Golden VS Lab

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Both Golden Retrievers and Labrador Retrievers are waterfowl retriever breeds, obviously. Good ones should be EXCELLENT at waterfowl hunting, people's experiences with poor-quality individual dogs notwithstanding.

Both breeds have been completely screwed by their popularity as family dogs belonging to non-hunters. Most Goldens and Labradors you come across would probably make lousy hunters, not that anyone will find out.

However, a Lab or a Golden bred by a top-notch hunting breeder, not a puppy mill, not a "pet-quality" breeder, not a cheat, not a liar, but a good, reputable hunting breeder with titled dogs in the pedigree, will be GREAT dogs for hunting.

Now the breeds weren't bred for upland hunting. Some variants may be, but that's not their origin.

There's a huge difference between a top-notch upland dog and a top-notch waterfowl dog, though.

An upland dog can go for miles and miles, and hours and hours, looking for birds. But it usually isn't fond of sitting in a duck blind. VHD's can be used for duck hunting, but if you're planning on sitting in a blind for hours at a time, they'll be harder to manage.

A good waterfowl dog will sit next to you in the blind, and retrieve when needed. That's what they're bred for. Does that sound like an upland dog?

An individual dog has its own traits and personality, but there are also breed standards for behavior. You can't make general statements about an entire breed of dog, except based on those standards. "My lab does great on quail!" might be true, but that's not the breed standard. "My Golden was dog-aggressive!" or "My Golden bit childrens' limbs off!" might be true, but again, that's not the breed standard at all!

WRT your wife not wanting an upland dog, hell, I like Bully breeds, too; I don't expect our Pit Bull to hunt quail, though. She can cuddle on the couch, chase tennis balls, and give love to everyone we meet, though, so that's what she does. That and pre-washing the dishes, pots and pans. For bird hunting, we got a hunt-bred Vizsla. Frankly, while he's sweet, cute and funny, he's not nearly as good a house dog as the Pit Bull. But he's got all the characteristics that make a great bird dog, and none that don't.

Maybe your wife would like one of the Italian breeds, Muensterlanders, or one of the other non-skinny VHD breeds. They're all cute, and not skinny. Again, check the link I posted above.

Bracco Italiano ----------- Portuguese Pointer ----------- Large Muensterlander ----------- Wirehaired Pointing Griffon


I don't know about "pointing Labs" bred with Vizsla in their lines, but I do know that there are Lab lines that are built a lot like thicker black Vizslas -- probably not your wife's style, either.

Two dogs might be a better plan. Again, you can get a great house dog at the pound for cheap, and rescued dogs seem to know it and love you all the more for it. Then you can go and find the ultimate pheasant dog, instead of a duck dog you hope will work on pheasant.
You could go my way........

I bought a 50/50

Half Golden and Half Lab (he's laying at my feet as I type this)

What a great dog. He literally has the best of both dogs. And the only place he picks up burrs and fodder is in his tail!


The best advice I got is to get a highly recommended breader. A good breader will ask you tons of questions so that they can determine what you want and how your going to handle the dog and what dog they have, if any, will meet your expectations.

I have a pointing yellow female lab. I got her from Black Forest kennels in Co. I bought her sight unseen and had her flown to MI. That said it took me about 10 months to get the dog. I made it very clear as to what I wanted in my dog. Temperment was No.1, Female No.2, Yellow color was No.3, Pointing ability N0.4, I wanted a dog around 60 lbs max. so that was No.5

If I'm lucky I will get in maybe 20 hunting days a year. The dog is a family member (pet) first. Therefore temperment is critical and I got it. A good breader who really takes pride in what they do will care to know their dogs and will match you to what you want. It will take time, be patient. It was recomended that I pass on two litters because the breader didn't think the dogs would match my criteria. I'm glad I did. Be firm in what you want and don't compromise. Talk to many who have delt with the breader. Do your homework and you will get exactly what you want, I did.
Halfacop, that dog looks just like the Lab/Golden Mix I had except mine was black (Her name was Ebony). I would buy another one in a heartbeat, but I am having a hard time finding one, especially one that has hunting line breed into them.

I talked to my wife and we pretty much agreed that a spaniel or Brit will work for us as they look acceptable to her but are still hunters. I understand both are known to be hyper/active breeds, but I think I should be able to train them to calm down in the house. If I were to get a ESS would they be good with kids? How about with another non hunting dog? Are they as easy to train as a lab? Thanks again for all the info. Without forums I would be so lost.
Never discipline a golden with anything more than you voice, and expect them to get their feelings hurt when you do.

Never discipline a lab with anything more than your hand, dont worry they will get over it.

Never discipline a chessie with anything less than a 2X4, or expect them to go right back to what they were doing wrong.

That about sums it up.

My lab puppy is a year old now. I started training him when he was about 10-12 weeks old. He retrieved this season very well, and sat in the blind very well behaved.......with his training collar on. He can be strong headed, but no where nearly as bullish as my friends Chessie. The dog will not obey simple commands and doesn't come with us any more. He is going to try a bit sterner take on training now.
Are they as easy to train as a lab?

I don't know, I've never had one. I always had terriers before. My Brittany is the easiest, most trainable dog I've ever had. She's also a bit more energetic than most of the dogs I've had, with the exception of the Airedale.

She is an easily trained dog, though. She's small enough to sit on my lap and still leave room for my 8 year old or a book. A GSP or Vizsla (the other ones I was looking at when I got her) wouldn't leave so much extra space.
Our Vizsla is oddly compact when he curls up in your lap. He's gangly.

WRT training, there's something to note. A labrador is bred to emphasize different traits, including sitting still sometimes. An upland or versatile hunting dog is bred to be independent and at least somewhat dominant, so the dog will confidently leave its owner's side and search for birds. They're not bred to sit still, generally. The dogs are also very intelligent.

This means they can be a challenge to train. They're smart and highly trainable, but they're also hyperactive and independent-minded. Expect this, and it will be easier on you.:)


This is my bitch Daisy. we do lots of mud and water so a lab is a must. if you are going to have your dog in the water in the winter it would be better to have a lab. they are pretty waterproof and tough. A retrievers longer coat will make it cold.

some will hunt as well as retrieve, daisy does and she will do cover, but not all will.

Man, those are some conditions there, uk roe hunter!

The OP is in California, but he didn't say where.:)
WRT trainability and natural tendency towards dominance...

For those familiar with the meanings of canine body language and eye contact, this is a picture of our 8-week-old Vizsla puppy's reaction when we told him "No." If you know dogs, this picture is very telling.

The best dogs I've seen lately were three Boykin Spaniels. Fabulous on quail and dove, I don't know why they wouldn't be good on anything else. Of course, the guy that owned them spent what I hope is roughly my lifetime earnings paving the road into his ranch (in the 1980s), so they've had some pretty good training.

As a general rule, I'd rather go hunt and not shoot anything than have to deal with most of the dogs people bring out. YMMV. I kind of like the hybrid idea, since so many formerly working dogs have had the work bred out of them, and the looks bred into them. Not having an AKC standard is probably why Border Collies and Australians aren't completely brain dead.
ESS are good with children. Mine never managed to eat more than two a week :). They do tend to eat the furniture like most pups and have a habit of getting on to the window sill, mantle piece,tables, kitchen work surfaces ect. This is due to their ability to jump. But they are great hunting dogs. I have a Cockerspaniel now. He's a great dog for Pheasants. Another springer is on the list for the future. But i do keep my dogs in kennels outside.
Not having an AKC standard is probably why Border Collies and Australians aren't completely brain dead.

Oh, believe me they're getting there!! There are huge differences between Border Collies bred for showing and those bred for working. The show lines are shorter and all markings are symmetrical with very little white on them, the working dogs are taller, leaner, markings don't matter so much (in fact some prefer assymmetrical markings because its easier to tell which way the dog is standing at a distance) and the working dogs are definitely smarter, less neurotic and easier to train for working. We've got 2 BCs, 1 from show lines and 1 from working lines .... I'd never give either of them up but I'll take a worker any day.

I think you've gotten some great advice and I'm not sure what to add but I'll throw in my .02.

If you're serious about a golden then find a good breeder and then spend some time with the parents. I'm on my third golden, the first two could get more burrs in their fur than you could imagine but the third has an almost oily fur that seems to shed them pretty quickly. I usually only have to cut the worst of them out of her chest hair and tail. I think goldens are much easier to train than labs but the labs might be a bit stronger in cold wet weather. My goldens think NOTHING of jumping in the river every day and swimming even if it's 20-30 degree's out and there are chunks of ice floating down. (did it on this morning's and this afternoon's walk as a matter of fact)

In terms of hunting noses I think it's hit or miss. I've had one that was great on pheasants with very little training, one that is absolutely hell on wheels, and one that has absolutely not interest in any critters. The one I have with the best nose will pick up a pheasant way across a field of brush and just work back and forth until you get close and then flush it. I really wish I had spent more time on the obediance with that dog! :)

My goldens will bark and act mean towards strangers, but all a stranger has to do is pet them once and they are friends forever. (not good watch dogs. :) )

Just my .02


My wife is a hobby breeder of Golden Retrievers. We highly recommend that you take a look at Cesar Millan's (Dog Whisperer) books on canine psychology.

His book "Cesar's Way" is outstanding, and also available as a 4 disk CD set.

Understanding canine behavior with additional training (Hunting, or whatever)
will give you a really balanced dog.

Best of luck to you, and good hunting..

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