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Breed Focus: Labrador cross golden retriever

Labrador or golden retriever?  Can’t quite decide?  Have the best of both worlds with a Labrador cross golden retriever!  

Lexi the Labrador cross golden retriever in her Dogs for Good jacket

Both Labradors and golden retrievers are members of the gundog group. This group was originally bred to retrieve, so they like to pick up and carry objects. Being water dogs, both breeds are strong swimmers. Their dense coats are hardy and their broad chests powerful. 

Labradors are sociable and playful, while golden retrievers are generally quite ‘polite’. The result of cross-breeding is a dog that is calmer than a Labrador but more confident than a golden retriever.   

The Labrador cross golden retriever tends to be steady on the lead, has a strong sense of smell, and an incredible visual memory. Both breeds are confident and tenacious, which serves them well as they learn to be responsive to their human. 

They make fantastic companions because they are even-tempered and enjoy work. It’s one of the reasons they make such great assistance dogs for us! Also, because they’re happy to retrieve and carry out tasks they make reliable partners to provide greater independence to disabled people. 

In training, these lovely dogs willingly do anything for a food reward, which makes them quite easy to motivate. However, the affectionate golden retriever part can be motivated by different things, too – something to explore. 

Things to consider before getting a Labrador cross golden retriever:

  • Labrador cross golden retrievers need a lot of exercise, otherwise, they get restless.
  • Don’t underestimate their intelligence – just because they don’t always want to do what you’re asking them to do, doesn’t mean they don’t understand you! 
  • They generally have the food drive and motivation of a Labrador, so are fun dogs to train.
  • You can very quickly teach them behaviours, so be careful what you are rewarding.
  • Introduce them to water because they love to splash about! 
  • They should be brushed two or three times a week and properly groomed in moulting season 

Training Labrador cross golden retrievers 

Training Labrador cross golden retrievers is interesting but can be challenging. That’s because separately, a pure Labrador and a pure golden retriever will train quite differently. 

Trainer Leanne sat with Labrador cross golden retriever Harry

Trainer Leanne says: “You never know what you are going to get with this cross breed because it all depends on whether the individual dog is more like a Labrador or more like a golden retriever.  

“If you want a fun, playful dog with a cheeky personality and you get satisfaction from and love training and interacting with your dog, then this breed may be for you!  

“Golden retrievers tend to be a bit more sensitive and cuddly whereas the Labrador tends to be more motivated and keen to learn. If you get a good mix then you get a cuddly dog that loves you as much as it loves working. If not, you may find you have a super clever, intelligent dog that will out-smart you to get food!” 

“As a trainer, I love it if I get a cheeky, clever one. I always have to be one step ahead of them though, as it’s really easy to teach them bad habits.  That said, it’s really nice if you get a cuddly one. Who doesn’t love a cuddly dog?” 

We’ve written about how we train our assistance dogs, including Labradors cross golden retrievers, if you’re interested to find out more. 

Known health issues in Labrador cross golden retrievers

  • Labradors x golden retrievers are more likely to inherit health problems that are present in both breeds which can include joint problems such as elbow or hip dysplasia, obesity, bloat and ear problems.
  • Breeders should scan for progressive retinal atrophy, hip and elbow dysplasia and hereditary eye problems.

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