Why Are Labradors More Popular Than Golden Retrievers?

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For decades, it has been widely known Labrador Retriever is the most popular dog in America. However, what many don't realize is that the Golden Retriever has always been close behind. So why is the Labrador ever so slightly more popular?

Labradors are more popular than Golden Retrievers because the breed has existed longer, Labs’ grooming needs are less involved, and they are considered less needy and more adaptable than Goldens. 

It's important to fully understand these wonderful breeds, which one is best for you, and why Labs are widely considered the number-one dog; not just in the US but in the entire world!

In this article

Why Are Labradors So Popular?

Labs are so popular because they are very well-rounded, highly obedient dogs with great temperaments. These dogs are friendly yet not overbearing, intelligent yet not mischievous, and loving but not overly needy towards their owners.

Additionally, the Labrador Retriever is a versatile, adaptable dog that happily thrives in various settings. Labs are just as happy with single owners as they are with large families, just so long as they’re getting the attention and enrichment they need.

In terms of overall care and maintenance, the Labrador is also exceedingly popular. Though it occasionally sheds, the Labrador’s double coat is short and requires only a moderate amount of light grooming throughout the year. 

Plus, Labrador Retrievers are overall relatively healthy dogs, with their average lifespan being around 10 to 12 years or more.

How Popular Are Labrador Retrievers?

According to the AKC, Labrador Retrievers have held the title of the world’s most popular dog for nearly 30 years. Labs were first put on the AKC’s Top Ten Registry list at number 9 in the 1970s and became number 3 by the early 1980s. The ranking has remained ever since.

Even before the AKC recognized them in 1917, the Labrador Retriever was quite popular in its country and territory of origin, Newfoundland, Canada, as far back as the 1830s!

brown labradors

Why Labs Are More Popular Than Golden Retrievers

It should be noted the Golden Retriever is not an unpopular dog by any means. In fact, it has competed with the Labrador Retriever for the top spot in terms of popularity. Usually, it comes in at number three behind only the Labrador Retriever and German shepherd, respectively.

Still, there are a few reasons why Goldens lag behind Labs ever so slightly; for example, when it comes to personal care requirements, Golden Retrievers tend to be a bit more “needy” emotionally and physically than Labs. 

Goldens Are Prone to Separation Anxiety

While Labs don’t particularly mind being left alone for a few hours, Golden Retrievers are more prone to separation anxiety. They will quickly become stressed and upset if they don’t get enough stimulation and interaction from their owners. 

Because of this, Labs have gained a reputation of being more low-maintenance, versatile dogs than Goldens.

Goldens Have More Grooming Needs

Another reason why Labs tend to be slightly more universally liked is that their grooming needs are fairly easy to maintain than Golden Retrievers. Goldens have longer, denser coats that require more stringent brushing and bathing. Matting becomes a real issue with Goldens.

Even though both dogs have fairly thick double coats, Golden Retrievers have longer hair that sheds more frequently. Goldens also tend to have more sensitive skin prone to health issues like hot spots, allergies, and atopic dermatitis.

golden retriever standing

Labs Have Been Around Longer

The Labrador Retriever breed has also existed a bit longer than the Golden Retriever. While the Labrador dates back to the 1830s, Golden Retrievers originated in Scotland a bit later in the 1850s and 1860s.

Overall, the Lab’s slightly higher popularity mostly comes down to the breed’s versatility, adaptability, and how well it appeals to a wide range of pet owners. 

Golden Retrievers are a bit more niche due to being slightly higher maintenance. It's not just their grooming requirements. They also require a high amount of owner interaction so that they don’t become stressed and depressed.

Are Labs Less Expensive Than Golden Retrievers?

Generally, Labs are less expensive than Golden Retrievers. This is true in terms of both the initial investment of purchasing the dogs and the upkeep they need throughout their lives. A Lab puppy may cost between $300 and $1,000 while Golden puppies are usually between $1,000 and $4,000.

Golden Retrievers also require more thorough grooming. Owners will spend more money at the groomer’s and on supplies like brushes and dog shampoo throughout their dog’s life.

Are Labs More Friendly Than Golden Retrievers?

Both Labs and Golden Retrievers are equally outgoing, friendly, agreeable dogs. However, they have a few minor differences as far as their temperaments. 

Golden Retrievers are considered more “needy” emotionally and need more interaction from their owners than Labrador Retrievers. Some people will interpret this to mean they are the friendlier dog. 

However, this is not necessarily the case; the two breeds merely express their affection differently. 

Both breeds are very friendly, but Golden Retrievers are a little more extroverted, sensitive, and emotionally attached to their families than Labrador Retrievers that are usually more stubborn and independent.

golden retriever popular

Are Labs Easier To Care for Than Goldens?

When bringing any purebred dog into your life, it is essential to be prepared for breed-specific health issues, regular vet check-ups, and generally providing your pet with optimal care as far as feeding, grooming, and exercise. 

Regardless of which breed you adopt, bringing a dog into your home is a huge responsibility, and no dog or pet is 100% fuss-free.

Labs are largely considered just a tiny bit easier to care for than Goldens, as they are more independent and adaptable and have shorter, easier-to-groom coats. Still, both breeds are highly energetic and need plenty of daily exercises to keep from becoming bored or stressed.

By no means should either dog be considered "easy" to care for. However, Labs are slightly lower maintenance, less expensive, and not as time-consuming to care for than Golden Retrievers due to their more hardy, pleasant personalities and shorter coats that don’t shed quite as heavily as Goldens’.

Are Labs or Goldens More Hyper?

Labs are more hyper than Goldens and tend to have more energy overall. While both breeds are very active dogs that need plenty of daily exercise, Goldens are far more likely to settle with you when you’re home. In contrast, Labs can get over excited easily and are more willing to play.

Labs are known to be quite energetic. While Goldens can be hyper too, Labs will usually stay active for longer. 

Still, both breeds require a minimum of two long walks a day and lots of mental stimulation too. 

Lab vs. Golden Retriever: Which One Is for You?

Ultimately, the dog you choose to bring into your family will depend on your personal preferences. 

  • Which dog’s personality do you like more? Do you prefer a more laid-back, agreeable dog, like the Labrador Retriever, or the more sensitive Golden Retriever that will be more emotionally attached to you?
  • Which do you think is more visually appealing? Do you prefer the Golden Retriever’s long, flowing coat, or is the Lab’s shorter, denser coat more attractive to you?
  • What is your budget for pet care like? Do you have thousands of dollars to spend on a Golden Retriever puppy, or would you rather spend a few hundred dollars on a Labrador puppy?

These are the kinds of questions you’ll need to ask yourself when deciding between the Labrador and Golden Retriever. If you find that you like the aspects of both breeds, you may consider a Goldador which is a cross between the two.


Both Labradors and Golden Retrievers have been extremely popular and well-loved dogs for decades. They are both sociable, intelligent, handsome dogs that can thrive in various types of households, and they both appeal to a wide range of pet owners.

However, the Labrador always ultimately comes out ahead thanks to their highly adaptable, more laid-back personalities, low-maintenance care and grooming, and lower costs overall.