The Breed Standard of the Golden Retriever

Breed Standard of the Golden Retriever (CKC)

General Appearance

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. 


Friendly, reliable, trustworthy. Hostility or aggressiveness towards other dogs or people, undue timidity or nervousness in normal situations is not in keeping with the character of the Golden Retriever. Dogs displaying poor temperament should be excused from the ring.

Size: Males 23-24 inches (58-61 cm) in height at withers, females 21 ½ -22 ½ inches (55-57 cm). Length from breastbone to buttocks slightly greater than height at withers in ratio 12:11. Weight for dogs, 65-75 lb. (29-34 kg); bitches 60-70 lb. (27-32 kg) 

Coat and Colour

Dense and water repellent with good undercoat. Texture not as hard as that of a short-haired dog nor silky as that of a setter. Lies flat against body and may be straight or wavy. Moderate feathering on back of forelegs and heavier feathering on front of neck, back of thighs and underside of tail. Feathering may be lighter than rest of coat. Excessive length, open coats, or limp, soft coats are undesirable. The natural appearance of the coat or outline should not be altered by cutting or clipping, other than the trimming of the feet and neatening of stray hairs. Colour lustrous golden of various shades. A few white hairs on chest permissible but not desirable. Further white markings to be faulted except for greying or whitening of the face or body due to age. Any noticeable area of black or other off-colour hair is to be faulted.


Broad in skull, slightly arched laterally and longitudinally without prominence of frontal or occipital bones. Good stop. Foreface deep and wide, nearly as long as skull. Muzzle when viewed in profile, slightly deeper at stop than at tip; when viewed from above, slightly wider at stop than at tip. No heaviness in flews. Removal of whiskers for show purposes optional. 


Black or dark brown, though lighter shade in cold weather not serious. 


Scissors bite with lower incisors touching inside of upper incisors. Full dentition. Obvious gaps created by missing teeth to be faulted. 


Friendly and intelligent, medium large with dark close-fitting rims, set well apart and reasonably deep in sockets. Colour preferably dark brown, never lighter than colour of coat. No white or haw visible when looking straight ahead. Dogs showing functional abnormality of the eyelids (such as, but not limited to, trichiasis, entropion, ectropion or distichiasis) are to be excused from the ring. 


Rather short, hanging flat against head and with rounded tips slightly below jaw. Forward edge attached well behind and just above eye with lower edge slightly below eye. 


Medium long, sloping well back into shoulders, giving sturdy, muscular appearance with untrimmed natural ruff. No throatiness. 


Forequarters muscular, well coordinated with hindquarters and capable of free movement. Shoulder blades wide, long and well laid back, showing angulation with upper arm of approximately 90 degrees. Shoulder blade and upper arm (humerus) should be approximately equal in length, setting close-fitting elbows back beneath the upper tip of the shoulder blades. Legs straight with good bone. Pastern short and strong, sloping slightly forward with no suggestion of weakness. 


Topline level from withers to croup, whether standing or moving. Well balanced, short coupled, deep through the heart. Chest at least as wide as a man's hand, including thumb. Brisket extends to elbows. Ribs long and well sprung but not barrel shaped, extending well to rear of body. Loin short, muscular, wide and deep, with very little tuck up. Croup slopes gently

Hindquarters: Well bent stifles (angulation between femur and pelvis approximately 90 degrees) with hocks well let down. Legs straight when viewed from rear. Feet medium size, round and compact, with thick pads. Excess hair may be trimmed to show natural size and contour.


Well set on, neither too high nor too low, following natural line of croup. Length extends to hock. Carried with merry action with some upward curve but never curled over back or between legs. 


When trotting, gait is free, smooth, powerful and well coordinated. Viewed from front or rear, legs turn neither in nor out, nor do feet cross or interfere with each other. Increased speed causes tendency of feet to converge toward centre line of gravity. 


White markings beyond a few hairs on chest. Dudley nose (pink without pigmentation). Low, hound-like ear-set. Slab-sidedness, narrow chest, lack of depth in brisket, excessive tuck up, roach or sway back. Cow hocks and sickle hocks. Open or splayed feet. 


Deviation in height of more than 1 inch (3 cm) from standard either way. Undershot or overshot jaws. This condition not to be confused with misalignment of teeth.

You can download a copy of The Golden Retriever Club of Canada document entitled by clicking on the link below:

 The Golden Retriever: An Illustrated Commentary on the Breed Standard 

Jan 2015