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Can’t decide between a Labrador Retriever and a Golden Retriever? Let’s see what’s better for you.

The major differences between a lab retriever and a golden retriever are that of their personalities and coats. Labrador retrievers are generally more strong-willed and powerful than Goldens, while Golden retrievers have longer fur coats that need more grooming and attention.

According to AKC’s 2020 most popular breeds chart, retrievers are the most popular dog breed globally, while golden retrievers rank fourth. Besides their coat and personality differences, these breeds are essentially medium to large-sized loving and caring family dogs. But, when making a choice, it’s important to consider the typical qualities for each breed to choose the most appropriate one for you.

In this article, we’re going to start by sifting through an overview of each breed before we compare them based on certain critical features of dog ownership.

Table of contents


What are Retrievers?

Labrador Retrievers are the most popular dog in the USA for a good reason. These lovely creatures are sweet, enthusiastic, unwaveringly loyal, playful, and comparatively easier to train, making them the perfect family pet.

Labrador retrievers stand about two feet tall – almost as much as golden retrievers, but unlike the latter, Labradors have short and wiry coats that are black, yellow, or chocolate-colored. Originally bred as a hunting dog, this breed is still pretty popular for hunting.

Overall, Labrador retrievers are loving, athletic, and caring creatures that manage their energy and keep the family that adopts them entertained at all times.

What are Golden Retrievers?

Like labs, golden retrievers are the most playful little pups with lots of energy. The main feature that sets them apart is their long and beautiful golden coat. Originally bred in Scotland more than 150 years ago to hunt, these dogs are now commonly used as service dogs or therapy dogs.

Golden retrievers stand slightly shorter than two feet with bushy tails that are always wagging. They are generally intelligent but require a lot of training, something they love engaging in. When searching for a family dog, it can be pretty tough to beat a golden retriever.

Now let’s get into comparing these two breeds based on a few factors!

Retriever vs. Golden Retriever

Energy Levels

All dogs require some sort of physical movement to burn their energy. The same is the case for labs and golden retrievers. Both of them are high-energy dogs that need at least an hour of exercise a day in the form of games and activities. Walks, tug and fetch, and the occasional run usually do the trick to fulfill their exercise requirement. However, overall, Labrador retrievers tend to be slightly more energetic than goldens. Either way, if you’re physically active, both these pets will be perfect for you.

Family and Child-Friendly

As mentioned before, both Labrador and golden retrievers make brilliant family pets due to their friendly nature. These sociable dogs absolutely love being around people and are great with children. However, labs can be a little extra boisterous than retrievers and can often end up knocking down small children due to overexcitement. So, you will have to make sure to watch out for your lab around small kids.  


Golden retrievers are highly intelligent dogs that are also huge people-pleasers, making them pretty easy to train. The same scenario applies to retrievers; with their people-pleasing and smart nature, they are a highly trainable breed.


Golden retrievers have a very calm, gentle, loving, and goofy demeanor, which makes them trainable and fantastic family pets. Although Labradors have a similar temperament as golden retrievers, there are a few differences. Overall, retrievers are pretty kind and loving but can be a little strong-willed and rougher than the golden retriever.

Coat and Shedding

Golden retrievers have a smooth and soft coat that comes in three colors: cream, gold, and red. They basically have a double coat that comprises two layers – a thick undercoat and flowy topcoat, which fully grows in when they’re about over a year old. You can imagine that with a coat so thick, golden retrievers shed a lot and require regular brushing.

Like goldens, Labrador retrievers also have a double coat and shed a lot, especially in spring and fall. However, the only difference between the two is that while golden retrievers have a soft, long, flowing topcoat, labs usually have a wiry coat. Also, when it comes to colors, retrievers typically have yellow, chocolate, or brown coats. Overall, both breeds shed a lot, so you can expect to find dog hair everywhere.


Due to their double coat, golden retrievers need to be brushed every 1-3 days, as this helps with shedding, gets rid of dead skin and fur, and prevents matting. You will also have to bathe your golden at least once a month, clean their teeth daily, clean their ears every week, and trim their nails every two weeks.

Overall, Labrador retrievers also have the same grooming requirements as goldens, with the only difference being that Labs only need to be brushed once a week.


It is possible for you to be allergic to a specific dog breed but not another. Hence, there may be a chance of you being allergic to Labradors and not golden retrievers, or vice versa.

When it comes to allergies, fur is not the only culprit of allergens. Many other factors, such as saliva, dander, and urine, can also cause allergies. So, just because goldens have longer fur doesn’t mean they’re more likely to cause an allergic reaction. You may just as be prone to getting an allergic reaction from a Labrador if you’re generally allergic to them.

That said, neither of these dog breeds is hypoallergenic. The best way to go about this is to consult your doctor to see if you’re allergic to either breed and get allergy shots accordingly.


According to the AKC, golden retriever males are typically 23-24 inches tall and weigh about 65-75 pounds, while females are 21.5-22.5 inches tall and weigh between 55 and 65 pounds. Labrador retriever males are generally 22.5-24.5 inches tall, weighing between 65 and 80 pounds, while the females are between 21.5 to 23.5 inches tall, weighing between 55 and 70 pounds. So, there’s not much of a difference between the two breeds in terms of weight and size.

Life Expectancy

According to the AKC, the average lifespan of Labrador and golden retrievers are 10-12 years. So, regardless of which breed you choose, you can expect a decade or so of love and loyalty.

Health Problems

Some golden retriever health problems include hypothyroidism, hip and elbow dysplasia, mast cell tumors, eye disorders, seizures, lymphoma, skin problems.

On the other hand, a few common Labrador retriever health problems include hip, elbow, and shoulder dysplasia, distichiasis, diabetes, muscular dystrophy, retinal dysplasia, central progressive retinal atrophy, hypothyroidism, and cataracts.

It is pretty obvious that no matter what breed you choose, they’ll come with numerous potential illnesses. Additionally, a study conducted at Cambridge revealed that golden retrievers are more likely to die from cancer than Labrador retrievers. Fortunately, you can exercise a few points to prevent this occurrence. For instance, search for a good breeder, build a healthy relationship with your pet and feed them the right food to give them the best chance at a long and happy life.


Golden retrievers are considered to be a highly intelligent breed, maybe even one of the smartest dog breeds in the world. Although Labradors are extremely smart, too, you can’t deny that they slightly lag behind golden retrievers in terms of intelligence.  

Behavior Problems

Gold retrievers are packed with energy as they were bred to work and carry things around in their mouths. These dogs require a physically stimulating routine; otherwise, they can get bored and display behavioral problems, including destructive chewing, tugging the leash, barking constantly, and digging. Labradors being the high-energy dogs they also seem to run into the same problems.

The ideal way to keep their behavioral problems in check is to ensure their playing, sleeping, and social needs are met. As long as they are engaging in mentally and physically stimulating activities, they’ll be okay.


Golden retrievers don’t just mesh well with humans; they’re also pretty amazing with other dogs. Like goldens, retrievers are also popularly recognized for blending in with people and other dogs. This is an important factor for those who plan to keep more than one dog in the house. So, if you plan on hosting multiple dogs, goldens and retrievers are your best bet.


When properly introduced and trained, golden retrievers can make a good enough roommate for cats. A study shows that 25% of golden retriever owners also have a feline in their home. On the other hand, retrievers can also get along with a cat pretty well through proper introduction and training. So, if you want to own a dog and a cat, a golden or Labrador retriever is an excellent choice.

Both these breeds are loving, loyal, and people-pleasing dogs. So, if you’re looking for a new best friend, lab retrievers and golden retrievers are both excellent options.