Judges Education

Suggestions for Judging the Golden Retriever

While every judge will develop his/her own individual procedure and routine in handling a class of dogs, these are some points which should be kept in mind when judging the Golden Retriever. Judge each dog as a whole, not in pieces. Overall type and balance are paramount.

  1. General appearance of dogs should be observed not only from the side but also from front, rear and various angles.
  2. All Goldens should at some point be assessed in a natural stance (“free-stacked”) without assistance from the handler.
  3. Proper stance (whether stacked or free-standing) is four-square, balanced with equal weight on all four feet. A dog that is strung-up or in an overly stretched stance with a sloping topline is incorrectly stacked.
  4. The individual examination requires the use of hands to assess the structure underneath the coat. Attention should be paid to forequarter assembly, forechest, ribbing and length of loin. Artful grooming can hide faults that can be felt with the hands or create a visual appearance that is not present upon physical examination.
  5. The judge must observe not only the bite but the presence of full dentition. If the handler does not show the mouth correctly, the judge should lift the lips to see the teeth. It is not necessary to open the dog’s mouth and count teeth. Goldens are not accustomed to this procedure and may fight it.
  6. Movement: assess from the side, front and rear. Insist on proper gaiting speed. When assessing side gait don’t hesitate to ask that dogs be moved either individually or, occasionally, in small groups. The rapidity with which the legs move should not be confused with good gait. Balanced reach and drive are what is desired.
  7. The proper gait for a Golden in the show ring is a working trot at moderate speed on a loose lead.
  8. Transitory factors of coat condition, grooming, and/or showmanship are always of less importance than type, basic structure, suitability for use and breed character
  9. Excessive baiting should be discouraged.
  10. Judges are strongly encouraged to go into the field to observe Goldens doing the type of work for which the breed was intended. This includes field trials, hunting tests and the GRCA Working Certificate Tests as well as actual hunting situations.