Judges Education

Golden Retriever Standard: Prioritizing Faults

The following faults are described in the standard for the Golden Retriever in varying degree of concern. When considering how much emphasis to place on a particular fault, keep in mind the guiding sentence in the first paragraph of the standard: “Any departure from the described ideal shall be considered faulty to the degree to which it interferes with the breed’s purpose or is contrary to breed character”. The purpose of this document is not to emphasize faults or support fault judging, but to assist judges in assessing the degree of significance of faults listed in the breed standard.

  • Deviation in height of more than one inch from the standard. (Males under 22″ and over 25″; Females under 20½” or over 23½”)
  • Undershot or overshot bite.

Excusal from the ring:

  • Dogs showing evidence of functional abnormality of eyelids or eyelashes (such as, but not limited to, trichiasis, entropion, ectropion, or distichiasis)

Serious faults:

  • Obvious gaps in dentition
  • Any noticeable area of black or other off-color hair.

Very undesirable:

  • Excessive coat length, open, limp or soft coats.


  • Misalignment of teeth (irregular placement of incisors) or a level bite
  • Predominant body color that is either extremely pale or extremely dark.

To be faulted:

  • Slanted and narrow eyes, triangular eyes
  • Low, hound-like ears
  • Pink nose or one lacking in pigmentation (not to be confused with a “winter or snow” nose)
  • Sloping backline, roach or sway back, flat or steep croup
  • Slabsidedness, narrow chest, lack of depth in brisket, excessive tuck-up
  • Splayed or hare feet
  • Cow-hocks, spread hocks, and sickle hocks

To be penalized proportionately according to the amount of deviation from ideal:

  • Temperament is of the utmost importance in this breed. The Golden Retriever should be friendly, reliable and trustworthy. Quarrelsomeness or hostility towards other dogs or people in normal situations, or an unwarranted show of timidity or nervousness, is not in keeping with Golden Retriever character.
  • Dogs up to one inch above or below the standard
  • Any white marking other than a few white hairs on the chest (with the exception of graying or whitening of the face or body due to aging)
  • Heaviness in flews
  • White of eye or haw visible when looking straight ahead
  • Throatiness
  • Barrel-shaped ribs
  • Tail carried over back or between legs
  • Bone approaching coarseness
  • Weakness in the pasterns
  • Natural appearance of coat altered by cutting or clipping

Permitted but NOT PREFERRED:

  • Removal of whiskers (keeping in mind the purpose served in hunting, it is strongly encouraged that dogs be exhibited in natural state and are not to be penalized if intact)
  • Dewclaws on forelegs may be removed