Golden Retriever

FCI standard Nº 111

Great Britain
Group 8 Retrievers, Flushing Dogs, Water Dogs
Section 1 Retrievers
With working trial
Acceptance on a definitive basis by the FCI
Thursday 02 December 1954
Publication of the official valid standard
Tuesday 28 July 2009
Last update
Wednesday 28 October 2009
En français, cette race se dit
Golden Retriever
Diese Norm ist in deutscher Sprache sichtbar
Golden Retriever
En español, esta raza se dice
Cobrador dorado
In het Nederlands, wordt dit ras gezegd
Golden Retriever



General appearance

Symmetrical, balanced, active, powerful, level mover; sound with kindly expression.

Behaviour / temperament

Biddable, intelligent and possessing natural working ability; kindly, friendly and confident.


Cranial region

Balanced and well chiselled.
Broad without coarseness; well set on neck. 
Well defined.

Facial region

Preferably black.
Powerful, wide and deep. Length of foreface approximately equals length from stop to occiput.
Jaws and teeth
Jaws strong, with a perfect, regular and complete scissor bite, i.e. upper teeth closely overlapping lower teeth and set square to the jaws.
Dark brown, set well apart, dark rims.
Moderate size, set on approximate level with eyes.


Good length, clean and muscular.


Level topline.
Strong, muscular, short-coupled.
Deep through heart. Ribs deep, well sprung


Set on and carried level with back, reaching to hocks, without curl at tip



Forelegs straight with good bone.
Well laid back, long in blade.
Upper arm
Of equal length as the shoulder blade, placing legs well under body.
Close fitting.


Hindlegs strong and muscular.
Lower thigh
Well bent.
Well let down, straight when viewed from rear, neither turning in nor out. Cow-hocks highly undesirable.


Round and cat-like.

Gait and movement

Powerful with good drive. Straight and true in front and rear. Stride long and free with no sign of hackney action in front.


Flat or wavy with good feathering, dense water-res isting undercoat.
Any shade of gold or cream, neither red nor mahog any. A few white hairs on chest only, permissible.

Size and weight

Height at withers
Dogs 56 - 61 cm (22-24 ins); Bitches 51 - 56 cm (20-22 ins).


• Any departure from the foregoing points should be considered a fault and the seriousness with which the fault should be regarded should be in exact proportion to its degree and its effect upon the health and welfare of the dog and its ability to perform its traditional work.
• Faults listed should be in degree of seriousness.

Disqualifying faults

 Aggressive or overly shy.

NB :

• Any dog clearly showing physical or behavioural abnormalities shall be disqualified.
• The above mentioned faults when occurring to a highly marked degree or frequently are disqualifying.
• Male animals should have two apparently normal testicles fully descended into the scrotum.
• Only functionally and clinically healthy dogs, with breed typical conformation should be used for breeding.



Additional information from visitors

Alongside the famous Labrador, the playful and affectionate Golden Retriever is one of the most popular breeds in the United States and around the globe. Developed at the Guisachan estate in Scotland in the mid-1800's by Sir Dudley Majoribanks, also known as Lord Tweedmouth, the Yellow Retriever is a result of crossing the rare fawn-coloured specimens of Wavy-Coated Retrievers with Irish Setters, Curly-Coated Retrievers, Tweed Spaniels, Bloodhounds and a variety of working crosses descended from early Newfoundlands and imported St.John's Water Dogs, as well as some Caucasian Ovcharkas acquired from a Russian travelling circus. The original incarnation of the Tweedmouth Retriever was too large and slow, reportedly posessing a sharper temperament than desired, but through careful selection and introduction of friendlier breeds, such as the Labrador Retriever and the Springer Spaniel, the breed's creator managed to produce a superbly resilient, driven and good natured working dog. This new bloodline was a great success for Lord Tweedmouth and the Golden Retriever became a prized gundog of the demanding British hunters in the 19th century, who valued it for its trainability, physical strength, swimming ability and willingness to work for long periods of time in all weather conditions. The breed's beauty and gentle nature also made it a popular pet and competitor in field trials in the early 1900's.
After being successfully shown in 1908, the Yellow Retriever became considered to be more than just a colour variant of the Flat-Coated Retriever breed and in 1911 it finally received its own separate recognition. Although the Golden Retriever already existed in large numbers in America since the turn of the century, when it was first introduced to Texas by Lord Tweedmouth's descendants, it wasn't until 1932 that the breed was officially accepted by the AKC. American hunters and urban families were enamoured with the Golden Retriever and this lovely dog has been an universally loved companion pet throughout the 20th century.
Adored worldwide for its pleasant personality and intelligence, the Golden Retriever has unfortunately suffered the fate of many popular breeds and, thanks to irresponsible overbreeding, has become riddled with health problems. There are many poorly bred examples, some with unstable temperaments and behaviour issues that are seriously damaging the breed's legendary reputation. However, a number of committed and responsible breeders are working hard to retain the traditional physical and personality traits of this wonderful dog and there are still some quality bloodlines to be found. As is the case with some other working breeds, there are different strains and types within the Golden Retriever breed, such as the original hunting bloodlines, the popular Show type, as well as the strains developed for service work, and of course, the dogs bred for companion life.
An easy moving breed, the Golden Retriever loves plenty of excercise and enjoys an active lifestyle. Its trainability and even temperament make it an ideal family companion and children's playmate, but this breed still requires early socialization and a sufficient ammount of mental stimulation in order to avoid problems associated with boredom, oftentimes resulting in destructive and obsessive behaviour. The Golden Retriever is a very energetic and agile dog, deep-chested, strong-legged and athletic. The head is fairly broad, with a powerful muzzle and jaws. The moderately long coat is rich and dense, needing regular grooming and upkeep. The solid colour ranges from very light cream to almost reddish shades. Average height is around 23 inches.

Detailed history

With its beautiful fur not very long and its solid stature, the Golden Retriever is a balanced dog with a measured behavior, the opposite of an eccentric, who does not try to play the stars. Gifted with great qualities, it is suitable for many dog lovers. That is why he can not stay long in the shadows in France.

If we believe ingenious cynophiles, the origin of the Golden Retriever however appears to be the least curious. In 1858, Sir Dudley Marjoribanks attended a number of a circus circus in Brighton, a seaside resort in England. It was a group of learned dogs, trackers from the Caucasus or shepherds who were sheep herders. Sir Dudley was so impressed by the intelligence and beauty of these dogs that he decided to buy a couple. The trainer was unwilling to sell them, claiming that his number would be destroyed. Upon which Sir Dudley offered to buy the whole circus; thus the dogs were taken to the lands of their new master, and became the ancestors of the race. "

This story has all the characteristics of a pretty legend. It contains enough precise details (date and place, in particular) so that one does not question the plausibility of the essential point, but some questions arise, nevertheless. In fact, what is there in common between a circus dog and a Retriever, even if we know that the number of learned dogs at the origin of the Golden was precisely to find in the most unimaginable places objects hidden there by their trainer? What were these Russian dogs, qualified at once as trackers and shepherds as herdsmen? Although we have not been able to verify their use in the Caucasus, their home region, it can be said without much risk that it should be there as elsewhere, namely that a hunting dog is not predisposed to do the work of a sheepdog as a sheepdog is not a hunting dog either. That there existed a race capable of shining equally in these two very different disciplines does not seem likely.

In truth, the "Russian tracker" has never evolved except in the specialized literature. As for the herdsman, we can recently admire some specimens in Europe. As we had thought, it is an animal of tall stature and strong body, covered with a thick and rough pelisse that protects it from the rigors of the mountain climate, and, if we imagine It is easy to repel wolves, bears and marauders far from the herds, but it is difficult to find and bring back a teal.

If some, even today, advance this comical thesis of trackers, shepherds, herdsmen, circus dogs; even crossed with Bloodhounds and running dogs; it is undoubtedly with the intention of respecting a tradition as mysterious as it is original. In fact, the true origins of the Golden Retriever are well known since 1952, when the breeding records of the Marjoribanks estate were published, covering the period from 1835 to 1890.

It has been discovered that a stallion named Nous (in English, this word is equivalent to our "judge"), yellow in color, from flat-haired retrievers, has a female with a fire-dress, of rather small size, Tweed Water Spaniel breed. From this union were born four puppies: Crocus, Primrose, Cowslip and Ada, who appear as the true founders of the Golden Retriever breed.

In support of this version, we note that some characteristics of the Spaniels are not in contradiction with those of the Golden, in particular with regard to the clearly rectangular format and the coat, and that the few areas of shade which it comprises can easily be lifted. With regard to the type of Spaniel named Tweed Water, the fact that only one Spaniel of water, the Irish Water Spaniel, has been able to survive unhindered until today does not mean that it does not there were no others at the beginning of the nineteenth century; we can also think that it was the creation of the Retrievers in the middle of the last century that hastened their disappearance. At this time when dog-eating was stammering, only two kinds of Spaniels were recognized, who were dogs begging within range, not stopping, but bushy and bringing back game; we could distinguish Land Spaniels working on land and Water Spaniels used in the marsh. But this functional separation covered only very slightly the differences in appearance. Moreover, it is obvious that each great owner raised in his kennels his own variety of Spaniel. For example, Sir Dudley Marjoribanks, for example, had his own type of Water Spaniel, which he may have called Tweed by reference to his estate, Tweedmouth.

Finally, it is hardly surprising to know little about the Tweed Water Spaniel, except that we wanted to improve it for a closer specialization in the game report. Indeed, the characteristics of all Spaniels limit their performance as pure Retrievers: if they have a provided and fringed dress that protects them from bad weather, a robust construction, their size is on the other hand below average. However, the work with the water as well as the report of the game, in particular large pieces, require a higher gauge. It seems plausible that Sir Marjoribanks crossed his Tweed Spaniel with larger dogs from Newfoundland.

These dogs, who had landed as early as 1820 in Poole; home port of cod fishing boats; were quite different in appearance. There were more or less tall, long-haired or short-haired, black or tawny, with varying tones. Among them, one can recognize the ancestors of Newfoundland, Landseer, Labrador and Flat Coated Retriever. The Golden Retriever, meanwhile, probably comes from medium-sized, long-haired and yellow-haired, with the likes of water and the relationship. It results from a selection work quite comparable to that which led to the other breeds of Retrievers. In fact, from dogs native to the island of Newfoundland, the British lords have each sought the ideal formula of the modern retriever by crossing them with hunting dogs. Thus, for the Curly-Coated, we have probably used Water Spaniels with curly hair, for the Flat Coated, Setters, for Labrador, Bloodhounds and probably Pointers and, for the Golden, to Water Spaniels with smooth hair.

After the early groping, the competition was tough between the Retrievers, because the "slot" was quite narrow. It is true that there was no need for many different races to perform the very peculiar task assigned to them and that few hunters from Europe and elsewhere were willing to follow the elite British hunters in the path of extreme specialization. However, it is precisely in this period that field-trials for Retrievers appeared, with, as a corollary, a ruthless selection of breeds: those who healed their appearance at the expense of their performance were relegated to the shadows. This is how Labrador and the Golden preceded the Curly Coated, at the beginning of the century, then the Flat Coated, in the twenties. Then, the evolution of the hunt (the beat taking the step on the hunt before oneself) and the new vocation of the Retrievers modified the selection criteria, but a little late. On the other hand, if Retrievers were at first the prerogative of the good society, Labrador finally became the fashionable dog, because perhaps one came to find it more effective to own a big worker like him rather than a more elegant dog like the Golden.

The statistics of the Kennel Club translate in figures the astonishing conversion of the Retrievers into the role of companion dog, which leads them to appear today among the most popular breeds. If Labrador is in the lead, the Golden follows closely, both in Britain and the United States. Paradoxically, the situation of the two breeds is much more contrasted in France where there is only one Golden for fifteen Labradors. And yet, in France, as in Great Britain, breeders are trying to select beautiful subjects capable of a good job.

The term "golden" applied to the coat of the dog must be understood in the broad sense, since it covers a whole range of tones, from burnished gold to light beige (excluding saturated hues such as red and mahogany). Applied to the character, this denomination can not be more explicit, because the Golden is really a dog in gold.

There is often a tendency to refer to Labrador to describe the Golden, but fans are right to cry out when telling Golden that he is only a long-haired Labrador, because it's not just the hair length that distinguishes the two breeds. However, these same amateurs accept more easily the comparison of the two dogs in terms of behavior; but is it not just as illegitimate to regard the Golden as a softer Labrador, even if it is true that its very soft, almost melancholy, look shows great tenderness and that its beautiful fleece invites more caresses, because this are not there the only distinctive signs of his particularly balanced temperament?

When talking to users and breeders, they always insist on the great sensitivity of the long-haired Retriever. This dog is therefore to lead with more fingering, both for his education as a companion dog and for his training as a pure Retriever. To say that he is more calm and affectionate than Labrador would be to find the latter a little crazy, which is not the case, nor does it conform to the reality of considering that the Golden is a little more fiery and energetic than Labrador. In addition, it is through its qualities of Retriever that the Golden began to settle in France. First of all, it was praised for its ability to adapt, for its courage, as well as for better weather resistance and a stronger predilection for water, in other words, superior hardiness. But perhaps it is more the personal tastes of hunters, such as those who played for black Labrador, often preferred to yellow, that the unique characteristics of the breed explain this Golden success. What is certain, however, is that this dog has nothing to envy, from the point of view of his abilities, the other Retrievers.

The Golden must be handled gently, without exaggerated firmness. It is an early dog that matures quickly, that is to say around eighteen months. He understands quickly, memorizes very well, and his education can progress quickly provided that we prefer to use congratulations rather than punishment. The earliness and sensitivity of this dog are a significant advantage when in the hands of an experienced trainer, but they can become a slight inconvenience for a neophyte, because the Golden Retriever actually records everything, very quickly, including the mistakes and hesitations of his master that he will undoubtedly exploit. That's why it's often mischievous and clown.

Obedient, calm and submissive, the Golden adapts very quickly and well to different environments or changes of situation. Nevertheless, if he can live both in the city and in the country, his city vocation has certain limits. Too many people want to own a Retriever thinking that it is finally possible to have a big dog in town, which unfortunately tends to hide the eminently sporty side of this dog. The Golden is calm until appearing debonair, not very noisy by nature, sociable towards his congeners, but on the condition of having daily physical exercise in sufficient time.

The company of the Golden is very pleasant because it is a dog who manifests the constant desire to want to please his master, to answer all his wishes and even to anticipate them: he is thus made to live almost permanently with this master adored, and, if he waited for long hours for his return, he could hardly blossom. Because, as much as walking for at least an hour a day or running in freedom as often as possible, the Golden needs a "real" family life. The use at home of his receptivity to dressage is very profitable to him, and when he spontaneously brings back some object or garment, it is not so much a manifestation of his malice as a clear invitation to we use his gifts. This dog is both active and close to his masters, and it is if we take into account these two aspects of his personality that he will easily adapt to all environments. What patience does he have with children, and how much joy. In addition, he is sometimes good guardian, but without being aggressive or noisy, because it is only vigilant wisely and imposing by its size.

The Golden enjoys a good health and a good robustness. Some affections are in fact rather psychosomatic and related to their sensitivity to the psychological environment. Some cases of retinal atrophy and dysplasia of the hip have been noted, especially abroad, the Golden is not widespread in France, but under no circumstances should the race be seriously affected, and it is more as a preventive measure, particularly for breeders, that the French club reports. Nobody wants this beautiful and good dog, very "natural" in many ways, to become "fashionable": it is too balanced to be carried away by these whims. Hope this is what will continue to please buyers.

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