these health problems early.  The vet will usually tell you the diagnosis and suggest the steps you should take to do the right thing for your best friend.  Depending on the diagnosis and prognosis, the remedy may be as simple as feeding a healthier diet and more exercise, or as serious as surgery.

Lifespan and Care

The actual lifespan of any Labrador Retriever or Golden Retriever depends on a laundry list of factors.  Three of these factors are:

  • Genetics
  • Diet
  • Lifestyle

The truth is that Golden Retrievers tend to live slightly longer than Labrador Retrievers. This is not a genetic thing–it is a lifestyle and work thing.  Unless injured in an accident, expect a Golden Retriever to live between 10 and 13 years.  A Labrador Retriever will typically live between 10 and 12 years. Like I said, a slight difference and to adequately help your dog live to old age always give your dog the best care you can.

Best care includes regular exercise, a nutritious diet, a good home, semi-annual vet exams, routine vaccinations, and parasite prevention.  Watching for any signs of illness or injury and getting veterinary care as needed is also key.   In addition to physical care, it’s also important to provide your dog with mental stimulation and socialization. Both Labrador Retrievers and Golden Retrievers are intelligent breeds that thrive on human interaction and mental challenges. Providing them with training, games, and socialization opportunities can help keep them happy and healthy.  Most of all though–be your dog’s best friend.

Training and Socialization

Proper training and socialization with people and other pets is key for all dogs and their owners. Labrador Retrievers and Golden Retrievers are no exception. These two breeds are highly intelligent and enjoy learning new things, which makes them highly trainable and a lot of fun to be with.  But, these dogs can also be knot-headed and easily distracted.  Because of this, always use positive training methods from the get-go and control your temper with your dog at all times. Remember, these dogs are fast-learners but they won’t always do as you want.

Training Methods

Positive reinforcement is always the key to good dog training.  This is very true for all dogs and especially so for Labs and Goldies.  Always be prepared to reward good behavior with treats, praise, and playtime and never punish for what you perceive as bad behavior.  Any form of dog punishment is counterproductive and can make your dog shutdown.

The three C’s of good dog training are consistency, consistency, and consistency.  Consistency in any dog’s training cannot be overstated.  For example, always use the same verbal, whistle,  or hand commands as well as the same rewards each and every time.  

Make sure everyone in your household is also consistent or else the poor dog will be confused.  And, this is really importantnever let anyone yell or scream at your dog.  This will confuse or scare the dog and probably set back or ruin the dog’s training

It’s also important to begin training your Lab or Goldie as early as possible.  Puppies are easily distracted so puppy’s training lessons need to be short and sweet.  Then,  as your dog matures, gradually increase the duration and difficulty of the training lessons.

Easy Peasy Puppy Squeezy

Steve Mann is a professional dog trainer and behaviorist with over 30 years of experience. As the founder of the Institute of Modern Dog Trainers, he has transformed the lives of over 100,000 dogs and their families.

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Socialization means exposing your Labrador Retriever or Golden Retriever to a safe mix of other people, other animals, and new environments. This helps your dog develop good social skills and become comfortable in various situations.

If you get a puppy then begin his or her socialization as early as possible. Introduce your new pup to different people, even little kids, and other pets. Take your puppy to different places, such as parks, beaches, and pet stores. This will help your dog mature as a well-rounded and confident adult.


Most folks know that Labs and Goldies are smart and friendly breeds. However, these breeds can be prone to behavioral issues like terrorizing other smaller pets if they aren’t properly trained and socialized.  Misbehaving dogs should never be tolerated or they will misinterpret this kind of ornery behavior as acceptable.  Other types of behavior issues are:

  • Separation anxiety which is a common problem for many pet dogs but especially for these two breeds.  Labs are particularly prone to this when they feel stressed out, deserted, or left out of your fun company.  To avoid separation anxiety problems gradually get your dog used to being alone for short periods. (Hint: Be sure to provide his or her favorite toys or chew bones to keep them occupied.)
  • Aggressive behavior can be another problem that sometimes afflicts both breeds. Aggressiveness can be caused by several things including, but not limited to,  fear, territorial protection, possessiveness, or poor socialization. If your dog shows aggressive tendencies then get help from a licensed, professional dog trainer. 


Deciding on a Labrador Retriever or a Golden Retriever can be a hard choice. Both breeds are friendly, intelligent, and typically safe around people and other pets. They are both smart breeds that have similar temperaments, energy levels, and exercise needs. Both breeds have a long history of human companionship and learning skills as well.  However, there are some breed differences that you need to consider before making a choice.

If you’re looking for a dog with a short coat that doesn’t shed much, then a Labrador Retriever might be your best choice.  But, if you want a dog that you can dote after–one with a longer, thicker coat that you can brush frequently, then a Golden Retriever is your best choice of the two.

Another consideration is size. If you live in a smaller home or rent an apartment, then a Labrador Retriever might be a better fit since they tend to be a bit smaller in size. However, if you have a larger home with a private yard, a Golden Retriever could be the favorite of your family.

These two breeds are smart and readily trainable and either one is a loyal companion. It is really all about your own personal preference–you won’t be disappointed with either breed. No matter which breed you go with, rest assured you’ll have a loyal and loving companion dog.  

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