Golden retriever or Labrador retriever -- do you know the difference between these two popular dog breeds? Both are known for their athletic prowess, unparallelled loyalty and gentle temperaments. Besides their size and their names, that's where the similarities end. Read on to learn how you can you distinguish between the two.
The Golden Retriever: At Home in the Highlands
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The Golden retriever was developed in Scotland during the mid-1860s to work as a highly skilled hunting dog. But it didn't take long for this breed to gain a reputation as an affectionate and devoted companion. According to the American Kennel Club, the Baron of Tweedmouth mated a yellow-colored retriever and a Tweed water spaniel to develop the first golden retriever. Through selective mating with Irish setters and bloodhounds, Tweedmouth fine-tuned the Golden retriever's keen sense of smell for locating and returning hunted fowl over long distances.
The Labrador Retriever: A True Water Dog
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It turns out that Labs aren't from Labrador at all. These reliable retrievers originated from the neighboring region of Newfoundland. Once also known as St. John's water dogs, they were renamed Labrador retrievers to help distinguish them from the Newfoundland breed. Crossed with other retrievers, setters and spaniels during the mid-1800s, Labs were bred to swim in chilly waters, tolerate frosty climates and help fishermen as they pulled in their catches.
Golden Retriever and Labrador Retriever Coat Differences
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Easily distinguishable coats are what really make golden retrievers and Labrador retrievers stand out from one another. Golden retrievers are long-hair dogs with solid yellow fur. Nesters who decide to adopt a glorious golden will need to commit to regular bathing and grooming. By comparison, the low-maintenance Labrador retriever's coat is short, dense and shiny; perfectly designed to withstand the elements. Unlike its monochrome cousin, the lovely Labrador retriever's coat can have a chocolate, black or yellow coloring.
Golden Retriever and Labrador Retriever: Physical Traits
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Although Labradors and golden retrievers are of medium height and should weigh between 55 pounds and 75 pounds, a golden's physique is sleek and graceful, while the Labrador is generally more stocky and muscular. The golden retriever's featherlike tail is an eye-catcher, versus the Labrador retriever's practical, short-haired, flat-shaped “otter” tail. Goldens are often thought to have softer facial features compared with Labs, which have a strong, solid jawline. In spite of their physical differences, the trait these cuddly canines both share is a gentle disposition that makes either a precious pet.
Florida native Janet Winikoff has been writing since 1984. Specializing in animal protection, she also covers women's, children's and social issues, with articles appearing in "Animal Sheltering," "San Diego Parent" and "Healthy Choices." Winikoff holds a Bachelor of Arts in sociology from The American University in Washington.