Though the loveable Labrador Retrievers are consistently among the most popular breeds in the United States--claiming the top spot for the last 21 years--these members of the “sporting” dog category have never claimed a Best in Show, the most coveted award at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show.
The breed has never won top spot in the Best of Group competition among sporting dogs, either. Yet that’s not to say your own Lab couldn’t be the one to change history for the breed! And there’s always the Westminster’s Best of Breed competition for your pooch to duke it out with fellow Labs.
So just what are the criteria Labrador Retrievers are judged by in dog competitions? According to the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show, each contender is held up to a standard established by the breed’s parent club--in this case, the Labrador Retriever Club.
Labs are bred to “hunt waterfowl or upland game for long hours under difficult conditions.” According to the Labrador Retriever Club breed standards, to be a show dog, your pal should show these strengths as well as possess the “character and quality to win in the show ring” and a family-friendly disposition.
See how your dog would do!
Size: Your pal’s body should be medium-sized, athletic, and strong. A height of 22-1/2 to 24-1/2 inches for males and 21-1/2 to 23-1/2 for females is ideal as is a weight of 65 to 80 pounds for males and 55 to 70 for females.
Coat: Your animal’s fur should be short, compact, and have a solid black, yellow, or chocolate coloring. A small white spot on the chest is allowed, but not favorable in the show.
Face: The shape should be wide, with a clearly defined bone structure (read: no chubby cheeks) and powerful jaws. The nose should be wide with visible nostrils--black on black and yellow Retrievers and brown on chocolates. Your pet’s lower layer of teeth should rest just behind the upper set. Your dog’s ears should sit close to the head and far back on the face.
The eyes should be kind, friendly, intelligent, and alert (could you imagine a Lab’s eyes being otherwise?), medium in size, set apart and neither bulging or sunken. In black and yellow Labs, they will be brown, and brown or hazel in chocolate Labs.
Body: In a nutshell, your pet’s body and legs should be strong and fit, allowing your animal to move with ease. The neck should be muscular, without too much heft. Similarly, your canine’s back should be powerful and athletic. Viewed in profile, your best pal’s chest should be prominent, but not overly exaggerated.
Tail: Described as an “otter tail,” the Labrador Retriever Club cites the tail as a “distinguishing feature of the breed.” Near your pet’s rear it should be thick, and it should thin out toward the end.
Temperament: Is your loved one true to the breed? The answer is yes if your buddy is kind, outgoing, a people pleaser, gentle, peaceful, intelligent, easy-going, and easy to train.
Reasons for Disqualification
If your pooch doesn’t meet the size specifications, has a pink nose, a docked or altered tail, or a coat color other than black, yellow, or chocolate, unfortunately, they will not meet the show standards.
How did your doggie fare? Are they a show-stopper? Either way, give that pooch a treat and some love!
More on Labradors and Show Dogs
How to Train a Labrador to Hunt
Could Your German Shepherd Be a Show Dog?
Could Your Dachshund Make the Show?