Golden Retriever vs. Labrador - What Breed Is Better?

Golden Retriever vs. Labrador - What Breed Is Better?

Author WDF Staff | Last updated: May 03 2023


When future owners pick a new family dog, they often choose between these two heavy hitters in the category of best family dogs. Golden Retrievers vs. Labrador Retrievers is not an easy choice. Whichever breed you pick, you can be sure you will make a good decision. The two breeds are very similar in character, which is why they are in the top 3 most popular dog breeds in the US. We hope this Golden Retriever Labrador comparison can help you make a decision.

Shared characteristics

Golden Retrievers and Labradors are very similar dog breeds. They share many temperament traits and make absolutely amazing family pets. Both breeds have similar backgrounds, and even physical characteristics are not that different. Here are some of the characteristics the two breeds share.


Both breeds are medium-sized dogs with a fairly athletic build. However, you can get different types of Labs. One type is more muscular but less agile. You can read more about it here - English Labs. Golden Retrievers measure 20-24 in and can weigh 55-75 lb. Labrador Retrievers usually measure 21.5-24.5 in and weigh 55-80 lb. It’s clear to see that they have a similar size and weight, so space requirements are the same.

chocolate lab puppy

Energy levels

Goldens and Labs are energetic dog breeds that have a hunting background. These dogs have something called a “soft jaw,” which means they are absolutely fantastic in retrieving prey undamaged to hunters. Since they come from a working background, both breeds will need much exercise.

They love eating, and if their exercise needs are not met, both breeds can quickly become overweight or obese. Canine obesity is a growing problem in the US. You should make sure your Golden Retriever or Labrador Retriever does not become obese.


One of the most attractive traits these breeds share is their intelligence. There is an excellent reason they are often the breed of choice for different service dog tasks and jobs. Both breeds have tremendous learning abilities, which means you will have to dedicate time to their training. They respond well to stimulating, active environments that will challenge their intelligence and push them to learn.

Friendly character

Most future Golden Retriever and Labrador owners love these breeds because of their incredibly friendly character. There is a good reason Labs are the most popular pets in the US and Goldens are the most popular family dogs in the US - they are incredibly friendly.

They get along with everyone in the family, and if introduced to other pets while they are young, they will get along with them. These breeds don’t care if you have cats, birds, lizards, or horses; they love everyone. Their philosophy is - the more, the merrier.

golden retriever adult

Ideal owners

Another thing Goldens and Labs share is their ideal owners. These dogs will thrive in families or single owners who lead active lives. They love going on adventures, hiking, jogging, or swimming. They love water, and if you live near a lake or the ocean, they will regularly want to take a swim. Their ideal owner will train them and play different games these dogs enjoy. Their retrieving nature makes them ideal fetch partners.

Golden Retriever vs. Labrador - differences

Goldens and Labs can be very similar, but there are a few differences that might help you make up your mind and choose one breed over the other. Since both breeds live between 10-12 years, their health should not play a role in your decision-making process. However, here are some characteristics that might;


Goldens and Labs have double coats that will protect them from cold water or harsh weather, but Goldens have longer coats. Both breeds are heavy shedders, but Labs’ hair is easier to pick, and it is a lot smaller. The amount of hair Golden Retrievers leave behind them is stunning. They will require more grooming, brushing, and baths; some owners pick Labs over Goldens because of it.

yellow lab puppy


Both breeds are fairly athletic, but modern-day Labradors were developed with a focus on muscle mass. Golden Retrievers are a bit more agile than Labs. If you plan on getting a dog to follow you on your adventures, picking Goldens might be a better choice. They are slightly lighter, more agile, and have energy for days.

Mind you, Labs can be the same, but you should talk to the breeder and ask specifically for the “American Lab.” American Labs were developed primarily for working, and they are a bit slimmer and more agile than “standard” Labs.

RELATED: All About Dog Agility Training


Golden Retrievers come in several shades of golden. Some might even be nearly white. White Golden Retrievers are nicknamed “English Cream Golden Retrievers.” However, picking Labs is the only option if you’d like a black or brown dog. Labs come in three official colors - black, yellow, and chocolate. You can read all about it here - Labrador Retriever coat colors.

Health issues

While both breeds are considered healthy and have large gene pools, specific health issues can affect Goldens and Labradors. Both breeds are at risk of

Goldens are prone to seizures and skin issues (due to longer hair). Labs are at risk of

young chocolate lab puppy

In conclusion

There is little difference between these two breeds, and mostly the deal breaker is the amount of grooming that Goldens require. Both breeds are reasonably active, and friendly, and have the best possible character owners can want in their dogs. It really doesn’t matter which breed you choose; you can be sure you are getting a perfect family member that will gladly learn and follow you everywhere you go.

World Dog Finder team

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