German Shepherd Vs Golden Retriever Which is Better? Dog vs Dog
The German Shepherd Dog and the Golden Retriever
two dogs that are not easy to confuse with
one another, They are very distinct and well-known
But, which would make the better pet?
Let’s jump in.
This choice is not going to be easy?
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I won’t spend a lot of time on the histories,
because, well, they are completely unrelated
and I’ve done complete videos on both dogs.
I’ll link to those videos in the description.
But, their histories are not unrelated to
how these dogs perform as family pets, so
I’ll share a brief history of each breed.
Let’s start with the Golden Retriever.
The Golden Retriever was originally bred in
Scotland in the mid-19th century.
Wildfowl hunting was a popular sport for the
wealthy Scottish elite, but the existing retriever
breeds were inadequate for retrieving downed
game from both water and land.
Retrieving from both land and water was necessary
because the hunting grounds of the time were
pocketed with marshy ponds and rivers.
Consequently, the best water spaniels were
crossed with existing retrievers, resulting
in the establishment of the breed today known
as the Golden Retriever.
In the 1800s northwest Europe (Belgium, Germany,
Netherlands) the most common dog used to herd
sheep and protect the homes was the so-called
“continental shepherd dog”.
These dogs all looked very similar at that
time, and it was around 1890 that the three
breeds (Belgian Shepherd, German Shepherd
and Dutch Shepherd) went their separate ways.
During the 1850s, attempts were being made
to standardize dog breeds.
Dogs were being bred to preserve traits that
assisted in their job of herding sheep and
protecting their flocks from predators.
In Germany this was practiced within local
communities, where shepherds selected and
It was recognized that the breed had the necessary
skills for herding sheep, such as intelligence,
speed, strength and keen senses of smell.
The results were dogs that were able to do
such things, but that differed significantly,
both in appearance and ability, from one locality
The modern German Shepherd Dog descends from
the work of ex-cavalryman and former veterinary
student, Max von Stephanitz, who believed
that dogs in the more industrialized Germany
should be bred as working dogs.
He recognized the attributes of Germany’s
herding dogs, but was unable to find a breed
that checked all the boxes for a working dog.
With a dog he found at a dog show, he created
the Verein für Deutsche Schäferhunde or
Society for the German Shepherd Dog.
As we can see, both breeds were bred to work
closely with human companions, but to perform
But, both breeds have found roles in the more
modernized world, the Golden Retriever as
a service dog, helping the blind and others
with disabilities and the German Shepherd
Dog taking up a role in police and military
work, after mostly being replaced in Service
Dog work by Golden and Labrador Retrievers.
You can check out our playlist about Service
Dogs in the card.
There is little chance you will ever confuse
these dogs with one another.
Their both very distinctly different dogs.
The Golden Retriever, as its name implies
is Golden in Color from light gold to dark
A symmetrical, powerful, active dog, sound
and well put together, not clumsy nor long
in the leg, and displaying a kindly expression.
The Golden Retriever has a dense coat that
is water repellent with a thick undercoat
and sheds all year round.
It’s fur is long and either straight or
There should be moderate feathering on the
forelegs and underbody on the front of the
neck, back of the thighs and on the underside
of the tail.
These adorable pups have dark, inquisitive
eyes and alert ears that hang down to about
the outer edge of the eye.
The Golden Retriever stands at 20-24 inches
at the shoulder and weighs 55-75 pounds.
The German Shepherd is a more wolf-appearing
dog than the fluffy Golden Retriever.
Like the Golden, it also has a double coat,
which is comprised of a thick undercoat and
a dense, slightly wavy or straight outer coat.
Its hair, usually tan and black, or red and
black in color, is medium in length and is
shed all year round.
Other rarer color variations include all-Black,
all-White, liver and blue.
The German Shepherd’s body is long — generally
between 22 and 26 inches — in proportion
to its height.
This gives the dog strength, agility, elasticity
and long, elegant strides.
The German Shepherd weighs between 49-88 pounds.
Who’s got the better personality?
That depends on what you are looking for in
a dog companion.
Both are intelligent dogs who’ve used their
cunning to get to the top of the working dog
However, they use their intelligence in different
The German Shepherd is very protective and
devoted to its family and home, maintaining
a suspicious and aloof demeanor around strangers.
It can be dominating and assertive towards
dogs, though it is normally friendly with
other pets in the home.
The German Shepherd is an immensely versatile
dog, displaying a keen intelligence while
dutifully performing its tasks.
However, the German Shepherd Intelligence
comes with no small amount of stubborness
as we’ll find out later when we discuss
They are quick to bark and are top of the
class guard dogs.
They also are a bit of a velcro dog.
You’re not going to have much alone time
with a German Shepherd in your home.
The Golden Retriever is even-tempered, intelligent
Golden retrievers are playful, yet gentle
with children, and they tend to get along
well with other pets and even strangers.
Which may give the Golden a bit of an advantage
if you are a social person.
These dogs are eager to please, which explains
why they respond so well to obedience training
and are such popular service dogs.
They also like to work, whether it involves
hunting birds or fetching slippers..
Golden retrievers are not often barkers, and
they lack guard instincts, so do not count
on them to make good watchdogs.
However, some golden retrievers will let you
know when strangers are approaching.
Both dogs are very intelligent and highly
trainable, but once again, they are completely
As I mentioned earlier, the Golden Retriever
is eager to please.
Golden Retriever dogs are very fast learners.
Even an inexperienced owner is capable of
training this breed.
Just remember to reward them with lots of
praise, treats and kisses when they learn
a new command.
Unlike many dogs the Golden is forgiving of
mistakes in your training style and more lax
The Golden excels at obedience, tracking,
guide and assistance, and search and rescue.
The German Shepherd is considered more intelligent
than the Golden, at least according to Dr.
Stanley Coren in his book “The Intelligence
But, despite being able to learn a myriad
of complex commands is not as “user-friendly”
as the Golden when it comes to training.
Proper and effective training for a German
Shepherd includes firmness, fairness and respect,
with consistency and adequate rewards.
The German Shepherd can be stubborn and also
will find loopholes in any lax rules.
You may also find that toys tend to be a better
reward for the German than treats.
Overall both breeds excel at any task they
are given, although the Golden is a bit easier
for the novice dog trainer.
Both breeds likes to be active.
Afterall, neither was bred to be a couch potato.
Golden retrievers are hunting dogs at heart,
so they love a good game of fetch or a swim.
If exercise is provided daily, golden retrievers
can adapt to any type of home, even if it
is a city apartment.
Overall, their exercise needs are pretty moderate.
When it comes to energy and intensity, the
German Shepherd cranks everything to 10.
A German Shepherd who’s under-exercised and
ignored by their family is likely to express
pent-up energy in ways you’re not going
Its energy, intensity, eagerness to play and
somewhat strong prey drive make the German
Shepherd less adaptable to city living than
The German needs exercise and lots of it daily.
Over the years, indiscriminate breeding practices
of German Shepherds have lead to hereditary
diseases such as hip and elbow dysplasia,
blood disorders, digestive problems, epilepsy,
chronic eczema, keratitis (inflammation of
the cornea), and flea allergies.
Prudent breeders have started working through
these genetic disorders, but they should be
The German Shepherd is also prone to bloat.
Bloat is a condition where a dog’s stomach
produces excessive gas and enlarges severely
enough to cause death without immediate treatment.
Some of the Golden Retriever’s health problems
include hypothyroidism, subaortic stenosis,
eye disorders, elbow dysplasia, mast cell
tumors, and seizures.
Osteosarcoma is also occasionally seen in
Other major health concerns for the breed
include lymphoma, hip dysplasia, hemangiosarcoma,
and skin problems.
To identify these conditions early, a veterinarian
may recommend heart, hip, thyroid, eye, or
elbow tests during routine checkups.
Both breeds live about 9-13 years, about average
for larger dog breeds.
So, which of these amazing breeds best suits
Do you prefer one or the other?
Let us know in the comments.
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