How to Tell the Difference between a Golden Retriever and a Yellow Lab Puppy? The Retriever Guide 2021

Whether you are a first-time dog owner or you are looking for a new addition to your family, you always want to bring home the best dog breed that will be a great family dog. And to your search, you bring down to the two of the most crowd-pleasing canine breeds in town – the Golden Retriever and the Labrador Retriever. So, this is the battle between a retriever and a retriever. The dilemma goes on if you don’t know how to tell the difference between a Golden Retriever and a Yellow Lab puppy.

In this blog post, we have here the similarities and the differences between these two retrievers. We will introduce to you the retrievers and share their best qualities to help you filter down your choice. Check here and see which retriever is your ideal furry buddy!

The Common Things between a Golden Retriever and a Yellow Lab Puppy

Before telling the difference between a Golden Retriever and a Yellow Labrador Retriever puppy, let us try to know first their shared commonalities. Obviously, these two dog breeds carry the word “retriever” on their names. Meaning, both dog breeds were generally used to retrieve games during hunting.

Moreover, the ancestors of the Golden Retriever and a Yellow Lab puppy are well-known as gun dogs or bird dogs. Usually, these are dogs that assist hunters utilizing guns for hunting different birds. They retrieve birds using their soft mouth in order not to puncture the meat.

Additionally, the retrievers, both the Golden Retriever and the Yellow Lab, are renowned for being obedient. They are both intelligent dog breeds and have the ability to follow instructions eagerly. High levels of energy and the great demand for exercise and stimulation of their mental health are crucial for both breeds.

In terms of popularity, the Labrador Retriever sits on the top rank as the most popular dog breed since 1991. The Golden Retriever followed behind the third spot based on the American Kennel Club.

Having the recognition as hunting dogs, the American Kennel Club categorized the Golden Retriever and the Yellow Lab as sporting dogs. Generally, this group of dogs includes different dog breeds. They basically accompany the hunters and assist them in locating quarries. Aside from the retrievers, the pointers, spaniels, and setters are the other dog breeds included in this group.

How to Tell the Difference between a Golden Retriever and a Yellow Lab Puppy

Well, we all know that there is no such thing as perfectly alike. So, even though there are things between the Goldies and the Labs that are generally confusing, differences among them are also present. In case you are having a hard time choosing between these two breeds, check here which one perfectly fits you!

*Looking on their bloodlines

One way on how to tell the difference between a Golden Retriever and a Yellow Lab puppy is to search for their origins. Although they are both retrievers, they still differ from where they originally came from.

how to tell the difference between a golden retriever and a yellow lab puppy
Origin of the Golden Retriever

Around the mid 19th century in Scotland, the Golden Retriever was bred. The first Lord Tweedmouth created the breed within the Scottish Highlands. Its main objective was to come up with a perfect gun dog to be used within the estates in Scotland.

History of the Yellow Labrador Retriever

It was originally in Newfoundland where the Labrador Retriever was bred. And around the 1800s, this dog breed became popular as they were visiting Canada. Some nobles brought fine species of this dog to England. The British dog breeders refined the breed along the mid 19th century and gave birth to the very popular Labrador Retriever.

*Determining their height and weight

Letting us know the comparison on the size of these two dog breeds will also help us how to tell the difference between a Golden Retriever and a Yellow Lab puppy. Looking at this aspect is quite confusing because having them close together will not provide any difference at the first glance. But, as you will take a closer look, you will generally notice the distinction between the two in terms of their physique.

Golden Retriever Overall Size
Average Measurement
55 to 75 pounds
21 to 24 inches
65 to 75 pounds
23 to 24 inches
55 to 65 pounds
21.5 to 22.5 inches
Yellow Labrador Retriever Total Body Measurement
Average Measurement
55 to 80 pounds
21.5 to 24.5 inches
65 to 80 pounds
22.5 to 24.5 inches
55 to 70 pounds
21.5 to 23.5 inches

*Finding out their color

Generally, you will able to tell the distinction between a Goldies and a Yellow Lab puppy in terms of their coat shades. For the Golden Retriever, its name officially speaks for itself. Based on the color standard from the American Kennel Club, the Goldies have various golden shades of coat colors. However, as the Golden Retriever matures, its coat color can range from near to white to dark golden hue.

Meanwhile, aside from the Yellow Lab, Labrador Retriever has two other coat color variations. This basically includes the black and the brown or chocolate. The American Kennel Club stated that any other color of the Labrador Retriever aside from those three may be considered undesirable.

*Identifying their coat

Taking a quick glance at these two dog breeds may give you a minimal distinction or none at all. However, getting a closer look, you will find that their coat may define the difference between the Goldies and the Yellow Lab puppy.

The Goldies Coat

Long and dense, the coat of the Golden Retriever has a water-repellent property. It generally looks thick and wavy on the outside, whereas its under-coat is soft and insulating. This basically means that the Goldies coat comes in a layer.

The hair of the Golden Retriever may grow longer within their neck and back of the forelegs and thighs. Generally, their hair should not grow longer because it may hinder their work or daily activities.

The Coat of the Yellow Labs
how to tell the difference between a golden retriever and a yellow lab puppy

Unlike the Goldies, the Yellow Labs have short coat. But, their coat also has water-repellent action and comes in two layers. The outer layer is dense and the inner part is also soft and insulating.

Another characteristic of the coat of the Yellow Labs is that it is short in length. It gives off a harsh feeling on the hand when being touched. And there is a sort of wave going down the Yellow Labs back.

*Giving them proper care

Generally, how to tell the difference between a Golden Retriever and a Yellow Lab puppy is through the way of taking care of them. Although both are retrievers, they still require special care and attention.

The Retriever’s Shedding

Since both of these retrievers have layered coats, they do shed all year-round with abundant amounts of their hair. During the spring and fall, the Golden Retriever and a Yellow Lab puppy may shed and experience seasonal changes in their coat.

You need to give time and commit yourself on every day brushing and weekly combing of the Goldies hair using an undercoat rake. Keep in mind that the Goldies hairs are comparably longer and paler. Because of that, it would be somehow problematic to some pet owners. On the other hand, the Yellow Labrador Retriever actually needs less grooming.

Grooming Needs of the Retrievers

Playing, running, swimming, and rolling in the yard are the favorite activities of the retrievers, whether it is a Golden Retriever or a Yellow Labrador Retriever. They immediately get stinky and dirty the moment these activities are not yet dealt with. The good thing is that both of these dog breeds have a high affinity with the water. So, bathing them would never be a problem.

However, prepare yourself once you bring home a retriever. Be mindful that regular pet grooming would already be a part of your life. Also, be ready with your budget as you need the assistance of a professional groomer and dog hair trimmer. They will generally maintain the manageability of your dog’s coat.

Moreover, you need to be tolerable in finding the dog’s hair on the floor, carpet, sofa, or anywhere in the house. Once a week brushing is the minimum requirement of the Yellow Lab. Meanwhile, the Golden Retriever requires around three times a week to maintain their coat to be lustrous and tangle-free.

*Knowing their temperament

Telling the difference between a Golden Retriever and a Yellow Retriever puppy also lies behind their character of being great with families and kids. They are both have the ability to get along well with children because of their being affectionate and sociable. Aside from that, both of these dog breeds are very outgoing and eager-to-please.

But, there are still differences between them. Let’s find out what are those and see which one suits your preference:

The Goodness of the Golden Retriever

Generally, the Goldies energy level is set in a medium range. Meaning, this breed can go beyond the everyday decadence and a sweep of home life. The Golden Retriever belongs to the group of the smartest dog breeds. They are easily trainable, fast learners, and always seek praise and affection.

Patience and attentiveness of the Golden Retriever is their key to have enjoyable training. An ideal household pet, the Goldies can mingle with other dogs and cats. Although loyal and protective in nature, this dog breed is not a good choice for a guard dog.

The Likeable Yellow Labrador Retriever
how to tell the difference between a golden retriever and a yellow lab puppy

Compared to the Golden Retriever, the Yellow Lab puppy may generally have a high level of energy. Spending most of your time with them is what they really prefer because they do not like to be alone for a long time period. Like the Goldies, the Labs are also an intelligent dog breed.

They are also a fast learner and always love to have interactions during training. However, their high energy level would be a hindrance to their ability to concentrate on the whole training course. The Yellow Lab and even the other Labrador Retriever are great family dogs. Although can mingle well with other pets in the household, the Labs generally need supervision.

Moreover, being a guard dog is not a thing for the Yellow Lab as same the Golden Retriever. The Labs are generally very much friendly and also eager to interact with humans, even with intruders.

*Checking on their health concerns

The Golden Retriever and the Yellow Lab are both linked with particularly known breed-specific health conditions. And, unfortunately, the Goldies have more health issues to deal with compared with the Labradors.

Health Problems of the Golden Retriever

Below are some of the most common health conditions seen over the Golden Retrievers. Some of these may also be found in the Labs.


The types of cancer that generally affect the Goldies are lymphoma, hemangiosarcoma, osteosarcoma, and mast cell tumors. These types of cancer are highly deadly for the Golden Retrievers. In fact, around 38% of Golden Retrievers will basically suffer and die from cancer.


Subvalvular aortic stenosis is a congenital condition affecting the blood flowing out from the heart of the canines. This is commonly seen on the Golden Retrievers.


Golden Retrievers are highly susceptible to allergies most particularly from skin infections and rashes.


These two types of dysplasia may basically result in major joints malformation in canines. They may generally cause lameness to dogs and their inability of walking. Dysplasia is an inherited condition of the Golden Retrievers.


There are actually lots of eye issues that a Golden Retriever may have to encounter. Primarily, there is the so-called PRA which is a continuous degeneration of the dog’s retina. It may generally cause blindness to the Goldies.

The next one is pigmentary uveitis which is a highly exclusive eye condition to the Golden Retrievers. It is also an inherited condition that leads to uvea inflammation which will eventually cause blindness.

Another eye problem that may occur with the Goldies is cataracts. It can either be inherited during the Golden Retriever’s juvenile years or can be non-inherited.

Yellow Labrador Retriever Health Issues

A list of health problems may also affect the Yellow Labs. Yet, it does not only pertain to the yellow-colored Labrador but also to the other color variations of this dog breed. Some of these health problems can also be seen affecting the Goldies.


Lymphoma is the most common type of cancer affecting the Labrador Retriever including the Yellow Lab. Aside from that, they have a higher possibility of developing bone, liver, lungs, mast cell, and spleen cancers. Yet, the risk of acquiring cancer for the Labrador Retriever is far lesser compared to the Goldies.


These are also inherited conditions for the Labrador Retrievers which may lead to the malformation of their joints. Progression of this condition will result in the inability of walking for the Labs. Overfeeding the Yellow Lab puppy is the main cause of issues with cartilage and bone attachment.


Another inherited condition that highly affects the Yellow Lab puppy and young adult is this exercise-induced collapsed. Mostly, this happens when the Labrador Retriever becomes over-excited while having intense activity.


Like the Goldies, Labrador Retriever may also suffer from PRA and cataracts. However, the cause of cataracts of the Labs is not clear if it is due to PRA or inherited gene. Moreover, the Labs may also suffer from glaucoma which will then culminate in their blindness.

Frequently Asked Questions


A: A pedigree generally comes when bringing home a purebred Golden Retriever. It is a strong indication of the family tree or ancestry of the puppy. Normally, through the pedigree, the last four generations will be traced back and will show all the listed names of the ancestors of the puppy. A reputable breeder should basically have knowledge about that.


A: Most often, the deeper shades of yellow Labrador puppies are termed the golden Labradors. Yet, most breeders of the Lab do not use the term “golden”. The old yellow is actually the official term for this Labrador shade. So, regardless of the shades of yellow or gold, the Labrador should still officially call a yellow Labrador.


A: Actually, choosing between a Golden Retriever and a Labrador entails a very challenging task. But, either dog is a great option as a family pet. You just need to carefully choose your puppy, train them well, and socialize them. That way, you can bring home a loving and gentle pooch, no matter what the breed is.

Final Words

Actually, there are many ways on how to tell the difference between a Golden Retriever and a Yellow Lab puppy. Although they carry the same “retriever” word on their name, they still differ in their bloodlines and place of origin. Aside from that, despite having a close resemblance to their physique, taking a closer look at their coat will let you find their distinction between their color and coat length. Moreover, you also need to pay attention to their health and giving both breeds proper care.

Do you have a Yellow Labrador or a Golden Retriever? What is your best experience having these dog breeds as part of your family? Please share your thoughts with us!

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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