Whether you’re looking for a show dog or just a loving companion, when you adopt a Golden Retriever, he’s going to live up to certain breed standards set by the various kennel associations. First, all dogs of this breed have a very similar general appearance.
The Golden Retriever is an active and powerful dog. His was bred for hunting purposes, which explains his ability to play fetch for hours on end, as well as his general agility.
If you’re expecting a large discrepancy in size from a male of the breed to the female, you’ll be disappointed. Male Goldens are normally 23 to 24 inches in height, measured at the withers.
Females average 21½ to 22½ inches. If you’re searching for a show dog, keep in mind that an inch off the standard either way will be proportionately penalized. More than an inch off the standard means disqualification.
The length of the breed from the breastbone to the point of the buttocks should be slightly greater than the height. The exact ratio, in fact, should be 12:11. Weight for male dogs should be no less than 65 pound and no more than 75. For female dogs, the range runs from 55 to 65 pounds.
Let’s Look at the Head
The skull of a Golden Retriever is broad and arched without a prominent forehead. His foreface is deep and wide and almost as long as his skull. His muzzle is straight when viewed in profile. It blends smoothly and strongly into the skull, and appears slightly deeper and wider at the stop than the tip.
The eyes of the breed can only be called “friendly” even by show standards. Additionally, there’s an intelligence about them. The eyes are medium in size with dark, close-fitting rims and are rather deep set.
A Golden Retriever’s ears are short with a front edge attached well behind and above the eye. The ears fall close to the cheek. When they’re pulled forward, the tip of the ear just covers the eye.
The nose is either black or brownish black, but it fades to a lighter shade in cold weather. The teeth of this breed has what’s known as a scissors bite. This is where the outer side of the lower incisors touches the inner side of the upper incisors.
Neck and Body
Your Golden Retriever’s neck is medium long and merges gradually into the back shoulder. This gives your dog a sturdy muscular appearance. The backline of your dog is strong and level with the withers and has a slightly sloping croup (the highest point of the rear end), noticeable whether the dog is standing or moving about.
The Golden’s well-balanced body is short through the chest. The chest is about the size of a grown man’s closed fist. The ribs are long and well sprung and extend well toward his hindquarters.
The tail of this wonderful dog is well set and thick and muscular at the base, following the natural line of the croup. The American Kennel Club describes the tail as being “carried with merry action.”
The forequarters of this dog are muscular, well coordinated with his hindquarters and quite capable of free movement. Additionally, his long shoulder blades are well laid back coming rather close together at the withers. The “upper arms” as the Club describes them, appear to be similar in length to the blades; the “elbows” set back beneath the upper tip of the blades close to the rib.
Viewed from the front, the legs are straight. The feet, in addition are medium sized, round, compact and “well-knuckled” with thick pads. The hindquarters of this dog are every bit as muscular as any other part of him. The hind legs, too, are straight.
The Golden’s Coat
Dense. Water repellent. Good undercoat. Exactly what you would expect of a dog bred for hunting. The outer coat, by the way, is firm and resilient. You won’t find it silky, though. There’s some characteristic feathering of the coat on the back of the dog’s forelegs as well as his underbody, but the feathering is even more noticeable on the front of his neck, the back of his thighs and on the underside of his tail.
The distinctive color of this magnificent animal is a “rich, lustrous golden” of different shades, as noted on the Club’s website. You’ll find few white marks on this breed, with the possible exception of a few chest hairs.
The Golden Trot: Poetry In Action
Have you ever seen a Golden trot? It’s a smooth and powerful well-coordinated movement as this dog’s speed increases, his feet converge toward the center line of balance. It truly is a thing of beauty.