Trying to decide between a Golden Retriever and a Siberian Husky?
Golden Retrievers and Siberian Huskies can both make amazing companions, but they are very different breeds with very different traits.
Understanding each breed’s characteristics and considering how well they might fit with your lifestyle can help you make a well-informed decision.
In this article, we’ll start by looking at a general overview of both Golden Retrievers and Huskies, and then we’ll compare the two breeds, looking at a range of specific categories, 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 social, cheery dogs who love being around their human family.
Looking back at history, Goldens were bred to retrieve shot birds from a hunter, so they are genetically predisposed to form a close, cooperative relationship with their owners.
While some people today still use Golden Retrievers for hunting, it’s more common to see them as beloved family companions, therapy dogs, service dogs, and dog sport partners.
Within any breed there will be variety, but in general Golden Retrievers are known for their friendly, eager-to-please personality.
Golden Retrievers are active dogs and will need consistent exercise in order to be well-behaved around the house.
They are a very intelligent and intuitive breed and thrive with positive reinforcement training.
Siberian Husky Overview
Siberian Huskies are beautiful dogs with friendly, yet independent personalities.
Originally bred for companionship and sled pulling in very cold climates, Sibes are intelligent, energetic, and resilient dogs who are mostly kept as pets these days.
Siberian Huskies are medium to large dogs with a plush double coat and come in a variety of colors.
Some Huskies also have blue eyes, or one brown eye and one blue eye.
Known for their distinct howl and escape-artist tendencies, Sibes are also very sweet, social dogs who get along well with people, kids, and other dogs.
They are very energetic and require a lot of exercise to feel content.
Sibes also love to spend time outdoors and enjoy exploring nature.
It’s important to understand that Huskies are genetically wired to think for themselves and can be quite independent.
An hour of exercise is usually enough to satisfy most Golden Retrievers.
Playtime in the yard, games, hikes, and swimming are all great outlets for Goldens.
Because they were originally bred to spend a lot of time outdoors, most love to get some exercise in nature with their families.
Remember that energy is both physical and mental, and so providing some mental stimulation through training and enrichment is also critical for this breed.
Huskies need about two hours of exercise per day, or else that energy tends to come out in destructive ways.
This is a breed that was developed to have great endurance while running mile after mile, and even though most people don’t use them as sled dogs these days, they still need a lot of exercise.
Those two hours can be split into one hour in the morning and one hour in the evening.
Huskies are very adventurous dogs who need to spend time outdoors and to run off-leash in a secure area.
Siberian Huskies have more energy than Golden Retrievers.
While both are energetic, active breeds, Sibes require more exercise for them to feel satisfied and be well-behaved around the house.
Golden Retrievers shed year-round.
They are moderate to heavy shedders and need to be brushed a couple of times a week to remove the dead fur.
Most will “blow coat” twice a year, which refers to heavy seasonal shedding in the spring and fall, and extra brushing will be needed during those times.
Siberian Huskies also shed a lot, and will also “blow coat” seasonally.
Weekly brushing can help reduce the amount of hair that ends up on your clothes, floor, and furniture.
Both Goldens and Sibes have thick double coats, and so shedding will be a part of life no matter which breed you go with.
Siberian Huskies may shed a bit more than Goldens, but it’s a close call.
Goldens tend to be very owner-oriented and love to interact with you.
This makes training relatively easy, though you’ll still need to invest time teaching them important skills.
Golden Retrievers are highly intelligent, intuitive, and enjoy learning new things.
They often have an “okay, now what?” attitude and take direction from their humans well.
Their high trainability is one reason why they’re so popular as service dogs.
Sibes are a bit more of a free spirit, and can even be a little bit cat-like when it comes to training.
They are absolutely trainable, but whereas Goldens are very owner-oriented, a Husky is more self-interested.
They have a “what’s in it for me?” vibe, which reminds you that dogs are animals with their own ideas and motivations.
If you remain patient, keep a sense of humor, and figure out what truly motivates them, you can successfully train a Husky.
Though they can be keen and enthusiastic workers, this is not a breed that was bred to work cooperatively with people, so keep that in mind as you set your expectations for how reliably they will listen to you.
The Golden Retriever is easier to train than a Siberian Husky.
Again, Sibes can be trained, but they’re not going to have that eager to please quality that Goldens are known for.
Huskies are more independent, and you will need to make things worth their while if you expect them to do what you ask.
It’s not that Sibes are disobedient or stubborn, but they are wired completely differently from a Golden Retriever.
- Is A Golden Retriever Right For You? Take This Quiz To Find Out!
Golden Retrievers are a fairly quiet breed.
While they may bark when excited or to let you know someone is at the door, they are not known to be very barky.
Huskies are a very vocal breed with an impressive array of noises.
Best known for their howl, they also chirp, whine and “talk”, but don’t often actually bark.
Again, this goes back to the history of the breed.
Huskies were bred to function in a pack, and so their different noises served to clearly communicate with the other dogs.
If you’re observant, you will come to understand what these noises mean, and many people find the communication style of Sibes to be part of the appeal of the breed.
Preventing boredom is the best way to reduce the noise, as a bored Husky tends to be a loud Husky.
Huskies are definitely noisier than Golden Retrievers.
This vocalness is in their DNA, and even with training, Sibes will always be “chatty.”
If you live in an apartment, have close neighbors, or are sensitive to noise, a Golden Retriever might be the better choice due to the noise factor.
Golden Retrievers are a fairly adaptable breed and can fit into a variety of living situations, from a house to a condo to an apartment.
The easy-going nature of the breed helps them acclimate to different environments, whether it’s a farm, a suburban neighborhood, or a city.
So long as you can ensure their exercise needs are consistently met, they can be happy in a range of lifestyles.
Siberian Huskies are a lifestyle in and of themselves!
They can be more challenging to live with, just by the nature of the breed.
As you read above, they are very vocal, which can make them poorly suited for life in an apartment.
Huskies are also expert escape artists.
They can easily jump and climb fences and are efficient diggers, so you’ll need a very secure fence to contain them.
You also have to be vigilant about them running out an open door, or even making a break for it through a window.
Their coat is designed for cold climates, and they can struggle with overheating in warm weather.
If you live in a hot or tropical place, a Husky may not be happy in that environment.
All of this combined with their high exercise requirements means Husky owners need to be very committed to meeting their needs and adapting their lifestyle to accommodate for the breed’s quirks.
How Are They With Other People?
Goldens are known for that “never met a stranger” disposition.
They usually love people and enjoy meeting new friends.
Huskies are also social dogs who enjoy the company of people.
Sibes are not prone to aggression and do not make good guard dogs, as they are generally warm and welcoming to everyone.
They are energetic and can be boisterous, so you will want to work on training polite greeting skills to prevent jumping.
When it comes to other people, both breeds are happy and friendly.
Goldens can be a little more solicitous of attention than Huskies, but they’re both excellent choices if you’re looking for a dog that is happy to be around other people.
Are They Good with Kids?
Golden Retrievers can make wonderful family companions.
They enjoy the attention and company of kids, so long as they are treated respectfully.
Goldens are pretty gentle and sweet, but they are larger dogs and may accidentally knock small kids down when excited.
Huskies are also a great choice for a family dog.
Sibes are remarkably even-tempered and good-natured, which makes them suitable for families with kids.
They typically enjoy the extra attention and playtime that children provide.
Both Goldens and Huskies have qualities that make them wonderful family pets.
Even though they tend to do well with kids, you will want to teach kids how to respectfully interact with a dog, and supervise to make sure that everyone is safe and happy.
How Are They With Other Dogs?
Most Goldens enjoy playing with other dogs, and get along well with canine friends.
Sometimes they can be a little too goofy and “in your face” for other dogs’ liking, and so they may have to learn how to be more polite in their interactions.
We did a study and found that 31.6% of Golden Retriever owners currently have more than one dog, and 57% of those people have a Golden plus another breed.
Siberian Huskies do very well with other dogs.
Because they were bred to live and work in a group, they are usually sociable and agreeable with other pups.
Most Huskies are very social with other dogs and thrive with social stimulation from other dogs.
Both Golden Retrievers and Sibes are generally good with other dogs, whether it’s another dog in the family or new dog friends.
While aggression is not common for either breed, it can still happen, though it is rare.
Exposing your dog, no matter the breed, to other well-mannered dogs early on can help teach them appropriate dog social skills.
How Are They With Other Animals?
Golden Retrievers have low prey drive, which means they are usually able to coexist peacefully with other pets, such as cats.
It’s still a good idea to give a slow, good introduction and training can help foster positive relationship dynamics between the dog and other pets.
In the study we did, we found that 25% of Golden Retriever owners also own a cat.
Huskies have high prey drive and love to hunt, which can make things complicated for homes with other pets, like cats.
Most Sibes will instinctually chase a cat, so they will need a lot of training and supervision to ensure each animal is safe.
It’s certainly not impossible to share your home with a Husky and a cat, but it will require vigilance and supervision on your part.
There is a better chance of success if the Husky is introduced to the cat when they are a young puppy, as opposed to adding a cat to the family when the Husky is an adult.
Golden Retrievers are a more natural fit for families with other pets.
Because Huskies have high prey drive, it can be a challenge to make sure everyone gets along, and no pets are injured or even killed.
No matter which breed you go with, you’ll want to give an appropriate introduction between species.
Golden Retrievers are known for their affectionate, happy-go-lucky personalities.
They live for a close relationship with their humans and can be very in-tune with family members’ emotions.
This can sometimes make them a bit sensitive, but not overly so.
They are fun, playful, and can be quite clownish, but at the same time, they are highly intelligent and eager to please.
A well-bred Golden Retriever will be confident, stable, trustworthy, and sweet.
Huskies are friendly, confident, intelligent, and have a strong independent streak.
They rely on their own instincts and tend to be more self-interested than owner-oriented.
Sometimes they can be quite clever and mischievous and you might be surprised by how often they outsmart you.
If you own a Sibe, you have to accept them for who they are and understand that they have a “wild at heart” personality.
They are free-spirited, good-natured dogs, who adore their humans, but also have their own ideas.
Goldens and Huskies are very different when it comes to temperament.
While they’re both friendly and even-tempered, the Golden Retriever has more of the “classic dog” personality.
Goldens are genetically inclined to be very engaged with their humans, while Huskies are more inclined to follow their natural doggie instincts.
Golden Retrievers can be trained to be wonderful off-leash companions for outdoor adventures, through positive reinforcement training.
Again, this fits with their historical purpose as hunting companions, as they had to respond well to the hunter’s instructions while off-leash.
While it takes some time and training, coming when called and sticking nearby comes fairly naturally to this breed.
Sibes are not predisposed for excellent off-leash reliability.
They will follow their instincts, whether that means tracking an interesting smell or chasing after critters, and your calls will naturally not be as important to them as whatever fun they’ve found.
They are also known to roam and love to explore, so they don’t tend to stick close.
Training can help improve their off-leash reliability, and there certainly are Huskies out there with great recalls, but it will take a lot of patience and effort.
If off-leash reliability is important to you, a Golden Retriever will be the better match.
Huskies are much more instinctual and generally not going to be as responsive to your instruction as a Golden will be.
Sibes do love running free though, and it’s important to their well-being, so if you do get a Husky, you’ll want to find safe outlets for them to frolic off-leash.
The American Kennel Club provides the following ranges for female and male Goldens:
Females: 55 to 65 lbs, 21.5 to 22.5 inches tall
Males: 65 to 75 lbs, 23 to 24 inches tall
For Huskies, the American Kennel Club gives the following size ranges:
Females: 35 to 50 lbs, 20 to 22 inches tall
Males: 45 to 60 lbs, 21 to 23.5 inches tall
Golden Retrievers are a bit bigger than Huskies, but they’re both medium to large-sized breeds.
According to the American Kennel Club, Golden’s life expectancy is 10 to 12 years.
The American Kennel Club states that Siberian Husky’s life expectancy is 12 to 14 years.
Huskies take the prize in the life expectancy category.
Some breeders are working hard to extend the longevity of Golden Retrievers, so this may be something to ask breeders about if you do go with a Golden.
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:
- Progressive retinal atrophy
- Corneal dystrophy
- Hip dysplasia
As you can see, both breeds can have health issues, so it’s important to find a breeder who tests their dogs for health conditions that run in the breed.
The Golden Retriever Club of America recommends a list of tests that breeders conduct before breeding a dog, and you can ask breeders to see the results of those tests.
The Orthopedic Foundation for Animals has recommendations for Siberian Husky breeders to follow, which you can also ask to see.
The Siberian Husky Club of America also has information about health testing for the breed on their website.
Some health issues are genetic, and so it’s crucial to purchase a puppy from a breeder who tests their dogs to give you the best chances of a long, happy life with a healthy dog, no matter which breed you go with.
While they generally make wonderful companions, Golden Retrievers can have some behavior issues, including:
- Sound sensitivity
- Resource guarding
- Jumping on people
- Counter surfing
- Destructive Chewing
- Grabbing things with their mouth, such as shoes or your arm
- Pulling on leash
- Separation Anxiety
Huskies can also experience behavior issues such as:
- Excessive vocalization
- Destructive Chewing
- Separation Anxiety
- Pulling on leash
- Not coming when called
- Jumping on people
Regardless of which breed you’ll go with, it’s important to properly socialize and train your dog, starting from when they’re a young puppy, to prevent behavior issues and bring out the best in them.
Some behavior issues also have a genetic component, so you’ll want to interview breeders about any behavior issues in their dogs.
While aggression is not common for either Golden Retrievers or Siberian Huskies, it can sometimes happen, and you’ll want to get help from a qualified professional if you do observe any indications of aggression.
Golden Retriever puppies range in price from $1,000 to $3,500 depending on the individual breeder and their location.
Siberian Husky puppies range from $800 to $2500, also depending on the breeder and location.
While your budget is important, it’s usually not a good idea to buy the cheapest puppy you can find.
A cheap puppy might come from a less-than-reputable source and may have parents with health and behavior issues.
Look for a puppy from a breeder who health tests her dogs and prioritizes a sound temperament.
Golden Retrievers and Siberian Huskies are both affectionate, smart dogs who love the company of people and other dogs.
They’re playful, humorous, and even-tempered, making them great family dogs.
Both are medium to large sized dogs with double coats, which means you’ll be dealing with shedding either way.
Goldens and Sibes are both active, energetic breeds, but Huskies definitely have higher exercise needs.
The Siberian Husky’s strong instincts and free spirit means they aren’t as reliable and responsive to you, whereas the Golden Retriever is much more engaged and focused on their human.
Sibes are much more vocal than Golden Retrievers and are not as adaptable in terms of lifestyle considerations.
A Golden Retriever is more of the “classic dog” – they like to fetch, they’re eager to please and they look at you with adoring eyes wondering what you have planned for them next.
A Siberian Husky is more headstrong and independent, following their own instincts, and does best with someone who can admire them for their canine instincts and humorous quirks.
Neither breed is better than the other.
It all comes down to which traits are important to you, which dog’s personality and behavior best suits your lifestyle.
If you can, it’s helpful to meet several dogs from each breed, and talk with their owners to see what their experience of living with that breed has been.
Remember that a dog is a 10 to 15 year long commitment, so it’s worth taking your time to determine which breed is the best fit for you.
See other breed comparisons here:
- Golden Retriever vs. Labrador
- Golden Retriever vs. German Shepherd
- Golden Retriever vs. Golden Doodle
- Golden Retriever vs. Border Collie
- Golden Retriever vs. Beagle
- Golden Retriever vs. Irish Setter
- Golden Retriever vs. Rottweiler
- Golden Retriever vs. Bernese Mountain Dog
- Golden Retriever vs. Australian Shepherd
- Golden Retriever vs. Great Pyrenees
- Golden Retriever vs. Boxer
- Golden Retriever vs. Cocker Spaniel
- Golden Retriever vs. Doberman
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.
P.S. Getting a Golden Retriever puppy? Check out the Golden Retriever Puppy Handbook.
- 300 Golden Retriever Names For Your New Puppy
- Golden Retriever Puppy Supplies: 17 Essentials For Your New Puppy
- 23 Facts About English Cream Golden Retrievers You Probably Didn’t Know
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.