Golden Retriever Breed Standard
A symmetrical, powerful, active dog, sound and well put together, not
clumsy nor long in the leg, displaying a kindly expression and
possessing a personality that is eager, alert and self-confident.
Primarily a hunting dog, he should be shown in hard working condition.
Overall appearance, balance, gait and purpose to be given more emphasis
than any of his component parts. Faults--Any departure
from the described ideal shall be considered faulty to the degree to
which it interferes with the breed's purpose or is contrary to breed
Size, Proportion, Substance
Males 23-24 inches in height at withers; females 21½-22½ inches. Dogs up
to one inch above or below standard size should be proportionately
penalized. Deviation in height of more than one inch from the standard
shall disqualify. Length from breastbone to point of buttocks
slightly greater than height at withers in ratio of 12:11. Weight for
dogs 65-75 pounds; bitches 55-65 pounds.
Broad in skull, slightly arched laterally and longitudinally without
prominence of frontal bones (forehead) or occipital bones. Stop
well defined but not abrupt. Foreface deep and wide, nearly as
long as skull. Muzzle straight in profile, blending smooth
and strongly into skull; when viewed in profile or from above, slightly
deeper and wider at stop than at tip. No heaviness in flews. Removal of
whiskers is permitted but not preferred. Eyes friendly and
intelligent in expression, medium large with dark, close-fitting rims,
set well apart and reasonably deep in sockets. Color preferably dark
brown; medium brown acceptable. Slant eyes and narrow, triangular eyes
detract from correct expression and are to be faulted. No white or haw
visible when looking straight ahead. Dogs showing evidence of functional
abnormality of eyelids or eyelashes (such as, but not limited to,
trichiasis, entropion, ectropion, or distichiasis) are to be excused
from the ring. Ears rather short with front edge attached
well behind and just above the eye and falling close to cheek. When
pulled forward, tip of ear should just cover the eye. Low, hound-like
ear set to be faulted. Nose black or brownish black,
though fading to a lighter shade in cold weather not serious. Pink nose
or one seriously lacking in pigmentation to be faulted. Teeth
scissors bite, in which the outer side of the lower incisors touches the
inner side of the upper incisors. Undershot or overshot bite is a
disqualification. Misalignment of teeth (irregular placement of
incisors) or a level bite (incisors meet each other edge to edge) is
undesirable, but not to be confused with undershot or overshot. Full
dentition. Obvious gaps are serious faults.
Neck, Topline, Body
Neck medium long, merging gradually into well laid back shoulders,
giving sturdy, muscular appearance. No throatiness. Backline
strong and level from withers to slightly sloping croup, whether
standing or moving. Sloping backline, roach or sway back, flat or steep
croup to be faulted. Body well balanced, short coupled,
deep through the chest. Chest between forelegs at least as wide
as a man's closed hand including thumb, with well developed forechest.
Brisket extends to elbow. Ribs long and well sprung but not
barrel shaped, extending well towards hindquarters. Loin short,
muscular, wide and deep, with very little tuck-up. Slab-sidedness,
narrow chest, lack of depth in brisket, excessive tuck-up to be faulted.
Tail well set on, thick and muscular at the base,
following the natural line of the croup. Tail bones extend to, but not
below, the point of hock. Carried with merry action, level or with some
moderate upward curve; never curled over back nor between legs.
Muscular, well coordinated with hindquarters and capable of free
movement. Shoulder blades long and well laid back with upper tips
fairly close together at withers. Upper arms appear about the
same length as the blades, setting the elbows back beneath the upper tip
of the blades, close to the ribs without looseness. Legs, viewed
from the front, straight with good bone, but not to the point of
coarseness. Pasterns short and strong, sloping slightly with no
suggestion of weakness. Dewclaws on forelegs may be removed, but are
normally left on. Feet medium size, round, compact, and
well knuckled, with thick pads. Excess hair may be trimmed to show
natural size and contour. Splayed or hare feet to be faulted.
Broad and strongly muscled. Profile of croup slopes slightly; the pelvic
bone slopes at a slightly greater angle (approximately 30 degrees from
horizontal). In a natural stance, the femur joins the pelvis at
approximately a 90-degree angle; stifles well bent; hocks
well let down with short, strong rear pasterns. Feet as in
front. Legs straight when viewed from rear. Cow-hocks, spread
hocks, and sickle hocks to be faulted.
Dense and water-repellent with good undercoat. Outer coat firm and
resilient, neither coarse nor silky, lying close to body; may be
straight or wavy. Untrimmed natural ruff; moderate feathering on back of
forelegs and on underbody; heavier feathering on front of neck, back of
thighs and underside of tail. Coat on head, paws, and front of legs is
short and even. Excessive length, open coats, and limp, soft coats are
very undesirable. Feet may be trimmed and stray hairs neatened, but the
natural appearance of coat or outline should not be altered by cutting
Rich, lustrous golden of various shades. Feathering may be lighter than
rest of coat. With the exception of graying or whitening of face or body
due to age, any white marking, other than a few white hairs on the
chest, should be penalized according to its extent. Allowable light
shadings are not to be confused with white markings. Predominant body
color which is either extremely pale or extremely dark is undesirable.
Some latitude should be given to the light puppy whose coloring shows
promise of deepening with maturity. Any noticeable area of black or
other off-color hair is a serious fault.
When trotting, gait is free, smooth, powerful and well coordinated,
showing good reach. Viewed from any position, legs turn neither in nor
out, nor do feet cross or interfere with each other. As speed increases,
feet tend to converge toward center line of balance. It is recommended
that dogs be shown on a loose lead to reflect true gait.
Friendly, reliable, and trustworthy. Quarrelsomeness or hostility
towards other dogs or people in normal situations, or an unwarranted
show of timidity or nervousness, is not in keeping with Golden Retriever
character. Such actions should be penalized according to their
Deviation in height of more than one inch from standard either
Undershot or overshot bite.
Approved October 13, 1981
Reformatted August 18, 1990