Retrievers were originally gun dogs bred for outstanding obedience and sense of duty. They spent the first portion of their existence recovering ducks and other small prey for hunters. But eventually, because of their overall gentle dispositions, they moved to the household to become beloved family pets.
Both Labradors and Golden Retrievers offer such fantastic companionship for owners. Each of them ranks in the top 3 most popular breeds in many countries across the world. While you can’t go wrong with either, there may be one that is more compatible with you and your lifestyle or preferences. Let’s find out.
A Quick Overview
Let’s look at critical points for each breed. Although they are very similar, we have learned key differences that separate one from the other.
Labs and Golden Retrievers are structurally similar. However, the most notable difference between the two is coat color. As mentioned above, they were both bred to be fetching dogs for hunters. When an animal was shot, the dogs would retrieve them—hence the name. Their responsibilities required them to have robust, solid figures and high energy.
Golden Retrievers get their name honestly. They come only in medium-length coats of gold, ranging from dark to light. Their fur can be wavy or straight and tends to feather out on the legs, ears, and underbelly. They do shed quite heavily and benefit from regular brushing.
They have average lifespans of 10-12 years. These pretty dogs weigh between 55-75 pounds, making them medium-sized, with a muscular build and a sturdy frame. They have blocky muzzles, notably friendly expressions, and kind eyes.
In contrast, the Labrador Retriever comes in beautiful shades of yellow, black, and chocolate. They have shorter coats of straight hair and are also heavy shedders who benefit from regular maintenance. They have what is referred to as “otter tail” making them excellent swimmers.
Like their Golden cousins, they have lifespans averaging 10-12 years. They weigh 55-79 pounds, making them larger by a slight margin. Their stature and build are almost identical, being agile and athletic. They have the same block-style muzzle and soft features, looking gentle and welcoming.
Both breeds are very brainy and obedient, which awards them as ideal candidates for teaching. While these two have been household pets for years, they most recently were assigned as service dogs, taking on several new roles. Because of their high trainability and love for people, they excel in various areas of versatility involving human contact.
These dogs are known for their even-keeled personalities. They’re notoriously good with people, from infants to the elderly. They are emotionally intuitive, sensing changes in your mood and demeanor.
This breed is equally happy cuddling on the couch or catching a Frisbee. Their diverse interests help them find entertainment with every member of the household. Since they are such fast learners, they absorb tasks both simplistic and sophisticated, from house training to detecting diabetic reactions.
They are generally not aloof or inauspicious, but they will let you know when something isn’t right. They may not excel as much as an action-oriented guard dog due to their approachability.
Being the number one dog in America, there is probably little surprise as to just how pleasant this breed is. They are very interactive with their families, serving as lively playmates and loving pals. They’ll want to accompany you on brisk walks and will love a swim even more.
At the end of a hard day, they will have no issue winding down with you. They will be happy to climb in your bed or into their kennel to sleep. If anything out of the ordinary goes on, they will survey the scene and alert if necessary.
They will be able to catch onto basic tricks, potty training, and walking with a lead in no time. Since uncomplicated commands are a cinch, they can also fulfill more significant roles, such as being adequate therapy dogs for people with special needs.
These two breeds are hardy by design. They’re made for the outdoors, able to withstand the elements, and they aren’t particularly prone to a long list of illnesses. As with any breed, they may have potential issues to be aware of so you can prepare in advance for the possibilities.
This breed can suffer mild conditions such as hypothyroidism, mast cell tumors, eye disorders, and seizures. All these problems can be easily managed with veterinary care. They are also prone to obesity, so a balanced diet is a must.
They can, however, suffer some more extreme problems such as canine hip dysplasia, certain cancers, and chest conditions. These problems are commonly seen in larger dog breeds and can be dealt with accordingly.
The less problematic health concerns Labs may face are hot spots, cataracts, and hypothyroidism. Because they are quite physically active, they may encounter what is called exercise-induced collapse. That only occurs after periods of high-intensity exercise, leading to loss of muscle control.
This breed deals with conditions such as patellar luxation, canine hip dysplasia, and osteochondritis dissecans. Because they can face so many joint-related complications, your vet will check them over during routine examinations to stay on top of developing issues.
Costs with all breeds can fluctuate. With Labs and Golden Retrievers, this is especially true since they can be used in both domestic and service roles. Because you can purchase one that has been professionally trained for specific tasks, the value goes up tremendously.
Both of these breeds are very common, so you can find them at shelters and rescues at very affordable prices. If you do purchase from a breeder, it is highly advisable to check on the certifications and breeding practices. Each potential pet should have paperwork and proof of vetting before you consider buying.
When rescuing from a shelter or rescue center, you are generally going to pay somewhere in the ballpark of $50-$300. This typically covers shots, spay/neuter, and general care.
If you buy from a breeder, you can pay anywhere between $500-$3,000. This will depend on who you buy from and the purpose of the dog. If you are obtaining a companion animal, you will pay less than if you are looking for show-dog quality.
If you are acquiring a professionally trained service dog, you could be paying anywhere from a few thousand dollars to a high price of $25,000. It depends on where you are looking, what they specialize in, and the quality of training.
For a Lab, you can expect to pay within the average estimated price range of the Golden Retriever. Shelters and rescues will cost the same—up to $300 to cover basic care and vet costs.
If you purchase from a breeder, you can expect to pay between $800-$1,200. If you want a top-of-the-line show dog, you can pay $3,000 or more.
Labs, same as Golden Retrievers, can cost upwards of $25,000 depending on their specialized training. Labs are largely schooled to perform duties as therapy dogs for the blind, autistic, victims of trauma, and diabetics.
Which Breed Speaks to You?
If you get down to brass tacks, you will be selecting the look you like best. They have such drastic parallels in temperament that you would be better off choosing from a visual standpoint. You do have more color freedom and less grooming with the Lab, but the long golden locks may be what you prefer instead.
There is no denying that both marvelous dogs are ideal pets. They didn’t climb the charts, becoming two of the most sought-after breeds, for nothing. When it comes time to make that final selection, you aren’t going to regret your decision.