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Labrador Retriever Standards


Origin and Purpose: The Labrador Retriever originated and developed on the island of Newfoundland as an all purpose waterdog and functional retriever. The breed was preserved in England after anti-dog legislation almost decimated the breed in its homeland. The breed is noted for its love of retrieving and water, for its excellent nose, soft mouth, intelligence and biddable temperament. Extraordinary versatility allows Labradors to excel as hunting, service, and therapy dogs; in search and rescues; in drug and bomb detection; as family companions, and in performance and field events.

General Appearance: Medium sized, strongly built, compact, short-coupled, powerful, athletic; broad in skull; broad and deep through chest and ribs; broad and powerful over loins and hindquarters. A water resistant double coat, otter tail, and sound temperament are essential breed characteristics.

Proportion and Size:
Proportions: Distance from withers to elbow approximately equal to distance from elbow to ground; length from point of shoulder to point of rump very slightly longer than height at withers. A well -balanced dog is the ideal.

Size: Ideal height at withers: Dogs 22 1/2 - 24 1/2 inches (57 - 62 cm); Bitches 21 1?2 - 23 1?2 inches (54 -60 cm). Weight commensurate with height and with the breed's function as a medium sized, powerful, active retriever. Approximate weights: Dogs 60-80 lbs (27.27-36.36 kilos); Bitches 55-75 lbs (25-34.09 kilos).












Coat and Color:
Coat Distinctive Feature: Outer coat short, straight, although a slight wave down the back is also correct; dense without feathering, giving fairly hard feel to the touch; soft, dense weather-resistant undercoat.

Color: Wholly black, yellow or chocolate. Small white spot on chest permissible. Yellows range from light cream to fox red with variations in the shadings on ears, under parts, hocks, and down the back. Chocolates range from light sedge to dark chocolate.

Pigmentation: Black in blacks and yellows; brown or liver in chocolates. Pigmentation fading to a lighter shade in yellows not to be penalized.







Head and Skull: A kindly, gentle expression is characteristic of the breed. Skull broad with defined stop; clean-cut without fleshy cheeks. Muzzle of medium length, powerful, not snipey. Muzzle and skull on parallel planes and of approximately equal lengths. Nose wide; nostrils well developed. Eyes: Medium size, expressing intelligence and good temper; almond or diamond shape, not round; color dark brown or hazel. Ears: Medium sized; hanging close to head and set rather far back. Mouth: Jaws and teeth strong; scissor bite.

Clean, strong, medium length, good reach; set into well-placed shoulders.

Forequarters: Shoulders long and sloping. Forelegs well boned and straight from elbow to ground when viewed from either front or side. Legs of medium length, not short. Pasterns: Strong, short, sloping slightly from the perpendicular. Feet: Compact, round, medium sized; well arched toes; well developed pads.

Chest of good width and depth; well-sprung ribs. Brisket extends to the elbows. Straight, level topline. Loins wide, short-coupled and strong.

Well developed, great power, not sloping to tail; well turned stifle. Hocks well let down; cowhocks highly undesirable.








Tail Distinctive Feature: Very thick towards base, straight, gradually tapering towards tip, medium length, free from feathering, but clothed thickly all round with thick, dense coat, giving 'rounded' appearance described as 'otter' tail. Tail may be carried 'happily' but not at more than a 35-degree angle with the back. Tail an extension of the topline and balances the dog.

Gait/Movement: Free, effortless, powerful, covering adequate ground with good reach and drive; straight and true in front and rear. Tending to converge at higher speeds.










Any departure from the foregoing ideal should be considered a fault. The seriousness with which the fault should be regarded must be in proportion to its degree and its effect upon the dog's function as a working retriever.


The Importance of Genetic testing

All breeds of dogs have there share of genetic health problems. Labrador Retrievers are no exeption. While searching for your next Lab puppy be sure the breeder provides the following genetic testing. The following are the MINIMUM that breeders of Labrador Retrievers should be performing.

Hip Dysplasia: Hip Dysplasia is a terrible genetic disease because of the various degrees of arthritis (also called degenerative joint disease, arthrosis, osteoarthrosis) it can eventually produce, leading to pain and debilitation.

The very first step in the development of arthritis is articular cartilage (the type of cartilage lining the joint) damage due to the inherited bad biomechanics of an abnormally developed hip joint. Traumatic articular fracture through the joint surface is another way cartilage is damaged. With cartilage damage, lots of degradative enzymes are released into the joint. These enzymes degrade and decrease the synthesis of important constituent molecules that form hyaline cartilage called proteoglycans. This causes the cartilage to lose its thickness and elasticity, which are important in absorbing mechanical loads placed across the joint during movement. Eventually, more debris and enzymes spill into the joint fluid and destroy molecules called glycosaminoglycan and hyaluronate which are important precursors that form the cartilage proteoglycans. The joint's lubrication and ability to block inflammatory cells are lost and the debris-tainted joint fluid loses its ability to properly nourish the cartilage through impairment of nutrient-waste exchange across the joint cartilage cells. The damage then spreads to the synovial membrane lining the joint capsule and more degradative enzymes and inflammatory cells stream into the joint. Full thickness loss of cartilage allows the synovial fluid to contact nerve endings in the subchondral bone, resulting in pain. In an attempt to stabilize the joint to decrease the pain, the animal's body produces new bone at the edges of the joint surface, joint capsule, ligament and muscle attachments (bone spurs). The joint capsule also eventually thickens and the joint's range of motion decreases.

No one can predict when or even if a dysplastic dog will start showing clinical signs of lameness due to pain. There are multiple environmental factors such as caloric intake, level of exercise, and weather that can affect the severity of clinical signs and phenotypic expression (radiographic changes). There is no rhyme or reason to the severity of radiographic changes correlated with the clinical findings. There are a number of dysplastic dogs with severe arthritis that run, jump, and play as if nothing is wrong and some dogs with barely any arthritic radiographic changes that are severely lame.

The usual treatments are pain killers and/or surgury. The Labrador Retriever ranks 82nd among pure bred dog breeds likely to have hip dysplasia. OFA hip evaluations fall into one of seven catagories: NORMAL (excellent, good, fair), BORDERLINE, & DYSPLASTIC (mild, moderate, severe). From January 1974 to December 2009 there have been 208931 Labrador Retriever hip x-rays submitted to the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals for hip dysplasia evaluation. Of that number 17.6 % were graded excellent and 12 % were considered dysplastic.

Hip Dysplasia screening by the OFA, PennHip, or OVC is recommended for all Labrador Retrievers used for breeding. Expense for this is around $200.00 to $300.00 plus fees.

Elbow Dysplasia: Elbow dysplasia is a general term used to identify an inherited polygenic disease in the elbow of dogs. Three specific etiologies make up this disease and they can occur independently or in conjunction with one another. These etiologies include:
1.Pathology involving the medial coronoid of the ulna (FCP)
2.Osteochondritis of the medial humeral condyle in the elbow joint (OCD)
3.Ununited anconeal process (UAP)
Studies have shown the inherited polygenic traits causing these etiologies are independent of one another. Clinical signs involve lameness which may remain subtle for long periods of time. No one can predict at what age lameness will occur in a dog due to a large number of genetic and environmental factors such as degree of severity of changes, rate of weight gain, amount of exercise, etc. Subtle changes in gait may be characterized by excessive inward deviation of the paw which raises the outside of the paw so that it receives less weight and distributes more mechanical weight on the outside (lateral) aspect of the elbow joint away from the lesions located on the inside of the joint. Range of motion in the elbow is also decreased. The statisics for ED in Labradors is shown below:
1990 thru 1993 3,492 Labradors evaluated, 11.5% ED
1994 thru 1997 8,915 Labradors evaluated, 12.3% ED
1998 thru 2001 10,703 Labradors evaluated, 10.1% ED
Elbow Dysplasia screening by the OFA or OVC is recommended for all Labrador Retrievers used for breeding. The expense for this is $50.00 to $100.00 in addition to the hip radiographs.

Progressive Retinal Atrophy: is a group of genetic diseases seen in certain breeds of dogs. It is characterized by the bilateral degeneration of the retina, causing progressive vision loss culminating in blindness. The condition in nearly all breeds is inherited as an autosomal recessive trait. There is no treatment.

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