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Golden Retriever vs. Lab

For many prospective owners, it’s not uncommon to question the difference between a golden retriever versus a labrador retriever. After all, they’re both wonderful dogs—and even have similar names.

Ultimately, the differences between a golden retriever and a labrador are small. Both breeds have the potential to make the best type of companions for years to come in any family.

But like most, it’s a big decision to make when selecting the right dog for you and your family. So if you’re shopping around for a new addition to the household, then it’s best to take the time to know which breed is right for you.

The Origin Story

They say it’s all in the name…and golden retrievers and labrador retrievers have very similar ones. Because of this, most might guess that these two breeds have similar origin stories. The truth is that while their origins aren’t quite the same, the story goes that one breed most likely evolved from another.

image of dog in the early 1900

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Labradors were bred from the St. John’s Water Dog in the 1800s (now extinct)

Originally bred in Canada near Newfoundland, today’s labrador is a result of local Newfoundland dogs and St. John’s Water Dogs in the early nineteenth century. In the early 1800s, they gained popularity in Canada and English colonists brought them back to the U.K. to share with the rest of society.

old image of dogs

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But what about Golden retrievers?

Sometime later around 1850, golden retrievers were developed off the coast of Europe on the British Isles. Bred to serve as a biddable hunting dog, golden retrievers quickly stole the hearts of all the U.K., receiving the nickname as “the gun dog.” There is not much data on the golden retriever’s exact bloodline, but it’s most likely that they are a direct descendant of the famous labradors around the same time.

So for all we know, they do have a common ancestry!

The Difference: Golden Retrievers vs. Labs

When comparing golden retrievers and labrador retrievers, you might not know the differences right off the bat. It’s easy to see that goldens are long-haired dogs while labs have shorter coats, but what goes beyond that?

Both goldens and labs are amazing dogs and would make a perfect companion for any size family, but if you’ve ever wondered the difference between the two breeds, then take a look at this quick guide on these two popular dogs.


Both golden retrievers and labradors are large-breed dogs, so it’s not uncommon for fully mature males to reach half the height of the average adult human. Most often, large dogs don’t even realize their size! When it comes to goldens and labs, the height and weight differences are hardly noticeable by sight.

Still, there is a small distinction between the overall size of a mature, male labrador and golden retriever:

Golden Retriever: Between 23 and 24 inches tall and between 65 and 75 pounds
Labrador Retriever: Between 22 and 24 inches tall and between 65 and 80 pounds

As with any breed, females are typically smaller and weigh less, ranging between 55 to 70 pounds and 21 to 23 inches in height for both goldens and labradors.


When comparing golden retriever versus labrador on shedding habits, both breeds are guilty of excess hair. Because of their unique double-coats, goldens and labs require frequent brushing and twice-a-year blow-outs when the seasons change each spring and fall.

image of the different colors of golden retrievers hair

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Common colors for a golden retriever

But one of the easiest ways to tell the difference between a golden and labrador is by its coat’s color. While labradors can range anywhere between yellow, black, and chocolate shades, goldens range in all hues of gold—hence its name!


Both goldens and labs are praised as family dogs thanks to their undeniably affectionate and intelligent personalities. Most admirably, they are both easy to train, have impressive patience, and always have plenty of energy for playtime.

Even so, labs are better known for their outgoing, silly, yet calm temperaments. Goldens and Labs, are a bit more willing and devoted, meaning that they take training and redirection very well.


Both Labradors and golden retrievers have ranked in the top ten most popular breeds list for the past several decades. Impressively, labradors have been steadily holding first place for nearly three decades.

chart that shows labs are the most popular dogs

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Golden retrievers are not too far behind, though: They have been third place as the nation’s favorite dog for the past several years thanks to their similarities to the ever-so-popular labrador and ability to serve as disability assistance dogs.


Although they have similar names, golden retrievers and labs have a few stark differences, such as:

  • Labs are slightly larger than goldens
  • Labs have a double-layer coat perfect for water retrieval, while goldens do better at fetching prey on land

But at the end of the day, golden retrievers and labradors are excellent family pets. They are both people-pleasers, easy to train, and are well-known for their patience and outgoing levels so that they do well with small children. So, whether you decide to go with a golden or labrador retriever puppy, you’re sure to be happy with your choice for years to come!

That said, we are partial to labrador puppies — specifically the white English Lab. At Snowy Pines, we exclusively breed high-pedigree white English lab puppies, whose snowy coat and lovable nature are sure to be the perfect addition to any home. Contact us today to learn more about why our puppies are special, and how you can add one to your family.

Beautiful English Lab


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About the Author


Tom Massey

Tom Massey has owned and operated Snowy Pines Labradors for over a decade. They have become the leaders in English Labradors in the US. He and his team serve customers all over the US and Europe. They house their "dog family" in a state of the art facility on a large farm in the Ozark Mountains. With an obsession for genetics and temperament they raise and train dogs known across the globe for health and personality. Tom serves the pet industry in many forms campaigning for ethical breeding, training, and pet ownership.


Calm Tempered, AKC Purebred, and Certified Genetics.