Golden Retriever vs Saint Bernard – Which One Is Better?

For decades, Golden Retrievers and Saint Bernards have been among the most popular dog breeds in the world.

A lot of their popularity is due to the pop-culture prominence, but also the cuddly and adorable appearance of both breeds.

Their sweet, calm, and friendly nature is also a big reason why so many owners choose them as family dogs.

Furthermore, both breeds have fascinating histories and are deeply steeped in the cultural traditions of their native regions.

Still, with all these similarities, it’s the differences between the two that should play the key role when deciding which one is better suited for your family and lifestyle.

In this article, you’ll find a detailed Golden Retriever vs Saint Bernard comparison, with all the key distinctions explained.

AttributesGolden RetrieverSaint Bernard
Good For First Time OwnersYesNo
Good Guard DogNot The Best ChoiceAverage
Apartment FriendlyYesNo
Good Family DogYesYes
SheddingModerate To HighHigh
Barking And HowlingLowModerate
Height20-24 inches (51-61 cm)26-35 inches (65-90 cm)
Average Life Expectancy10-12 Years8-10 Years


Golden Retriever – Dog Breed Information

Golden Retrievers have aristocratic roots and their origins can be traced to the 1800s and Scotland.

They were originally developed to serve the British upper class, helping them on their hunting trips.

Despite keeping all the traits that made them great hunting dogs, nowadays they are mainly seen in different roles.

Due to their kind and affectionate personality, Golden Retrievers are now mostly used as family or therapy dogs.


Goldies are medium-sized, muscular, and athletic dogs. They’re quite strong and sturdy, but still exceptionally agile and light on their feet.

The coat of a Golden Retriever is lush, silky, and abundant. It’s water-resistant and protects them against all kinds of harsh weather.

The hair can be wavy or straight, but in both cases, it’s fairly long. The feathering is even heavier around the chest, tail, and back of the legs.

The coat coloring may feature various shades of golden and there are no noticeable markings.

The Golden Retriever’s head is large and broad with a straight muzzle.

The eyes are medium-large and dark brown with a friendly and intelligent expression. Ears are rather short and high-set.

The height of male Golden Retrievers is in 22-24 inches (56-61cm) region and they weigh 60-80 pounds (27-36 kg).

Adult females are 20-22 inches (51-56 cm) high and weigh 55-70 pounds (25-32 kg).


Golden Retrievers are very friendly, trustworthy, outgoing, and sweet dogs.

They love being around the family and are always ready to join in any type of activity. They’re very careful and kind around kids.

In addition, they are also great with older or sick people, which makes them great therapy dogs.

Golden Retrievers usually do well with other pets in the household, too. This extreme kindness also extends to strangers, so they don’t excel as watchdogs.

This breed is highly trainable and can be easily taught to perform various tricks. They’re eager to please, very smart, and respond to training very well.

Due to their working history, Golden Retrievers have developed as intelligent and exceptionally active dogs.

This means that they need almost constant mental and physical stimulation, so potential owners should be prepared to offer them plenty of exercise.

Saint Bernard – Dog Breed Information

Probably the most popular giant breed, Saint Bernards are famous worldwide for their heroics as well as their appearances on TV and movies.

These gentle giants were first developed in the Swiss Alps and were named after Great St Bernard Hospice where they served as search and rescue dogs.

They still often provide valuable help in finding people stained in the mountains but are also very popular as family dogs.


The first thing that catches the eye when seeing a Saint Bernard is their size.

They’re one of the largest breeds in the world but still manage to have an adorable and lovely appearance.

St. Bernards have a double coat, protecting them in cold climates. It can be short or long.

The short variant features smooth and flat hair, while the longhaired dogs have a thicker and more coarse coat.

Coloration may vary, but the most frequent combinations are red and white, brown and white, and brindle and white.

The head is massive and round, with a slightly raised muzzle.

The ears are floppy and set high on the head, while the eyes are deep-set, droopy, and dark-colored.

Adult males reach 24-28 inches (63-71 inches) in height and 119-199 pounds (54-90 kg) in weight.

Female St. Bernards grow 23-28 inches (60-69 cm) and weigh 114-188 pounds (52-85 kg).


Despite their imposing presence, St. Bernards are very gentle, friendly, and sweet dogs. They have a very calm nature and almost never show any aggressiveness.

They are loving and loyal to their families. With kids, Saint Bernards are very patient and careful, as they are aware of their size.

They love to hang out with their humans and cherish every chance to be around them.

On the other hand, they don’t like being alone, and can quickly get bored or suffer from separation anxiety.

They’re also very friendly towards strangers, but, due to their natural alertness, still can serve as watchdogs.

They’re not super active, but still, need moderate exercise and lots of space due to their size.

As they are intelligent and eager to please, the training usually goes very smoothly, although it’s best to start early.

Golden Retriever vs Saint Bernard – What’s The Difference?

Golden RetrieverSaint Bernard

These are the two breeds you can hardly confuse one for another. Besides the coat color, the size difference is the most glaring.

St. Bernard is a giant breed, one of the largest in the world, while Goldies belong to a medium-to-large group.

The two breeds have a lot of common personality traits, as they are both friendly, loving, and loyal.

However, Golden Retrievers are slightly more intelligent and more trainable.

Besides, while St. Bernards can sometimes be a bit lazy, Goldies are more active, always playful, and ready to go.

On the other hand, this also means that they are less likely to wander off as they don’t have a prey drive as strong as Golden Retrievers.

When it comes to health, the advantage is on the side of Saint Bernards.

They have fewer genetic health issues and potential concerns. However, they also have a lower life expectancy.

Golden Retriever vs Saint Bernard – Which One is Better?

Which dog will be better for you mainly depends on what type of owner are you.

If you’re an inexperienced or first-time owner, then Golden Retriever is probably the better choice.

They’re more trainable and easy-going, plus St. Bernards can be sometimes difficult to handle due to their size.

The size also matters when taking into consideration your living arrangement.

While both breeds can live in the apartment, Saint Bernards need much more space and, ideally, you should have at least a small yard if you plan to own this breed.

Golden Retrieves should also be the preference for more active owners.

They need more activity, more regular exercise, and constant attention in engagement from the owners.

St. Bernard is suitable for more couch potato-type of owners as they can be rather lazy, often perfectly happy just lying around.

Authored By

Madeline Wright

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