The Labrador Retriever should be medium in size and give the appearance of a dog who is strong, muscular, and active. He is well balanced, not clumsy or spindly. He should appear ready for action at any time. There is a distinct dif¬ference between the sexes. Male Labs should look masculine: strong, thick-necked, and with heavier bones. Females are definitely more feminine: strong and athletic yet not as heavily boned as the males or as muscled. In this section, I briefly describe the ideal Labrador Retriever based on the breed standard.

The Head

Labrador Retriever headWhen looking at a Lab, the first thing you notice is the dog’s head. The Lab has a fairly broad skull. The head should not have big, heavy, apple cheeks or flews (lips) that are too pendulous. The head should have a neat, clean appear¬ance. The muzzle should be strong and never thin or pointed.
The eyes are where we see that irresistible sweet, kind, alert expres¬sion. The eyes should be the shape of a rounded diamond. Although some roundness in the eyes can be attractive, they should not resemble the round eyes of a Cocker Spaniel, nor should they be too almond-shaped. They should be a warm brown on all dogs, no matter what the coat color, and maybe a bit darker on a yellow Lab. When you look into a Lab’s eyes, you should see instant friendliness.
The ears should be set off the side of the skull, not too high and not too low. They should be of medium size, hanging so that the bottom tips are about two inches below the eyes. The ears should not be so big or so small that they draw attention to themselves. And they should never be long or folded, as they are on many hounds.

The Body

The neck is strong and of medium length. There is nothing elegant about this dog. He should remind you of a small Mack truck—agile but strong and sturdy. He should appear well balanced, with all parts of him in proportion and work¬ing together correctly.
As you continue down the neck, past the withers (point of the shoulder), the topline (along the spine) should be rather level, never swayback or sloping. The chest should be deep with ribs like a barrel. The front legs are well underneath the dog, allowing a prominent breastbone to show and creating the picture of a powerful chest.

What Is a Breed Standard?
A breed standard is a detailed description of the perfect dog of that breed. Breeders use the standard as a guide in their breed¬ing programs, and judges use it to evaluate the dogs in confor¬mation shows. The standard is written by the national breed club, using guidelines established by the registry that recog¬nizes the breed (such as the AKC or UKC).
The first section of the breed standard gives a brief overview of the breed’s history. Then it describes the dog’s general appearance and size as an adult. Next is a detailed description of the head and neck, then the back and body, and the front and rear legs. The standard then describes the ideal coat and how the dog should be presented in the show ring. It also lists all acceptable colors, patterns, and markings. Then there’s a section on how the dog moves, called gait. Finally, there’s a general description of the dog’s temperament.
Each section also lists characteristics that are considered to be faults or disqualifications in the conformation ring. Superficial faults in appearance are often what distinguish a pet-quality dog from a show- or competition-quality dog. However, some faults affect the way a dog moves or his overall health. And faults in temperament are serious business.

All four legs should have good, thick bone, with the front legs coming straight down from the shoulders. The rear legs should be well bent at the knee or stifle. The hindquarters should be thick, with well-muscled thighs.
As a Labrador Retriever moves, his tail usually wags happily from side to side. It should never be carried curled up over the back like a hounds tail. A tail that is carried too low or between the legs will give the appearance of timidity.
The Lab’s tail is called an otter tail because it’s thick at the base and tapers down to a tip, like the tail of an otter. The tail should be well covered with a very distinctive short, dense coat. The underside of the tail should never have any long, feathery hair on it.

Labrador Retriever colors

The Coat and Colors

The Labrador Retriever comes in three solid colors: black, yellow, and chocolate. The black is very black; the yellow ranges from an almost white to a dark yellow; and the chocolate is a rich brown. A white spot on the chest is permissible.
Dogs in all colors should have a waterproof, double coat. The thick under-coat lies beneath the topcoat. The topcoat should be a bit rough to the touch and doesn’t have to lie flat. In fact, if the coat is too slick, the dog probably doesn’t have a good undercoat and would not be useful as a retriever in cold water. The under-coat acts as insulation and, working in conjunction with the coat’s natu¬ral oil, helps repel water.

6 Responses to “The Labrador Retriever Physical Appearance”
  1. Crystal says:

    My dog is yellow and she looks like a lab and is built like a lab but she has white paws, white chest, and a diamond shape white spot in the middle of her head. the diamond shape spot is a bit smaller than a penny. i was told she was a lab mix but i don’t know what she is mixed with. Do you??

  2. Gabriela says:

    i have a black female lab who is quite a bit smaller than other golden labs I have seen around. i haven’t seen many black labs so I was wondering if black labs are generally smaller than golden ones or if mine is just particularly small. what is the average weight and height of a year and a half old black female lab?

  3. lisa says:

    labradors rock! go labradors!

  4. VISHNU says:

    i have a black lab with all its appearance except its tail.
    its tail not have enough hairs like other it have any decrease to him?

  5. Tracey says:

    hi I have a choclate lab and her eyes are this
    suppose to be ..or something wrong…….

  6. admin says:

    Tracey, it’s normal. Dogs can have green eyes – it’s a recessive gene.

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