Labrador vs. Golden Retriever: Who Makes the Best Pet Dog?

Labrador and Golden Retriever are probably the two most popular dog breeds in the world, with no competition in terms of cuteness.

Although they both make excellent pets, they share many dissimilarities in temperament, energy, and activities; hence, new pet owners should consider their lifestyle before picking one!

Golden Retrievers are slightly low-energy dogs who enjoy a laidback life with minimal physical activities, displaying a gentle temperament. In contrast, Labradors are always on their feet to explore outdoors and are energetic and curious, making them unique pets.

You should consider these and a few other factors when owning a Labrador or Retriever as a pet.

Labrador vs. Golden Retriever: Similarities

Labrador and Golden Retrievers are lovable canine breeds that make perfect pet dogs.

In fact, many new pet owners often confuse the two for their similar build and size, lifespan, and media portrayal as a family dog.

  • Friendly and Sociable: Labradors and Retrievers are known for their social and friendly nature. They enjoy spending time with people, children, and other pets.
  • Intelligent: Both breeds are highly intelligent dogs and quick learners. You can quickly train them for various activities and training purposes.
  • Energetic: Both breeds are active and vibrant, with Lab slightly more on their feet, requiring daily exercises and mental stimulation through jogging, walking, or games like fetch and catch.
  • Loyal and Affectionate: No wonder they are dedicated and devoted to their families, often forming strong bonds that last until they die.
  • Good with Children: These breeds are great with small children for their gentle and patient demeanor. Their friendly nature makes them suitable for kids and small pets.
  • Versatile Working Dogs: Labradors and Golden Retrievers are versatile, and they are commonly used as guides, therapy, and search and rescue dogs.
  • Adaptable: They are adaptable to different living conditions, including suburban homes, rural settings, or apartments (with enough space to jog and play around).

Being distant cousins, they share many similarities; choosing between the two breeds can be challenging.

Therefore, your choice would come down to your lifestyle and preference for a particular family pet.

Labrador vs. Golden Retriever: Differences

If you are confused about choosing between the two, here are some differences to help you decide better.


Labrador Retriever

Golden Retriever


Energetic, outgoing, and friendly

Friendly, intelligent, and gentle


Generally slightly larger (Male is 57-62 cm)

Slightly smaller (Male is 56-61 cm)


Short, dense, water-resistant double-coat

Thick, double coat with longer fur


Black, yellow, chocolate

Golden or variations of gold


Low maintenance with less shedding

Regular brushing, especially during shedding

Exercise Needs

High energy, requires regular exercise

Moderate to increased energy, regular exercise needed


Highly trainable, eager to please

Highly trainable, keen to please


Knowledgeable, good problem solvers

Intelligent, good problem solvers


Sociable, generally good with other pets

Social, usually good with other pets

Health Concerns

Prone to hip and elbow dysplasia

Prone to hip dysplasia and heart conditions


1. Grooming and Shedding

The shedding is common with both dog breeds, but Golden Retriever is likely to shed more than Labradors.

Golden have thick, water-repellant double coats that they shed twice a year, with moderate continuous shedding.

Labs also boast thick, water-repellant double coats that they shed twice a year, but their continuous shedding is less apparent than Golden Retrievers.

For either breed, regular grooming is a must. Be ready to get a grooming brush to remove loose hair regularly.

2. Nature and Temperament

Both breeds are friendly and outgoing, but there can be subtle differences in their temperament.

Labradors are often more energetic and on their feet, while Golden Retrievers are known to be calmer and gentle in their approach.

Labrador is your safe bet if you want a pet that will follow you everywhere and is always up for some action.

Consider which temperament aligns better with your preferences and lifestyle.

3. Energy and Activity

Labradors tend to have higher energy levels than Golden Retrievers and are more versatile as pet dogs.

Labs are mainly chosen as therapy dogs, whereas Golden are more home-friendly pets.

Similarly, if you are more active in daily life, a lab would make a perfect fit as your jogging partner.

However, Golden retrievers have instincts that make them great hunters; hence, they are called retrievers. You can give retrieving tasks to keep your Golden Retrievers stimulated.

Assess your activity level and the amount of time you can dedicate to exercise, where physical activity and mental stimulation are necessary for both pets.

Which Pet Dog to Pick?

Many experts consider Golden easy to train compared to Labradors for their easy-going personality.

You may need more health tests for Labs, including hip evaluation, exercise-induced collapse, Centronuclear Myopathy, Progressive Retinal Atrophy, and elbow evaluation.

Check this infographics for more information.

On the other hand, Golden may only need hip and elbow evaluation, ophthalmologist evaluation, neuronal ceroid lipofuscinosis test, and some cardiac exam.

In truth, minor differences aside, both make great, lovable pets with much more to offer, so you cannot go wrong with either breed.

It all comes down to your personal preference. As a matter of fact, you can adopt both dogs if your heart is more significant than your home.


Whether you choose a Labrador or a Golden Retriever, obtaining your pet from a reputable breeder or, even better, an adoption center is crucial.

Get in touch with Urbandale Pet Hospital, the best doggy daycare in Des Moines, to learn about your pet dog's essential needs.

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