How Similar Are Labs And Golden Retrievers? Myth Busted


Looking at Labradors and Golden Retrievers side by side, it’s very hard to find any real difference between them. Which only makes it more confusing to know they are considered different breeds.

While the labrador and a golden retriever looks and temperaments are very similar, Labradors and Golden Retrievers come from very different regions and are bred separately. Their similitudes are caused due to both breeds being dogs meant to assist in hunts hence the “retriever” moniker.

Today we’ll be discussing just how closely related are labradors and golden retrievers. To point out the key differences between both breeds and explain how two completely separate breeds could come to be so similar.

A Brief History of Retrievers

While many dog breeds share the “retriever” title, this isn’t an indication of race or familiarity. Retriever is a moniker assigned to dog breeds designed to assist hunters.

These working dogs were selectively bred to have useful traits to retrieve a variety game birds (usually a duck) a hunter managed to shoot down. These dogs were usually fast, good at tracking, had a lot of energy, and were highly loyal.

Dogs are known as retrievers still keep the traits of their gun-dog ancestors even if they have adapted to life as pets. As such, while all retrievers will have countless similarities, they aren’t a single race or breed. As we’ll see soon, different retrievers can be completely unrelated from an evolutionary standpoint.

The Origins of The Labrador

While the Labrador and Golden Retriever evolved to fulfill a similar purpose in sporting hunts, they did so without interaction. They don’t even come from the same continent, as they were bred and raised in Canada and Scotland, respectively.

The Labrador Retriever came to be in the 19th century due to selective breeding by the settlers in Newfoundland. The Labrador was bred by breeding traditional British hunting dogs with St. John’s water dogs.

While these water dogs are now extinct, they were key in the future identity of the Labrador. Labradors inherited their love of water and their signature coat, which was a great trait to have on the island of Newfoundland.

While Labradors were reliable game bird hunting dogs, their love of water made them perfect for fishermen. They could easily chase and hunt down fish, ducks, and other game birds with or without human support. And this reliability is what ensured the breed lived on in the region.

Labradors eventually rose in fame when British nobles brought them back to the mainland, Which amusingly is the most likely explanation for their current name.

As we’ve seen so far, the history of Labradors is tied to the island of Newfoundland, but they eventually came to adopt the name of Labrador, another region nearby.

While the British are responsible for making the breed so popular, they are also responsible for the inaccurate name.

The Origins of The Golden Retriever

On the other hand, the Golden Retriever’s history takes us to Scotland, Great Britain. And when it comes to this golden dog, we know all the details of how it came to be.

Designed to be a champion, the Golden Retriever is the invention of Lord Tweedmouth I. Tweedmouth desired a sporting gun dog that surpassed the traditional retriever breeds available in the area, and as such, took the matter into his own hands.

The Golden Retriever lineage started when Tweedmouth bred his Tweed Water Spaniel “Belle” with an unidentified retriever called “Nous.”

Four pups were born from Nous and Belle, which would breed with other Bloodhounds, the Irish Setter, and the St John water dog. A selective process and inbreeding resulted in the modern Golden Retriever, which inherited traits from all the above races.

The most iconic trait of the Golden Retriever for hunts is their “soft mouths.” Tweedmouth designed his breed so it’d be able to catch prey (mainly game birds) without mauling it, a feat that made it superior to any other sporting gun dogs.

Eventually, the Golden Retriever reached America, where they became popular for a different reason: Their beauty.

Americans fell in love with the grace and beauty of Golden Retrievers, and they became one of the most beloved dogs in the whole country.

Ultimately it is impossible to give a straight answer to that question. The breeding history of the Labrador has been lost to time. So many breeds were involved in the creation of the Golden Retriever that the matter becomes even more blurred.

However, it’s undeniable that once we look at the crossbreeding that resulted in both species, there are common elements at play.

Both of these dogs came to be from the crossing of British hunting dogs and a water dog. The St John water dog is present in both of their lineages, though it has a larger presence in the Labrador’s history.

While the two breeds aren’t directly related and were born in separate regions, there’s no denying they share a similar birth.

Golden Retrievers and Labradors are so similar because their intended role was their same, and their direct ancestors were similar breeds of dogs.

In short, both the settlers of Newfoundland and Lord Tweedmouth decided to create the same kind of dog on their own, and due to their similar methods, the Labrador and Golden Retriever came out looking like cousins.

What Is The Difference Between Labrador and Labrador Retriever?

Now that we’ve covered their past and history, what can we say about both of these dogs? After all, one way or another, they still look almost the same, so how can a future owner know which one is the right call for them?

Starting with the most obvious traits, the average Labrador is both heavier and larger than their Golden friends. But this is still a minor difference, as we are only talking about a few inches and pounds.

While their coats might look the same at first glance, this isn’t quite the case. The Golden Retriever packs both an underwater-resistant outer coat, but their outer coat is wavy and soft, making them look more stylized and elegant.

On the other hand, the Labrador looks bulkier thanks to its double coat, which is not only water-resistant but even ice-resistant. This means their outer coat has to be much denser, making Labradors look larger and more compact.

The other major difference as far as coats are concerned are the colors. The Golden Retriever, as well, golden. There might be some slight differences in the exact tone of golden, but you won’t find them in any other color.

Their coat does tend to get lighter or almost white as they grow older, but this is just a side effect of age.

Labradors, on the other hand, come in more colors. Yellow is the most common color for their coat; and the most popular, but there are other options like the popular chocolate brown.

Chocolate is another popular coat color for them, and it’s a dark hue that no Golden Retriever could ever hope to match. Lastly, there are also Black Labradors, Fox Red, and silver.

When it comes to their habits, they are considered very energetic dogs, making them excellent walking partners. However, if you consider either of them, you should be ready to exercise at least an hour per day. When it comes to energy, the Labrador has the edge, which can affect your lifestyle.

The Labrador as a whole is far more energetic, and since it’s accustomed to water, it’s harder to tire out. As a result of this, a Labrador who doesn’t get enough exercise will become restless and stressed out.

This energy will go out somewhere, and if left alone for a long time, your Labrador will likely take it out on your house.

Labradors are more likely to get separation anxiety, so you need to commit more to their well-being. Make sure to have the time they need to exercise every day and try to have a large area with toys at home to burn any excess energy.

On the other hand, the Golden Retriever is much more mellow. They still need to exercise properly due to their nature as working dogs, but Golden Retrievers are very calm in general.

As long as they’ve had their regular exercise session, a Golden Retriever will be perfectly okay with lazing around or snuggling with their owners the rest of the day.

They can easily tire themselves out if the need appears, but if you keep a consistent exercise routine, they’ll most likely spend any lonely afternoons sleeping or resting.

As such, the Golden Retriever is a better pick for families with less space, as they’ll be easier to control. The Golden Retriever also has the distinct advantage of being slightly cheaper, which adds to their appeal.

Overall if you are looking for a pet, then color and energy are the main difference to take into account. Despite their separate histories, they are very similar dogs, and it’s hard to like one without falling in love with the other.

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