One of the most recognizable dog breeds is the Golden retriever. While the Labrador retriever has been America’s most popular dog for 26 years, the Golden retriever has long held third place.
They appear in movies like The Art of Racing in the Rain or the unforgettable Marley & Me. They perform well as therapy dogs and in rescue work. You’ll also find them in huge numbers of American households, including the White House. Many pictures of President Gerald Ford show him with his Golden retriever, Liberty.
6 Wonderful Golden Retriever Alternative Breeds
Golden retrievers have a reputation for being helpful and playful; hard-working and cuddly; athletic and obedient. It’s no surprise that so many families pick this amazing breed to be their closest companion. Now that you’re looking for your own family pet, it’s understandable why you keep returning to this familiar breed.
There are, however, plenty of other loyal, playful dogs who would love to join your home. If you’re in the market for a dog like a Golden retriever, check out these breeds with similar traits.
1. English Springer Spaniel: Smart and Easy to Train
An English Springer Spaniel looks much different than a Golden retriever. But if you’re looking for a dog with similar characteristics rather than looks, an English springer spaniel might be the perfect match. These dogs were bred to help with hunting, so they have great stamina, are easy to train, and make wonderful companions.
A Golden retriever is a well-known family dog, and English springer spaniels are equally loyal, friendly members of the family. They’ll follow commands and tolerate little kids’ antics. Their energy and loyalty can also be downsides, though. If English springer spaniels don’t get enough exercise or companionship, they get antsy. If you work long hours or are unable to give this dog room to run, keep reading the rest of our list of dogs like Golden retrievers.
2. Beagle: A Smaller Family Pet
The Beagle seems like an odd choice because they look completely different from a Golden retriever. While the Golden retriever does have long ears, they’re a little floppy and definitely fuzzy.
A Beagle, on the other hand, is often mocked for being kind of droopy. Their temperament is much more aligned with that of a Golden than their ears. Like a Golden retriever, a Beagle loves to play. They’re a clownish, upbeat breed. Snoopy is a Beagle, remember? They’ll goof around with you and romp around the yard with your kiddos.
A Beagle has a tolerant, even temperament, and high levels of affection. And if you live in an apartment or a smaller house, a Beagle takes up much less room. Unlike the larger Golden retriever, a Beagle might be happy to chill out on your couch – and not use their tail to knock cups off the coffee table.
3. Leonberger: A Gentle Giant
If you’re eyeing the Golden retriever because you want a calm family dog, definitely check out the Leonberger. This breed fits solidly into the large dog category, no questions there! But the Leonberger has a huge heart to match its huge body.
It’s even fuzzier than a Golden retriever, so if you love the idea of running your hand through your dog’s fur, a Leonberger might be your match. It was bred to look like a lion, and the results don’t disappoint. The Leonberger’s big, fluffy body might intimidate thieves, but this breed is actually a sweetheart.
Leonbergers do make great guard dogs, but they operate secret service style – right next to their human. The Leonberger doesn’t like to be left alone. However, they do love to swim, hike, run, and work. This dog will be incredibly loyal to your family, patient with your kids, and smart enough to follow all your commands. Make sure this guy gets plenty of play, exercise, and space, and you’ll have a friend for life.
4. Irish Water Spaniel: Active, Playful, and Hypoallergenic
A Golden retriever has a beautiful, recognizable coat. Unfortunately, some of us aren’t able to tolerate their shedding (that rules out the Leonberger, too). But there are plenty of loyal, friendly, athletic dogs considered hypoallergenic.
The Irish water spaniel, in particular, should appeal to people who enjoy dogs like Golden retrievers. This breed is on the larger side and also very active and playful. A Golden retriever can be found fetching tennis balls from the water, doing the doggy paddle back to shore. So can an Irish water spaniel, who simply adores swimming. They were bred to have webbed feet and help hunters retrieve waterfowl. This is the perfect dog for anyone who lives near a pond, a river, or a lake.
Irish Water Spaniels are also known for being a little goofy. So if you love the playful nature of a Golden retriever, check out this clownish breed, too. Unlike the Golden retriever, Irish water spaniels have curly coats. They need to be brushed weekly and groomed regularly, but they won’t shed hair and dander that sets off your allergic reactions.
5. Irish Setter: A Classic-looking Family Dog
Maybe you truly love Golden retrievers but want a different kind of dog to stand out from the crowd? An Irish setter is a great choice if you like the Golden Retriever’s size, energy, personality, and soft coat. An Irish Setter has slightly longer hair, but it’s nowhere near as fuzzy as, say, a Great Pyrenees. It’s also darker than a Golden retriever, sometimes even taking on a red hue.
Just like a Golden retriever, an Irish setter borders on large and medium size, is easy to train, has tons of energy for play and sport, and makes a fantastic family dog. Irish setters are known to be patient with children and have an overall sweet disposition. They sometimes act like toddlers themselves, though. Expect your Irish setter to retain its exuberant puppy nature for the first few years.
6. Rough Collie: Long-haired and Intelligent
Golden retrievers are all over American culture, from the White House to Disney’s Air Bud. But the most famous dog of all is Lassie, a Collie. Lassie truly was an excellent depiction of her breed, being both intelligent and loyal.
Collies are historically more stubborn than Golden retrievers, and might rather herd your children than play with them. But because of their gentleness and smarts, Rough Collies make wonderful family dogs. Like the Golden retriever, a Rough Collie has a double coat and enjoys regular brushing. This can be a great bonding experience for you and your dog.
No matter what choice you decide to make, it’s hard to go wrong with any of these beautiful dogs. Each breed mentioned here is a wonderful choice for active families, and will undoubtedly make an excellent companion for you and your loved ones. They all share the Golden retriever’s energy and upbeat nature. As long as they get enough play and affection, these dogs, like Golden retrievers, will bring you years of laughs, love, and loyalty.