BRIEF HISTORY COMPARISON
Interestingly, the Golden Retriever has a history based largely upon chance! In 1865, a Scottish noble, Lord Tweedmouth, purchased a golden wavy-haired retriever called Nous from a cobbler on the streets of Brighton. This chance purchase is made even more remarkable when you learn that black retrievers were favoured as working dogs, other colour variations were often disposed of… After working the dog for 3 years at his stately home in Scotland, Nous was mated with Belle, a Tweed Water Spaniel. This pairing created a robust hunter, capable of navigating both land and water to hunt grouse, partridge and even deer! The litter produced in 1868, Cowslip, Crocus and Primrose, are now considered to be the first true Golden Retrievers.
Now surprisingly, the Labrador Retriever doesn’t have its origins in England! They always seem to just be engrained into the UK’s history but this breed actually came from Newfoundland, Canada around the 1500s. The first variation of the Labrador was created by mating a Newfoundland with a smaller water dog to create the Lesser Newfoundland. These hardy dogs were owned and worked by fisherman to retrieve fish from the icy water. It was thanks to the Earl of Malmesbury in the 1800s that we have this breed in the UK. He brought them over to work on shoots and coined the name ‘Labrador dogs’ for which they will forever be known as! It was during the late 19th century that the breed was refined and standardised to what we know today.
Now that we know a little bit about the history of the breeds, let’s look into a brief comparison of their similar appearances.
BRIEF APPEARANCE COMPARISON
These two breeds are of similar sizes, the male Golden Retriever stands at 23-24 inches and the Labrador, around 22-24 inches. Both are healthy at around 27-30kg. Whereas the female Golden Retrievers stand at 21-23 inches, the Labrador at 21-23 inches, both should be around 25-27kg.
It’s fair to say that these breeds are structurally similar in respects to their well balanced, strong and sturdy physique. The Labrador does have a slightly thicker, shorter tail, endearingly referred to as an ‘otter tail’ which helps to steady them in the water. Another water related difference is that the Labrador possesses webbed feet! They both possess an inherently friendly expression that’s paired with bright eyes and a strong jaw.
The most notable difference about these two is their coat. A Golden Retriever’s coat should be soft, longer and wavy, with a feathered effect on their chest and tail. The colour can vary between a deep gold to a light beige with lightened fur across the chest and tail. However, an all-white coat is not recognised in the official Breed Standard. However, the Labrador has a short dense coat that repels water. They also have more colour variety than the Golden’, the recognised colours are black, chocolate or yellow!
Enough about the aesthetics, we’ll now look into the temperaments of the two breeds!
There isn’t much need to compare these two as there are extremely similar!
Both of these breeds are eager to please people, their affectionate nature makes them more suited to service dog duties. The Breed Standard for a Golden is that they are friendly, reliable and trustworthy. And for the Lab, they should be kindly, outgoing, eager to please and non-aggressive. With the proper socialisation, both are even-tempered, playful and gentle with children (it is worthy to note never to leave dogs and children unattended, no matter the breed!). They are also one of the more intelligent breeds and they respond will to positive reinforcement, they aim to please! It could be argued that the Lab is more suited to a working lifestyle given their ancestry and love of retrieving, but both do well in family homes given the right stimulation.
Time to explore the typical health expectancies!
Again, these dogs have similar health expectations. You can expect around 10-12 years with either of these breeds if they’re cared for appropriately! However, due to the similarities in their physical stature, they share some of the same common ailments. Both breeds are typical to suffer from either hip or elbow dysplasia. This can be prevented with responsible breeding but it won’t outlaw it completely. Cancer is another devasting health issue common with both breeds, close communication with your vet, and the right insurance, can help spot the early signs that something isn’t right, hopefully preventing any serious issues to arise.
Now, the Golden Retriever, has a higher maintenance coat than the Lab, they should be groomed once a week to keep skin issues at bay. But expect the Lab to shed more, don’t get a black one if you have cream carpets! Weekly ear cleaning is a must for both to prevent infection. Oh, and whilst it isn’t a technical ‘health’ issue. It is worth mentioning that both these dogs are commonly seen in surgery due to ingesting foreign bodies. Whether that be socks, toys or rocks! Keeping an eye on what’s in their mouth is a must from a young age!
Now for more on their training and intelligence!
INTELLIGENCE AND TRAINABILITY COMPARISON
So due to their working backgrounds, both the Lab and the Golden Retriever are very intelligent and aim to please! They both are eager to learn, which is what makes them so popular as service dogs. Even from a young age, they are susceptible to training and positive reinforcement so you can teach them good habits from the moment you get them home!
Labs tend to love the water and retrieving, so incorporating that daily, or weekly if you don’t want a wet dog every day, will satisfy them enough to give you a chilled out family dog in the evenings.
The only minor pitfall for these two is that you may need to remind your pup of the task you gave them if they become overexcited!