When it comes to dog breeds, Golden retrievers are definitely one of the most popular pooches around. However, if you don’t think that a Golden is not quite right for you, there are various breeds similar to the Golden retriever but have slightly different characteristics.
Like Goldens, all of these breeds can make excellent family pets. Each one is intelligent, loyal, and relatively easy to train, but each breed comes with their own unique quirks, such as more or less shedding, long droopy ears, and, when it comes to the Bernese Mountain dog, lots of drooling!
Five Dog Breeds Similar to Golden Retrievers
These dogs possess the same easy-going nature and fun personalities as Goldens, and they come in various shapes and sizes. While they all have a similar temperament to a Golden retriever, each breed will have slightly different requirements. For example, some breeds can become problematic when not trained properly, some shouldn’t be kept with cats, and others have the tendency to wander off, so you should keep them on a lead. However, each one of these dogs can make an excellent family pet.
1. Labrador Retriever
These dogs are perhaps the most similar in appearance to Golden retrievers, and they are also the most similar dog breed to Goldens in their mannerisms. Labs are also incredibly popular for their active and friendly nature, along with how easy they are to train and their fantastic temperaments.
Labradors make excellent family pets, too, as they are so full of unconditional affection. Unlike the Golden retriever, Labrador’s coat is relatively short, but they still shed quite regularly.
It’s important that you brush them around twice a week and give them occasional baths to minimize their shedding. Overall, if you’re looking for a fun-loving, playful, and active companion, the Labrador retriever is a good match. Labradors retrievers typically have yellow, chocolate, or black fur, which is a bit less varied than the Golden retriever, but they do have much shorter coats than Goldens.
2. Flat-Coated Retriever
The Flat-coated retriever is often mistaken for the Golden retriever, particularly when it comes to the black variation of their coat colors. Flat-coated retrievers were bred to be gundogs, and are active with happy, optimistic temperaments just like Goldens.
One of their most recognizable features is the leg and tail feathering in their coats, but the main difference between the two breeds is their head shape and coat colors. While shades of golden are, of course, the most common color in Golden retrievers, Flat-coated retrievers have typically dark coats.
An interesting aspect of the Flat-coat retriever’s personality is that, compared to other retriever breeds, they mature much more slowly and maintain a lot of their puppy-like playful mannerisms into adulthood. This makes them an excellent playful companion, but it does mean that compared to a Golden retriever or a Labrador, training them will usually take more patience and time.
Much like the other retriever breeds mentioned, Flat-coat retrievers love everyone and are great with children. They make excellent family pets and would be a wonderful addition to a family household. However, with all of their energy, it would be best to supervise them around toddlers as they may accidentally knock them over!
3. Bernese Mountain Dog
These dogs are pretty large in terms of their size and are strong, sturdy, and agile breeds. Originally bred as working dogs, Bernese Mountain dogs were good draft dogs, used to pull carts to market, as well as drive dairy cattle, watch over farms, and serve as loyal companions to farmers.
Bernese Mountain dogs were also particularly talented at search and rescue, and today they are known for their tracking, guarding, herding, and competitive obedience talents in addition to this. They are good-natured and calm dogs. This makes them ideal family pets that form strong bonds with adults and children alike.
If you decide you want to own a Bernese Mountain dog, you should be aware that these dogs shed very frequently! You should aim to brush them weekly and increase this to daily as soon as the shedding season starts. These seasons usually are spring and fall, allowing their summer and winter coats to form.
These dogs need moderate exercise and enjoy outdoor activities, but they are not as energetic as retriever breeds like the Golden, Labrador, and Flat-coated retriever. They’re much more relaxed, but they also absolutely love to receive and give attention and cuddles, making them a great companion and a gentle giant.
4. English Springer Spaniel
When it comes to energetic nature, a dog breed that definitely matches up to the retriever breeds is the Springer spaniel. These dogs are absolutely bursting with energy. They have also been popular family pets for decades, much like the Golden retriever. English Springer spaniels are very social and fun-loving animals, and therefore they thrive on being part of the family. They will happily get along with pretty much anyone, so while they don’t make particularly good guard dogs, they make excellent family pets and companions.
With their high energy and intelligence, Springer spaniels require a lot of both mental and physical stimulation because they can become mischievous and disobedient if they are allowed to become bored. With this in mind, it’s important to train a Springer spaniel from a young age. Fortunately, these wonderful dogs are highly trainable.
A bored Springer Spaniel, who has been allowed to do as he pleases, is not highly trainable and can quickly become problematic. Games, long walks, fetch, and swimming are some of their favorite activities. Keeping these dogs stimulated regularly will keep them happy. You’ll also be pleased to know that while the English Springer spaniels also have a double coat, they shed much less frequently than other breeds.
While these dogs aren’t striking in resemblance to the Golden retriever, they are almost identical breeds when it comes to the amount of fun and energy they have to offer. Beagles are also very sociable, loving, and do great as family pets.
However, Beagles do tend to have a mind of their own and require much firmer training than a Golden retriever. You will need to remind this dog that you are the pack leader and be patient and consistent with their training. Like Springer spaniels, they require a good amount of mental and physical stimulation to keep them happy and calm, such as family walks, which also reduce their separation anxiety.
While they are good family pets, due to their hunting instincts, they shouldn’t be trusted with non-canine animals like cats, unless they are socialized with them from a young age. Beagles are curious dogs that tend to follow their noses. If they pick up a scent, they often tend to wander off. They may even ignore you when you call them back because they’re too interested in the creature that might be at the other end of the scent, so you should take care when letting them off the leash and make sure that you are in a safe area.
Beagles can develop varying degrees of behavior issues if their needs are not met, such as snapping, obsessive barking, and destructive behaviors when left alone. However, you won’t see any of this if your dog’s instincts are being met. As long as their needs are met, Beagles will make a wonderful, fun family pet.
There are even more breeds similar to Golden retrievers in terms of both their nature and appearance. If you are still struggling to find the breed that is right for you, sites like Animal Planet can help match you to a dog breed suitable for you and your household dynamic. Do thorough research not just on the breed itself, but also on the breeder or rescue you will adopt a dog from before deciding to introduce a new member to your family.