Golden Retriever vs. Boxer: 8 Differences Between Them

Tying to decide between a Golden Retriever or Boxer?

If you’re torn between these two popular breeds, read on as we discuss the personality traits and characteristics of Boxers vs. Golden Retrievers to help you make the best decision.

We’ll first take a look at a brief overview of each breed, then go into a bit more detail about some of the most important qualities and features you should consider, such as their:

  • Temperament
  • Exercise requirements
  • Trainability
  • Family fit with children
  • Health & lifespan
  • Physical traits
golden retriever vs boxer

Golden Retriever Overview

Golden Retrievers belong to the sporting dog breed category and were originally bred to retrieve birds for hunters.

Although they’re powerful and athletic, Golden Retrievers also make excellent companion pets.

Goldens tend to be intuitive and intelligent, and they’re typically friendly and trainable.

As a whole, the breed is known to be endearing and affectionate.

Golden Retrievers are quite energetic, and do better in environments where they’re able to meet their exercise and mental enrichment needs.

Without this, they may partake in unwanted (although natural) behaviors.

Goldens are among the top three most popular breeds in the country.

Their loyal, loving nature appeals to many families, while their athletic side is attractive to dog-sport enthusiasts and hunters.

Boxer Overview

Boxers are a part of the working dog group of breeds.

These energetic dogs were bred as protection dogs, though these days they mostly find themselves as family companions.

Boxers are known to have a sense of humor and their friendly disposition helps make them a great addition to family homes.

These muscular dogs have a medium build, with a strong, square jaw, and a short, smooth coat that comes in fawn and brindle colors.

While their coat does not require much grooming, they do tend to shed a fair amount year-round.

Boxers are high-energy dogs that require plenty of exercise, play and activity in daily life.

They love their family fiercely and are fearless protectors when they need to be.

The Boxer’s bright, alert and silly temperament contributes to their popularity as family companions.

Their protective, yet gentle and patient nature has appealed to many families for years.

Physical Traits

Golden Retrievers

With their medium-length and feathery double coats, Goldens tend to shed quite frequently.

They blow their coat twice a year, in the fall and spring, but continue shedding year-round.

Their beautiful long coats come in three colors: light golden, golden, and dark golden.

Goldens are medium to large-sized dogs that have a broad head with inquisitive, kind eyes set far apart.

Their ears are set high and hang down with a slight fold.

And they have long, expressive tails that can function as a great communication tool.

Golden Retrievers’ mouths tend to look as though they’re smiling, and unless they have exceptionally large jowls, Goldens aren’t usually very drooly dogs.

According to the AKC, male Goldens stand 23-24” tall and 65-75lbs., while females are 21.5-22.5” tall and 55-65 lbs.


The Boxer’s short, shiny coat sheds often and a lot.

Boxers come in fawn or brindle, and they often have a white underbelly.

Their large heads are powerful and square, while the muzzle is short and blunt.

Boxers tend to have large jowls, and therefore they can be relatively heavy droolers.

Boxers are known as a brachycephalic breed, which refers to the shape of the skull and the appearance of a “pushed-in” nose.

Customarily, Boxer ears were cropped and set to a point, but when left natural, the ears lay flat against the head, close to the cheeks.

Boxer tails are docked and set high on their body.

According to the AKC, male Boxers stand 23-25” tall and 65-80lbs., while females are 21.5-23.5” tall and 40-65lbs.


Golden Retrievers are a medium-large breed dog with a nice structure, friendly features and an expressive tail.

Boxers can be slightly smaller or bigger than Goldens.

Their build is muscular and athletic, with a powerful head and square muzzle.

Depending on your preference, Goldens are typically suited more to people who prefer a softer, friendly-looking dog, while Boxers are preferred by those looking for a sturdier breed.

golden retriever

Is A Golden Retriever Right For You? Take This Quiz To Find Out!

Grooming Needs

Golden Retrievers

Although Golden Retrievers do not necessarily require regular formal grooming, they do need to have their coats brushed several times per week to keep shedding at bay, prevent mats, and maintain a fresh, smooth coat.

Bathing your Golden every few months, or more often if they love to get dirty, is another way to keep their beautiful coat clean and shiny.


A Boxer’s coat is about as low maintenance as it gets.

Since they have a short coat, they do not require much in terms of grooming.

Their tight coat does not tangle or mat and they tend to remain fairly clean.

That said, however, the occasional brushing and bath is a great addition to their cleanliness and health regimen.


With their wash-and-wear coats, Goldens have generally low-maintenance grooming needs.

Brush them several times per week with an occasional bath and that’s all you’ll need.

Boxer coats are even lower maintenance.

Their short coats do not mat and require very little brushing.

Both breeds have relatively low grooming needs, with Boxers being the easier of the two.


Golden Retrievers

Goldens are known as the stereotypical “family dog” for many reasons, including their gentle, playful nature.

They are a generally friendly and devoted breed who love their families and aim to please.

Goldens are social dogs and do well in a home where a companion is present much of the time.

And while they enjoy cuddling with their humans, they also like having a job to do, like playing fetch, retrieving, and other fun tasks.

Since they’re an active breed, Goldens do well with active families who enjoy getting out for walks and hikes regularly.

They are excellent adventurers and have a general fun-loving personality.


Boxers are friendly, fearless and confident.

Their bright, upbeat personality makes them excellent companions to their humans.

Since Boxers were originally bred to be protection dogs, they may be a bit standoffish with strangers, but are fiercely loyal to their families.

Appropriate socialization at a young age can prevent aloof behavior towards unfamiliar people.


Both Boxers and Goldens are affectionate, intelligent and friendly, overall.

While Goldens tend to be friendly to all humans, Boxers may be a bit more reserved around some strangers, due to the nature of their protection-dog genetics.

boxer dog

Exercise Requirements

Golden Retriever

Depending on whether you’ve gotten a field-bred Golden or not, the breed’s exercise requirements can vary.

Either way, Goldens are certainly not couch potatoes and require some form of physical and mental exercise daily.

Many Goldens excel at dog sports like competition obedience or agility, but the majority would do well with a daily long, sniffy walk or hike in the woods, along with some short training sessions to meet their exercise requirements.


Like Goldens, Boxers require daily physical exercise and won’t do well in an inactive home.

While they may not look like it, Boxers can also do very well in dog sport homes.

Boxers are athletically built and need to meet those needs with daily walks, training and playtime with their human or dog companion.


Boxers and Goldens have similar exercise requirements and neither breed would thrive in a sedentary home.

Without proper exercise, they’d both be more likely to engage in unwanted behaviors.


Golden Retriever

Goldens love engaging with people, which makes them fun and easy to train.

Their willingness to learn is evident in training sessions, and they tend to be a quick study.

Their combination of intelligence and high food motivation creates an easily trainable dog who can become a highly skilled service, sport or pet dog.

Golden Retrievers are a sensitive breed that responds very well to rewards-based methods.


Boxers are highly enthusiastic learners who can be very fun to train, though the breed is also known to be somewhat more independent, which can prove to be a bit trickier.

Patience, consistency and kindness are all important qualities to have when training a Boxer.

They can be easily distractable during training, so introducing them to novel distractions very gradually is a must.


Golden Retrievers aim to please and are fun, eager learners.

Boxers are enthusiastic, but a bit more independent, which can make training certain skills somewhat more challenging.

Golden Retrievers rate slightly higher in trainability, though both breeds enjoy learning.

Positive reinforcement-based methods should be used when training any dog, regardless of breed.

Living with Children

golden retriever puppy

Golden Retriever

As a whole, Golden Retrievers are known as one of the best breeds to live in a home with children.

Their gentle, affectionate personality is perfectly suited to live amongst active children.

But although they’re known for being great with kids, always be sure to supervise them when they’re around children.


The Boxer’s patient, protective personality makes them a great fit for family homes.

Their fun-loving, silly nature can be the perfect addition to a home with children.

Since Boxers are sturdy and tend to be rambunctious, adults should always be present when their dogs and children are playing together.


Both Boxers and Goldens make excellent pet dogs in homes with children.

While Goldens are softer in their play style, Boxers can be a bit rowdier, and therefore may be too much for smaller children.

Supervision of young children and dogs is a must regardless of breed.

Health and Lifespan

Golden Retrievers

Some of the most common health concerns about Goldens are hip dysplasia, cancer and skin allergies.

Golden Retrievers’ average life expectancy is 10-12 years.


Some common Boxer health issues are cancer, cardiomyopathy, hip dysplasia and epilepsy.

Boxers’ life expectancy is 9-12 years.


Golden Retrievers and Boxers have similar life expectancies, with Boxers potentially having slightly shorter lifespans.

Both breeds can be prone to cancer and hip dysplasia.


Golden Retriever

Golden puppies range in price from $1,000-$4,000, depending on the breeder, health testing and other factors.


Boxer puppies can be purchased for $800-$4,000, also dependent upon the breeder.


Golden Retrievers and Boxers are similar in cost.

While cost is an important factor to consider when looking for your next dog, researching the breeder, health testing and puppy raising program is equally, if not more important.

Generally speaking, the cheaper the puppy, the less can be expected of the breeder.

Plus, no matter the cost of the puppy, you’ll need to spend probably a few thousand dollars per year to take care of them.

Final Thoughts

Golden Retrievers and Boxers have a lot in common in terms of temperament, exercise requirements and life expectancy.

Both breeds would thrive in an active home with children, as long as their physical exercise and mental stimulation needs are met.

Early socialization is crucial when bringing a new puppy into your home, regardless of breed.

A Golden Retriever’s friendly, eager-to-please personality tends to be more suited to homes that enjoy hosting guests and want their dogs to happily engage with them.

While Boxers are also very affectionate and playful, their genetic history of being protection dogs can make them less tolerant of strangers in the home.

Ultimately, the decision relies on your preference for the softer, happy-go-lucky personality of a Golden Retriever or the stockier, silly, but protective nature of a Boxer.

Do you have one of these two breeds?

What’s your experience been like?

Let us know down in the comments!

See other breed comparisons here:

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.

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