What is the Difference Between a Labrador and a Golden Retriever?

by Matt Bostic

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Both the Labrador and the Golden Retriever are going to have a lot of characteristics that make them a popular dog option for many families. 

They are lovable, easy to train, and get along with almost anyone.

But when you need to choose between the two breeds, you may wonder how they are different so you can make the decision. 

What is the Difference Between a Labrador and a Golden Retriever?

Golden Retrievers are going smaller and are often just one color while Labs can be yellow, chocolate, or black. The Golden Retriever is also going to have longer, more feathery hair than Labradors, which will require more grooming. Comparatively, Labs will have more energy and less patience compared to the Golden Retriever. 

Let’s take a closer look at some of the similarities and the differences that show up between the Labrador and the Golden Retriever. 

As you are making a choice between the Labrador and the Golden Retriever to bring to your home, there are a lot of different things to consider along the way. 

You need to go with a dog who will fit into your home well, can get along with the children, and will be easy to train and love. 

These are all true for both of the dog breeds above, so which one should you pick. 

Some of the differences that you should consider between the Golden Retriever and the Labrador include:

The Golden Retriever is Smaller

If you are worried about the size of the dog, then you should go with a Golden Retriever instead of the Lab because they are just a bit smaller. 

Both of these breeds are seen to be medium sized though. 

The height of a Golden Retriever is going to fall between 21 and 24 inches while the Lab is more likely to be 21.5 inches to 24.5 inches. 

This is not much of a difference, but when you are short on space, it may be an important thing to consider. 

You will also find that the female of each breed will be on the smaller side of the height spectrum. 

If you need to stick with a small dog in height and weight, then a female Golden Retriever is going to be the best option. 

They Were Bred for Different Jobs

While both dogs have a lot of energy and like to be kept busy all day long, you will find that the Lab and the Golden Retriever were both bred to do different jobs. 

To start, the Golden Retriever was bred in the beginning to be more of a gentleman’s dog, one that was bred to retrieve waterfowl and help with hunting. 

On the other side of things, the Lab was more of a fisherman’s dog because they were able to help with retrieving fish and nets. 

However, you will see that there are a few characteristics that come in both dogs and can make them a popular option now. 

Both breeds were bred for their swimming abilities, intelligence, loyalty, and soft mouths.

The loyalty is what makes them such a great companion to have around, the intelligence helps when it is time for training, the swimming ability will allow them to be good at their jobs, and the soft mouth helps them get water-fowl and other things without harm. 

Today, they can be trained to do either of the two tasks depending on what the owner would like. 

They are easy to train to do this and love to be with their owners, learning how to do something new. 

In the past though, they had specific jobs that they were bred to help out with. 

The Color of Both Breeds

You will find that the coloring on the dogs will help you figure out which breed you are dealing with the most.

The Lab is going to have the most versatility when it comes to their hair color. 

The Lab is going to have three official coat colors that they can have and still fit in with the breed color including chocolate, black, and yellow. 

If you see a Lab that is more golden in color, then you probably have a Goldador, which is a mix of a Golden Retriever and Lab mixed, rather than a purebred Lab. 

On the other hand, the Golden Retriever can just come in one color, unless they are a mixed breed as well. As you can imagine, they have a gold coat. The color can range a little bit, with some having some off-white shades of gold and others with darker hair and some reddish hues, but they will be some type of gold within the hair. 

The Length of the Hair

The length of the hair for both of these dogs will be different as well. 

When we look at the Golden Retriever, they are going to have a long coat that is sometimes straight and sometimes wavy. 

The Lab hair is a bit different, usually short and smooth and straight. 

This means that the Golden Retriever is going to have a much longer coat compared to the Lab. 

If you do choose to go with the Golden Retriever as your pet, be prepared for some of the extra work that is needed to help groom the dog. 

The Golden has furry and feather-like fur that is around the body and these need some special attention. 

Both dog breeds are going to have a dense, double coat that will help them swim around and do their original jobs. 

The outer coat is going to repel water well and then the thick undercoat that is there is able to help protect them from all the debris that is around. 

This makes them a good choice in breeds for those who would like to have a hypoallergenic dog in their homes. 

If you are worried about the grooming requirements, then the Lab is going to be a better choice

They have shorter hair that will stay nice for longer.

This does not mean that you can ignore the hair and do nothing with it. 

But you will find that it does need a lot less work than what the Golden Retriever Needs

Golden Retrievers Have More Patience

Both of these breeds are great to have around your home because they are loyal, affectionate, and friendly. 

They are also social and have a great temperament to keep around the family. 

This is why both of them are high on the list of family favorites, even for those who have smaller children. 

However, if you are going to compare the temperament of these two breeds side by side, you will find that the Golden Retriever is a gentler, more patient, and sensitive dog. 

It is this gentle nature that is going to shine through the most when the dog breed interacts with young children. 

They love to be around kids, but they are soft and careful. 

Labs can do well with children, but they are going to be more bouncy and excitable than the Golden Retriever. 

The Golden is going to like a quiet and calm environment more and will do well with the children too. 

Labs Come with Lots of Energy

If you want to have a dog who is going to love being outside running, walking, and going on an adventure all day long, then both breeds are going to be a great choice. 

They are active and were bred to get the job done all the time. 

You may find that the energy levels of both breeds will vary a little bit. 

The Golden Retriever is an active dog, but they do like to have some time to be calm and quiet down a bit. 

This tranquil nature is going to make it easier for them to fit into more types of homes compared to the Lab. 

The Lab is not good when it comes to the sedentary lifestyle. 

They have high energy, which can make them a bad choice for seniors and others who just do not have the time to wear them out. 

Labs are born with this energy and it tends to not wear out that much as they get older. If you choose this breed, you will have a great companion, but be ready to run about and have fun with them quite a bit. 

Choosing the Right Dog Breed for Your Needs

Both the Golden Retriever and the Lab are going to be great dogs to have around your home and family. 

They are loyal, fun, and have a lot of energy. 

The one that you will choose often has to do with your own personal preference, what is available in your area, and which features of the ones we listed above are the most important to you. 

Both are great dogs to have so you can’t go wrong with either choice. 

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