Golden Retrievers For Dummies
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The AKC has different standards for each breed of dog. The following sections describe the ideal Golden Retriever. This provides a guideline for judges and breeders to follow when assessing Goldens in the show ring, as well as their personal dogs, and their breeding potential. Please keep in mind that the language is like a canine legal document and can be difficult for the layperson to understand.

Few Goldens meet every requirement in the standard. Some have minor faults, and some have faults that disqualify them from the breed ring. However, dogs who are not perfect physical specimens still make wonderful companions and competitors. A reputable breeder will explain the differences between his or her “show quality” and “pet quality” puppies.

General appearance of the Golden

The following figure is a good representative profile of a typical Golden Retriever. A symmetrical, powerful, active dog, sound and well put together, not clumsy nor long in 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 character.

The Faults definition is intended primarily to guide those who judge the dogs in the conformation ring.

The profile of a Golden Retriever. The profile of a Golden Retriever.

Size, proportion, substance

Males 23–24 inches in height at withers; females 21-1/2–22-1/2 inches. Dogs up to 1 inch above or below standard size should be proportionately penalized. Deviation in height of more than 1 inch from standard shall disqualify.

Length from breastbone to point of buttocks slightly greater than height at withers (top of shoulder) in ratio of 12:11. Weight for dogs (males) 65–75 pounds; bitches 55–65 pounds.

Golden Retriever's Head

Broad in skull, slightly arched laterally and longitudinally without prominence of frontal bones (forehead) or occipital bones (top back point of the skull). Stop (between the eyes, where the top of the nose and forehead meet) well defined but not abrupt. Foreface (front of face) deep and wide; nearly as long as skull. Muzzle straight in profile, blending smoothly and strongly into skull; when viewed in profile or from above, slightly deeper and wider at stop than at tip. No heaviness in flews (the skin that hangs from the dog’s muzzle or his lip). 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 (lining inside the lower eyelid) 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 (the lower front teeth protrude beyond the front upper teeth in bite or closed position) or overshot (just the opposite; the lower jaw is shorter, so the upper front teeth bite down over the lower teeth) 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.

Back line strong and level from withers (top of the shoulders, just behind the neck) to slightly sloping croup (the lower back, from the front of the pelvis to the base of the tail), whether standing or moving. Sloping back line, roach (humped up) or sway back, flat or steep croup to be faulted.

Body well balanced, short coupled (not an excessively long body), deep through the chest. Chest between forelegs at least as wide as a man’s closed hand including thumb, with well-developed forechest (top of the chest). Brisket (lower chest under the breast bone extending to between the front legs) extends to elbow. Ribs long and well sprung but not barrel shaped, extending well toward hindquarters. Loin (from the rib cage to the pelvis) short, muscular, wide and deep, with very little tuck-up. Slabsidedness (a flat or caved-in chest), narrow chest, lack of depth in brisket, excessive tuck-up (underneath the rear part of the body) 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 (the joint between the lower thigh and rear pastern (sort of the rear elbow). Carried with merry action, level or with some moderate upward curve; never curled over back nor between the legs.

Forequarters of the Golden Retriever

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 (on the leg, just above the foot, where the foot or wrist/carpus bends into the leg; metacarpus in front, metatarsus in rear) short and strong, sloping slightly with no suggestion of weakness. Dewclaws (a nail on the small fifth toe on the inside of the front leg above the rest of the toes) 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 (the toes or digits are split apart or separated) or hare feet (center toes are more than a hair longer than the outer toes) to be faulted.

Golden Retriever hindquarters

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 (thigh bone, rear leg) joins the pelvis at approximately a 90-degree angle; stifles (a joint in the thigh, sometimes called the knee) well bent; hocks (tarsus — the joint between the lower thigh and rear pastern) well let down with short, strong rear pasterns. Feet as in front. Legs straight when viewed from rear. Cow hocks (hind legs that bend in), spread hocks (just the opposite), and sickle hocks (hocks with angulation in sickle shape) to be faulted.

Golden Retriever's coat

Dense and water repellent with good undercoat. Outer coat firm and water resilient, neither coarse nor silky, lying close to the 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 or clipping.

Color of the Golden Retriever

Rich, lustrous golden of various shades. Feathering may be lighter than rest of coat. With the exception of graying or whitening on 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 that is 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.

Golden Retriever's gait

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.

Temperament of the Golden Retriever

Friendly, reliable, and trustworthy. Quarrelsomeness or hostility toward other dogs or people in normal situations, or an unwarranted show of timidity or nervousness, is not in keeping with Golden Retriever characteristics. Such actions should be penalized according to their significance.

AKC disqualifications of the Golden Retriever

Deviation in height of more than 1 inch from standard either way. Undershot or overshot bite.

About This Article

This article is from the book:

About the book author:

Nona Kilgore Bauer has shared her life with Goldens for more than 40 years. Her dogs have won many obedience and other working titles, and Nona is a 15-time Dog Writers Association of America nominee (and winner). She has written over two dozen books on canine subjects, including the previous edition of Golden Retrievers For Dummies.

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