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Lab Retriever vs. Golden Retriever

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Lab Retriever vs. Golden Retriever
Lab Retriever vs. Golden Retriever | Innovet Pet
The labrador retriever and golden retriever look similar, but they are two very different breeds. While they are very gentle and patient dogs, they each have their own needs which need to be catered to well. This article will explore more behind their differences so you find which one suits you the best.

The History of the Labrador Retriever

The labrador retriever is believed to have originated in Newfoundland and Labrador. They are a descendant from St. John’s Water Dog which was brought to these two islands by settlers during the 16th-century. Many characteristics of the St. John’s Water Dog can still be seen today in labs, such as their love for being in the water and retrieving things.

It wasn’t until the early 1800s that the name “Labrador” was first used with this breed of dog. The original colors were black and yellow, although the chocolate lab came around in the late 1800s.

The History of the Golden Retriever

The golden retriever was first bred in Scotland during the 19th-century. While it’s not known entirely what breed this dog originally came from, it’s believed it could have been the Russian Tracker which has a similar appearance and temperament. Golden retrievers were bred to help bring in waterfowl that had been hunted and be an athletic companion to their owners when they went out.

Golden Retriever vs. Labrador: Their Appearance

One of the best ways to help tell the differences between labs and golden retriever is by their appearance. Below is more behind how each of these breeds look.

Labrador Retriever

Lab Retriever vs. Golden Retriever | Innovet Pet

A labrador retriever comes in three different colors: black, brown, and yellow. Unlike golden retrievers, labs have much shorter hair. They stand at an average of 25 inches tall and can weigh anywhere from 50-80 lbs. Their short fur is very dense which helps to keep them warm. They have a wide head, floppy ears, and an iconic otter tail.

Golden Retrievers

The golden retriever comes in a few different coat colors, which include gold, light, and cream. They tend to have long hair which needs to be groomed often. Golden retrievers have a little bit of a sturdy build and are known for their short muzzle and feathery tail.

Labrador Retriever vs. Golden Retriever: Their Temperament

Both of these dogs are very friendly, but they can vary sometimes in other temperament aspects.

Labrador Retrievers

Lab Retriever vs. Golden Retriever | Innovet Pet

Labs are very social dogs and love to be around people and other animals. However, sometimes this excitement of meeting new people can make them very hyper which some might misinterpret as aggressive behavior. Labs are patient animals making them a good addition to families, even those with young children. Labs are also very outgoing and playful, even more so than golden retrievers.

Golden Retrievers

Golden retrievers are also very social and love to please others. They are very gentle and patient meaning they are also a good family pet to have. In addition to this, they are very obedient, unlike some dogs who might try to be aggressive and assert dominance.

While both of these breeds might vary in some ways, they are very gentle and friendly. They also tend to act very puppy-like even in their mature years and can be very goofy and playful.

Golden Retriever vs. Lab: Their Health Issues

Unfortunately, there are some common ailments that affect labs and golden retrievers.

Canine Hip Dysplasia

A very common health ailment among labs is canine hip dysplasia. This is when there is an abnormal functioning of the hip bone which could be due to a type of deterioration of the bone. If not treated, it can make your pup be in quite a bit of pain and could even lead to ailments such as arthritis. Some symptoms of canine hip dysplasia include a decrease in movement, limited range of motion, lameness, a swaying gait, and a grating sound in the hip bone when your dog walks.

Ear Infections

Because their ears are floppy, sometimes bacteria can grow in them resulting in nasty ear infections. Most ear infections will cause their ears to get very red and itchy. You might also see some strange colored wax coming out of their ears which is a common sign of an ear infection.


Both of these dogs, especially labs, tend to suffer from obesity because they love to eat. In fact, a large majority of these breeds are overweight without their owners realizing it.

While obesity in these breeds is usually due to them eating too much, it could be a sign of another health problem as well. This could include cancer, digestive disorders, liver disease, and high blood pressure,

If you don’t get your dog’s weight under control, it could lead to them getting diabetes, sore joints, and trouble breathing. Because of this, it’s important to monitor their weight.

Heart Disease

While heart disease is not a common problem in labs, it’s still a good idea to have their heart monitored to help prevent possible heart problems in the future.

On the other hand, heart disease is somewhat common in golden retrievers, particularly a condition known as sub-aortic stenosis which causes the aorta to narrow. While this is often inherited, it can develop later on in life for some dogs. It can start out as a slight heart murmur and eventually turn into something more serious if not taken care of. Some signs of a possible heart problem in your labrador or golden are a lack of energy, frequent coughing, a swollen abdomen, or suspicious weight gain.

Skin Conditions

There are various skin conditions which are common in both labs and golden retrievers. A prevalent skin problem in golden retrievers is atopic dermatitis which causes their skin to get very flaky and red. This can cause them to be very itchy and could lead to skin infections.

Labradors also tend to have similar skin conditions to golden retrievers. They can get atopic dermatitis but also could have skin conditions due to parasites, allergies, and infections. Common skin disorders in labs include yeast infections,hypothyroidism, and seborrhea.


A common problem among golden retrievers is cataracts as they are predisposed to it. This can cause their eyes to get cloudy which can make it difficult for them to see. If not treated, it could eventually lead to blindness. Common causes of cataracts in a short haired golden retriever include old age, low calcium in the blood, exposure to a type of radiation, and inflammation in the eye.

Labs can also get cataracts, but they don’t usually happen as often as with golden retrievers. They will have the same symptoms as golden retrievers, such as cloudy-looking eyes. However, dog cataracts can develop at any stage of their life, including as a puppy. Because of this, it’s important to always check their eyes to help prevent them from progressing.

Yellow Lab vs. Golden Retriever: Grooming Needs

A golden retriever and lab retriever both have very different grooming needs. Below are some important things to keep in mind regarding this."

Grooming a Lab

Labs have short hair, but it tends to be very thick. This means you’ll need to make sure to brush them often. You should do a quick massage through their fur before you start their grooming session. This way, you’ll be able to feel for any strange lumps which could be a sign of a skin infection, tick, or knotted hair.  A massage also helps to loosen any dead skin and loose fur which helps to remove these particles better when you bathe them. You also want to make sure to invest in a thick brush with tough yet gentle bristles. This will help it to get deep into their coat to remove loose fur and dead skin.

Bathing Your Lab

One of the benefits of having a lab is that you don’t need to give them a bath as often as you do with a golden retriever. Make sure to do so with lukewarm water and an appropriate shampoo that will help to clean them. However, if they have sensitive skin, make sure to invest in a shampoo that won’t irritate their skin.

For a lab puppy, you want to be especially careful as their skin might be a little more sensitive. Lab puppies also don’t usually need a bath often, except if they end up rolling in the mud or do something that causes them to smell and get dirty. You can bathe your lab in your bathtub, outdoors, or in a special pet shower which is designed to be portable.

Clean Out Their Ears

Because labs are prone to getting ear infections, you want to make sure to clean out their ears often. However, you don’t want to overdo this as it could also cause their ears to become irritated. Due to this, always check their ears for signs of dirt or wax. If you see it, gently remove it with a clean cotton ball. However, make sure not to go too deep into their ears or it could end up hurting their ear canal. If you find something questionable in their ear, make sure to contact your vet rather than trying to remove it yourself.

Keep Their Nails Trimmed

If you don’t stay on top of keeping your lab’s nails trimmed, they could end up getting too long. This could not only cause them difficulty when walking, but could hurt their skin when they scratch themselves. Ideally, they should be trimmed about every two months. You can trim them yourself, but you need to be careful not to trim too much or it could end up causing severe bleeding. Because of this, it’s often recommended that you visit your vet where they’ll be able to trim their nails safely.

Grooming a Golden Retriever

A golden retriever has much longer hair compared to the lab meaning they will have different grooming needs.

Bathing Your Golden Retriever

Ideally, this breed should be given a bath at least once a week. This can help to remove dead skin and loose fur which might be irritating them. It can also help to prevent fleas from trying to make a home in their fur. You can sign shampoos and conditioners designed specifically for this breed. After using it, always make sure to dry them as best you can with a towel. You can also use a hairdryer on its lowest setting to help ensure their fur is completely dry. To ensure that their fur isn’t knotted afterward, always keep a brush on hand and run it through your dog’s fur as you’re drying them off.

Clean Their Ears

Just as with labs, golden retrievers need to have their ears cleaned regularly. However, this breed has long hair in and around their ears. Because of this, you’ll also need to make sure to carefully trim this hair to prevent it from causing irritations. There are special grooming shears you can use to help with this.

Trim Their Nails

Long nails on a golden retriever can also make it difficult for this breed to walk. Always take just a little bit off to help prevent trimming too much of the nail off which could cause bleeding.

Watch Their Tail

You should also watch your golden retriever’s tail as it needs to be groomed as well. This breed’s tail should look like a fan and there are various techniques you can follow to help it look like this. For instance, twist the hair around the tail a little bit and then slightly cut the hair at the end of the tail so it has this look.

The Energy Levels

Both of these are very energetic as they were bred to do athletic tasks, such as hunting. Because of this, it’s important that they have adequate exercise. Otherwise, they might end up being so full of energy that they could resort to doing things like chewing or barking often as a way to help relieve their high amount of energy. Even if you just take them for a walk, this is better than doing nothing at all. In fact, both of these breeds often enjoy their walks and look forward to them each day.

Training a Lab and Golden Retriever

Training a lab or golden retriever is somewhat easy to do because these two breeds are very eager to please.

Start Early On

The best way to help ensure training your dog goes well is to start as soon as possible, preferably while they are still a puppy. This way, they’ll learn early on what they should and shouldn’t do. While this will take some time and patience, both of these breeds are fast learners and will eventually learn various commands and tricks.

Use Clicker Training

Clicker training can sometimes be helpful when it comes to training your dog. By saying a command, clicking the clicker, and then giving your dog a treat, they’ll soon come to learn that the clicker means they are doing things right and will get a reward. Keep in mind though that while this works with many dogs, some might not take well to it. Because of this, it might be a good idea to use a different method.

Keep Practicing the Commands

Even if your dog has understood the commands and is following them, always keep practicing. This will help them to remember the commands and keep it fresh in their mind. It also keeps your dog mentally stimulated which can be very beneficial when it comes to keeping their brain active and healthy.

Work on Leash Pulling

A common problem with these two breeds you’ll need to be prepared for is leash pulling. Both labs and golden retrievers love to sniff and explore new things. Because of this, they’ll pull on their leash to get to these areas or to try to meet new people. To help prevent this, it’s important to work on preventing leash pulling, especially when they are young. You can use a harness or fixed-length leash to help with this training. These will make it easier for you to control your dog while also preventing them from getting hurt. Eventually, they will come to learn that by tugging they won’t get anywhere and will stop pulling on their leash resulting in better walks.

Always Reward Good Behavior

Lab Retriever vs. Golden Retriever | Innovet Pet

One of the best ways to help train your dog is by rewarding their good behavior. By showing them you are proud of this behavior, they will try to do more of it because they are always willing to please. You can reward them with small treats, a pat on the head, a toy, or affection.

This article explored more behind the difference between golden retriever and labrador. While these two breeds are often confused for each other, they are very different and each has their own needs, such as grooming and health concerns. Because of this, it’s important to know the differences so you determine whether a golden retriever or labrador is right for you.


Labrador Retriever
Labrador Retriever
Golden Retriever
Golden Retriever
Labrador Retriever vs. Golden Retriever

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