Labrador Retrievers are among the best-rounded dogs. They are good hunting companions, able to retrieve game without damage to it but at the same time, are good companions at home too. They are not just active and alert dogs but also friendly ones that are always very eager to please their owners. Because of these amazing qualities that our Labs carry, we might be thinking about letting our pets participate in dog shows or participate in conformation shows. Before we do that though, we have to make sure that our dogs meet the American Kennel Club (AKC) breed standard for Labrador retrievers.
The American Kennel Club is a world-renowned organization that maintains a registry of purebred dog pedigrees based in the United States. The AKC is the organization behind events such as the National Dog Show. To make these events successful though, the organization had first set generalized characteristics and temperament of the Labrador retriever and then set standards for its appearance.
The Labrador retriever was officially recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1917 and placed the breed under the Sporting Group with other retrievers. Since then, the AKC has developed standards for the friendly, outgoing and energetic dogs. According to the AKC, the Lab, being a sporting dog, has to look athletic and strong with a clean-cut look. Labs are medium in size with well-proportioned bodies. Labs’ most remarkable feature is that they are warm with very friendly eyes that make them very lovable as family pets.
- Size – Labrador retrievers must be relatively short as measured by the distance from their shoulders to their hips. Although Labs should not be too short that they could not properly walk or run. In terms of height and weight, here are the standards for male and female.
- Male – The height of a dog is measured from its wither (the ridge between its shoulder) to its paws on the ground. For the male Labrador retrievers, the standard height is at 22.5 t0 24.5 inches. The standard weight is at 65 – 80 pounds.
- Female – The standard height of the male Labrador retriever is at 21.5 to 23.5 inches and the weight is at 55-70 pounds.
- Body – The line on the top of the body should be straight from the shoulders to the hips.
- Head – The head of the Lab should be wide and balanced, that is, the top of the head should be parallel to the muzzle with both parts of the same length.
- The eyes of your Lab must not only be alert but intelligent as well. For black and yellow Labs, their eye color should be brown with black rims. If your Lab is chocolate-colored, the eyes should be hazel and brown and the rims brown.
- The ears should be on each side of the head lying far back and low.
- The wide nose should be black for black and yellow Labs and brown for chocolate Labs.
- The teeth of your Lab should be strong and makes an even bite. When the mouth is closed, the bottom teeth should be behind the upper teeth.
- Neck – Your Lab’s neck should be strong and long enough for his retrieving duties. The skin around it should not be loose or sagging.
- Tail – The tail should continue from the topline of the dog and must be an otter tail.
- Forequarters – The forequarters and the hindquarters must be balanced to ensure that the shoulders and hips are balanced too.
- The front legs, when viewed from the side, must be straight and muscular.
- The Lab’s feet should be compact and strong with well-developed paws for running.
- Hindquarters – Again, the hindquarters must be balanced with the dog’s forequarters.
- The rear legs in the hindquarters must be muscular with strong bones, well-defined thighs steady knees.
- The Lab’s feet should be compact and strong with well-developed pads for landing
- Coat – Your Labrador retriever should have two coats. The upper layer coat should be thick and hard with weather-resistant properties while the coat underneath should be downy or feathery for insulation.
- Color – The Labrador retriever can be black, chocolate or yellow with the color of the yellow Labs ranging from light cream to fox red.
The appearance standard set by the AKC does not simply describe how a Labrador retriever should look like. Instead, they have focused on how specific body parts of the dog should appear. Labrador dogs aside from being very good and gentle home companions are also very good-looking and active dogs. This is surely one of the reasons why the Labrador retriever is the number one most popular dog breed.