following information is an excerpt from the American
Kennel Club Labrador Retriever breed standards.
You will notice that some sections are highly technical; the
specifications were written to standardize the parameters
of acceptable dogs for breeding and show purposes. Most prospective
adoptive families just want to know the typical personality,
size, and color of a Labrador Retriever. However, some of
the non essential information included below may interest
you, as it paints a portrait of what defines the breed and
its history. If you'd like more detailed information about
Labrador Retrievers, please visit our links section of this
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.
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
is atypical of this breed.
Proportion and Substance
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
The minimum height ranges set forth in the paragraph above
shall not apply to dogs or bitches under twelve months of
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.
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.
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. 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.