Golden Info.

On this page :  The Golden Retriever Breed Standard, About Goldens, Health issues, ANKC Pedigree papers, Colours and Myths

Golden Retriever Breed Standard
A breed standard is the guideline which describes the ideal characteristics, temperament, and appearance of a breed and ensures that the breed is fit for function with soundness essential. Breeders and judges should at all times be mindful of features which could be detrimental in any way to the health, welfare or soundness of this breed.
  • General Appearance:

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

  • Characteristics:

    Biddable, intelligent and possessing natural working ability.

  • Temperament:

    Kindly, friendly and confident.

  • Head And Skull:

    Balanced and well-chiselled, skull broad without coarseness; well set on neck, muzzle powerful, wide and deep. Length of foreface approximately equals length from well-defined stop to occiput. Nose preferably black.

  • Eyes:

    Dark brown, set well apart, dark rims.

  • Ears:

    Moderate size, set on approximate level with eyes.

  • Mouth:

    Jaws strong, with a perfect, regular and complete scissor bite, i.e. Upper teeth closely overlapping the lower teeth and set square to the jaws.

  • Neck:

    Good length, clean and muscular.

  • Forequarters:

    Forelegs straight with good bone, shoulders well laid back, long in blade with upper arm of equal length placing legs well under body. Elbows close fitting.

  • Body:

    Balanced, short coupled, deep through heart. Ribs deep, well sprung. Level topline.

  • Hindquarters:

    Loin and legs strong and muscular, good second thighs, well bent stifles. Hocks well let down, straight when viewed from rear, neither turning in nor out. Cowhocks highly undesirable.

  • Feet:

    Round and cat-like.

  • Tail:

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

  • Gait/Movement:

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

  • Coat:

    Flat or wavy with good feathering, dense water-resisting undercoat.

  • Colour:

    Any shade of gold or cream, neither red nor mahogany. A few white hairs on chest only, permissible.

  • Sizes:

    Dogs 56-61 cms (22-24 ins) at withers
    Bitches 51-56 cms (20-22 ins) at withers

  • Faults:

    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 on the dog’s ability to perform its traditional work.

  • Notes:

    Male animals should have two apparently normal testicles fully descended into the scrotum.

Hip & Elbow Dysplasia

The dog must be at least 12 months of age or older before assessment and only needs to be done once in the dogs life.

All Goldens Retrievers born after 1 January 2002 must have hip certificates prior to being bred. These certificates indicate how close to perfect the parents are in regard to hip formation.  Most breeders only breed with dogs with a total score of 20 or lower.  Hips – X-rays are scored by a panel of specialists and each hip is assessed and a score is given for each hip.  The best score is 0/0 and the worst is 53/53.  Hip dysplasia is a developmental disease in many different breeds, it is an inherited defect which is believed to have a polygenic mode of inheritance.  The formation of the joints can also be modified by environmental factors such as over nutrition, excessively rapid growth, and certain traumas during the growth period of the skeleton.

The phenotypic evaluation of hips done by the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals falls into seven different categories.  Those categories are normal (Excellent, Good, Fair), Borderline, and dysplastic (Mild, Moderate, Severe).

OFA FCI (European) BVA (UK/Australia) SV (Germany)
Excellent A-1 0-4 (no > 3/hip) Normal
Good A-2 5-10 (no > 6/hip) Normal
Fair B-1 11-18 Normal
Borderline B-2 19-25 Fast Normal
Mild C 26-35 Noch Zugelassen
Moderate D 36-50 Mittlere
Severe E 51-106 Schwere


Elbows – X-rays are submitted to a panel of specialists for assessment and a score is given for each elbow from 0 to 3,  0 clear and 3 badly affected.

Eye Disease

The dog must be at least 12 months of age or older before assessment, Examination by a veterinary ophthalmologist of breeding stock should be done annually.

Hereditary cataracts are a common eye problem in the Golden Retriever. In Goldens, cataracts develop at varying ages, and at different lens locations, usually without visual impairment. At least one type of cataract does appear at an early age in affected Goldens and some do progress into severe or total loss of vision.

A few families of Goldens carry genes for Central Progressive Retinal Atrophy (CPRA) which is progressive deterioration of the light-receptive area (retina) of the eye, and may result in complete blindness at a fairly young age.

 Eyelid and eyelash problems also may occur in the breed; some have an hereditary basis, and some are due to other factors. Entropion and ectropion are the turning in or turning out of the eyelids. Trichiasis and distichiasis involve eyelashes or hairs rubbing on and irritating the eye. Surgery may be needed to correct these problems, and while it is a fairly simple procedure, such dogs should not be bred.

Heart Disease

Examined by certified Veterinary Cardiologist only needs to be done once in the dogs life.

Hereditary heart disease, most commonly Subvalvular Aortic Stenosis (SAS). With this condition the main artery from the heart  (the aorta) is narrowed just where it leaves the heart and to push enough blood past this constriction the heart has to work harder. If a valve is faulty or a blood vessel constricted, the abnormal sounds produced are called heart murmurs. This disease can be fatal from an early age. Certificates should be checked to ensure the dog is clear from any disease and they should hold a clearance AFTER the age of 12 months.  A puppy clearance is not a clearance to verify suitability for breeding.

DNA Testing

                      • Congenital Eye Malformation (Golden Retriever)

                      • Degenerative Myelopathy

                      • Dystrophic Epidermolysis Bullosa (Golden Retriever Type)

                      • Generalised PRA 1 (Golden Retriever Type)

                      • Generalised PRA 2 (Golden Retriever Type)

                      • Ichthyosis A (Golden Retriever)

                      • Neuronal Ceroid Lipofuscinosis NCL (Golden Retriever Type)

                      • Osteogenesis Imperfecta (Golden Retriever Type)

                      • Progressive Rod Cone Degeneration (prcd) – PRA

                      • Skeletal Dysplasia 2 (Mild Disproportionate Dwarfism)

                      • von Willebrand’s Disease Type I

Main & Limited Register

Main Register  ~ Dogs registered on the main register pedigree  (blue certificate). Dogs listed on this register can compete in conformation shows.  A dog listed on this register may have their progeny registered.

Limited Register  ~ Dogs registered on the limited register pedigree  (orange certificate). The dog is pedigreed but cannot compete in conformation shows. Progeny of this dog cannot be registered. They  can compete in  obedience & agility trials and  in Golden Retriever club fun days and you can become members of the Golden Retriever club.

Limited register can be transferred to the Main register (where these things are permitted) with written consent of the breeder and subject to breeders conditions and agreements.

If you intend to show or breed  with your Golden Retriever, (this should be discussed with the breeder and both parties should be very clear on your intentions with this dog), you should then receive a blue pedigree (Main Register) from the breeder. If the pup is to be a pet then it usually up to the breeder  whether it is registered on the Main or Limited Register. To transfer the dog into your name the breeder and yourself should fill out the transfer form on the back of the pedigree and submit this to Dogs SA.

 A puppy bought on the Limited register is just as good as a puppy bought on the Main register, but a dog bought as a pet is not always a show dog and nor every dog should be bred from no matter how good the pedigree is.

Before Buying A Puppy

We have provided the information below in regard to what you may not be aware of when you are looking into buying a puppy.


Sometimes a breeder will ask for a deposit for a puppy.  Some breeders state that the deposit is non-refundable if you change you mind. Be sure that you are completely happy with everything before you commit and that you have a receipt for the deposit.


Puppies are not to leave the breeder before 8 weeks of age.  You will be making a significant financial, as well as emotional, investment in purchasing any puppy.

Remember that the purchase price is just a small portion of the total outlay on your puppy, and that veterinary bills are likely to be far greater for a less sound or less robust puppy than one whose parents, as well as themselves, have always had optimal care and nutrition and are demonstrated to be sound.  The popularity of some breeds has meant that some breeders produce large numbers of puppies purely for commercial gain – such breeders often pay little regard to the health or temperament.

The reputable breeder will:

(a) Provide you with a receipt that outlines exactly what you have bought. It should state that this is a registered, pedigree dog, list the date of birth, and what type of register the dog will be placed on. Most reputable breeders will expect pet puppies are registered on the Limited Register. This is to ensure the puppy is going to a loving family home and is not going to be bred from or exported. You will be required to sign a Limited Register Agreement form at the time of purchase.

(b) Provide you with the puppy’s vaccination card.

(c) Provide you with the puppy’s microchip paperwork.

(d) Provide you with details of the pup’s worming history. This should include the dates and products used as well as when the next treatment is due.

(e) Provide you with a diet chart. This should include what food/products the puppy has been raised on and the feeding schedule the puppy is used to. This should assist you to make the puppy’s transition into your family a smooth one. Whilst puppies can have minor upsets with a change of environment, they should readily adapt if weaned BEFORE leaving the breeder.

(f) Provide back-up help & advice on a long-term basis and will also make clear that if the owner of one of their puppies is unable to keep the dog for any reason, then they will take back that dog & find it a new home.

A responsible breeder will be only too pleased to let you see not only the particular puppy in which you may be interested, but the whole litter, as well as the parents. In every case you should be able to see the mother, and you should insist on being able to do so. The breeder may have used a stud dog which they do not own, so you may not always be able to see the sire. The purpose of seeing the dam (and if possible sire) of the litter is principally to enable you to observe their nature/behaviour and their condition. You will also be able to see the physical condition of the mother and pups. If the bitch has not been well nourished and cared for throughout pregnancy and after the birth of the pups, this impacts on the health of the litter, and the pups may not be as strong or healthy as they would be if the bitch had been better cared for.  Golden Retrievers should be confident dogs, you therefore need to be able to observe and interact with the mother of the puppies, and to see the litter and how the puppies behave in their interactions with each other and with people.

The puppies should be clean as should their living area. They should also be outgoing and happy. Be wary of puppies that are very timid or cringe away from you. This is not typical of the breed.  Insist on seeing their living environment – this should give you insight into how the puppies are housed and raised.

Do not accept a puppy who is on medication. There is no reason why a puppy should go to a new home unless it is fit and well. There should be no sign of diarrhea or vomiting.

When you collect your puppy it should be happy, clean and robust . You SHOULD as soon as possible take your puppy to an independent Veterinarian to have it health checked. If not found to be 100% fit and well, return it to the breeder for a refund. Ensure you have discussed this with the breeder before you take delivery of your puppy.


Sometimes a breeder will ask you to sign a contract of sale when you purchase your dog. You should read through the contract thoroughly and if you are at all concerned about anything seek professional advice before signing. Sometimes a contract may stipulate conditions regarding ownership, de-sexing, breeding rights, etc. of the dog. 

Some breeders will suggest or require that you enter into the purchase ‘on breeder’s terms’ with the bitches. Breeder’s terms usually mean you are tied down to a contract giving the breeder your dog for litters. You have no control over how your bitch is treated or cared for during the time it is with the breeder.  Take into account how your family will feel about their dog being taken from them for weeks at a time and the emotional and physical damage or even death of your dog.


Your puppy should come with a vaccination certificate. Puppies are given a course of vaccinations with the first one at 6-8 weeks of age  The first vaccination should  have already been done by the breeder. Your breeder will give you a vaccination certificate and you will have to arrange with your vet for the second booster usually done at 12 weeks of age.


Some puppy sale adverts say that they are members of the “Dogs SA”,  ” ANKC” or “Dogs Australia” and the pups have “pedigree papers” you can go onto the ANKC Website and check that they are actually registered.

Most dogs, even purebred with papers, should not be bred. Many dogs, though wonderful pets, have defects of structure, personality, or health that should not be perpetuated. Animals used for breeding should be proven free of these defects BEFORE starting on a reproductive career. Breeding should only be done with goal of IMPROVEMENT – an honest attempt to create puppies better than their parents. Ignorance is no excuse – once you have created a life, you can’t take it back!

A good place to meet  breeders and  their dogs is to go to a dog show or breed club fundays you can find out when and where one is being held by getting in touch with a breed club for information.  Dogzonline has many registered breeders but since covid there has been a huge influx of new breeders so make sure you are happy with everything before buying your pup.

The MYTHS – Colour & Whats in a Name

Colour – always seems to be a big one when buying a golden it is a popularity thing,  one year everyone wants cream the next gold.  Names such as ie:  English Cream,  Field Golden, White Goldens, Red Goldens and the list goes on are just a marketing ploy.  While the colour is a personal preference for all please be aware that there is only one Golden Retriever breed and only one breed standard in Australia and they are all  “Golden Retriever”.   The most important thing generally for an ANKC  breeder is temperament, soundness and type.  Without the wonderful biddable temperament that has made our breed such a popular family dog it is not a Golden Retriever, without the type it is not a Golden Retriever and of course without soundness you are in for a whole lot of problems, but colour can be bred in any litter of Goldens.  For ANKC breeders the aim is to improve the breed and just because a breeder breeds a cream litter does not mean their next litter wont be gold, each and every litter is different when it comes to colour.  We generally pick a stud dog or bitch for its quality’s looking at temperament, type and soundness and that they compliment each other and if the dog/dogs happen to be gold then some of the pups will certainly be gold and vice versa.

Black markings – A color mutation in a Golden Retriever will appear as a patch of black hair is a somatic mutation.  If a somatic mutation takes place during the development of the embryo, black patches can appear on recessive Golden Retrievers.

Black Goldens – A purebred Golden Retriever’s coat color is the a result of two recessive alleles. The MC1R gene (or the E-Locus) controls the production of pigment in melanocytes which controls the color of a dog’s skin or coat. The dominant allele, “E”, allows a dog to produce the black pigment, eumelanin. The recessive allele, “e,” turns all the eumelanin to phaeomelanin which means that the coat will be yellow or gold in color. Since all purebred Golden Retrievers have the recessive “e/e” genotype, it’s impossible for a purebred Golden to pass along the dominant “E” allele. They’ll always be some tint or shade of gold, but they will never be black.

The breed standards for colour :

AUSTRALIA – Any shade of gold or cream, neither red or mahogany.  A few white hairs on chest only, permissible.

AMERICAColor: Rich, lustrous golden of various shades. Feathering may be lighter than rest of coat. With
the exception of graying or whitening of face or body due to age, any white marking, other than a
few white hairs on the chest, should be penalized according to its extent. Allowable light
shadings are not to be confused with white markings. Predominant body color which is either
extremely pale or extremely dark is undesirable. Some latitude should be given to the light puppy
whose coloring shows promise of deepening with maturity. Any noticeable area of black or other
off-color hair is a serious fault.

FCIColour: Any shade of gold or cream, neither red nor mahogany. A
few white hairs on chest only, permissible

UK – Any shade of gold or cream, neither red nor mahogany. A few white hairs on chest only, permissible.

Names such as ie:  English Cream,  Field Golden, White Goldens, Red Goldens , there is no difference they are all “GOLDEN RETRIEVER” with a breed standard, many of these names are a marketing ploy to sell pups.  If you look up pedigrees they all come down the pedigree from the same dogs as all the other goldens come from originally unless they are x breeds or non registered dogs.  Quite a few “Field Goldens” have “Show Goldens” amongst their breeding and vice versa.   I would classify a “Field golden” a dog that is competitive in the sport or has titles for hunting / field trials regardless of the dogs colour.  I have read people saying field goldens have more energy and drive well and English creams are quieter and more layed back, there are plenty of typical “show” golden’s  also with higher energy and drive as well as many that are quieter it just depends on the lines that your dog comes from.  Some say that a “Field Golden” is a darker gold/red than show goldens,  plenty of registered breeders breed darker gold coloured  goldens, plenty are in the show ring but very dark ie: red is not popular as it is not allowed in our breed standard.  The same goes for English Cream Goldens  or White Goldens – white is not preferred but cream is part of the breed standard.  The temperament and colour depends on the lineage of the dog, its all genetics but the breed remains the same !

I suggest that when you are talking to a breeder you ask about their experience and involvement with the breed including the question: “What dog sports are you as a breeder, involved in with your dogs? e.g. obedience, retrieving, agility, tracking, served on breed clubs or showing?”

I am proud to be a long term breeder.  Each and every litter I have I am responsible for to always breed towards the betterment of our breed.  I ensure that all my dogs have relevant testing prior to contemplating a litter from one of my girls.  I research long and carefully for a potential sire and make sure that he is compatible to the girl I am contemplating breeding. The puppies are reared in my house and exposed to household activities and when they are old enough I expose them to the outdoors as well.  I am responsible for each and every puppy that one of my girls has right up until the day that that puppy goes to the rainbow bridge.

Before looking for a pup ask yourself  a few questions:

  • ~ Are you willing and able to provide for a dog for possibly 10 – 15 years or more?

  • ~ Do you have a safe environment  with shelter and well fenced in which the dog can live?

  • ~ Do you have the time to groom, care and spend quality time with a dog?

  • ~ Can you afford  the ongoing costs through out the dogs life?