German Shepherd vs Golden Retriever

german shepherd vs golden retriever

Are there differences between the German Shepherd and the Golden Retriever? Believe it or not, the German Shepherd and the Golden Retriever have plenty of differences!

If you’re looking for details such as size, eating habits and fighting ability, here are all the important facts you need to know to decide which breed is best for you. 

General Information

We’re going to start with some general information about the Golden Retriever vs German Shepherd.  After that, we will talk about their temperament and training needs.

The GSDs are famous for their wolf-like appearance while the Golden Retrievers are famous for their golden color. In terms of popularity, the German Shepherd is the 2nd most popular dog while the Golden Retriever is the 3rd. The GSD originated in Germany and it belongs to the herding group. In the past, the GSD was used to gather and protect livestock. On the other hand, the Golden Retriever originated in Scotland and the breed is part of the sporting group. The Golden Retriever used to work with hunters to retrieve game.


Golden Retriever– The Golden Retriever is a medium-sized to large-sized dog with floppy ears and a tail that slightly curves upward. Healthy male Golden Retrievers reach a maximum of about 24 inches in height while the females reach 22.5 inches. The male Golden Retrievers weigh up to 75 pounds while the females can reach 65 pounds.

German Shepherd– The GSD is a large well-balanced dog with erect ears and a tail that curves downward. Adult male German Shepherds generally stands up to 26 inches while the females stand up to 24 inches. Adult male German Shepherds weigh up to 90 pounds while the females weigh up to 70 pounds. 

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Read up more about german shepherd growth here.

Coat Color

Golden Retriever– The Golden Retriever or Yellow Retriever’s most distinctive characteristic is his golden-colored coat. His outer coat is dense and water-repellent. 

German Shepherd– Unlike the Golden Retriever, the German Shepherd comes in a variety of coat colors and lengths. The common colors include black and tan, black and silver, sable, and black. There are rare colors like white, blue, panda, and liver. However, the rare colors are not recognized by AKC (American Kennel Club). Their coat length can be short, medium or plush, and long.


Eating Habits/ Overweight Potential

Golden Retriever- Some Golden Retrievers tend to overeat which leads to various consequences like obesity and lethargy. To avoid these problems, feed them a high-quality diet and avoid food with high-fat content. You may give treats but not too much. 

German Shepherd– GSDs usually don’t become overweight because they’re naturally active dogs. However, they can become overweight if their owners overfeed or underwork them.

Family Dog/ Watchdog

Golden Retriever– Golden Retrievers are popular family dogs because they’re willing to please their owners. They prefer staying indoors with their family so they dislike staying alone outdoors for a long time. They’re usually friendly and gentle with everyone including children, strangers, and other pets. Golden Retrievers can be trained as watchdogs but not as dominant as the GSDs. They may just bark when signaling a stranger’s approach.

German ShepherdGSDs can be great family dogs but they’re not as friendly as the Golden Retriever. Some people are intimidated by their appearance, size, and bark so they’re perfect for protecting their owners.

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Golden Retriever– Golden Retrievers are generally quiet and have fewer barks than the GSD. They rarely become aggressive because of their friendly and loving nature. If they become aggressive, it means their owners are neglecting their needs. 

German Shepherd- GSDs tend to bark a lot for protection. They bark due to many reasons and one of that is to warn an intruder. Barking is their positive attribute because it can alert their owners of danger. To prevent aggression, train them while they’re still young.

Training/ Activities/ Exercise Needs

Golden Retriever– Golden Retrievers are good at retrieving game such as ducks and other fowls for hunters. If you don’t hunt, you can still provide retrieving activities for a Golden Retriever. Play fetch games with him or assign him retrieving tasks such as retrieving the newspaper. It’s also necessary to take him out for a walk or jog and a run at the beach because he loves to swim.

Trained Golden Retrievers are also good at narcotics detection and as therapy and assistance dogs. They offer companionship and friendship to the elderly or sick children. People love stroking their beautiful and soft coat. 

German Shepherd- GSDs are extremely active so they need lots of exercises because they tend to get bored with the same routine. You may provide plenty of outdoor activities like walking and running to maintain their physical health. Don’t forget to add mental challenges like finding hidden objects to maintain their mental health. 

Police and military forces train GSDs as police dogs and military dogs. Their jobs can include detecting drugs, searching explosives, rescuing missing persons, locating evidence, and repressing suspects. Aside from that, they’re also used to guide and assist the handicapped.

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Golden Retriever– Golden Retrievers have controlled their bite instincts because of their work as retrievers in the past. They were trained not to clamp down when retrieving quarries. A Golden Retriever may not have the force and pressure of a GSD, but it can still inflict a significant injury. 

German Shepherd- GSDs are willing to do anything to protect their families. Because they act as guardians to their loved ones, they can become defensive if their loved ones are put in danger. They can attack and injure intruders to protect their families. 

Do you love a dog with a charismatic smile and a golden-colored coat? Then what you are looking for is the Golden Retriever. However, the GSD is right for you if you prefer a versatile dog. Now that you learned their differences, deciding which breed is best is up to you.

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