Golden Retriever vs Labrador: Which Dog Breed is Best for You?

Some people have an innate preference for dogs while others discover that they like canines companions later in life. No matter which camp you belong to, you will be pretty familiar with the two most beloved pedigrees namely Golden Retrievers and Labradors. Both these dog breeds are considered ideal for petting and have a universal and unanimous agreement on that. This is the reason why both of them end up among the top five pet dog breeds everywhere irrespective of geographical and cultural differences.

Dog owners claim that if you want to make your house more of a home, include a friendly, loving canine as a new family member. If you are considering this and are having a “Golden Retriever vs. Labrador debate” in your head, then congratulations! It’s a good dilemma to have.

Golden Retrievers vs Labradors

Even if you don’t read any further and impulsively pick either of the breeds, rest assured you will make the right choice. Nevertheless, both breeds are different in many aspects from each other and one should know of these details to take better care of them.

golden retrievers vs labradors

For that matter, we are going to have a comparative discussion. We will look into seven of the salient traits in both these breeds one by one to give a clear view of the Golden Retriever vs. Labrador debate.

1) Size and Weight

In the first look, the size of Golden Retrievers and Labradors appears the same since there is a really minor difference between the two.

Golden Retrievers

Golden Retrievers could be a bit bulkier than Labs due to their slightly broad structure and fur. Meanwhile, the size of an adult Golden Retriever is more or less the same as of an adult Labrador.


In general, Labradors are not much different from Golden Retrievers in size and shape. However, Labradors itself actually divides into English and American breeds. Although both fall in the same size category, English Labs have a brawnier physique with broader chest and head than American Labs

golden vs labrador retriever

2) Color

Color is a major distinctive feature between the two. In terms of color, Labradors are more versatile than Golden Retrievers

Golden Retrievers

There is a reason why this canine breed is called ‘golden’. Besides its quintessential golden shade, the Retrievers also develop whitish, dark, and even reddish golden with maturation.


Labradors usually have black, yellowish-golden, and chocolate-brown variations in the color of their coat.

3) Coat

Both Golden Retrievers and Labradors have two-layered coats. However, there are some differences in their nature.

Golden Retriever

Golden retrievers have a shiny, wavy, and water-repellent outer coat with a thick insulated undercoat.


Labradors also have a water repellent outer coat and insulated undercoat. However, the exterior fur of Labs is denser, shorter and straighter than that of Retrievers.

 4) Shedding

The shedding from both breeds has a lot to do with their furs.

Golden Retrievers

Logically, Golden Retrievers should shed more than Labs and that’s what happens. If you don’t like to have dog hairs sticking everywhere in the house, then Golden Retrievers can give you quite a tough time. They shed all year along and leave their golden traces everywhere.


Labradors also shed, but their shedding is more confined to biannual molting seasons of spring and fall.

If you can’t take care of those shed hair that will consequently become an inconvenience in many forms, then Labs might turn out to be a better option than Retrievers.

Golden retriever pup

5) Grooming

No owner wants his/her dog dirty and stinky. So, grooming is an integral part of dog owning and petting no matter what breed you bring in home. If you can’t commit to that routine then it would be better to not get a dog in the first place.

Both Labs and Retrievers are highly active canine breeds. They are inquisitive and love to play in whatever space they get. The energy-packed disposition of both these breeds makes grooming more important. The good news is Labs and Retrievers remain comfortable and normal with the exposure of water. Moreover, it’s pretty easy to engage them while grooming and cleaning them.

Golden Retrievers

With more thick and plush fur, Golden Retrievers get dirty and grubby at a faster pace than any other canine breed. If a Retriever has access to muddy areas, then it is recommended to give them a bath twice a week. In winters you can cut down it to a single weekly bath. Moreover, daily brushing ensures a Golden Retriever continues to flaunt its gold. The hair growth in Golden Retrievers is also more rapid than other breeds. Moreover, a quarterly or biannual hair trimming is also a part of the Golden Retriever trimming.


Labradors also need the same care with grooming except that you might not need to bath them as often as a Golden Retriever. Similarly, hair trimming is also not a big part of Labrador grooming.

6) Temperament

Soon-to-be dog owners are most concerned about the temperament of the pet when they start searching for one. A friendly dog that doesn’t growl and groans all the time and doesn’t scare the kids away is what everybody looks for. Similarly, people prefer active breeds over lethargic ones.

Both Labradors and Golden Retrievers are universally loved because of their benevolent, sporty, sociable and easy-to-pet nature. A well-raised Lab or Retriever is literally man’s best friend. Having said that, you must know about certain details regarding their temperaments if you are going to get either of them.

Golden Retrievers

Moderate Energy Level

Golden Retrievers are canines with moderate energy levels that need everyday walks and playtime but also needs a couple of naps in between. Families find a perfect doggy in Golden Retrievers because they can easily tune to their energy levels.

Higher Intelligence

All dogs are intelligent mammals, but Retrievers do exceptionally well in this regard. They are easy to train. Their intelligence also makes it easier for them to adapt to any new setting.

Friendliness Bar None

There might not be any other canine breed that is more jovial and friendly than a Golden Retriever. Their unbounded craving for affection makes them very likable and easy to go along. Besides humans, they are equally forthcoming to other animals as well. If you already own any other pet, then bringing in a Golden Retriever to the home won’t be an issue.

Important Note:

There is one downside to this over-friendliness of Golden Retrievers as well. You can’t possibly train them to be your guard canine. They are simply just too good to be watchful of strangers.


High Energy Levels

If you think Golden Retrievers are really sporty and active breed, then wait for Labradors to redefine your understanding of a high-energy canine. Labradors like to play, roam, and chew all the time. On one hand, this overdosing energy will make them the most animated and cheering member of your family. But on the other hand, you have to ensure you are keeping them company.  It is not good to leave a Lab alone for longer.

Intelligent But Easily Get Distracted

Like Golden Retrievers, Labs are also among the most intelligent canines. They look forward to the interaction and activity that comes from training. Nevertheless, their non-depleting energy levels sometimes make them struggle in focusing. This problem is more occurring in Labs that are under three.

Friendly But Need Initial Supervision

A trained Lab is as friendly as any Golden good boy. However, they take some time to catch on that friendly vibe. Similarly, they remain good with other pets too but you need to train them a bit in the beginning.

golden retriever lab mix

7) Health Issues

Besides all the desirable characteristics, both these pedigreed dogs exhibit some distinctive health issues as well.  Experts are in agreement that a Golden Retriever’s health is more of a concern for its owners than a Lab’s.

Golden Retrievers

Cancer is one of the most prevalent diseases among Golden Retrievers. In fact, one research study suggests that nearly 40% of Golden Retriever deaths are caused by different cancerous tumors. Genetic dysplasia is another major health issue among Retrievers where their major joints are malformed to cause gait complications. Golden Retrievers are also inherently more prone to eye problems such as retinal degeneration and cataracts.


Labradors can also suffer from cancer and joint dysplasia but track record suggests that they are less vulnerable to these health complications in comparison to Golden Retrievers. However, they are equally susceptible to cataracts. Moreover, young Labs have an inherent issue where they collapse amid excessive activity during a period of over-excitement.

Our Final Thoughts

The above discussion has made it pretty clear that both breeds have their endearing features and downsides, which make them equally good and pet-able. This is also the reason why they are popular likewise.

Moreover, whether you are getting a Retriever or a Lab, it is really important to work with a breeder of a good reputation. A professional that can provide you with all the necessary information (vet checks, parents’ information, immunization details, etc) is the breeder you should work with. By picking the right breeder, it may well no matter if you choose Lab or Retriever.

Lastly, there is no clear winner when it comes to the Golden Retriever vs. Labrador debate. No choice is a bad one whether you pick Retrievers or Labs.

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