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Labrador Purebred Characteristics

Standard physical characteristics of a purebred lab.

Not all labs are born perfect, but if you’re planning on buying a lab that’s purebred, you should check out these characteristics. Just be careful when buying or adopting labs that are said to be purebred but actually aren’t.

According to the American Kennel Club, the standard lab should have the following physical traits.


The Labrador Retriever is a strongly built, medium-sized, short-coupled, dog possessing a sound, athletic, well-balanced conformation that enables it to function as a retrieving gun dog…
The most distinguishing characteristics of the Labrador Retriever are its short, dense, weather resistant coat; an “otter” tail; a clean-cut head with broad back skull and moderate stop; powerful jaws; and its “kind,” friendly eyes, expressing character, intelligence and good temperament.



The head should be clean-cut and free from fleshy cheeks; the bony structure of the skull chiseled beneath the eye with no prominence in the cheek.
…Lips should not be squared off or pendulous, but fall away in a curve toward the throat.
…The jaws are powerful and free from snippiness- the muzzle neither long and narrow nor short and stubby.



The Labrador should be short-coupled, with good spring of ribs tapering to a moderately wide chest.
…Chest breadth that is either too wide or too narrow for efficient movement and stamina is incorrect.
…Loins should be short, wide and strong; extending to well developed, powerful hindquarters. When viewed from the side, the Labrador Retriever shows a well-developed, but not exaggerated forechest.



Forequarters should be muscular, well coordinated and balanced with the hindquarters.
Shoulders-The shoulders are well laid-back, long and sloping, forming an angle with the upper arm of approximately 90 degrees that permits the dog to move his forelegs in an easy manner with strong forward reach…
Front Legs-When viewed from the front, the legs should be straight with good strong bone.
…Viewed from the side, the elbows should be directly under the withers, and the front legs should be perpendicular to the ground and well under the body. The elbows should be close to the ribs without looseness.
…Pasterns should be strong and short and should slope slightly from the perpendicular line of the leg.



The coat is a distinctive feature of the Labrador Retriever. It should be short, straight and very dense, giving a fairly hard feeling to the hand. The Labrador should have a soft, weather-resistant undercoat that provides protection from water, cold and all types of ground cover. A slight wave down the back is permissible.



The Labrador’s hindquarters are broad, muscular and well-developed from the hip to the hock with well-turned stifles and strong short hocks.
…The hind legs are strongly boned, muscled with moderate angulation at the stifle, and powerful, clearly defined thighs. The stifle is strong and there is no slippage of the patellae while in motion or when standing. The hock joints are strong, well let down and do not slip or hyper-extend while in motion or when standing.
…When standing the rear toes are only slightly behind the point of the rump.

You can check the AKC website for more info on labradors.


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