About the Labrador breed

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 feactures 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 distinguishing characteristic of the labrador retriever are its short, dense, weather resistant coat; 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 working gun dog; structure and soundness are of great importance.

Size, Proportion and substance


The height at the withers for a dog is 56-57cms; for a bitch is 55-56cms. Any variance greater the 1cm above or below these heights is a disqualification. Approximate weight of dogd and bitchs in working condition: dogs 29.5kg-36.3kg; bitches 25kg-31.5kg.The minimum height ranges set forth in the paragrath above shall not apply to dogs or bitches under twelve months of age.


Short-coupled; length from the point of the shoulder to the point of the rump is equal to or slightly longer then the distance from the withers to the ground.Distance from the elbow to the ground should be equal to one half of the hight at the withers. The brisket should extend to the elbow, 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 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 skull should be wide; well developed but without exggeration. The skull and foreface should be on parallel planes and of approximately equal length. There should be a well define stop- the brow slighty 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. Awedge-shaped head, or a head long and narrow nor short and stubby.


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.


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 seriousfaults, Full dentition is preferred. Missing molars or pre-molars are serious faults.


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.


Kind, Friendly eyes imparting good temperament, intelligence and alertness are 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 chocolate. Black,or yellow eyes giva 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 chocolate. Eye rims without pigmentation is a disqualification.

Neck, Topline and Body


The neckshould be proper length to allow the dog to retrieve game easily. It should be muscular and free from throatiness. The neckshould rise strongly from the shoulders with a moderate arch. A short, thick neck or a 'ewe' neck is incorrect.


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 endeavour.


The Labrador should be short-copled, with good spring or 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 breath that is either too wide or to narrow for efficient movement and stamina is incorrect. Slab-sided individuals are not typical of the breed; equally objectionable are round 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.


The tail is a distinguishing feature of the breed. It should be very thick at the base, gradually tapering towards the tip, of medium length, and extending no longer then to the hock. The tail should be free from feathering and clothed thickly all round with the Labrador's shorts, dense coat, thus having that peculiar rounded appearance that has been described as the "otter" tail. The tailshould 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 top 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.


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 straightwith 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 hindquartersare 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 thights. The stifle is strong and there is no slippage of the patellae while in motion or when standind. The hockjoints are strong, well let down and do not slip or hyper-extend while in motion or when standing. Angulation of both stifles 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 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 permisissible. Woolly coats, soft silky coats, and sparse slick coats are not typical of the breed, and should be severely penalized.


The Labrador Retriever coat colour are black, yellow and chocolate. Any other colour or a combination of colour is a disqualification. A small white spot on the chest is permissible, but not disirable. White hairs from aging or scarring are not to be misinterpreted as brindling.

Black- Blacks are all black. A black with brindle marking or a black with tan marking 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-  Chocolate can very in shade from light to dark chocolate.

White spot, stripe or patch on the chest is very common and does not lessen the quality of a Labrador,  nor indicate it is not pure bred. Sparse white hair can appear on the tips of toes, between the footpads, on the heels, near the groin, under the neck.


Movement of the Labrador Retriever should be free and effortless. When watching a dog move towards oneself, there should be no sign of elbow out. Rather, the 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 shoud 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 hock should do their full share of the work, flexing well, giving the appearence 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; padding 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.

Care & Grooming

Labradors are very much "wash and wear" dogs. Their coat, being short, does not mat, however a correct Labrador coat is very thick and dense and when they undergo thier seasonal moult, they lose hair in alarming amounts.


At present in the Labrador Retriever the most identified inherited diseases are hip dysplasia [HD], elbows dysplasia [OCD or ostereochondrosis] and some eye diseases. Unfortunately it is not possible to be  certain that any puppy will not have an inheritrd disease. Many inherited abnormalities only show up in mature or advanced age. Some inherited diseases may occur even after generations of breeding from sound stock. It is important to understand that HD and OCD have an inherited component they can also be influenced by environmental conditions in which the puppy ir reared e.g inappropriate feeding and over exercise.

Progressive Retinal Atrophy [PRA]

An advancement where it is now possible to ensure a puppy won't have an inherited eye disease is in the case of PRA [Progressive Retinal Atrophy]. There is now a DNA test available [www.optigen.com]that will determine a dog's genetic status regarding this recessive; i.e. normal, carrier or affected. Therefore if one of the parents is certified DNA normal / clear, then it is guaranteet that none of its progeny will develop PRA.

Exercise Induced Collapse [EIC]

Carrier- By definition, are dogs that have one copy of the mutation gene that they inheritd from either the sire or dam. These dogs DO NOT have EIC and WILL NOT show signs of a collapse.

Clear-  Are dogs that do not have any copy of the mutation gene and do not carry EIC. 

Affected-  Dogs that have two copies of the mutation gene. Both of their parents are either affected or carriers of the mutation gene. Affected dogs with EIC and most will show signs of exercise intolerance or collapse whe participating in trigger activities with high levels of excitement or stress. A few genetically affected dogs that have copies of both alleles never show any signs of EIC.

It is in your interest to purchase your puppy from a breeder who tests to reduce inherited disease. Parents for inherited diseases, lack of knowledge about parents' temperaments and the adverse effects of spending days of weeks in confined space.

Breeders should provide:

[a]  Original signed ANKC registration certificares [main or limited];

[b]  Copies of parents' hip and elbow certificates;

[c]  Diet Sheets;

[d]  Vaccination certificate and worming details.

Explanation of Cetificates

The lower the score, the better the hips and elbows. The breed average for Hip Dysplasia is currently

approximately 12 [i.e right 6, left 6, or right 5, left 7 etc] Evenness of scores is more desirable, 0-0

being the best score. Elbow xray are graded 0-1-2 and 3, the best grade being 0. It is not recommended to breed from dogs with elbow scores of grade 2 or higher.


True Labraor 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 animals. The Labrador has much that appeals to people; his gentle ways, intelligence and adaptability make him an ideal dog.



Contact Details

Ms A Neville
Brisbane, QLD, Australia
Email : [email protected]