German Shepherd vs Golden Retriever
by Jessi Larson
German Shepherd vs Golden Retriever – how do the two breeds compare?
If you’re contemplating adding a new dog to your household, you’ve most likely considered these two incredibly popular breeds.
They are the second and third most popular in the United States, respectively. And for good reason!
Both are wonderful additions to a family and are highly trainable, but have distinctly different temperaments. So if you’re weighing out your options regarding the German Shepherd vs Golden Retriever, here’s a comparison of the two breeds to help you make an informed decision.
German Shepherd vs Golden Retriever
To fully understand how the two breeds compare, we’ll review their appearance, temperament, training and grooming needs, and overall health.
This will give you a complete picture of the German Shepherd vs Golden Retriever.
Anyone who has seen a German Shepherd or a Golden Retriever will recognize these distinct breeds almost immediately.
Though they’re comparable in size, the German Shepherd will often have a more agile, athletic and powerful build.
On average, the German Shepherd is a medium to large sized dog, weighing between 66-88 pounds.
They tend to have a distinctly long, square muzzle, intelligent, medium-sized eyes, and ears that grow from floppy to erect between puppyhood and adult age.
The height of a male adult is between 24-26 inches from paw to shoulder, but females may be smaller in stature.
Most frequently, this breed has a tan coat with a touch of red and black along the muzzle and back, but in certain cases, they can be all black, white or sable.
Despite what their name suggests, Golden Retrievers can come in a variety of colors, such as cream, golden, dark golden and reddish gold.
They are most famous for their dense, lustrous coat that plumes out around them.
A medium-sized dog, the Golden grows to about 55-75 pounds and stands roughly 21-24 inches from paw to shoulder.
When evaluating a German Shepherd vs Golden Retriever, the temperament is an important factor to consider.
Though both breeds make great family dogs, they each have a distinct set of personality traits that differ greatly from one another.
German Shepherds tend to be extremely protective and make for great guard dogs. They are alert and ready to obey orders and are often cautious to welcome a stranger.
Confident and slightly aloof, the German Shepherd forms a close bond with their family and makes an incredibly loyal pet. But you won’t find them giving away affection to just anyone.
It is unwise to anger a German Shepherd or provoke it in any way, as this can result in an unwanted response.
On the flip side, the only time you’ll catch a Golden Retriever going after someone is to say hello and hopefully get an extra pat on the head.
This breed is notorious for its friendly disposition and unlimited patience, making Goldens ideal companions for small children.
While they won’t serve as a stern guard dog like the German Shepherd, the Golden does have great focus and loves to be put to work on an assigned task.
When it comes to barking, both of these breeds fall within the moderate spectrum. They each require a medium to heavy dose of exercise to keep them healthy and happy.
Both of these dog breeds do exceptionally well with training and are frequently used as service dogs, but the German Shepherd can be slightly easier to train overall.
This highly intelligent breed is among the smartest in the world and is often used to assist in the police force or the military. They learn incredibly fast and have the potential to understand complex instructions.
The Golden Retriever also responds very well to training, earning these dogs spots as seeing-eye and rescue companions.
If you compare the German Shepherd vs Golden Retriever in grooming, they are both moderate to heavy shedders that require extra care.
Year round grooming (at least once per week) is recommended, with a more intense shedding season occurring twice per year when both breeds lose their undercoat.
As with all dogs, they’ll need their nails trimmed regularly as well.
In regard to health, both of these breeds can be expected to live long, healthy lives when given proper exercise, food and regular checkups.
As with many larger breeds, both German Shepherds and Golden Retrievers have the propensity for hip and joint problems.
Golden Retrievers in the U.S. also run a higher risk of developing cancer, something you can avoid in their European-bred counterparts.
Goldens also have a tendency to overeat and become overweight, so it’s important that you watch their food intake.
On average, the German Shepherd lives 9-13 years while the Golden Retriever lives around 10-12 years.
Conclusion: German Shepherd vs Golden Retriever
We hope this information helps shed some light on your options and reveals the right choice of dog for your household.
When comparing German Shepherd vs Golden Retriever breeds, it becomes quite clear why these dogs are among the most popular in the country.
They both have wonderful personalities and can be very easily trained, but they do have very stark differences in temperament, which you should consider when deciding on the right dog for your household.
Though their size and grooming needs are comparable, German Shepherds are a better choice if you’re looking for a guard dog that can keep your family and home protected.
On the other hand, if you’re looking for a patient companion that loves and welcomes everyone without hesitation, a Golden Retriever is likely a better choice for you.
German Shepherd vs Husky Bonus Tip: How to Pick the Right Dog
When you’re looking for a dog but don’t know what breed to get, these nine easy questions can help quickly narrow down your search and find a four-legged friend who perfectly fits your lifestyle.
This guide will help you in the German Shepherd vs Golden Retriever debate and give you a clearer idea of which one is for you.
1. Why Do You Want a Dog?
First things first, let’s talk about why you want a dog. This will guide you more than you realize!
For example, do you love cuddling up on the couch and want a furball to curl up in your lap and keep you company? Or do you want an energetic and enthusiastic dog who fits your active lifestyle?
Stop for a minute, close your eyes and think about it.
2. What Type of Dog Did You Have Growing up?
Believe it or not, the dog (or dogs) you grew up with often have an impact on what type of dog you want when you’re older.
That’s certainly not to say you couldn’t pick a different type of dog by any means. It’s just that people often have a comfort level with the type of canine they were conditioned to growing up.
3. Do You Have Any Allergies?
Dogs can be awful for allergies. But fortunately, there are many hypoallergenic dog breeds that make it easier for allergies sufferers.
Always learn more about the breed before bringing it into your home.
4. Who’s in Your Household?
Another important thing to think about is who is in your household.
Is it just you? Or do you have a partner? Roommates? Children?
This is incredibly important to consider. Especially if you have little ones in the household.
Fortunately, in the German Shepherd vs Golden Retriever debate, both are good family dogs in different ways.
5. Where Do You Live?
As you think about which dog breed is right for you, where you live is incredibly important.
It goes without saying that certain breeds just aren’t cut out for small spaces. For example, a Great Dane in a tiny apartment would be a disaster!
Also, certain dogs, including both the German Shepherd and Golden Retriever need space and a yard to run and exercise.
6. How Much Time and Energy Do You Have?
Dogs are A LOT of work. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. But some dogs require much more effort than others.
Potential pup parents should always make sure they have the time, energy and resources to care for a dog, no matter what the breed. But that level of care can increase depending on the dog.
Before making a decision regarding the German Shepherd vs Golden Retriever make sure you understand their instincts and how much mental and physical stimulation they’ll each require.
7. What is the Dog’s Temperament?
Just like appearance, a pup’s temperament can vary greatly by breed. And it’s absolutely critical to find out how a dog will act based on their breed instincts.
Both the German Shepherd and Golden Retriever have great personalities. The Golden Retriever is much more outgoing and gregarious. In comparison, the German Shepherd is more reserved to outsiders yet deeply loyal to their family and very easy to train.
8. How Much Does the Breed Cost?
Owning a dog isn’t cheap, but some breeds are more expensive than others. Especially for some of the rarer canines.
Cost is a consideration, and it’s always a good idea to understand the full picture before making a commitment.
Things to consider include the initial expense, vet bills, food, grooming and other expenses like daycare or boarding.
9. Breed Finder
And finally, try out our online breed selector and get a list of the best breeds for you and your lifestyle.
It allows you to enter details like where you live, who’s in your house, your climate, what size of dog you’re looking for and more. You’ll receive a list of breeds that will work for you.
This could settle the German Shepherd vs Golden Retriever debate once and for all.