(The American Kennel Clubs Standard and Description)

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 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
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

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 faulted.


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 prescribed 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
5.Any other color or a combination of colors other than black, yellow
or chocolate as described in the Standard.

Approved February 12, 1994
Effective March 31, 1994

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