Labrador Retriever Breed Standard
Sporting Group

General Appearance
The Labrador Retriever is a strongly built, medium-sized,
short-coupled, dog possessing a sound, athletic, well-balanced
conformation that enables it to function as a retrieving gun dog;
the substance and soundness to hunt waterfowl or upland game for
long hours under difficult conditions; the character and quality to
win in the show ring; and the temperament to be a family companion.
Physical features and mental characteristics should denote a dog
bred to perform as an efficient Retriever of game with a stable
temperament suitable for a variety of pursuits beyond the hunting

The most distinguishing characteristics of the Labrador Retriever
are its short, dense, weather resistant coat; an "otter" tail; a
clean-cut head with broad back skull and moderate stop; powerful
jaws; and its "kind," friendly eyes, expressing character, intelligence
and good temperament.

Above all, a Labrador Retriever must be well balanced, enabling it
to move in the show ring or work in the field with little or no effort.
The typical Labrador possesses style and quality without over
refinement, and substance without lumber or cloddiness. The
Labrador is bred primarily as a working gun dog; structure and
soundness are of great importance.

Size, Proportion and Substance
Size--The height at the withers for a dog is 22½ to 24½ inches; for
a bitch is 21½ to 23½ inches. Any variance greater than ½ inch
above or below these heights is a disqualification. Approximate
weight of dogs and bitches in working condition: dogs 65 to 80
pounds; bitches 55 to 70 pounds.

The minimum height ranges set forth in the paragraph above shall
not apply to dogs or bitches under twelve months of age.

Proportion--Short-coupled; length from the point of the shoulder
to the point of the rump is equal to or slightly longer than the
distance from the withers to the ground. Distance from the elbow to
the ground should be equal to one half of the height at the withers.
The brisket should extend to the elbows, but not perceptibly
deeper. The body must be of sufficient length to permit a straight,
free and efficient stride; but the dog should never appear low and
long or tall and leggy in outline. Substance--Substance and bone
proportionate to the overall dog. Light, "weedy" individuals are
definitely incorrect; equally objectionable are cloddy lumbering
specimens. Labrador Retrievers shall be shown in working
condition well-muscled and without excess fat.

Skull--The skull should be wide; well developed but without
exaggeration. The skull and foreface should be on parallel planes
and of approximately equal length. There should be a moderate
stop--the brow slightly pronounced so that the skull is not
absolutely in a straight line with the nose. The brow ridges aid in
defining the stop. The head should be clean-cut and free from
fleshy cheeks; the bony structure of the skull chiseled beneath the
eye with no prominence in the cheek. The skull may show some
median line; the occipital bone is not conspicuous in mature dogs.
Lips should not be squared off or pendulous, but fall away in a
curve toward the throat. A wedge-shape head, or a head long and
narrow in muzzle and back skull is incorrect as are massive, cheeky
heads. The jaws are powerful and free from snippiness-- the muzzle
neither long and narrow nor short and stubby. Nose-- The nose
should be wide and the nostrils well-developed. The nose should be
black on black or yellow dogs, and brown on chocolates. Nose color
fading to a lighter shade is not a fault. A thoroughly pink nose or
one lacking in any pigment is a disqualification. Teeth--The teeth
should be strong and regular with a scissors bite; the lower teeth
just behind, but touching the inner side of the upper incisors. A
level bite is acceptable, but not desirable. Undershot, overshot, or
misaligned teeth are serious faults. Full dentition is preferred.
Missing molars or pre-molars are serious faults. Ears--The ears
should hang moderately close to the head, set rather far back, and
somewhat low on the skull; slightly above eye level. Ears should not
be large and heavy, but in proportion with the skull and reach to the
inside of the eye when pulled forward. Eyes--Kind, friendly eyes
imparting good temperament, intelligence and alertness are a
hallmark of the breed. They should be of medium size, set well apart,
and neither protruding nor deep set. Eye color should be brown in
black and yellow Labradors, and brown or hazel in chocolates.
Black, or yellow eyes give a harsh expression and are undesirable.
Small eyes, set close together or round prominent eyes are not
typical of the breed. Eye rims are black in black and yellow
Labradors; and brown in chocolates. Eye rims without
pigmentation is a disqualification.

Neck, Topline and Body
Neck--The neck should be of proper length to allow the dog to
retrieve game easily. It should be muscular and free from
throatiness. The neck should rise strongly from the shoulders with a
moderate arch. A short, thick neck or a "ewe" neck is incorrect.
Topline--The back is strong and the topline is level from the
withers to the croup when standing or moving. However, the loin
should show evidence of flexibility for athletic endeavor.
Body--The Labrador should be short-coupled, with good spring
of ribs tapering to a moderately wide chest. The Labrador should
not be narrow chested; giving the appearance of hollowness
between the front legs, nor should it have a wide spreading,
bulldog-like front. Correct chest conformation will result in tapering
between the front legs that allows unrestricted forelimb movement.
Chest breadth that is either too wide or too narrow for efficient
movement and stamina is incorrect. Slab-sided individuals are not
typical of the breed; equally objectionable are rotund or barrel
chested specimens. The underline is almost straight, with little or no
tuck-up in mature animals. Loins should be short, wide and strong;
extending to well developed, powerful hindquarters. When viewed
from the side, the Labrador Retriever shows a well-developed, but
not exaggerated forechest. Tail--The tail is a distinguishing
feature of the breed. It should be very thick at the base, gradually
tapering toward the tip, of medium length, and extending no longer
than to the hock. The tail should be free from feathering and
clothed thickly all around with the Labrador's short, dense coat,
thus having that peculiar rounded appearance that has been
described as the "otter" tail. The tail should follow the topline in
repose or when in motion. It may be carried gaily, but should not
curl over the back. Extremely short tails or long thin tails are
serious faults. The tail completes the balance of the Labrador by
giving it a flowing line from the top of the head to the tip of the tail.
Docking or otherwise altering the length or natural carriage of the
tail is a disqualification.

Forequarters should be muscular, well coordinated and balanced
with the hindquarters. Shoulders--The shoulders are well
laid-back, long and sloping, forming an angle with the upper arm of
approximately 90 degrees that permits the dog to move his forelegs
in an easy manner with strong forward reach. Ideally, the length of
the shoulder blade should equal the length of the upper arm.
Straight shoulder blades, short upper arms or heavily muscled or
loaded shoulders, all restricting free movement, are incorrect. Front
Legs--When viewed from the front, the legs should be straight with
good strong bone. Too much bone is as undesirable as too little
bone, and short legged, heavy boned individuals are not typical of
the breed. Viewed from the side, the elbows should be directly
under the withers, and the front legs should be perpendicular to the
ground and well under the body. The elbows should be close to the
ribs without looseness. Tied-in elbows or being "out at the elbows"
interfere with free movement and are serious faults. Pasterns should
be strong and short and should slope slightly from the
perpendicular line of the leg. Feet are strong and compact, with
well-arched toes and well-developed pads. Dew claws may be
removed. Splayed feet, hare feet, knuckling over, or feet turning in
or out are serious faults.

The Labrador's hindquarters are broad, muscular and
well-developed from the hip to the hock with well-turned stifles and
strong short hocks. Viewed from the rear, the hind legs are straight
and parallel. Viewed from the side, the angulation of the rear legs is
in balance with the front. The hind legs are strongly boned, muscled
with moderate angulation at the stifle, and powerful, clearly defined
thighs. The stifle is strong and there is no slippage of the patellae
while in motion or when standing. The hock joints are strong, well let
down and do not slip or hyper-extend while in motion or when
standing. Angulation of both stifle and hock joint is such as to
achieve the optimal balance of drive and traction. When standing
the rear toes are only slightly behind the point of the rump. Over
angulation produces a sloping topline not typical of the breed.
Feet are strong and compact, with well-arched toes and
well-developed pads. Cow-hocks, spread hocks, sickle hocks and
over-angulation are serious structural defects and are to be

The coat is a distinctive feature of the Labrador Retriever. It
should be short, straight and very dense, giving a fairly hard feeling
to the hand. The Labrador should have a soft, weather-resistant
undercoat that provides protection from water, cold and all types
of ground cover. A slight wave down the back is permissible. Woolly
coats, soft silky coats, and sparse slick coats are not typical of the
breed, and should be severely penalized.

The Labrador Retriever coat colors are black, yellow and
chocolate. Any other color or a combination of colors is a
disqualification. A small white spot on the chest is permissible, but
not desirable. White hairs from aging or scarring are not to be
misinterpreted as brindling. Black--Blacks are all black. A black
with brindle markings or a black with tan markings is a
disqualification. Yellow--Yellows may range in color from fox-red to
light cream, with variations in shading on the ears, back, and
underparts of the dog. Chocolate--Chocolates can vary in shade
from light to dark chocolate. Chocolate with brindle or tan markings
is a disqualification.

Movement of the Labrador Retriever should be free and effortless.
When watching a dog move toward oneself, there should be no sign
of elbows out. Rather, the elbows should be held neatly to the body
with the legs not too close together. Moving straight forward
without pacing or weaving, the legs should form straight lines, with
all parts moving in the same plane. Upon viewing the dog from the
rear, one should have the impression that the hind legs move as
nearly as possible in a parallel line with the front legs. The hocks
should do their full share of the work, flexing well, giving the
appearance of power and strength. When viewed from the side, the
shoulders should move freely and effortlessly, and the foreleg
should reach forward close to the ground with extension. A short,
choppy movement or high knee action indicates a straight shoulder;
paddling indicates long, weak pasterns; and a short, stilted rear
gait indicates a straight rear assembly; all are serious faults.
Movement faults interfering with performance including weaving;
side-winding; crossing over; high knee action; paddling; and short,
choppy movement, should be severely penalized.

True Labrador Retriever temperament is as much a hallmark of the
breed as the "otter" tail. The ideal disposition is one of a kindly,
outgoing, tractable nature; eager to please and non-aggressive
towards man or animal. The Labrador has much that appeals to
people; his gentle ways, intelligence and adaptability make him an
ideal dog. Aggressiveness towards humans or other animals, or any
evidence of shyness in an adult should be severely penalized.

1. Any deviation from the height described in the Standard.
2. A thoroughly pink nose or one lacking in any pigment.
3. Eye rims without pigment.
4. Docking or otherwise altering the length or natural carriage of
the tail.
5. Any other color or a combination of colors other than black,
yellow or chocolate as described in the Standard.