Labrador Retriever: Similar Breeds

This post contains affiliate links, and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my links, at no cost to you.

Labrador Retriever Similar BreedsAccording to the American Kennel Club, the Labrador Retriever was the most popular dog up until very recently. These wonderful family dogs are known for their superb bird retrieval skills in and out of the water, as well as their ability to make friends with everyone they meet. If you’re in the market for one of these capable canines but can’t find one for some reason, why not consider some similar breeds which we highlight below? 

What is the Labrador Retriever? 

Believe it or not, the Labrador Retriever didn’t originate from the northeastern region of Labrador in Canada, but from Newfoundland right next to it. Dating back to the 1600s, the ancestors of these pups helped fishermen haul in nets and lines to retrieve fish. Over the years, more people settled around the St. John area of this island, and they began to see potential in these dogs as hunting companions. 

Some of them were introduced to England, and by the 1800s, they were seen as prized sporting dogs and were praised for their solid build, intelligence, gentleness, versatility, and good nature. Until 2022, they were the most popular breed in the world, but they’re still beloved by many families and are often used as guide dogs, and therapy dogs, as well as narcotics detection. No matter where you go, you’ll see one of these dogs as an important part of the family, and even their community.   

Similar Breeds to the Labrador Retriever 

The Labrador Retriever is every family’s dream companion but if you can’t seem to find one near you, below are just a few dogs that are just as great in and out of your home. 

Golden Retriever

In terms of behavior, Golden Retrievers possess a similar temperament to the Labrador Retriever; they are happy, friendly dogs that are known for their gentle nature. This breed was first developed from a litter of black Wavy-Coated Retrievers around southern England during 1864. A few yellow pups became the foundation for these talented working dogs; since then, their intelligence, beauty, physical prowess, and affectionate personality have won over many hearts. 

Flat-Coated Retriever

The Flat-Coated Retriever is a leaner and more elegant version of the Labrador Retriever, blessed with a lustrous, flat coat. This coat comes in a liver or solid black color with a fluffy tail; their distinctive coats protect these superb retrievers against icy water, harsh weather, and rough terrain. Another hallmark of this breed is its long head — a unique feature among retrievers — which always displays a kind and smart expression. 

Curly-Coated Retriever

Among the oldest Retriever dog breeds is the Curly-Coated Retriever, which is thought to have descended from the English Water Spaniel of the 16th century, the retrieving setter, the St. John’s Newfoundland, and even the Poodle during the late 19th century. Easily distinguishable by their coat which consists of tight and small water-resistant curls, these dogs are intelligent, robust, and reliable. As one of the more independent retriever breeds, they may be aloof at times but these dogs will always want to please their humans.  

Chesapeake Bay Retriever

These pups descended from two dogs that were rescued from a shipwreck in 1807 off the coast of Maryland; one was a red male called Sailor and one was a black female called Canton. These amazing dogs were natural retrievers and were later given to the local community; while they weren’t bred to each other, they were used to breed with other dogs in the area, making a wide range of crossbreeds. Eventually, these dogs paved the way for the Chesapeake Bay Retriever as it is today. 

Bernese Mountain Dog

While they may not look like the Labrador Retriever, the Bernese Mountain Dog is an excellent choice if you’re looking for a pup that behaves just like the Lab. Known for their loyalty, gentle nature, and love for people, these dogs are lovable in their own way and have just as much energy, so they’re perfect for families who love going on adventures. This intelligent breed comes with a gorgeous coat color and white markings over its face and body, along with a deeper chest.    

Irish Water Spaniel

While there are more than subtle differences between Irish Water Spaniels and Labrador Retrievers, their dense undercoat also protects them while they work. These dogs are excellent swimmers and will happily play inside the water for hours at a time — these intelligent dogs are also easy to train, making them a good option for first-time dog owners. They also love to play games and are highly loyal, just like the Lab so they’re a great substitute if you can’t find one. 


While all of these dogs are closely related or at least behave in the same manner as a Labrador Retriever, there’s no point in getting any of them if you don’t find a responsible breeder first. One of the most important aspects of looking for a puppy is to ensure that they come from a safe and secure environment where their parents are healthy. Doing this will guarantee that your furry family member won’t come home with genetic conditions or abnormalities, and so you can spend many years with your dog together in good health.