Difference between a Labrador and a Golden Retriever
By Theydiffer - September 22, 2015

Since both have qualities of athletic prowess, loyalty and gentle temperaments, are there any significant differences between a Labrador and a Golden Retriever? If you think there are none, you might be surprised that these two actually have differences that may have consequences for comfort and responsibility in your household.



A Labrador is one of several kinds of Retrievers, and is also considered a gun dog (hunting dog). They are athletic, kind, pleasant, and playful in nature. They have a sense of smell that allows them to home in on a scent and trace the origin of its path. Because of this distinct ability, they are one of the most favored assistance dogs in countries such as Australia, Canada, New Zealand, UK, and the United States. They are usually trained to aid people with disabilities like blindness, autism, and even act as therapy dogs.

Two Subtypes of Labrador

  • Yellow – In the early years of breeding up to the mid-20th century, the yellowish color was in fact dark, and almost butterscotch in color. This shade was seen as “golden” and the UK Kennel Club stated that “Gold” was not an actual color and so a far lighter shade of yellow was preferable.
  • Chocolate Labrador – Also established in the early 20th century, these Labradors were theorized to have their distinct color through a degree of breeding with Flat-coated Retriever or Chesapeake Bay Retrievers. They are usually colored a medium brown to a very dark brown.

A Labrador is considered a large breed, with males weighing from 29 to 36 Kg (65 to 80 lbs.) and females from 25 to 32 Kg (55 to 70 lbs.). They also have broad faces and are slightly long-nosed. The hair is usually short and is straight and will shed twice annually, although in temperate climates, they shed regularly throughout the year. The tail on the other hand is broad and strong. They are also excellent swimmers, thanks to their webbed toes.

Golden Retriever

Same as the Labrador, it is a large-sized breed of dog and also known to be a gun dog. Males usually weigh from 29 to 34 Kg (65 to 75 lbs.) and females 27 to 32 Kg (60 to 70 lbs.). They are mostly described as kind, friendly, intelligent, patient, confident and eager to please, which makes them a good family pet. They are equally amiable with people around them, either strangers or familiar faces. With these traits, it does not make them a good guard dog. It does, however, make them excellent assistance dogs, particularly guide dogs. Also, with their intelligence (ranked fourth in Stanley Coren’s The Intelligence of Dogs), it makes them a favorable participant in conformation dog shows.

The name Retriever originated from its ability to retrieve shot waterfowl, during hunting or shooting parties, undamaged. A Golden Retriever, unlike many other breeds of dogs, loves water instinctively. Aside from their love of water, they also have an instinctive tendency to roam. Because of this, they are mostly suited to a fenced area. They also have webbed feet like Labradors, which makes them excellent swimmers.

A Golden Retriever’s coat, as indicated by its name, is usually light golden to dark golden in color. The topcoat is water-resistant and sheds in small amounts. The undercoat however is soft and sheds often,  also serving as its temperature control during summer and in winter. That being said, it requires a fair amount of grooming.

Comparison Chart

 LabradorGolden Retriever
ColorChocolate, black, and yellowGolden and yellowish gold
TemperamentCurious, independent, athletic, kind, pleasant, and playfulCalm, eager to please, friendly, patient
Physical traitsStraight broad tail, folded ears, and webbed feetStraight shaggy tail, folded ears, and webbed feet
GroomingEasier to maintainNeeds regular grooming
CoatShort and denseFlat or wavy
Life Span13 to 14 years11 to 12 years
PriceExpensivePocket Friendly

Labrador vs Golden Retriever

What’s the difference between a Labrador and a Golden Retriever? There are actually a few notable differences between the two that may mean better companionship for you and your family.

  • Maintenance and cost – A Labrador may seem to be a bit cheaper than a Golden Retriever; maintenance however, is much the same as regards food necessities and medical care. Grooming, on the other hand, may mean more responsibility for Golden Retrievers since they have longer coats and often shed hair. Maintenance costs for both will depend on where you live, but likely will be much the same.
  • Temperament – While both have the qualities of being a good family pet, their slight differences may mean a better environment for the dog and the family. With a Labrador, aside from their pleasant traits, they are curious, making them more independent and actively roaming. Golden Retrievers on the other hand are friendly, making them a poor guard dog.
  • Appearance – They are quite similar, except that Golden Retrievers appear furrier. Both have folded ears, medium eye shape, same nose length, and are the same size.

So to summarize, both have wonderful temperaments and both will likely cost you the same; the key difference lies in Labradors being more energetic and active, while Golden Retrievers are more likely to be relaxed and calm.