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 environment.
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 22˝ to 24˝
inches; for a bitch is 21˝ to 23˝ inches. Any variance greater
than ˝ 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
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
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
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.
February 12, 1994
Any deviation from the height prescribed in the Standard.
thoroughly pink nose or one lacking in any pigment.
Eye rims without pigment.
Docking or otherwise altering the length or natural carriage
of the tail.
Any other color or a combination of colors other than black,
yellow or chocolate as described in the Standard.
Effective March 31, 1994
Breed Standard (UK)
Strongly built, short-coupled, very active; broad in skull;
broad and deep through chest and ribs; broad and strong over
loins and hindquarters.
Good-tempered, very agile. Excellent nose, soft mouth; keen love
of water. Adaptable, devoted companion.
Intelligent, keen and biddable, with a strong will to please.
Kindly nature, with no trace of aggression or undue shyness.
Head and Skull
Skull broad with defined stop; clean-cut without fleshy cheeks.
Jaws of medium length, powerful not snipy. Nose wide, nostrils
Medium size, expressing intelligence and good temper; brown or
Not large or heavy, hanging close to head and set rather far
Jaws and teeth strong with a perfect, regular and complete
scissor bite, i.e. upper teeth closely overlapping lower teeth
and set square to the jaws.
Clean, strong, powerful, set into well placed shoulders.
Shoulders long and sloping. Forelegs well boned and straight
from elbow to ground when viewed from either front or side.
Chest of good width and depth, with well sprung barrel ribs.
Level topline. Loins wide, short-coupled and strong.
Well developed, not sloping to tail; well turned stifle. Hocks
well let down, cowhocks highly undesirable.
Round, compact; well arched toes and well developed pads.
Distinctive feature, very thick towards base, gradually tapering
towards tip, medium length, free from feathering, but clothed
thickly all round with short, thick, dense coat, thus giving
‘rounded’ appearance described as ‘Otter’ tail. May be carried
gaily but should not curl over back.
Free, covering adequate ground; straight and true in front and
Distinctive feature, short dense without wave or feathering,
giving fairly hard feel to the touch; weather-resistant
Wholly black, yellow or liver/chocolate. Yellows range from
light cream to red fox. Small white spot on chest permissible.
Ideal height at withers: dogs: 56-57 cms (22-221/2 ins);
bitches: 55-56 cms (211/2-22 ins).
Any departure from the foregoing points should be considered a
fault and the seriousness with which the fault should be
regarded should be in exact proportion to its degree and its
effect upon the health and welfare of the dog.
Male animals should have two apparently normal testicles fully
descended into the scrotum.