Golden Retriever Vs Black Lab

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When it comes to choosing the perfect family dog, it is important to understand the different breeds in order to land with the best fit for your family.

What are the differences between Golden Retrievers and Black Labs? While similar in a number of ways, the health concerns, cost of the animals and body structure are different. When looking at these two animals side by side, the Lab is much more muscular looking than the Golden Retriever.

One of the two breeds is known for always smiling at you, so if you are looking for a happy companion, that might be the one to go with! This article will go in depth into the similarities and differences between these two breeds and answer some frequently asked questions at the end.

According to Advantage Petcare, both Golden Retrievers and Black Labs will add love and depth to your life. Along with many other blogs and articles online, you will find that while very similar, there are a few things that make these breeds different. We have put together a detailed and well researched list of all of the things you need to be aware of when choosing the best companion for you or your family.

In this article

‍Choosing a Golden Retriever vs Black Lab

Both Golden Retrievers and Black Labs are great family dogs that American families have been purchasing, loving and enjoying for many years. On the list of best family dog breeds, you will likely find both of these listed.

If you are unsure of which breed matches your family’s needs best, then you are in the right place. This article will explore the differences in the breeds from a young puppy age to a full grown dog, answering many questions you might have.

Before you take home your furry friend, it is best to ask a few questions about the parents and the dog itself so you can be the best puppy parent possible. Make sure you are aware of the health history of both parents, have an updated list of immunizations, take a mental note (if possible) of how the parents behave, and find a puppy that is healthy and happy, if given the opportunity to pick from a litter.

When you know about the dog’s health history, you will be able to better care for your dog and help him feel happy and welcome in his/her new family. Here are a few comparisons of Golden Retrievers and Black Labs.


While cost might not matter to some people, it is important to understand the difference in pricing on these animals to make sure it is a good financial decision for your family. If you are purchasing directly from a breeder, you can expect to spend anywhere from $900-$1500 for a Golden Retriever and $800-$1200 for a Black Lab.

When rescuing a dog from a pound, the costs are much lower. Oftentimes, you will not find a full-bred dog at a pound, but the fees for adopting are much lower, if you are okay with not having a full-bred animal.


These two breeds are very similar in how they look, with the obvious exception of the coat color of golden vs. black. Both breeds have folded ears, webbed feet and very long tails.

While they are very similar in a lot of ways, a great way to tell the difference is by looking at the profile of each animal. Golden Retrievers have longer snouts and Black Labs are much more muscular.


The obvious difference between a Golden Retriever and a Black Lab is the color of the coat on the animal. Golden Retriever’s coat can range from light blond to a reddish tint, but most Black Labs are a dark black color. Both coats are water-resistant and require a lot of brushing, a great bonding moment for you with your animal.

Life Expectancy

Black labs and Golden Retrievers both live about the same amount of time. Depending on the health of your animal, you can expect them to live about 10-13 years. Imagine how much fun you can have making this animal a huge part of your family and your children’s lives!


Golden Retrievers typically weigh in a few pounds under a Black Lab and will range anywhere from 55-75 pounds. Black Labs are a tad bigger, weighing in around 65-80 pounds.


Golden Retrievers and Black Labs behave in a lot of similar ways, since they were created for the same purpose: to be a hunting companion. The more active your lifestyle is, the happier your furry friends are going to be. This means that they need to be taken on frequent walks and be given adequate room to run and explore.

Due to the family-loving nature of a Golden Retriever, it is important to note that these animals are not particularly good at guarding or protecting. They are more about loving and having fun, so if you are expecting them to scare off an intruder you might not find what you are looking for.

Both of these breeds want to spend as much time as possible with their owners. They are loyal to a fault and want to go on walks as much as possible. This is a great part of owning either of these breeds because they will force you to be more active and focus on your fitness a little more!

If you have ever seen a guide dog or a service dog, chances are that they are either Golden Retrievers or Black Labs because they are both intelligent and great helpers for various reasons.

Grooming Needs

Regardless of which breed you end up choosing, be prepared to add monthly or bimonthly trips to the groomer to your budget. Both breeds are known to shed quite a bit so you can expect about two huge shedding “seasons” per year.

When the second coat comes in, they will need it to be trimmed and cut back to avoid excess shedding around your house or on your furniture. If you end up going with a Golden Retriever, you might need less trimming appointments and more undercoat raking appointments to keep matting at bay and their coat nice and soft.

Oftentimes, people with Black Labs keep the coat much shorter than those who own Golden Retrievers, but you will frequently need to visit the vet to keep the face and tail trimmed and clean.

Other Needs


Both breeds are water-loving animals and need to have access to a lot of water throughout the day. If you are leaving during the day for work, make sure they have water set out to hold them over until you come home in the evenings.


These dogs are both very family oriented and family loving, so make sure that if you plan to be away for an extended period of time that you have someone to come take them for a walk or keep them company. They will not thrive if they do not have that human connection time.


Golden Retrievers and Labs both love to play with their owners. Whether it is a good wrestling match or a quick game of fetch, they want your attention and love to spend time playing. They need to be outside for at least one hour a day, with plenty of room to run and explore.


If you live in an apartment or a home with limited outdoor space, both of these breeds might not be the best fit for you. These animals love to run and need adequate space to do so. Living in a smaller space might present a challenge for you and your pet.

Health Concerns

One thing many people don’t like to discuss, but is necessary in order to take the best care of your pet is health concerns. Below is a list of the possible health issues that may arise in these particular breeds.

Golden Retrievers:

  • Hot sections on the skin and other skin issues due to the long coat that can trap in bacteria
  • Seizures
  • Elbow Dysplasia caused by abnormal elbow joint growth

Black Labs:

  • Eye issues such as Entropion, when the cornea is irritated by the rolling of the eyelid
  • Laryngeal Paralysis, when the voice box is paralyzed and the animal has trouble barking and breathing
  • Knee and Elbow pain

Shared Health Concerns of Both Breeds:

  • Cancer
  • Obesity
  • Ear Infections
  • Hip Dysplasia

While none of these health issues are things anyone wants to deal with, a lot of them can be prevented with proper care and attention. Every single breed of animal has health risks and potential issues to look out for, so do not let these lists deter you from either breed, but rather look at it as a way to take better care of your animal.


How do I know which breed is best for me?

Before you purchase or bring a dog home, try spending time with each particular breed to see which one you enjoy more and which one responds better to you and/or your family.

Some breeders might allow you to come play with the dogs before you take them home, so never be afraid to call around and ask for a playdate with the animals.

Why are there so many health risks?

Full bred pets tend to have more of a chance of health issues as opposed to mixed breeds. These particular breeds of animals might have a higher risk of eye problems and cancer. With a good balance of diet and exercise, however, the risks can be greatly decreased.

Will these breeds be good with my kids?

Absolutely, yes. You cannot find a more family oriented and kid-loving breed than a Golden Retriever or Black Lab. These animals are loyal, loving, and will be a great added member to your family.

Are the puppies cuter with one breed over another?

If you have never seen a Golden Retriever or Black Lab puppy, do a quick search online. You will quickly find that both puppies are adorable and will steal your family’s hearts instantly.

Are these dogs hard to train?

Golden Retrievers and Black Labs are both highly intelligent animals and will be easy to train with dedication and consistency. The better you want your animal to behave, the more time you need to spend with them. Always reward positive behavior and praise your animal frequently for them to learn the fastest.

If I have other pets, will they get along with them okay?

Chances are that adding a Golden Retriever and Black Lab to your family is going to be the easiest transition because they love other cats and dogs.

Will these breeds be able to protect my family?

Golden Retrievers are very docile and loving creatures and will not be a great choice for a guard dog for your family. They are way too loving to become aggressive and might not notice the danger of an intruder or scary situation.

Black Labs, however, are more likely to scare off potential danger and keep your family safe. They will bark if necessary and inform you that something is wrong, and possibly scare off intruders.

Can my animal be left alone for long periods of time?

Both breeds thrive in situations where they are with their owners, so if you work long hours during the day, you might need to hire someone to come walk your dog and play with them while you are away. Labs in particular do not do well when they are left alone and might get into “trouble” by chewing up things or finding ways to entertain themselves, which could be destructive.

Think of a black lab like you would a small child. In order for them to thrive and really succeed to be the dog you want them to be, you cannot leave them alone for long periods of time. They need supervision at all times, much like a small child.


When choosing between Golden Retrievers and Black Labs, you really cannot go wrong. Both breeds will add so much depth and love to your life and to your family, regardless of which you choose.