Golden Retriever – really a better breed than the Labrador?

I was recently reading a site that was talking about dog breed characteristics; it was obvious that the writer thought Golden Retrievers were the BEST breed of dog, as every other breed was compared to a Golden and in some way or other found wanting, example, “Not as friendly as a Golden” or “Not as trainable as a Golden.”

Currently I am good friends with several amazing Golden Retrievers and I admit – this is a pretty wonderful breed of dog. Smart, trainable, friendly, affectionate…all the things this other writer was holding up as important considerations.

At the same time, I can’t help but notice that popularity wise, the Golden is always playing second fiddle to the Labrador Retriever and it makes me wonder…why? Why do more people choose to live with Labs than with Goldens?

As far as training goes – these are both very trainable breeds, with some slight variation amongst individuals. (I’ve met individuals of both breeds who were less trainable than rocks, but they are not the norm.) In fact, these breeds share many ancestors in common, the Golden being a later development of retrieving lines.

Is it a size thing? Goldens tend to be slightly taller, a little leggier – they would for example tend to take up more room in a duck hunter’s boat, or arguably a little more room on a living room floor or in a bed. There isn’t a huge size difference though, so it doesn’t seem to be a difference that would really make a difference.

There is a difference in coat length; while a Golden’s hair is longer, they certainly don’t shed any more than a Lab. Nothing sheds more than a Lab. A Yak that coughed up hair balls couldn’t produce more hair than a Lab.

Is it really just a matter of choice in colors? Goldens are…gold.

The shades they come in range from a blond so pale it is white to a red so rich it rivals an Irish Setter.

Labs also come in shades from pale white to fox red; they also can be chocolate including the shade now called silver, and can be black.

Aside from color, there is one other difference – a slight difference in personality.

This is a harder difference to quantify. Having lived with both breeds from childhood I still can’t quite put it in words. Either breed can have individuals who are more or less stubborn or eager to please, so that isn’t it. I guess the best way I can think to say it is, overall the Golden has a slightly ‘softer’ personality than the Lab.

But what does that mean? While both breeds can be sensitive, and produce individuals who only need a stern look to shrivel up and crawl away, overall the Lab seems to be more impervious to yelling, shouting, changes in environment… both breeds love children but the Lab just seems a little hardier in the face of family chaos.Many Goldens seem to ever so slightly benefit from a somewhat calmer home than most Labs require.

Which may explain why a home with children is more likely to choose a Lab than a Golden (not all homes with children mind you, but many.)

That said, is it possible that this writer who preferred Goldens was correct, and that ultimately, Goldens are the better breed? Ever so slightly more sensitive, a little more elegant looking, and generally one of the most trainable and friendly tempered breeds, perhaps more of us should be living with Goldens rather than Labs.

And I’m not just saying this because Lil the Lab has once again been escaping from her crate to get into things…although if she reads this, maybe she will take it to heart for five minutes and smarten up!

 (Probably not though – the last book she looked at she just tore the covers off….)

Readers, as always, I’m interested in your opinions. I know some of you have lived with both, or are currently living with one of these breeds.

And of course, I know a few of you have the best of both worlds and have one of each – others of you have gone for the two-fer (two for one) Lab-Golden mix :-)

 Which breed suits your lifestyle and why? Or is there just one look that appeals to you more than the other?

PS – I think I chose a Lab because:

 a) I grew up with some amazing examples of the breed
(and our poor Golden was lovely but not exactly amazing…chewed the siding off the house, ate the butter off the table, and only tolerated children)

b) I knew a Lab would be less sensitive to the annoyances that go with living with terriers like Gracie

c) my family are Lab people and not so coincidentally also very loud people; Labs seem to find us less offensive than Goldens have….

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