four labrador retriever puppies

Labrador Retrievers vs Golden Retrievers: Comparing Two Popular Dog Breeds

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So which of these two breeds is a good fit for you?  Deciding on a Labrador Retriever or a Golden Retriever is a tough decision to make.  Both dog breeds share many similarities, but there are some distinct differences between them to be sure.  Our article is all about comparing these two wonderful breeds so you can go with the dog that best fits you.  Please read on to learn about Labrador Retrievers vs Golden Retrievers.

Both of these dog breeds are fast learners and loving companions. Both are wonderful family dogs and both breeds are not just retrievers, they are often trained as police drug and contraband dogs, rescue dogs, and therapy dogs. But, there are some breed differences in their behavior and temperament.  Labrador Retrievers are often more outgoing and energetic whereas Golden Retrievers are typically more calm and easy-going.

The physical appearance of Labs and Goldies are actually very different.  One very noticeable difference is that Labs are bigger and more muscular than Golden Retrievers.  Labrador Retrievers naturally have short, dense coats which can be black, yellow, or chocolate. Golden Retriever hair is much longer and their coats are often wavy and feathery, ranging from almost white to richly golden.  

History and Origins

When comparing Labrador Retrievers to Golden Retrievers, it helps greatly to familiarize yourself with the histories and origins of both breeds.  Both breeds have well documented histories and both were very important in the lives of their original breeders and subsequent owners. Learning about their interesting origins will enrich your appreciation for the unique qualities and characteristics of each breed. Here’s a closer look at the origins of Labs and Goldies.

Labrador Retriever

The Labrador Retriever was originally bred in Newfoundland, Canada–yes, Newfoundland not Labrador–and was used as a working dog by seafaring fishermen.  It was the Lab’s job to retrieve fish that had jumped out of the boat, fallen off hooks, or escaped from nets. 

The Labrador dog arrived in England in the first half of the 1800’s. Before that, the breed was unknown in England or Europe.  The breed’s natural retrieving skills were selected for and developed to fetch game birds and as a gun dog and waterfowl retrieving dog. Early on, the Lab’s intelligence, loyalty, and trainability made it a highly popular dog breed among upland hunters and English sportsmen. Today, the Labrador Retriever is highly prized worldwide as a working dog and a loyal family pet.  For the full historical story, you can visit the AKC History here.

Golden Retriever

The Golden Retriever came into existence as a unique breed in Scotland in the late 1800s by a breeder named Dudley Marjoribanks–aka, Lord Tweedmouth. He wanted to create an intelligent and gentle hunting dog that was a superb field and water dog with a good nose and a strong sense of loyalty. He first crossbred a yellow retriever with a Tweed Water Spaniel.  Later he added bloodlines from Irish Setters and other retrievers. His new, unique breed soon became officially recognized by the Kennel Club in 1903 and quickly gained popularity as a family pet and an excellent hunting dog.  Visit the AKC breed/history page on Golden Retrievers here.

Physical Characteristics

Size and Weight

There are some slight differences between Labrador Retrievers and Golden Retrievers. 

Male Golden Retrievers typically stand 23 to 24 inches tall while females are 21 ½ to 22 ½ inches tall. Males weigh between 65 and 75 pounds while females are 55 to 65 pounds. 

Labrador Retriever males should be 22 ½ to 24 ½ inches high at the withers, and female height ranges from 21 ½ to 23 ½ inches. Males tend to weigh 65 to 80 pounds, while females weigh 55 to 70 pounds.

Coat and Color

Golden Retrievers have a much longer hair coat than Labrador Retrievers.  The Goldie hair coat is longish, feathery and can be either flat or wavy. They also have a water-repellent coat that comes in shades of gold.  In comparison, Labrador Retrievers have a short coat that is also water-repellent. The Lab’s coat is usually one of three colors–either black, yellow, or chocolate (brown).

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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Both breeds are excellent companion dogs–they make great family dogs and both breeds are friendly and outgoing, but there are some minor differences that bear mentioning.

Golden Retrievers tend to be extremely eager to please their human and may be more sensitive to their owner’s mood swings. Goldies are also known for their love of swimming and will take any opportunity to dive into the water. Labrador Retrievers, on the other hand, are known for their high energy and can be overly eager to please when they are young.  While they play well with children they can unintentionally knock a kid down because of their playful excitement and high energy.  Labs are frequently trained as working dogs–they make excellent hunting companions and are used as service dogs because they are smart and easy to train. 

Labrador Retrievers vs Golden Retrievers

Even though both of these dog breeds have similar physical traits–and both are loyal family dogs–there are some unique differences to take in before you acquire one. It’s important to do your research when comparing Labrador Retrievers vs Golden Retrievers and choose the breed that best fits your lifestyle and needs.  

Stay tuned to Pet Hooligans for a second post comparing more details for you about these two remarkable breeds.  And, please sign up for our newsletter to get more info about Golden Retrievers and Labrador Retrievers sent directly to your inbox.

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