The Labrador Breed Standard

In this article on the labrador breed we will summarize the standard as issued by the UK and USA Kennel Clubs

The distinguishing characteristics of a lab are according to the USA Kennel Club, “Its short, dense, weather resistant coat, an ‘otter’ tail, a clean-cut head with broad back skull and moderate stop, powerful jaws, ‘kind’ friendly eyes, expressing character, intelligence and good temper.”

General Appearance

Labrador breed standard are strongly built, short coupled medium sized dog with a broad chest, loins and hindquarters. Very active with a sound, well balanced conformation.


The Labrador breed standard is very devoted, good-tempered companion which loves water. Labs are very agile and athletic.


Very intelligent and non-aggressive with a huge urge to please.


Large, broad skull with a moderate stop so that the skull is not in a completely straight line with the nose. Clean-cut with no fleshy cheeks, powerful jaws free from snippiness.


Wide with well developed nostrils should be black on black or yellow Labs and brown on chocolates.


Should be medium sized, very expressive and either brown or hazel in colour, the USA Kennel Club specifies that yellow Labs should only have brown coloured eyes.

Mouth & Teeth

Within powerful jaws the teeth should give a complete scissor bite with the upper teeth set square to the jaw and overlapping the lower teeth.


Not too large, should hang close to the head and be set rather far back.


Strong, muscular and powerful rising from the shoulders with a moderate arch.


The Lab should have broad chest, level top-line with a good spring of ribs.


Labs should have long, sloping shoulders with well-boned forelegs. Forelegs should always be straight from elbow to the ground.


Broad, muscular and should be well developed from the hip to the hock. The hindquarters should not slope towards the tail.


The tail is one of the most distinguishing features of the Labrador and should be free from feathering, very thick at the base gradually tapering towards the tip, and should be of medium length. A Labs tail is often referred to as an ‘otter’ tail, the tail should not curl over the dogs back.


Free and effortless, straight and true. The legs should be straight with all parts moving effortlessly in harmony.


The weather resistant coat should be short and dense without weave.


Black, yellow or chocolate (also liver). Yellows can vary from light cream to red fox. The Kennel Club's standard in both the UK and USA allows for a small white spot on the chest.


Measured at the withers Dogs should be between 22-24 inches; bitches 211/2 to 23 inches, the UK Kennel Club takes an inch off those maximum sizes. Ideal weigh t of dogs should be 65-80 pounds with bitches between 55-70 pounds.

Related Articles

Alternative Guide To The Labrador Breed 

History Of The Labrador Breed 

Miniature Labrador 

Return To The Labrador Retriever Guide Home Page

Subscribe to Our Free Dog Health Newsletter and Get the eBook Pamper Your Dog for Free!