Trying to decide between a Golden Retriever vs. a Beagle?
Golden Retrievers and Beagles are both friendly, happy breeds that can make great companions.
They have many qualities that are similar, but also many that make them very different from each other.
It’s important to understand their unique traits so you can choose the breed that best suits you and your lifestyle.
We’ll start with a general overview of both Golden Retrievers and Beagles, and then dive into specific categories to help you narrow down your decision, including:
- Energy levels
- Off-leash reliability
- How much they bark
- How good they are with kids
- How good they are with other dogs and other animals
- And much, much more!
Golden Retriever Overview
Golden Retrievers are friendly, happy dogs who love the company of their human companions.
Historically, they were bred to retrieve gunned-down birds as a hunting partner, so they are genetically wired to form a close, cooperative bond with their owner.
While there is variety within every breed, Goldens are known to have that “never met a stranger” vibe and a “just happy to be here” attitude towards life.
They are an active breed, so they will need plenty of physical and mental exercise so they can behave and settle nicely in house.
Golden Retrievers learn quickly and thrive off positive attention, while exuding a stable, trustworthy energy.
Beagles are cheerful dogs that make wonderful, hardy companions for whatever adventures await you.
As scent hounds, Beagles were historically bred to help humans hunt rabbits and other small game in packs using their incredible noses.
They also have an impressive set of vocal cords and that distinctive baying sound would help the hunters know where the pack of beagles was, as they often hunted in dense foliage and couldn’t always see the dogs.
While some people still use beagles for hunting, the majority are beloved pets who excel as family companions and hiking and running partners.
You might also find them working as scent detection dogs in airports, or as therapy dogs.
They are small to medium-sized dogs with short coats and come in several colors, the most common being a tricolor of black, red and white.
Beagles are known to be good-natured dogs that are fun-loving and sweet, but also can be independent and have their own ideas.
They are an active breed and are happiest when following their noses.
They are adaptable, pleasant dogs who are even-tempered and love the company of their humans.
Most Golden Retrievers need about an hour of exercise per day.
Walks, hikes, or games in the yard are all excellent outlets that most Goldens love.
Many Goldens love water and swimming can be great exercise too.
They really love to spend time in the great outdoors.
Beagles also need about an hour of exercise per day.
They aren’t energizer bunnies, but they’re certainly not couch potatoes.
Like Goldens, Beagles were used as hunting companions, and as such, both breeds are quite active and love being outdoors.
Beagles love walks, hikes and playtime in the yard.
Be prepared to let a Beagle’s nose be the guide while on walks so they can satisfy their sniffer.
Both breeds are active and need consistent exercise in order to be well-behaved at home.
If under-exercised, they may find their own exercise outlets, which probably involves destroying something you love.
Goldens and Beagles are pretty evenly matched when it comes to exercise, just know that Beagles are super sniffy and will want to sniff a lot while out and about.
They shed year-round, often with heavier sheds in the spring and fall.
Beagles are moderate, year-round shedders, who, like Goldens, tend to shed more during the spring and fall.
They need to be brushed about once a week to pull out the loose fur.
Whether you get a Golden Retriever or a Beagle, you’ll have to get used to shedding.
Goldens do shed more though, and their fur is longer than a Beagle’s.
They’re also much larger than a Beagle, which means just more fur, in general, to deal with.
Golden Retrievers are generally easy to train dogs, thanks to their genetic predisposition for working closely with their owners.
They thrive off positive reinforcement training, tend to learn new things quickly, and are eager to please.
They may struggle with keeping their manners around people and other dogs, as they tend to be very friendly, so you might find that they need lots of consistent training to learn how to be calm around others.
Beagles are certainly trainable, but your wishes will always be in competition with their very powerful nose.
It’s important to understand that Beagles were bred to literally tune out everything else except the scent of a rabbit and single-mindedly follow it no matter what.
That dedication to following their nose can make training more of a process with a Beagle, as they can be easily distracted.
If you stay patient, keep a good sense of humor, and use lots of positive reinforcement, you’ll be surprised at just how much they can learn.
The Golden Retriever definitely wins in the trainability category.
It’s not that Beagles cannot be trained, but they usually will not be as reliable as a Golden.
And it’s not that Beagles are stubborn or disobedient, they are just doing what their genetics tell them to do – follow the interesting smell and ignore everything else, even your voice telling them it’s time to come inside.
The Beagle is a bit more of a “free spirit” when it comes to trainability, whereas the Golden Retriever is an eager partner.
Golden Retrievers typically don’t bark very much, though they might bark if excited or to alert you to something going on outside.
For the most part, they are usually pretty quiet, but vocalness can vary from dog to dog.
Beagles are known to be talkers and seem to have a lot to say.
This is not a quiet breed, and they can be quite expressive with their noises.
They do bark, but they also bay, which is a loud mix between a bark and a howl.
Historically, this baying sound was prized by hunters as it served as an auditory GPS system so that they could locate the pack of Beagles.
When a Beagle gets excited, they will often bay.
The Beagle is most definitely more vocal than Goldens, and those who really value their peace and quiet, or who have nearby neighbors, may find it hard to share a home with a Beagle.
Many Beagle lovers find their chattiness endearing, and you can certainly work on training to minimize the barking, but they are innately more vocal than a Golden Retriever.
How Are They With Other People?
Golden Retrievers are super friendly dogs that love meeting new people.
They seem to go through life thinking everyone just might be their next best friend.
Goldens enjoy getting attention and interacting with people outside of their family.
Though it can happen, it’s out of character for a Golden Retriever to be shy or reserved with strangers.
Beagles are also very social dogs that love to charm people with their adorable appearance.
They’re usually very go-with-the-flow and enjoy being around people.
Both breeds are great with people outside of their family and love to make new friends.
The Golden Retriever might be a bit more excitable around people, and with their size, you’ll want to be careful that they don’t accidentally hurt anyone.
Both Goldens and Beagles will need training to learn how to politely interact with people.
Are They Good with Kids?
They’re usually stable, even-tempered dogs that like being around kids, so long as they are treated with respect.
Most Goldens love the attention and playtime that kids provide.
But because they are larger dogs, they can unintentionally push small kids down, so keep that in mind.
Beagles are also wonderful companions for families with kids.
Their happy-go-lucky nature makes them well-suited for children.
Beagles tend to be more gentle than Golden Retrievers and are smaller, so there is less risk of small kids accidentally being bowled over.
You cannot go wrong with either breed when it comes to a great family pet.
They are both sweet, loving dogs who are pretty even-keel.
Even though they are wonderful with kids, you’ll still need to actively supervise dog-kid interactions to make sure everyone is safe and happy, and teach children how to safely and respectfully treat dogs.
How Are They With Other Dogs?
Most Goldens love to play with other dogs.
They are known to be social and pleasant around other dogs, but it’s not uncommon for them to even be a little overexcited.
You may have to work hard in training them how to be calm around other dogs when it’s not playtime.
In a survey we did recently, we found that 31.6% of Golden Retriever owners have more than one dog and 57% of those people have a Golden plus another breed.
Beagles are great with other dogs and usually enjoy playing with new friends.
Because they were bred to hunt in packs, aggression is extremely uncommon for this breed and they often thrive with the company of other dogs.
Both Golden Retrievers and Beagles do well around other dogs and are pretty evenly matched in this aspect.
How Are They With Other Animals?
With a good introduction, Goldens can get along nicely with other pets such as cats.
Some may have a desire to chase a running cat, but most Goldens have very low prey drive.
Some Golden Retrievers even develop a close bond with their kitty sibling.
In the survey we did, we found that 25.3% of people who own a Golden Retriever also own a cat.
Beagles are also generally a good match for families with other pets like cats, but as hunting hounds, they do possess prey drive and might be inclined to chase a cat or small pet.
You’ll want to introduce them properly, but they can get along well.
Some Beagles will even play with and snuggle the family cat.
Both breeds are good choices for living peacefully alongside cats, but will need the right introduction and supervision to make sure they get off to the right start.
Goldens are beloved for their sweet, even-tempered personalities.
They are playful, silly, and really just want to be your best friend.
Some can be a bit sensitive, but not overly so.
A well-bred Golden should be a nice, stable dog who is confident and pleasant to be around.
Beagles are also loving, affable dogs who make excellent companions.
They are social and bond closely with their humans, but they can also be independent due to their genetic inclination to sniff.
So while they love to hang out with you, they can also live in their own world sometimes.
They are energetic, stable, good-natured dogs.
Goldens and Beagles actually have a lot in common when it comes to temperament, which is probably why both are such popular choices.
The main difference is that the Beagle has more of an independent streak with their own ideas (again, it’s all about the nose), whereas the Golden is more likely to be looking at you wondering what you’re going to do together next.
But both are active, delightful dogs that can be wonderful companions.
With consistent, positive training, Golden Retrievers can be trained to be excellent off-leash companions for walks and hikes.
As hunting dogs, they obviously work off-leash in the fields and are very responsive to the hunter’s direction.
Their cooperative nature and desire to be close to their humans make them fairly easy to train for off-leash reliability.
The Beagle is much harder to train for off-leash reliability.
Once again, they are trained to hone into a smell and follow it no matter what, so that doesn’t exactly set you up for off-leash reliability.
Beagles are smart dogs who can be trained, but they may not respond to your calls if they’re tracking a scent.
It will take a lot more time and effort to work towards off-leash reliability with a Beagle, than with a Golden Retriever.
If you envision lots of fun, off-leash adventures with your dog, a Golden Retriever is the better fit.
Beagles are going to follow their noses and you cannot simply turn that instinct off.
While training can certainly improve their skills, Beagles will never be known for excellent off-leash reliability.
Remember that dogs are not robots and even with the best training, they will never be 100% reliable.
It’s important to keep safety precautions in mind when letting any breed off-leash, such as staying far from roads and putting a GPS device on your dog.
The American Kennel Club gives the following ranges for female and male Golden Retrievers:
Females: 55 to 65 lbs, 21.5 to 22.5 inches tall
Males: 65 to 75 lbs, 23 to 24 inches tall
For Beagles, the American Kennel Club gives the following size ranges:
Both males and females: 20 to 30 lbs, 13 to 15 inches tall.
This is one category where the two breeds differ a lot, with the Golden being a large dog, and the Beagle being small to medium.
For some, a big dog is very appealing, while for others, the more portable size of the Beagle makes them a better fit.
Golden Retrievers are not among the breeds considered hypoallergenic.
If you are allergic to dogs, you might be allergic to a Golden Retriever.
Similarly, Beagles are also not hypoallergenic and can trigger your allergies if you’re allergic to dogs.
If either the Golden Retriever or the Beagle has captured your heart and you can’t imagine life without them, talk to your doctor about solutions for your allergies so you can live comfortably alongside your companion.
Usually, Golden Retrievers don’t have a strong doggy smell, except for the “wet dog” smell when they’re wet.
Making sure to keep their ears and paws clean can help keep any smell at bay.
Beagles are stinkin’ cute, but they can also be a little stinky.
Because Beagles were bred to hunt in packs, a stronger odor made it easier for the pack to find each other and stick together.
Sometimes called “hound smell,” they have a bit of a musky smell to them.
It’s not an overpoweringly gross scent, but they can be just a tad smellier than other breeds.
If you’re extremely sensitive to smells, you’ll want to be aware that Beagles do have the “hound smell.”
Both breeds require bathing and grooming, but the Golden Retriever will stay smelling fresh longer, so long as they don’t get anything stinky on their fur.
According to the American Kennel Club, Golden Retriever’s life expectancy is 10 to 12 years.
The American Kennel Club states that Beagles’ life expectancy is 10 to 15 years.
Smaller dogs tend to live longer, so the Beagle has a bit of an advantage in terms of life expectancy.
PetMD lists the following as common health issues for Golden Retrievers:
- Hip and elbow dysplasia
- Sub-aortic Stenosis (SAS)
- Mast cell tumors
- Eye disorders
- Skin issues
PetMD lists the following as common health issues for Beagles:
- Patellar Luxation
- Central Progressive Retinal Atrophy
- Cherry eye
- Hip dysplasia
- Primary Carnitine Deficiency
- Intervertebral Disk Disease
Both breeds can have health issues, so it’s critical to do your research and talk to breeders.
The Golden Retriever Club of America recommends that breeders do certain tests on any dog they intend to breed, so you can request test results from a breeder to ensure their dogs are healthy.
The Orthopedic Foundation for Animals has recommendations for Beagle breeders to follow, which you can ask to see.
Health issues can be genetic so good breeders should be testing every dog they breed, as well as tracking the health of all the puppies they produce.
Even the lovable, happy-go-lucky Golden Retriever can experience behavior issues such as:
- Sound sensitivity or phobias
- Resource guarding
- Jumping on people
- Counter surfing
- Destructive chewing
- Grabbing things with their mouth, such as the remote or your arm
- Pulling on leash
- Separation Anxiety
Beagles can experience behavior issues such as:
- Excessive vocalization
- Destructive Chewing
- Pulling on leash
- Not coming when called
- Jumping on people
- Separation Anxiety
No matter which breed you’ll go with, proper training and socialization are key in helping avoid behavior issues from developing.
Behavior issues can also be genetic, such as separation anxiety, so you’ll want to ask breeders about any issues.
While aggression is uncommon for both Golden Retrievers and Beagles, it can happen, and you’ll want to seek help from a qualified professional if you do see any signs of aggression.
Golden Retriever puppies range from $1,000 to $3,500 depending on the breeder and geographical location.
Beagles generally start at about $800 and go up to $2000, also depending on the breeder and location
While your budget might be a factor in finding the right dog for you, don’t go with a cheap puppy just because of the price, no matter which breed you choose.
Find a puppy from a breeder who prioritizes health and good temperament.
The initial purchase price of a puppy is just the first of many expenses you’ll have over the lifetime of your dog.
Golden Retrievers and Beagles are quite similar in a lot of ways.
They’re both happy, friendly dogs who enjoy the company of people and other dogs.
They’re playful, sweet, and even-tempered, making them really nice family companions, whether or not your family includes children.
Both breeds are active and need plenty of consistent physical and mental exercise to feel content.
They’ll love to come along on all your adventures, whether it’s a walk to the park, a hike, a road trip, or a trip to dreamland while snuggled in your bed.
The Beagle’s keen sense of smell leads them to be more easily distracted and less reliable as they just can’t help but follow a scent, whereas the Golden Retriever is more attentive and focused on their owner.
Size is also a major point of difference, with the Beagle being much more compact and portable than the Golden.
Beagles also tend to be more vocal, and just a little smellier than Golden Retrievers, while Goldens are heavier shedders.
If you’re looking for a confident, joyful dog who is up for anything, you cannot go wrong with either breed.
It’s a good idea to make a list of the qualities that are important to you in a dog and then evaluate each breed’s traits to see which one matches up most closely with what you have in mind.
Just as you want to think about which dog is a good fit for you, consider things from the dog’s point of view as well.
Which breed will be happiest and most content with your lifestyle and your personality?
The answers to those questions will help you make the best decision and truly enjoy whatever breed you end up with.
Have any questions about Golden Retrievers vs. Beagles?
Have you had one of these two breeds?
Let us know down in the comments!
And if you’re still considering which breed to get, check out these other posts:
- Golden Retriever vs. Border Collie
- Golden Retriever vs. Irish Setter
- Golden Retriever vs. German Shepherd
- Golden Retriever vs. Golden Doodle
- Golden Retriever vs. Labrador
- Golden Retriever vs. Husky
- Golden Retriever vs. Rottweiler
- Golden Retriever vs. Bernese Mountain Dog
- Golden Retriever vs. Australian Shepherd
- Golden Retriever vs. Great Pyrenees
To learn more about whether or not a Golden Retriever is right for you, take the Golden Retriever Quiz!
And if you’ve decided on getting a Golden Retriever, check out this article on how to raise a Golden Retriever puppy.
- 500 Golden Retriever Name Ideas
- 23 Facts About English Cream Golden Retrievers You Probably Didn’t Know
- 8 Types Of Golden Retriveers (With Pictures)
About the author:
Alisa Healy is a professional dog trainer in the Chicago suburbs, with a wide range of training experience from shelters to in-home training to dog sports. She is a Karen Pryor Academy Certified Training Partner and is passionate about helping people and dogs live fulfilling, harmonious lives together.