10 differences between Golden Retriever vs German Shepherd

Both Golden Retrievers and German Shepherds are among the most popular family dogs today. However, it can be a tough call to choose between them because you really can’t go wrong with either of these breeds.

Nevertheless, both of them have their own unique strengths and weaknesses. Therefore, it is quite likely that one of them may be better suited to your preference than the other.

In this article, we will closely study 10 differences between Golden Retriever vs German Shepherd. Once you get a proper overview of what the two of them are like, you will find it much easier to choose one of them.
10 differences between Golden Retriever vs German Shepherd

Let us now take a look at the most important 10 differences between Golden Retriever vs German Shepherd.

1. Appearance

Golden Retrievers and German Shepherds are notably different in terms of appearance. For example, German Shepherds are found in brown, black, and white patterned coats, while Golden Retrievers are found in red, yellow, and white coats only. Since both of them are purebred dogs, there aren’t many similarities in their markings or colorings.

Also, the two of them differ in the texture of their coats. Although both of these breeds are well-known for their long and luxurious fur, the fur of the German Shepherd is somewhat coarser compared to the long and silky fur of the Golden Retriever. Also, German Shepherds have erect and pointed ears while Golden Retrievers have long and floppy ears.

2. Size

Although both Golden Retrievers and German Shepherds are considered large-sized dogs, there are some subtle size differences between them. The average Golden Retriever weighs around 55-75 pounds (depending on its gender), while the average German Shepherd weighs anywhere from 75-90 pounds.

Naturally, this also implies that German Shepherds tend to be taller than Golden Retrievers. The average Golden Retriever is about 20-24 inches tall, whereas German Shepherds are usually 22-27 inches tall. Overall, German Shepherds are larger than Golden Retrievers, which may not be apparent at first glance.

3. Original Reason for Breeding

You can obviously figure out from its name that the German Shepherd was developed in Germany as a sheepherding breed of dog. On the other hand, the Golden Retriever has its roots in Scotland.

As their name suggests, German Shepherds were originally bred as herders and working dogs. On the other hand, Golden Retrievers were bred as hunting and gun dogs.

Although both of these breeds are considered lovable pets today, German Shepherds are often employed in police or service activities while Golden Retrievers are helpful for retrieving waterfowl on hunting trips.

4. Lifespan

On average, the German Shepherd lives longer than the Golden Retriever and is generally considered to be one of the healthiest breeds of dog in existence.

Unfortunately, the average lifespan of the Golden Retriever has been declining over the past few years. Nevertheless, it’s well-known that all dog lifespans depend on the food, exercise, and care it receives from their owners.

The average German Shepherd lives anywhere from 12 to 14 years, while the average Golden Retriever lives to grow 10 to 12 years old.

5. Behaviour

Of the prime 10 differences between Golden Retriever vs German Shepherd, their behavior is arguably the most significant one. Golden Retrievers are known for their playful and friendly nature, whereas German Shepherds tend to be more cautious and hesitant to welcome strangers.

While German Shepherds can serve as excellent in-home companions, they are very athletic and protective of their owners as well. With a bite force greater than that of a pitbull, they are certainly a force to be reckoned with!

On the other hand, Golden Retrievers are much more patient and are difficult to provoke aggression. You’re unlikely to see a Golden Retriever chasing down trespassers in the middle of the night unless it’s a bit too curious.

6. Intelligence

This is another important point in the 10 differences between Golden Retriever vs German Shepherd. Golden Retrievers respond very well to both basic and advanced training. However, they can also be easily distracted, especially when they are younger. They are usually employed as seeing-eye dogs, rescue dogs, and, as already mentioned earlier, hunting dogs.

On the other hand, the intelligence of German Shepherds is among the highest of any dog breed in the world. They have an amazing ability to learn tasks quickly and interpret instructions quickly. Moreover, their sense of smell is incredibly strong. As a result, they are often used in the military/police and as disability assistance dogs.

7. Eating habits

Golden Retrievers can have quite a voracious appetite. Therefore, it is important for you to monitor their feeding frequency, portion sizes, and treats. Together with your vet, you must balance it all out with enough exercise and activity to prevent your pet from becoming overweight.

On the other hand, German Shepherds are highly self-regulating and disciplined. Thus, they are unlikely to become overweight.

8. Grooming and shedding

Golden Retrievers will “blow coat” (shed out profusely) at least twice every year when the seasons change. They will require brushing once or twice per week to keep their shedding under control.

Although the same holds true for German Shepherds, their coat tends to have shorter and straight fur. Thus, they may be relatively easier to brush.

9. Health issues

Both German Shepherds and Golden Retrievers come with certain known heritable, breed-specific health issues.

In the case of the Golden Retriever, these include allergies, skin problems, thyroid dysfunction, cancer, hip and elbow dysplasia, and heart and eye problems. On the other hand, German Shepherds can suffer from back issues, epilepsy, blood disorders, and digestive disorders.

10. Barking

German Shepherds tend to bark less compared to Golden Retrievers. If barking happens to be an issue, then you can easily teach your German Shepherd to obey the “Quiet!” command.


We’ve discussed the salient 10 differences between Golden Retriever vs German Shepherd in this article. As you can see, both of them are two incredibly smart and loyal breeds.

The Golden Retriever and more relaxed and fun-loving while the German Shepherd is more protective and cautious. When trained well, both of them are suitable as family pets.

You can go through each of their differences thoroughly and choose the breed that fits your needs the best.

Also read: Maltipoo Price in India – history & other expenses

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