The Golden Retriever | How is the Golden Retriever Different than a Labrador Retriever?

Are you looking for a loving, goofy, laid-back pup who will enjoy your company and the company of others? The Golden Retriever may be the right dog for you. In this post I will share a few facts about the breed, based on our experiences with our dog, Cali, and a number of other golden retrievers.

Temperament & Disposition

The Golden is playful, friendly, and happy. Growing up I had experience with high-energy goldens, but as an adult I have learned that this is not true to the breed standard. Goldens are supposed to be more docile than other high-energy retrieving dogs. They were bred to go out and fetch a duck, and then come lay by the fire and relax. They generally don’t have the energy, stamina, or intense motivation that the Labrador Retriever has. We know from experience, as we have both a lab and a golden, which makes it very easy to compare. Of course there will be diversity within the breed as well, all of this information relates to the average, as individual dogs may have unique characteristics.



Golden Retrievers may not require as much exercise as a Labrador, but measures should be taken to ensure they get enough activity. This is why we chose to add a second dog to the mix, to keep our golden from being lazy all day. Regular walks or games of fetch would also do the trick!


Here is where the Golden becomes a lot more maintenance. That beautiful coat that we all love so much does get to be quite a bit of work. This will also differ across the breed, as some Goldens have very thick undercoats, while our dog has a finer undercoat, making it a bit easier to maintain. Regular brushing (at lease once a week) will help ensure there are no mats.

In addition to brushing, every couple of months you will want to trim the “feathers” around the legs and tail, and trim the fur around the paws and ears. We can always tell when Cali needs a trimming as she begins to develop what we call “Grinch paws.” Once I give her a nice trim they turn into cute “bear paws.”

Regular grooming also gives you a chance to do health checks and make sure your pup looks good. Grooming should include ear cleaning, which is very important as Golden Retrievers are prone to ear infections. They are also prone to a few other health conditions, which I will mention below.


Goldens can be very healthy dogs, but they are prone to a few different conditions, which you should be aware of before adding the breed to your family. The first thing, as mentioned above, is ear infections. Regular cleaning with a good ear cleaner will prevent this up to 100%, we have seen huge success with homemade ear cleaner. They are also prone to urinary tract infections (UTIs), heart issues (especially Subvalvular aortic stenosis), hip dysplasia, as well as skin allergies.

Many pure-breed dogs are prone to similar issues. While these things can often be avoided by ensuring you get your dog from a responsible breeder, there is never a 100% guarantee that you are going to have a healthy dog, no matter where you get the dog from.

How is a Golden Different than a Labrador?

While goldens and labs may look and act very similar in a lot of situations, in my experience, there are three key differences between the Golden Retriever and the Labrador Retriever: energy level, motivation, and coat. Labradors have more energy and stamina than the golden, while the golden is a bit more laid back. Labs may act like puppies for 3-5 years, while a golden seems to mellow out by 2. If you are more limited on space and the ability to exercise a dog multiple times per day, I would definitely not add a Labrador to your home, but a Golden Retriever may do fine in that environment. If you are looking for a working dog for a specific purpose, I would pick a lab for sporting, and a golden for therapy work.

Related to this, labs seem to be more motivated than goldens to work and to please. Our golden is very smart and learns everything quickly; however, our lab is more likely to obey the first time he is asked to do something, and he does it with more intent. Golden Retrievers are a bit more relaxed in their approach. While both breeds may be intelligent and obedient, I find the lab to be more motivated. However, I have seen much more motivated goldens than our dog, Cali, so as I mentioned above, this may look different depending on your individual dog.

The final thing is the coat. This becomes a major factor in the fall and spring when we get quite a bit of mud and precipitation. Our lab is much easier to clean off and keep clean, while the golden takes more energy and precaution in messy weather, but how can you not love that flowy, golden, coat?

Disposition with other Animals

Golden Retrievers are amazing with other animals! They are often very gentle, soft, and trustworthy, although you will want to ensure good training practices. With prey animals, like bunnies, special precautionary measures should be put in place until you have 100% trust in your dog. I would trust Cali completely with the cats, but I still don’t trust her with the chickens (she is a bird dog, after all).

If you read this post and thought, “wow, the Golden Retriever sounds like the perfect dog for me,” your next step is to do a lot more research. There are so many goldens available at rescues throughout the country, so I fully recommend looking into that option first. There are also many reputable, responsible breeders. If you choose to go with a breeder, do your research! Find a breeder that only produces a litter because he or she thinks it will actually lead to another line of even more friendly, loving, beautiful dogs. Ask them lots of questions, ask to speak with previous buyers, and make sure to visit their property and see how the dogs behave and look. We would be happy to answer any questions you have about the process, just reach out to us using the contact page or make a comment below.

That’s all for now friends, all my best,


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s