You’re looking for a level-headed, lovable family dog. Retrievers are among the most popular breeds in America, and they’d make a good choice. But how do you choose between a Labrador or a golden? They’re incredibly similar, sharing intelligence, athleticism, and that goofy personality that dog lovers, well, love! To help you make an informed decision, we’ve created an easy-to-read guide about these two water dogs.
One important note: Labs and goldens are family dogs to their core, and want to spend time with their favorite people. They don’t do well when left to their own devices, and will need a trusted pet sitter or dog walker to help out if you’re not available during the day.
Lab and golden mixes are often available for adoption at your local shelter. If you adopt a mixed-breed dog, you can always use a dog DNA test (this one is a fan favorite) to get more insight into their unique heritage.
Golden retrievers and Labs share:
- A height of 22-24 inches
- Folded ears
- Long tails
- Happy, enthusiastic expressions
- “Soft mouths”
- Webbed feet
- A love of water
Traits unique to goldens include:
- Flat or wavy coats
- Water-repellent coats
- Longer snout
- “Smiling” expression
While Labs have:
- A broad head with pronounced eyebrows
- A water-resistant coat
- A medium, non-tapered muzzle
- A muscular build
Both are too cute for words.
Quick Breed Facts
Labradors have been America’s favorite dog breed for 25 years running, but goldens hold their own, always landing within the top five. Both retrievers share a common ancestor in the St. Johns Water Dog. This extinct breed originated in Canada and was bred to help fishermen drag their nets across the ice. These retrieving traits have been passed down to its modern day ancestors, helping make them powerful swimmers.
- Golden retrievers: 10-13 Years
- Labrador retrievers:10-12 Years
- Golden retrievers: 55-75 lbs
- Labrador retrievers: 65-80 lbs
Prices can vary. Goldens run on average between $800-$1200, while Labradors are slightly more expensive with an average price of $900-$1500. You can also find breed-specific rescues if you’re interested in adopting.
Labs come in three colors: chocolate, yellow and black.
While Goldens come in a variety of shades from a creamy blonde to almost red.
Health and Wellness
Health concerns that golden retrievers and Labradors share:
- High cancer risk
- Hip dysplasia
- Ear infections
Health concerns specific to Labradors:
- Entropion: an abnormality of the eyelids in which the eyelid rolls inward, irritating the cornea.
- Malformation of knees and elbows.
- Laryngeal paralysis: an illness affecting older Labs that partially paralyzes the voice box, resulting in a muffled bark and difficulty breathing.
Health concerns specific to golden retrievers:
- Elbow dysplasia: similar to hip dysplasia, this is caused by abnormal growth in the elbow joint.
- Skin issues such as hot spots
Labradors are notorious shedders and goldens sport those long luxurious coats, so both breeds need regular grooming. Both breeds have double coats and go through two big sheds a year. If you have a golden, you’ll need to regularly use an undercoat rake to prevent the hair from matting.
Bred as hunting companions, Labs and goldens are members of the sporting group. They were designed to be active with their human partners all day, swimming, running, and of course, retrieving game. This means that they’re best suited to an active lifestyle. They’re great jogging, walking, and exploring companions.
So with all these similarities, how do you choose? Try to spend some time with these awesome dogs. Since both breeds are so popular, it shouldn’t be too hard to find one at the dog park or a local meetup. Contacting breeders is a great way to get some basic information about temperament and the history of dogs in their line. You could also volunteer at breed-specific rescues. No matter what, you’ll be getting a lovable family member.
Featured image via Flickr / josh