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Difference Between Golden Retriever and Lab 2020!

Both the Golden Retriever and the Labrador are loving dogs that have lots of similarities. They are generally sweet and are loyal pets. Due to this, these two dog breeds mingle well with children. Those similarities make it hard for most first-time pet owners to choose between the two. So, what is exactly the difference between Golden Retriever and Lab?

Golden Retriever vs Labrador

Although the Goldies and the Labs have lots of similarities, especially on a first glance, these great dogs have various differences to offer. Generally, what dog breed seems right for you might not be the one appropriate for your friend. In order to filter the difference between Golden Retriever and Lab, we must have to consider some factors like dog training, family life, hobbies, and available time with your dog to name a few.

However, the essential factor to take note of the difference between Golden Retriever and Lab is that you can’t go wrong in choosing among these two. This will generally apply true provided that you will buy a puppy from a reputable dog breeder. And at the end of it all, the Labs and the Goldies basically land on the number one and three spots as the most popular pet.

List of Difference between Golden Retriever and Lab

Here are some of the significant difference between Golden Retriever and Lab:

Golden Retriever vs Labrador: The Origin

Initially, the difference between Golden Retriever and Lab comes from where they were bred. From the coated or flat Retrievers and Tweed Water Spaniels, the Golden Retriever came out. They came from Glen Affric, Scotland all the way down in the 1800s. The American Kennel Club officially recognized the Goldies in 1925.

On the other hand, the Labrador originally came from in Newfoundland, Canada which is 4,000 miles farther from Scotland. The origin of their breed was from St. Johns Water Dogs. This dog breed was eventually imported to England and work in the field of shooting sports. Officially, the Labrador was recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1917.

Golden Retriever vs Labrador: Their Size

The first difference between Golden Retriever and Lab is their size. On first glance, you will not basically notice the uniqueness of these two breeds in this area. Their size generally ranges from medium to large. However, their builds seem to have a slight difference. Basically, the adult males are a little bit larger compared to their female counterpart.

Yet, the Golden Retriever is generally smaller than the Lab. Looking on their average size, you will usually notice that the Goldies are smaller and are shorter by an inch. But, the Golden Retriever seems to be quite longer having a longer snout.

Additionally, the difference between Golden Retriever and Lab entails the more robust head shape of the Labrador. This applies true for the English Lab who, when compared to the American breed, is less athletic.

Weight (pounds)
55 to 75
55 to 80
Height (inches)
21 to 24
21.5 to 24.5
Length (inches)
22 to 25
22.5 to 25.5

Golden Retriever vs Labrador: The Color

Another noticeable difference between Golden Retriever and Lab is the color of their coats. Basically, the appearance of the coat of Labrador is short and straight. On the other hand, a long and wavy coat may be seen within the Goldies.

Moreover, the colors of their coats are also unique from each other which are a good point to take note on the difference between Golden Retriever and Lab. Primarily, the coat color of the Golden Retriever comes from white to dark golden red hues. That’s why the Golden Retrievers can only be of golden color.

But, the coat of the Lab generally has three basic shades which are the black, chocolate brown, and yellow. Aside from that, there are also red or silver coat for the Labrador. Perhaps, these colors of the Lab are not officially recognized. And, in case you will find a gold-coated Labrador, then you may be encountering a Goldador or the Golden Retriever and Labrador mix.

Golden Retriever vs Labrador: Coat Appearance

A water repellant coat that has a thick and wavy coat on the outside is significantly a feature of the Golden Retriever. Additionally, they also have an undercoat that is soft and insulating. Compared to the Labrador, their coat also has a water repellant property but it usually comes in two layers. However, the outer layer of their coat is short and dense having a soft and insulating inner layer as well.

Golden Retriever vs Labrador: Their Temperament

When raised well, the Goldies and the Lab will generally make an awesome family pet. They come along well with the kids, very sociable, and have an outgoing personality. Aside from that, these two dog breeds are the most common breeds for service dogs, hunting dogs, and search and rescue dogs. But, there are still other crucial temperaments which make a big difference between Golden Retriever and Labrador.

The temperament of the Goldies

Basically, you may find the Golden Retriever to have a medium level of energy which means that they can go on with the everyday life routine. It is necessary for the Goldies to have a daily walk and play. However, always remember that you must have to give them naps between the activities.

Generally, compared to the other breed, the Golden Retriever are the most intelligent. They are easily trainable, fast learner, and want praise and love. Moreover, training a Golden Retriever will be enjoyable as they are a patient and focused dog.

Aside from that, they can mingle well with other pets making them a perfect option as a family dog. They are usually loyal to the family and very protective of them. That’s the reason why they are not a match if you are looking for a guard dog.

The temperament of the Lab

difference between golden retriever and lab

This dog breed has a high level of energy that is already noticeable starting on their puppyhood. The energy that they have generally makes them be eager for activity, work, and play especially on anything that they can chew. However, this behavior may result in a problem if you do not invest time with them. Basically, the Labrador does not want to be alone at home for a long time.

Similar to the Goldies, the Labrador are also smart dogs. They are also a fast learner and always want to have interactions during training. Yet, since they have high energy, it may hinder their focus and concentration while on training.

If you basically want a family dog, you can also add the Labrador to your choice. They mingle and get along well with other family pets but you need to supervise them. Aside from that, being a guard dog is not a thing for the Lab. They’re being friendly in nature and their thirst for human interaction disqualify them for that job.

Golden Retriever vs Labrador: Grooming

In general, the Golden Retriever and Labrador really love to run, swim and play. They enjoy everything that they may find interesting. Additionally, these two breeds are fond of the water which does not make bathing a real struggle compared to other breeds. However, you still need to invest some bucks for their grooming and hair trimming.

Generally, the Labradors require brushing on a once a week basis. Meanwhile, the Goldies demand for about three times a week brushing in order to maintain the gloss of their coat, prevent any mat and removes dead fur. The difference between the Golden Retriever and Labrador is that the latter needs lower grooming maintenance.

difference between golden retriever and lab

Golden Retriever vs Labrador: Shedding

Basically, both the Golden Retriever and the Labrador shed all throughout the year with a great amount of hair. The shedding generally occurs more than twice per year during the spring and fall. Because of the long and paler coats of the Golden Retriever, pet owners find it a problem as it may stick on their clothes. The difference between Golden Retriever and Lab is that the latter only needs less grooming.

Golden Retriever vs Labrador: Health Problems

Basically, both the Golden Retriever and the Labrador are purebred and they are also linked with particular health concerns. Generally, when it comes to health, the Goldies have more health concerns compared to the Labrador.


Golden Retrievers are generally affected by four of the most life-threatening cancers among canines. These are the hemangiosarcoma, osteosarcoma, lymphoma, and mast cell tumors. In fact, there is a study showing that around 38% of the Goldies will die because of cancer. Moreover, the female Goldies may also increase their chance of having cancer due to neutering.

The Labradors, on the other hand, may generally suffer from lymphoma compared to the Goldies. Aside from that, the Labs are susceptible to developing cancer of the spleen, lungs, liver, bone, and mast cell. But, the good thing is that the prevalence of cancer for the Labs is lesser unlike with the Goldies. Additionally, the neutering process may increase the risk of this disease slightly.

Heart disease

Basically, the subvalvular aortic stenosis can be seen among the Goldies. The difference between Golden Retriever and Lab is that the Labrador may not inherit this congenital heart disease in canines.


The Golden Retrievers are more susceptible to allergies especially from those affecting the skin. In contrast to that, the Labrador does not suffer from this health condition.

Joint disease

Two of the major joint malformation that affects the joints of both Golden Retriever and Labrador are the hip and elbow dysplasia. These conditions occur within the Goldies during the early neutering process. But for the Lab, these happen when they were overfed while they were on their puppy stage.

Eye problems

Generally, the eye conditions that may affect the Golden Retriever are the PRA, pigmentary uveitis which will eventually lead to blindness, and cataracts. The Labs are also susceptible to PRA and cataracts. However, they may also suffer from glaucoma which can also culminate in blindness over time.

Exercise-induced collapse

Basically, the exercise-induced collapse may only affect the young adult Labradors when they become over-excited during intense exercise. The Goldies, on the other hand, do not experience this condition.

The difference between Golden Retriever and Lab in terms of health concerns:

Despite the health issues associated with both breeds, the Labrador may live longer compared to the Goldies. Generally, the life expectancy of the Golden Retriever is averaging from 10 to 12 years. On the other hand, the Labrador may live for about 10 to 14 years. Since they can both suffer from various diseases and are genetically linked to some health issues, routine elbow and hip scoring are needed. They also need to undergo eye tests.

difference between golden retriever and lab

Moreover, the difference between the Golden Retriever and Lab is that the Labrador seems to be healthier. This is due to the genetic testing that they had to undergo. The Labrador can basically prevent any prevailing health issues through the help of genetic testing, exercise, and weight control. Unfortunately, genetic testing for the assessment of cancer among Golden Retrievers is still not yet available.

Golden Retriever vs Labrador: Their Jobs

Basically, the difference between Golden Retriever and Labrador is their job. Nowadays, these two dog breeds are working on the same functions or fields within the dog community. However, way back before, they both have different jobs.

Historically, the Golden Retrievers act to retrieve waterfowl being a gentleman’s dog. They were a perfect canine buddy for rich pet owners who found game hunting enjoyable. While the Labradors were the fisherman’s dog working to retrieve fishnets and ropes. But, right after the importation of the St. Johns Water Dog to England, the Labs started to work as sporting companions like the Goldies.

Final Thoughts

The difference between Golden Retriever and Lab are also lining up in numbers. Despite the similarities that they have, there are still noticeable differences among them. Generally, the Goldies and the Labs both positioned on the top three and first spots for being a popular dog breed. They both have a sweet temperament and offer great companionship.

However, there are still distinct characteristics of each breed that make them stand out from each other. In terms of energy and activity, the Labradors are more active and highly energized which is a perfect match for active families. Yet, the Goldies are gentle and loving breed making them an excellent choice for those who have a sedentary lifestyle.

About Tom Thorpe

Tom Thorpe has overtime interacted with different species of dogs mostly through breeding and training; according to him, man’s best friend is yet to find solace in the company of man, as they are continuously mistreated. He, therefore, runs a rescue center that provides shelter to stray dogs, and has been advocating for the rights of animals; the Golden Retriever dogs are among his favorites, the reason he came up with the extensive excerpts to help educate the society on the right treatment and care of the respective breed. Tom spends most of his time running his dog shelter; he is a husband and proud father of two boys and loves to go fishing during his free time.

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