If you’re a dog lover and you’re looking into different dog breeds, you might be asking “are Golden Retrievers Labradors?” The two dogs look very similar, and also share many key characteristics, so this is a perfectly reasonable question to come up with.
However, no, Golden Retrievers are not Labradors. The two dogs are not the same breed and have some significant differences, as well as some major similarities. If you’re looking to get one for your family, be sure to spend some time thinking about which characteristics would fit best with your lifestyle so you can ensure you’re getting the right pet.
Similarities In Looks
Even side by side, these two breeds can look quite similar. They are lovely yellow-golden colours (though Labs can, of course, come in many other colours, such as chocolate). They are also both medium dogs, and very close in both size and weight.
Golden Retrievers are around half an inch shorter than Labradors on average and weigh up to a few kilograms less. That is a pretty insignificant difference and will often be indiscernible even to experienced dog owners.
Both dogs have similar face shapes, with floppy ears and intelligent eyes. They also share long tails, soft mouths, and webbed feet. Both dogs tend to look enthusiastic and excited – which, to be fair, they often are.
They are double-coated dogs, though there are some coat differences that we will look at later. These coats help to protect them against extreme temperatures, but Golden Retrievers and Labradors need to be brushed a couple of times a week to keep their fur in good condition and to save the inside of your house from being covered in it.
They usually shed their undercoats in spring and summer, and this can take three weeks to finish.
Similarities In Character
Both dogs were bred as gun dogs, which means they share a few personality traits too. They are both active canines that enjoy long walks and lots of playing, especially with their humans. They are very intelligent and can fulfil many roles, working as service dogs, guide dogs, etc.
They make good dogs for people who like to hike or jog, or go to their local park every day and play ball games. They need a lot of exercise and stimulation.
Both also require plenty of companionships. They want to be with their families at all times, or with people they know and trust, such as dog sitters or regular dog walkers.
They do not like being left alone for long periods and may become unhappy or even destructive if they feel unsafe. Many Golden Retrievers and Labradors suffer from separation anxiety if not trained correctly and should not be left alone for too long. If you do have to go out, make sure you supply toys to keep them occupied while you’re gone.
They are even-tempered dogs and most are very food-motivated, making them pretty easy to train. They are eager to please and can be taught many tricks. Most Golden Retrievers and Labradors will do almost anything to acquire a treat!
Because of their food motivation, it’s important to keep an eye on their diets – especially as they are also dogs that require a lot of exercise. You need to make sure neither dog is allowed to get overweight, as this puts excessive stress on their joints and can lead to a variety of health problems later in their lives.
It may not surprise you to hear that Retrievers like to play fetch, but so do Labradors. Both love bringing back objects and will run tirelessly back and forth to bring you a ball, stick, or toy. After all, this is what they were bred for, and those instincts are still very much alive in them today.
Both Retrievers and Labradors are very lively dogs, which is another reason you shouldn’t leave them alone for too long – if you don’t provide entertainment, they’ll provide it for themselves, and sometimes in less desirable ways.
You should be aiming to exercise either a Labrador or a Retriever for a minimum of an hour every day. If you can’t commit to that, they are not the right breeds for you to look at owning.
Differences In Looks
Though they are very similar in looks, there are some distinct differences between the two breeds. Perhaps most noticeably, a Golden Retriever has a feathery topcoat, which looks much softer and more elegant than a Labrador’s short coat.
This means that Golden Retrievers tend to need a little more brushing, or at least take a bit longer to brush, but many people love the look of the coat and its soft texture.
While both dogs have long tails, a Golden Retriever’s tail is much more plumed, with long fur. A Labrador’s tail is thick and covered by the same short hair that covers the Labrador’s body.
For many people, the Golden Retriever’s tail is more aesthetically pleasing, but it does involve more work, while a Labrador’s tail is unlikely to need a lot of brushing. The Lab’s tail can help it to swim well.
Because they have longer, fluffier coats, Retrievers will need regular grooming to prevent their fur from growing too long, matting, and getting out of control. You shouldn’t do this yourself unless you know what you’re doing; take your dog to a groomer. A Labrador won’t need its coat cutting, but it does still need to be brushed regularly.
Golden Retrievers also have longer snouts, while Labradors have square muzzles that do not taper the way a Retriever’s does. Labradors’ heads tend to be broader, and they are generally a little more “solid” and muscular than a Retriever is.
The fur on a Labrador’s ears is also shorter, like the rest of its coat, and a Retriever will usually have long, wavy fur covering its ears, which can make them look longer in proportion to their heads.
Differences In Character
Though similar in temperament, you will notice differences between Retrievers and Labradors. Of course, every dog is unique, but there are general trends that tend to differentiate between the two breeds.
Firstly, Retrievers are slightly more chilled out dogs. Though they need lots of exercise like Labradors, they are often happy to settle down after they’ve been exercised. They will come for a cuddle on the sofa or go for a nap quite readily.
A Labrador, by contrast, tends to be a little more wired. They are less happy if left alone, and want to be doing things at all times. It’s pretty hard to wear a Labrador out, and these dogs like to be on the go at all times, bounding around and trying new things.
Most Labradors require slightly more exercise than Golden Retrievers, and more mental stimulation. They are better suited to lively households with older children who can give them lots of attention and play.
Labradors and Golden Retrievers are very similar in some aspects, but they are certainly not the same breed of dog. You should do some research into both kinds and meet several of each breed before deciding which would be more suitable for you and your family.
Remember that Golden Retrievers can be more laid-back and chilled out, but they require a bit more maintenance in terms of brushing and grooming. Labradors like to be on the go all the time but may need less work in terms of their coats.
Whichever you choose, you will be delighted by their family-orientated, loving, loyal characteristics and high levels of intelligence. They are both excellent family dogs to have around.