The Golden Retriever Standard

Golden Retrievers look the way they do because they were built in a certain way to perform a certain job. Originally, the breed was created as a working breed, with function as its main priority. But the breed’s founders also combined other desirable ingredients to mold the dog into what it is today.

Because the breed originated in Britain, the standard used to judge the breed there is also the one used to judge the breed throughout much of the world. 

General Appearance: Symmetrical, balanced, active, powerful, and a level mover.  

Characteristics: Intelligent and possesses natural working ability. 

Temperament: Kindly, friendly, and confident. 

Coat: Flat or wavy with good feathering, dense water-resistant undercoat. 

Color: Any shade of gold or cream, and only a few white hairs on the chest are allowed.  

Height: : males are 22-24 in (56-61 cm); females are 20-22 in (51-56 cm).   


General Appearance: A symmetrical, powerful, active dog, sound and well put together, not clumsy, displaying a kindly expression and possessing a personality that is eager, alert and self-confident. Primarily a hunting dog, the Golden should be in hard working condition. 

Size: Males should be 23-24 inches in height at the withers whereas females should be 21 ½ – 22 ½ inches. Weight for males should range between 65-75 pounds and 55-65 pounds for females.
Coat : The Golden’s coat should be dense and water-repellent with a good undercoat. The outer coat should be firm and resilient, neither coarse nor silky, lying close to the body. It may be straight or wavy. The feet may be trimmed and stray hairs neatened, but the natural appearance of the coat or outline should not be altered by cutting or clipping.
The real beauty of this breed’s coat lies in its ability to protect the dog from cold, water, and brambles. Too little coat won’t provide adequate protection; too much coat can become weighted down or entangled with water and debris or cause overheating.
Color: Desirable color is rich, lustrous golden color of various shades. Feathering may be lighter that the rest of the coat. With the exception of graying or whitening of face or body due to age, any white marking, other than a few white hairs on the chest, are not part of the breed standard. Allowable light shadings are not to be confused with white markings. Predominant body color which is either extremely pale or extremely dark is considered undesirable.
Temperment: Ideally, the Golden is 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 typical of Golden Retriever character.
The most beautiful, sound, functional Golden Retriever ever created is no credit to the breed if it is lacking the most essential trait of all: the distinguished Golden Retriever personality.
The ideal Golden Retriever is a versatile and adaptive dog, calm around the house, playful when the opportunity presents itself, intense when working, and always amiable, sensitive, and responsive. 


Please note: This article is part of a collection of dog-related content that we purchased the rights to. Opinions expressed may or may not agree with those espoused by Master Dog Trainer Adam G. Katz. When in doubt, please refer to the advice given in Adam’s dog training book.  This article is provided for your enjoyment, only. It’s relevance to real world working dog training may be limited. 

2 thoughts on “The Golden Retriever Standard”

  1. I saw the golden retriever standard, and I have a young 2 year old golden retriever named Heidi. I have some questions to ask. I’ve had Heidi since she was a 8 week old puppy, she has been socialized around dogs,cats,birds,humans,and other animals. My golden retriever is regestered with the AKC. When I got her as a pup, she was playful normal puppy. She started showing behaviors that you wouldn’t expect to see in a golden retriever. Once she started adolescence age she started showing these behaviors: Demanding to be petted 24/7, when you sit down she demands and tries to put her paw on you or on your shoulder, you can tell her a firm No and she cowers. We have a female german shepherd and they were 2 best friends until heidi turned a year old, heidi started getting dominant and dominanating the german shepherd even though the shepherd about 3 years older. Heidi would growl and they got into 3 fights where they drew blood. Ever since then they wanted to fight. Also Heidi started snapping and showing teeth towards most dogs, which is rare cause she would wag tail at them. Then she tries to dominanate me and demand,when I tell her No, you can see in her eyes that she doesn’t want to be dicipline. Could she possibly poorly bred? There are times she gets very tense and trembles.
    When we went to go get her as a pup, the goldens the breeders had would get into dominance fights and they let them do whatever.

    1. I am not a trainer. I have been around dogs all my life. I grew up with German Shepherds. We also had an Elkhound. I switched to Goldens as an adult and have had the privilege of sharing the last 22 years first with Riley then the love of my life Beckett and now a new guy Tucker. Toward the end of Beckett’s life I took in a rescue dog she is a now 7 year old German Shorthaired Pointer.
      Beckett also began dominant behaviors at about the same time as your golden. The good news is that with some work he became one of the best dogs I have ever shared time with.
      The dominate bahaviors were: mounting humans and dogs, constant attention seeking, refusing the (lay) down command, aggressive behavior toward other dogs (ie aggression before any greet behavior), refusing to walk away from me when another family member attempted to walk him. Before that he had been a cheerful soft tempered puppy and like yours well socialized with dogs and our cat.
      Goldens are very smart always thinking which means that as fast as they learn good things they learn even faster to get what they want which for a strongly human fixated dog is you. This is why they are “easy”to train. If she was like Beckett you may find yourself constantly giving in the golden seduction tactics. They are very tactile dogs so they they don’t have to work hard to get pats, hugs, couch time etc
      So you need to make her work for her place in your heart. She is trying to be the boss and it’s making her insecure.
      My suggestions are: if you haven’t already taught it, teach the “leave it” command, make her sit and wait for all meals she gets to eat on your command, no couch or bed until behavior is gone, when she is agressive with the shepherd use a good growl and say no (don’t yell) then crate her or pen her and ignore her, if she won’t stop attention seeking remove her from your presence ( I say “that’s enough” in a firm voice and march the dog off to a pen in the kitchen and yes they sulk ) in other words don’t give your love away for free. Also tons of exercise and ways to use their brains for good. For the dog aggression I resorted to walking Beckett on leash for awhile in an area where other dogs were walked on leash so I could correct any bad behavior then walked him with friends dogs then off leash with those dogs then he graduated to having freedom.
      Once I had the control we became a partnership I may not experience again. Only behaviors that never were totally erased were the down command and leaving me but in every other way he was a dream dog. So good luck this may end up being a special dog.

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