Labrador Retriever vs Golden Retriever – Which is Better?

Retrievers are popular breeds and make fantastic choices as family companions. But how do you choose between vs. ? They’re both incredibly similar, sharing intelligence, athleticism, and goofy personalities that lovers admire!

Let’s find out what these two great retriever breeds have in common and their difference and decide which breed might be best for your home.


Labrador Retriever vs Golden Retriever Dog vs Dog Comparison
Labrador Retriever

The Labrador Retriever descends from the Saint Johns Water Dog, a now-extinct breed that originated in Canada, bred to help fishers drag their nets across the ice and retrieve fish, beginning in the 1700s.

The Saint Johns were exported to England sometime in the early 19th century as hunting retrievers. In England, the Earl of Malmesbury named it after Canada’s Labrador region.

Meanwhile, in , the Saint Johns breed disappeared because of government restrictions and tax laws. Families could keep no more than one dog, and owning a female carried high taxes. So breeders culled girl puppies from litters.

In England, however, the Labrador breed thrived, and the Kennel Club recognized the Labrador Retriever as a distinct breed in 1903. Today, the Labrador breed is the most popular dog breed worldwide.

Golden Retriever History

Labrador Retriever vs Golden Retriever Dog vs Dog Comparison
Golden Retriever

While no single person can take all the credit for creating the Golden Retriever, the person attributed to its creation was a Scottish aristocrat and avid hunter, Dudley Marjoribanks, the 1st Baron Tweedmouth.

Lord Tweedmouth lived in the Scottish Highlands, and it is here that the Golden Retriever arose as a separate breed.

Marjoribanks was looking for a Retriever that excelled in fetching from water as well as on land. He also wanted the dog to be loyal and even-tempered in the home.

His original cross was a yellow-colored retriever and a now extinct Tweed Water Spaniel. In 1868, this cross produced a litter of four pups; these four became the basis of a breeding program which included the , the St. John’s water dog, and a few other breeds.

Golden Retrievers were first accepted for registration by The Kennel Club of England in 1903, as Flat Coats-Golden.

In 1938, the Golden Retriever Club of America formed. As with the Labrador, the Golden is consistently in the top five most registered AKC breeds.

Labrador Retriever vs Golden Retriever Personality

Labrador Retriever vs Golden Retriever Dog vs Dog Comparison
Labrador Retriever

Although both breeds were born to be skilled hunting dogs, their intelligence and gentleness have brought them into the home as loving family companions. Both breeds are among the most utilized breeds as today.

The Lab is a true “man’s best friend” and is happiest when engaged in family activities.

Loyal, lovable, happy, and friendly to all he meets, the Lab has the reputation of being one of the most sweet-natured breeds. It’s outgoing, eager to please, and friendly with both people (all people) and other animals.

They make an excellent choice for first-time dog owners.

Golden Retrievers need people and are best suited for large, active families.

Labrador Retriever vs Golden Retriever Dog vs Dog Comparison
Golden Retriever

The Golden is one of the finest family dogs: cheerful, demonstrative, trustworthy with everyone, and forgiving of any mistakes made by inexperienced owners.

The Golden Retriever is the classic family pet. They are obedient, playful, intelligent, well-mannered, great with kids, and friendly to strangers. They are good watchdogs, but make lousy guard dogs as they love people far too much to be effective.

Personality-wise the Golden Retriever can be more in tune with human emotions and needs than the Lab, but both breeds are excellent family companions.

Labrador Retriever vs Golden Retriever Coats and Colors

Get ready for dog hair.

Labrador Retriever vs Golden Retriever Dog vs Dog Comparison
Golden Retriever

The Golden Retriever comes in all colors, as long as that color is Gold, in all shades of gold, from light to dark gold.

Golden Retrievers have a dense, water-repellent outer coat with a thick undercoat. Some coats are wavy; some are straight. The fur feathers on the back of the front legs and under-body, with heavier feathering on the chest, back of the thighs, and tail.

The Golden’s thick coat means lots of grooming. Daily brushing is recommended to prevent tangling, and once a week is a very bare minimum. Your Golden will also need a bath at least once a month, often more frequently, to keep down his noticeable doggy odor.

You can find the Lab in Chocolate, Black, and Yellow.

Labrador Retriever vs Golden Retriever Dog vs Dog Comparison
Labrador Retriever

Its sleek and easy-care coat also has two layers: a short, thick, straight topcoat, and a soft, weather-resistant undercoat. These two-layer coats protect the dog from the cold and wet, a good trait for a water retriever.

Grooming doesn’t get much easier than with a Lab, but like the Golden, the Lab does shed — a lot, a really, really lot.

Buy a quality vacuum cleaner. Labs also need a bath every month or so to keep them looking clean and smelling good.

Of course, if your Lab or Golden rolls in a mud puddle, which it’s apt to do, it’s OK to bathe him a bit more often.


Both breeds are of comparable size and are considered large dog breeds. The Golden Retriever weighs between 55-75 pounds at 20-24 inches tall, while the Labrador Retriever weighs between 65-80 pounds at 21-25 inches tall.

Labrador Retriever vs Golden Retriever Trainability

Labrador Retriever vs Golden Retriever Dog vs Dog Comparison
Golden Retriever

As I mentioned before, both breeds excel in assistance dog work. Besides their people-loving personalities, these breeds possess a high level of trainability.

They both have intelligence and eagerness to please that make them a breeze to train.

These dogs are always at the top of their obedience classes and are often the champions of sporting competitions. However, the Golden tends to be more intuitive to its person’s emotions than the Labrador.

Activity Levels

Labrador Retriever vs Golden Retriever Dog vs Dog Comparison
Labrador Retriever

You are looking at highly active dogs. They need to run, they love to play, and they really like water.

They can successfully live in an apartment or other small home, but you’re going to have to get out of the house with them several times a day and make frequent visits to the dog park.

These are not couch potato dogs. If you are a highly active person who enjoys outdoor activities, these are dogs for you. If you’re not up to the task, there are many other breeds to fulfill your needs. A bored Golden or Lab is not a happy dog.

Labrador Retriever vs Golden Retriever Health and Lifespan

Both breeds generally live between 10-12 years, about average for dogs their size. However, some do live considerably longer. Adjutant the Labrador was born in 1936 and died in 1963, some 27 years and three months later. The oldest known Golden was nearly 20 when he died.

Health concerns that golden retrievers and Labradors share:

  • High cancer risk,
  • Obesity, Hip dysplasia,
  • and ear infections.

So with all the similarities, how do you choose between these lovable breeds? Since both breeds are so popular, it shouldn’t be too hard to find one at the dog park or a local meetup. You may even have a friend that has one. No matter which you choose, you’ll be gaining a lovable family member.

Remember, if you’re considering one of these dogs, there are breed-specific rescue organizations that are usually a simple Google search away.

Being so popular, you may find one in your local shelter.

So, which of these fantastic retriever breeds would you pick? Let us know in the comments.

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