No Wonder a Lab has Never Won at Westminster

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The Westminster Dog Show just wrapped up the 2014 edition. Yet again, the Best in Show was won by a breed other than America’s favorite, the Labrador Retriever. Amazing as it sounds, the Lab has never won the Best in Show award at Westminster. There have been many reasons put forth as to why a Lab has never won the show including that they are not fancy enough or lack of elaborate grooming. Based on this year’s Labs, here is another one: the Labs who are chosen as Best in Breed are just too damn fat!


Best Labrador Retrievers of 2014

Take a look at the pictures of the top 2 Labs at Westminster (pictures from Both of these dogs are seriously overweight. You could see the Best in Breed Lab’s fat jiggling when she was running through the judging circles. Where is the tummy tuck? Where is the muscle tone and athleticism? Perhaps there was a mistake and these dogs are actually winners at the Coney Island Hot Dog Eating competition, not “Best of” competition winners?


Best in Breed, 2014 Labs, Westminster Dog Show

Best of Breed, Labs, 2014

Best of Breed, 2014 Labs, Westminster Dog Show

Best of Opposite Sex, 2014 Labs, Westminster Dog Show


Best of Opposite Sex, labs, 2014

Best of Opposite Sex, 2014 Labs, Westminster Dog Show


That these dogs were showcased in this event is sad and embarrassing. Already, 60% of Labs in the U.S. are overweight or obese. Awarding Best in Breed and showcasing fat labs will only exacerbate this problem.


Slimdoggy Jack is pissed!

Pet fitness and health is our passion here at SlimDoggy, please read some of our posts on canine fitness, food and health.


UPDATE: Our follow-up post on how overweight Labs have become the new normal is now available for reading.

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  1. How can that be considered a breed ideal! Those poor labs are right on the path towards many health problems, particularly a torn cruciate ligament in the knee. I am as astounded as you are, that those two dogs were even in the running! There is nothing more beautiful than a healthy weight lab who bounds in to my exam room with no signs of osteoarthritis and excellent health…compared to those poor dogs who are carrying 10-20kg of extra weight around all day and act years younger than they are. And I must say, both dogs will be ravenously hungry, whether they are ideal weight or not, so you might as well keep them lean. Okay, rant over.

    • We were disappointed to see them win when there were other Labs that appeared to be at a healthier weight in the show. Perpetuates the idea that labs are short and fat. You are so right that it impacts their health, their physicality and their life span. Sad.
      mkob recently posted…No Wonder a Lab has Never Won at WestminsterMy Profile

    • Idiots. Neither of those dogs are over weight. You are basing your visual image of a Lab on the American Field Trial standard. The dogs shown are of the English Standard.

      • Sorry, not an idiot, just sensitive to the pervasiveness and casual acceptance of pet obesity. I know these are ‘english’ style Labs. But that doesn’t excuse the excess weight those dogs are carrying which was obvious when watching them in the ring. Let’s not make excuses, there are plenty of english style Labs that meet the breed standard and are healthy, fit and of a reasonable weight. What a better example that would be to the Lab owners out there who overfeed their dogs thinking that roly-poly is okay.
        mkob recently posted…No Wonder a Lab has Never Won at WestminsterMy Profile

        • Unless you’ve had your hands on these dogs, you have no clue about the dog’s conditioning. These dogs are beautiful representatives of the show bred Labrador. I can see a tuck in the flank behind the rib cage which if you’re looking over the top, they would have a “waist”. I saw photos of the BOB winner over the top and from behind during benching and I assure you she is not fat. Labs, IMO, should not be ribby, they should have a thin layer of fat over the ribs to help insulate from icy waters when they retrieve. There is a huge difference between the show and field Labradors. A gap that has been widening from the 1950s. Field trials became more and more competitive and therefore the weedier, taller and lighter got up dogs were faster and would win. Likewise to win at shows and since the Specialty shows have become more popular, breeders hold more prestige by winning a specialty, under a breeder specialist than at Westminster. To stand out in the show ring, they bred Labs for more head, more coat, more substance and more bone. We’ve also bred to improve shoulder layback and improve fronts as well as improved rear angulation. We’ve bred only dogs that pass OFA hip and elbow clearances as well as a handful of other genetic disorders known to the breed. We now have several DNA test for specific diseases so that we can breed that out of the breed. Oh and the jiggly underbelly? She’s an older bitch who has a litter or two and that is just flabby skin left over from lactation. Last year’s winner, another lovely black bitch, is also an English Champion and works in the field too. I have had my hands on her and she’s amazing! 2012’s Cruft’s BOB and Gun Dog Group 2 was an American Labrador. So to judge a dog on a picture or on TV (which adds 10 pounds) and say it’s fat without putting your hands on the dog is ludicrous. The judges put their hands on the dogs and apparently were happy with their picks.

          • Let’s take a step back. The point behind our raising this issue was our concern about pet obesity. We love Labs, have breed and raised Labs for years, we rescue Labs, we foster Labs. The fact of the matter is a lean dog lives on average 2 years longer than an overweight dog. A lean dog suffers from fewer orthopedic issues, heart conditions, diabetes, etc. Our goal was to raise awareness about the disturbing trend towards heavier and heavier Labs in the show ring. Breeding dogs to an unhealthy condition (obesity) to win awards is not a direction I think any of us who loves Labs wants to go. So our goal is to raise awareness to this trend, not call out this specific dog, but rather to just say, wait a minute….is this the healthiest conditioning for a dog, for a sporting dog, for a dog breed to run, swim, hunt all day? I don’t think so. That’s the conversation we should be having, maybe the judging standards need to be amended to include some body conditioning and health standards.
            mkob recently posted…Jack Looks to WOOF for SupportMy Profile

          • The standard already states that they should be shown in working condition. We get that and most breeders keep this in mind when showing their dogs. The point was to win a specialty, you need to breed for more head, more bone, more coat and more substance. This has absolutely NOTHING to do with being overweight. It’s the dog’s structure, short leg or the appearance because there is more bone, deeper/broader chest is structure, not fat. A thick coat will “fill” the dog out more as well. These are all things you need to “feel” instead of judging from a photo. Labs are not flashy movers either, they have an nice, easy gait and that is see at a slower pace. They are not meant to race around the ring like a Shepherd! The current standard was written and approved in 1994. I believe it describes a moderate dog and personally I prefer more moderation, but that doesn’t take away the fact that these dogs, with who you did call out by posting their photos, are very typey and beautiful dogs. The chocolate dog is stunning. Chocolate is one of the more difficult colors to breed as for the longest time were just bred for pets and for the color. It’s nice to see dedicated breeders breeding to improve on that. We have had some really nice chocolates in recent time.

            You say you breed, but do you show? do you compete in the field? In other words, what are you used to looking at? If you aren’t familiar with the standard (as it appears), then you are not one to judge our show Labs if all you have are rescues/pets/hunters. They are nothing like what you find in rescue (I know, I do rescue too). There are also a growing number of show Champion/Master Hunters that are strictly show bred so these dog still maintain hunting ability.

            I know the name of your site is “Slimdog” so you have a bias, or in this case a “perceived” bias because you have an agenda about overweight pets. A dog that has good substance, good bone and a heavier coat may appear heavier than they are and without putting hands on the dog, you’re just assuming. You know what happens when you assume?

          • So you breed your dogs to look the way you think they should look to be good workers , & absolutely not to look like those weedy dogs who actually do work.
            yeah that makes sense.

            if fat cow shaped dogs where better at working perhaps thats how the working dogs would look !

            though its not just labs , most dogs requiring “bone” are shown overweight and have short dwarfy bent legs as this gives the illusion of having heavy bone

        • No. mkob is not an idiot and is not visualizing an “American Field Trial” standard (no such thing). The AKC/LRC standard dictates “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.” Slimdoggy, you might want to visit this video and perhaps link it somewhere on your page. The speaker, Dr Fran Smith, DVM is the vice-president of the Labrador Retriever Club, Inc., a veterinarian, and a Lab breeder. In this video she does an excellent job of describing the differences in the two “types” (styles) of Labs, and explaining to the public what they should ask of a breeder when they are looking for a new family pet.

      • I breed and show “English” Labradors but prefer them to have less excess weight than these two! Boxy, blocky, yes! but with still a visible tummy tuck even for the bitches that have had litters. Yes it is difficult to maintain but by weighing the food and restricting treats it can be done!

        • Thanks for weighing in (no pun intended). We’re glad to hear from a breeder of the English style who recognizes that there is some excess weight on these show Labs. It’s absolutely up to the humans to keep their pets healthy.
          mkob recently posted…Dogs and kids – what could go wrong?My Profile

          • We are on our fourth English breed Lab. I always feed a cup of dog food with a cup of steamed veggies every meal. This helps keep their weight down especially in a New England winter when they may not the get enough exercise.

          • Good thinking. Just like with humans, veggies fill them up without a lot of added calories. Our guys love veggies too and they are good for them.
            mkob recently posted…Jack Looks to WOOF for SupportMy Profile

        • You people are not only clueless about correct breed type you are rude, inconsiderate and frankly idiots. Have you had your hands on those gorgeous Labradors? Do you know what correct coat is on a Labrador? Do you have any clue that under that beautiful correct coat is a dog built exactly as it should be? Do you even know there is a difference between an English Labrador and an American Labrador? Obviously the answers to those questions is no. So comment on something you are educated about as opposed to something you are clearly are not.

          • I don’t think there’s a need to call people names. This is an open forum, but we should be civil. We were stating an opinion based on over 25 years of owning and raising Labradors. So, contrary to what you may think we absolutely do know what a correct coat is on a Lab, we also know what well-muscled means and what ‘cloddy lumbering’ means – things that a Lab should and should not display. You don’t have to put your hands on a dog to visually see the layers of fat jiggling as they make there way around the ring. Pet obesity is a real problem. It shortens your dogs life span. Denying that these dogs are overweight is just that, denial. People need to open their eyes and recognize that maybe the ‘standard’ needs to be adjust so the focus is on the health and well-being of the dogs and their ability to do what they were breed to do.
            mkob recently posted…Jack Looks to WOOF for SupportMy Profile

          • Yes, I have had my hands on these dogs. Last years BOB winner at Westminster was not only obviously fat, but also overly jowly (the dog was drooling and had distinctly floppy jowls) and ectropic. Both eyelids were drooping away from the face.

            If you can watch a dog move and see the fat swinging from the chest or rolling on the back, the dog is overweight and underconditioned.

            Maybe as a lab breeder if you would educate yourself on what a “properly” conditioned lab looks like and breed a dog that did not contradict the standard’s express wording against ectropion, you might have a better chance. Jowly mouths and ectropion go right along with each other. You can’t breed for one and not get the other. It extends to the rest of the body as well. A dog with ectropion is more likely to have loose skin over the rest of the body (disturbing the picture of the proper lab during movement as the skin will roll).

            If a lab looks like a field bred dog, you would think that was a good thing. “OMG…the dog looks like it can do what it was bred to do? How horrible.” Doesn’t quite make sense.

          • Primer on how to score a dog’s body condition and what dogs of different body styles will look like at different weights.

            One of the most common mistakes people make is that you have to press down to feel the ribs. False. You should “LIGHTLY” run your fingertips along the ribs. If you can’t feel them that way, the dog is overweight. On short coated dogs you should be clearly able to discern muscle definition. On most medium coated dogs you should be able to see muscle definition as the fur will rise and fall accordingly.

            If you are not used to seeing a properly fit dog, your first reaction is going to be that the dog is too skinny. They aren’t, its just a trick of your eyes and mind comparing the fit dog to the fat dog you think is fit.

            (As a person who trains Aussies for SAR and shows them in conformation, fit dogs are a way of life around here.)

          • Thanks for your input . Enjoyed your article too. We refer folks to the Body Conditioning charts frequently as well. Our take on this is not whether these dogs are to the ‘standard’ or not. If the standard or judging agenda calls for dogs to have obvious rolls of fat along their back and flanks when they move, that dog is too heavy and the standards should be adjust to be more concerned with the health of the animal. We have come to accept being heavy in ourselves as humans and now it’s extended to our dogs who have no control – they eat what they are given. It’s a sorry state and the health and longevity of these dogs is impacted negatively.
            mkob recently posted…Plyometric Drills with your Dog Update: Ball SlamsMy Profile

          • Thank you.

            I’ve found the biggest problem with a body condition chart is that people don’t know how to use it.

            I know its not your point to determine if they are “to standard” or not, but its an easy leap to make for most people since the standard is very clear about what it expects of the dog’s physical conditioning. Its one of the few things that hasn’t changed. By requiring dogs to be fit and “in hard, working condition” in the standard, exhibitors put themselves and their dogs at a disadvantage by showing overweight dogs.

            Not only will they not win in group competition, they’re opening up the dogs to all kinds of problems. Its not a mystery why Hip Dysplasia is rampant among labs. And all the other problems such as diabetes, shortened lifespan, etc….

            I completely agree with your last part. Its not the dog’s fault. Owners control how much exercise and food the dog is getting. And most owners can’t adequately gauge how much of either the dog is really getting (ie: Twice around the block is NOT a long walk).

          • Exactly – especially for Labs who have that tendency to eat as much as you put in front of them…and lie in front of the fire. We run with our Labs 3-4 times a week and at a minimum 2 walks a day of 45-60 minutes – and they are both seniors. For younger Labs…double that. And measure your food! Know the calories, the ingredients and measure. Thanks for all your thoughtful input.
            mkob recently posted…Plyometric Drills with your Dog Update: Ball SlamsMy Profile

      • Funny. All my English standard labs have palpable ribs and an abdominal tuck. Not only am I apparently an idiot, but my (completely healthy) dogs are emaciated…

      • Please stop calling these grossly overweight short legged Labs – ” English style” – I’m an English breeder/exhibitor/ judge and have been involved in the breed for over 30 years. UK Labs are NOTHING like this. The Westminster winners would have been thrown out of the ring over here.

        • Thanks for the input. You make a really valid point – I don’t know how the AKC Standard has devolved so.
          mkob recently posted…Jack Looks to WOOF for SupportMy Profile

        • My family owned a show-quality Labrador in the 1970-1980’s. He was definitely sturdy, and was often be five pounds overweight, but he never looked like the Westminster BOB and BOS pictured above. Those dogs (and other Labs I have seen in shows in the last few years) seem coarse rather than sturdy, their heads are closer to Rottweiler type than the historic Lab, the necks have thickened (look at the BOS; you cannot tell where the neck ends and the shoulders begin). I was saddened to see the BOB laboring to gait across the breed ring in the Sporting Group video; she is evidently four years old, not fourteen. At the age of four, my Labrador was bouncy and energetic (he didn’t really start to slow down until age six). Labradors are supposed to have the stamina to hunt for hours, in more than one kind of weather. Yet the 2014 Westminster BOB Labrador was moving slower than the 11-year-old English Cocker BOB. I would not expect a Labrador to gait like an Irish Setter or Brittany, but the sight of that poor b*tch on the move made me sad. She looked more like a four-legged blubbery seal than a dog of a sporting breed.

          • We felt the same way. When we adopted our Jack 2.5 years ago, he weighed 105lbs. He’s a tall Lab, but we knew that was too much. He had joint problems and anxiety from lack of exercise. A few months later after some good quality food, lots of exercise he dropped 20 lbs…he’s down another 5 over time to a very healthy 80lbs. He’s 10 years old and runs a 30-35 minutes 3-4 days a week with us – is strong, healthy and fit. He’d never win any shows, but he’s going to live a lot longer because he’s lean and healthy.
            mkob recently posted…Plyometric Drills with your Dog Update: Ball SlamsMy Profile

      • None of my champion bred English Labs are ever shown at a heavy weight. They are all shown at the peak of muscle health. This applies to our studs and our bitches. All are within the standard and gorgeous, we just have not had the funds to move towards Westminster, but are working our way towards many CH and MH titles with our Labradors. ALL are bred for English standards and kept at appropriate weight, we try to avoid “boxing” our labs up for show by having them gain extra weight. Which is what is recommended to move them on…. SO yes all of this is true, handlers have the labs gain weight to fill out a box look for the ring. But if you are breeding your dog for show and to standard they should not need the extra chub, they should have a natural box shape already. My family is a 7 generation English Labrador breeder fyi…

      • The ones field dog people call ‘pigs’.

      • so, why did Americans get talked into going with the English-style dogs? They, in addition to being shown overweight, also have no legs and have heads like Rottweilers.

        I have watched this transformation since the 70s. The stockier, shorter-legged, broad-skulled type has become popular across many breeds. What gives?

        • The standard has devolved and that’s on the judges who have awarded a certain look, so they go for more of that look. Here’s the results. Same thing with German Shepherd, Pugs, Bulldogs, all minimizing health concerns in the pursuit of some unhealthy ideal.
          mkob recently posted…Jack Looks to WOOF for SupportMy Profile

        • its something to do with the way our brains work , Big round eyes , fat legs , round skulls excessive coat appeal to humans.
          field spaniels went the same way 100 years ago until someone saw sense.
          a lot of dogs have dwarfism , bowed legs look ” chunkier” Its driving me mad in my toy breed as well

      • If they were of the “English standard” (which they are not, BTW), they’d be showing at Crufts and not at WKC where they are judged against the AMERICAN standard.

      • You don’t have a clue what the healthy body condition is for a Lab; field trial, British, or American show lines.

      • Are you crazy??? This is NOT an english standard as they are supposed to look like. Maybe you can find it somwhere very deep inside all that fat. This is some of most unhealthy dogs I`ve seen in a long long time!!! What are they thinking!!!! I`ll be praying that those standards never comes to Europe.

      • i live in England and see Labradors at dog shows many weekends – they aren’t this fat ! these winners have small heads compared to their bodies. A bit of a give away, yes?

      • You’ve got to be kidding me if you don’t think these dogs are overweight. I work with a few English Labs and although they are a stockier breed for sure, they still have a tuck when viewed from the side, and a waist when viewed from the top. I can’t see these two from above, But I can tell you they don’t have a tuck at all. It’s a healthy DOG standard to have a tuck and a waist, no matter what the breed!

      • How can you hope to be taken seriously when you start off your contribution with an insult. I had a lab that was overweight and looked very much like that image. The health issues she dealt with where sad an painful for her and we were lucky that it wasn’t worst. She’s since lost all of that weight, thanks to what I learned on this site and our vet LOVES how trim and healthy she is.

        I’m not an idiot, I’m a dog owner who wants my dog to live a long, happy life.
        Kimberly Gauthier recently posted…Fur Mom Confessions | I Slather Our Dogs with Coconut OilMy Profile

      • I run field trials with my dogs, and I find your comments offensive. What in the world is a field trial standard? I say that comparing those dogs to the standards indicates that what the show judges are putting up as winners is just plain criminal.

      • You are the idiot, if you can’t see those dogs are dangerously obese. And how stupid is it to have two standards, one for dogs that work and one for dogs that can’t get out of their own way.

    • You have no idea whether these Labs are healthy or not!! You have not put your hands on them. You do not know whether it is fat or muscle or bone, or what it is! Labs are well-muscled heavily built dogs who are bred and raised for the field and water. A heavy Lab is NOT necessarily a fat Lab and these dogs are NOT FAT. They are strong, heavily boned, heavily muscled fit dogs, bred and raised to do their jobs. Don’t make criticisms of dogs you have never touched!

      • You are correct, I have not touched them, but I did watch them move in the ring, over and over because I was so surprised at the jiggling layer of fat – not muscle – that was apparent when she moved. I don’t have to touch an overweight human to tell they are overweight, you can do it through observation. We are all about health and fitness here at SlimDoggy and we keep our Labs trim, fit and healthy so that they can live a long an healthy life with us. Just as being overweight shortens human life spans and makes them more susceptible to disease, the same is true of canines and that’s our concern for these beautiful dogs.
        mkob recently posted…Jack Looks to WOOF for SupportMy Profile

      • Actually the Labrador is NOT meant to be a heavily built dog this from the AKC breed standard

        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 substance and soundness to hunt waterfowl or upland game for long hours under difficult conditions;

      • I would invite that 4 year old bitch to come and play with my 4 year old ylm any day. Not run retrieves, not fetch birds, just come run and play. I would be surprised if that “fit, beautiful example of the breed standard” could go 5 minutes with my homely working retriever. I sometimes wish my dog (you can see him as the first twenty or so images in the retriever gallery on my website) had a better head, but wouldn’t trade that for the pure joy he and I get from his athleticism. I love to watch him RUN!!!

        • Great photos! He’s a great looking, healthy, energetic Lab doing what Labs do. Our Jack isn’t a perfect specimen either – but we think he’s handsome as can be and his favorite thing to do is RUN!!!
          mkob recently posted…When did Overweight Labs Become the New Normal?My Profile

          • Thanks! I caught a look at my knucklehead this morning in profile standing at attention with his ears up and thought “He really is a pretty handsome cuss after all” 😉 . I also went and looked at my site and he is actually the first 28 images (up until the first black dog, and then the rest are other folk’s dogs. I thought my site would show here since there is a place to insert it. Here it is for everyone if that is ok.

            Thanks again for your kind words!

            I cannot abide a fat dog.
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          • Happy to show off a healthy, happy Lab.
            mkob recently posted…When did Overweight Labs Become the New Normal?My Profile

    • No miniature schnauzer has ever won either and there is lots and lots of grooming going on there but perhaps it’s due in part to the controversy over professionals dominating the breed ring. a small owner/handler has no chance of ever winning with these guys who coordinate their wins and show up with professional groomers. does it matter in this instance what the actual shoulder layback or gait of the dog is? head size or tailset? No, the fix is in with pro’s in the ring now and there is no competition in the new owner/handler which just shows you how bad this has gotten. No longer a sport fo people who just love their dogs and wanta to prove their worthiness, it’s a business…boooo…boooo to AKC for putting up dogs with faults that are covered by professionals and for putting up dogs that are too fat, are choked in order to keep their heads up (and throw up foam and green stuff from being choked), back in the day they would have been excused for mishandling the dog…UGH>>>

    • As long as judges put up dogs that are overweight and way above what the standard should be, Labradors will continue to be shut out of Westminster.

      Most of the dogs I have seen in the breed ring could work all day in the field.

      The fact that the most popular dog in AKC has never won at Westminster.

  2. Holy cow! I’m shocked at that. Sad.
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  3. I agree with you, sad sad sad. The labs are not show cased for what they were bred for….hunting!
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  4. This is a bummer. As a mom to a lab mix, I know how hard it is to keep a lab slim and trim. Sydney was so overweight that it breaks my heart, because it was my fault. Today, she looks so slim and looking at these dogs, I can see a big difference. The one thing that stood out was the tummy – it goes straight across instead of up towards the back.

    I was tempted to say that these dogs are just stalky – but that’s not true. I see loads of labs and they all have a certain, trim look when they’re healthy.

    Very disappointing, but a great opportunity to raise awareness and educate dog lovers.
    Kimberly Gauthier recently posted…Do Dogs Really Need a Spa Day? Hell YES! #DogFashionSpaMy Profile

    • We’re trying – the FB post is getting some traction – hopefully it will raise the discussion level too.
      mkob recently posted…No Wonder a Lab has Never Won at WestminsterMy Profile

    • Right you are! Please share the article. Help us ‘raise awareness’!
      steve recently posted…No Wonder a Lab has Never Won at WestminsterMy Profile

    • Yes, there IS a difference between “stalky” Labs and “obese” labs. My friend has a stalky Lab who was very overweight at one point. Now she is slim and trim, but stalky nonetheless because she has shorter legs with her big chest versus the “long & lanky” Labs. I coach many of my dog training clients in how to help their dogs lose weight, often because their vet won’t tell them their dog is fat!

      And Eloise Bright is right – they are going to act like they are STARVING whether they are healthy & trim or obese. As proof, my 20lb dog ate 2 entire loaves of bread that had somehow fallen to the floor. She had already eaten plenty that night, but she continued to eat simply because the food was within reach and it tasted good.
      Kate C. recently posted…7 Things to Consider Before You Get a PuppyMy Profile

      • Most Labs will eat whatever is put in front of them. It’s the owners who bear the responsibility of keeping their dogs healthy and fit. Unfortunately, there is as much a human obesity problem in this country as their is a pet obesity problem. Many vets we talk to struggle to diplomatically tell their clients their dogs are overweight, when the pet parents are overweight too. Keep on being honest with your clients and working with them!
        mkob recently posted…No Wonder a Lab has Never Won at WestminsterMy Profile

  5. Year after year labs seem to get bigger and more over done. It wasn’t just the weight of those dogs that is a mess in my opinion. I think this year was the absolute worst. Not just those two, but most in the breed ring, (watched the judging online). I would suggest that like minded lab fanciers join the parent breed club and start making some noise. That is how things will change. Educating judges on what the dog should look like and what it should do is how things will change. Make the parent club educate judges and show breeders. Might take some time, but finally goldens are starting to look more as they should and not like big-headed poof balls.
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    • As we always say, this is a people problem. The poor dogs eat what they are fed.

      I guess you are right that making some noise with the clubs is a start.
      steve recently posted…No Wonder a Lab has Never Won at WestminsterMy Profile

    • You are right – it’s the only way to change things. I was so surprised watching the breed show online – many of them were chubby, but there were some that looked fit & healthy…and yet this obese one wins…and you can bet, next year, there will be more like that cause that is what wins.
      mkob recently posted…No Wonder a Lab has Never Won at WestminsterMy Profile

  6. When I got my first lab, I knew I did not want one of those “pigs on sticks”. Plus, I wanted some legs! Any shorter and they will be basset hounds. My current lab is near the smaller end of the standard but his legs are in proportion to the rest of his body. He is shorter coupled, as well. And gorgeous, of course.

    Labs are notorious over eaters, food stealers and beggars. It takes effort to keep them thin. Westinster has now set an example for the average lab owner. I see so many fat labs. Now, people will assume that’s how they should look!

    • Exactly. We work so hard to educate folks about pet obesity and that Labs really aren’t supposed to be the same circumference at their waist as their chest…and they put this up as Best of Breed…disappointing.
      mkob recently posted…No Wonder a Lab has Never Won at WestminsterMy Profile

  7. the dogs defense..they are still beautiful happy dogs…and its not their fault they are’s poor ownership if you ask me

  8. Education in Labradors 101. There are two types of labs. At this time AKC does not acknowledge the separation but it does exist. There are the American Field Trial labs which have a longer leaner body style with a more streamline head and longer snout. Then there is the English type of lab that is bred to be shorter coupled with a square body and boxy head and shorter snout. Both types are excellent at hunting and excel at field work. FYI There are many master, senior and junior hunters in the English lines. The English type of lab is what is being shown in conformation at Westminster and all around the world – not the American Field Trial lab. These two beautiful examples that you are referring to above are of the English type. They are not over weight for their stature. They are well put together and are a beautiful representation of their type and breed. You are welcome to your opinion but please get your facts straight before making uneducated comments with no foundation.

    • I’ve owned and raised Labradors for over 25 years, so I have a full understanding of the differences in appearance between the American Field Labs and english Labs. I am also familiar with the AKC standard for Labs that states breed standard weight for bitches is 55-70 lbs, as well as the standard for substance which states: “Substance and bone proportionate to the overall dog. Light, “weedy” individuals are definitely incorrect; equally objectionable are cloddy lumbering specimens. Labrador Retrievers shall be shown in working condition well-muscled and without excess fat“. I watched this dog in the ring several times and noted her body jiggling with excess fat as she lumbered around the ring. She did not appear well-muscled. There were many other Labs in the breed competition that were of the english type, but were muscled, fit and did not jiggle as they went around the ring. She is a beautiful dog and I’m sure well-loved and obviously well taken care of. She is just overweight.
      We have studied and written about pet obesity for several years. Over 53% of the dogs in the US are obese – many of them are Labradors. It’s not the dogs fault. They will eat whatever is put in front of them. It’s the owners who think that food is love and that it is normal for their dog to be shaped like this. It’s not normal, but more importantly, it is not healthy. Every pound a dog is overweight subtracts days and months and years from their life. It increases the likelihood of heart disease, stress and joint issues including arthritis and injury. For those interested in learning more about pet obesity, you can read about the 2012 National Pet Obesity Survey here: The survey is conducted by the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention. We also recommend checking your dog against the standard Body Conditioning Charts available (
      As you said, everyone is entitled to their opinion and can provide whatever nutrition & exercise levels they want for their own dogs. We just find it frustrating when we work so hard to educate our readers on raising healthy and fit pets to see an obviously overweight dog being held as the standard for Labradors. It perpetuates the myth that Labs are supposed to be roly-poly. English or American style is irrelevant, if you look back at the winners over the years, you can see a steady and disturbing trend towards obesity. We wish the trend was going the opposite direction.
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      • I could not agree more. I have had this breed for 15 years. Compete in conformation, agility and obedience. The trend over the past 25 years has changed this breed drastically. What has happened over the past 10 has made it unrecognizable. When I watched the entire breed ring at Westminster I was able to pick out maybe TWO lovely females in the ring. I was appalled by the judges pick.
        That night as we sat and watched my husband said “geezus that Lab is fat!”. I was never so embarrassed to say I am a Labrador owner. My dogs have pedigrees of pretty much half foreign bloodlines. They have done well in the show ring ; yet they have never looked like this! Nothing wiggled or rolled when they moved.
        I also get tired of the breeders proclaiming you cannot breed a Lab to the AKC height and weight standard and have it NOT be weedy. All of my girls fell under 70lbs; normally 65, with the lightest being 55 lbs and she was my finest example of the breed yet. Though I tend to fancy the UK standard, with a bit of a shorter dog.
        I hope this trend fades as fast as it became fashion. These 90+ dogs are not what I fancy one bit.

      • Great post and even better reply! The state of the American show-line Lab is a current fad that is NOT even supported by the breed standard – go figure. I have English Springers which have a somewhat similar show/field split, but at least the show-line dogs are presented in good physical condition. And just like in Labs, some prefer leggier dogs and some prefer the slightly lower dogs, but good physical condition should be universal regardless of the dogs’ build.

      • All I could think of when seeing these pics of the two Westminster Lab dog show winners was “Honey Boo-Boo.” It seems that the dog show may be eminating the U.S. child beauty pageant model; lots of glitz, but no reality or substance. If my beautiful, fit, English style girl arrived at the vets office with that obese, dysmorphic body type, she would put her on a lower calorie diet and send me home with nutritional guidelines for feeding a dog.

  9. We show our Labrador who is now 19 months old. Constantly we get that he is to skinny and needs to put weight on and I should exercise him less if I want a show dog. My Perun is in great shape! He’s muscular, fit and healthy. Not skinny but slender (great difference in my opinion). Last week we did his ED/HD X-rays and even though his vet can’t give us the official note (that we’re getting from Deutsche retriever Club where we are members) he gave us two thumbs up for the state of his joints. THAT is what matters the most! He’s a Champion in our hearts anyway 🙂
    The good thing about “dog trends” in Germany that they are going to the slimmer side. A lot of people are turning to BARF (Biologically Appropriate Raw Food) which makes it difficult to have obese dogs. We also feed out boy raw and I wouldn’t have it any other way…

    • We need to work to adjust the idea of the standard. Dogs should be breed first and foremost to be healthy. Glad you are keeping your boy fit & trim.
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      • Thank you!

  10. Agree with others: sad! And sets such a poor role model. Average folks expect their Lab to look like this. Back in 2011 a friend’s dog competed and won Best of Breed. The tendency re: weight had already begun. Here’s the link to my post with a photo and video of the dog
    The assumption these days is that Lab ARE fat – as if they are SUPPOSED to be. When people hear Rudy’s weight and that he’s a Lab, they think he’s fat and they smile about it. Of course, Rudy is NOT fat (he’s tall, lean and we think part pony), but the assumption is Lab=fat=okay. Not good 🙁
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  11. We can settle this easy enough. Let’s put the BOB Lab in the field and see if he can work for a day and do the job he was bred for…and return to the original intent of dog shows.

  12. I’m sorry–I fully understand that there is a difference between the English Labrador style and the American field style, but the fact remains that those dogs are fat. I appreciate a good, muscular, stocky animal. I find Haflingers more appealing than Arabians, for example–but these dogs have no definition associated with developed muscle to their bodies. I realize that the Labrador standard does not call for having a tuck-up, which I think allows people to excuse the horrible and fat condition in which these dogs are shown. Not having a tuck-up does not excuse dogs that appear to have legs too thin for their bodies because they are so obese. The AKC needs to reconsider what they are looking for when they are looking at Labs in the show ring, because they are condemning dogs to early deaths with their so-called standard of beauty.

    • Amen. Today I’m going to spend some time looking into how the standard gets determined and how it has skewed so far towards obesity. It didn’t used to be like this – ti’s evolved over the years. I have pictures of Dual CH from years ago and the are gorgeous, healthy & athletic looking dogs. Thanks for your input.
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      • Good point – the ‘standard’ states they should be able to work a full day in the field. They are sporting dogs after all.
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  13. On what planet are these beautiful dogs? I’ve seen many beautiful labs, these are far from beautiful. However I’m disappointed that more fans of the pigador have not come out to defend them. Nothing like show breeders justifying the monstrosities they’ve created for some knee slapping laughs.

    • It is sad how the breeds have devolved…and not just Labs, other breeds as well that are breed for show with little regard for health – pugs and bulldogs prime examples.
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      • Not to mention German Shepherds… I cringe every time I see those poor, over-angled dogs.

  14. I am a veterinarian. Both of those labs are absolutely overweight. It does not matter what lab style they represent, they are both fat. We have a standard that ranges from 1-5 or from 1-10 and let me just say that both are on the higher end. I am not saying they are not nice looking dogs but as an owner of 2 healthy weight labs I call shenanigans on any poster here that thinks this is a healthy weight for those dogs. Educate yourself if you don’t believe me. I only spent 8 years in school to educate people on pet healthy care.

    • Thanks for speaking out – we need more vets like you speaking the truth to their clients. No excuse for this – not the dogs fault.
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    • Another veterinarian here chiming in that, yes, these dogs are absolutely overweight. I’d estimate that if I put my hands on them, I’d be recommending that they each lose ten pounds.

      • At least. Thanks for adding your perspective. We welcome vets to share their insights on this topic as well as our whole SlimDoggy theme of keeping your pets healthy & fit.
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  15. I seen those labs and thought the same thing. They looked too stocky to me. Funny how when I seen them I thought to myself, Oh I bet Jack and Maggie will have something to say about this.
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  16. I think that show dogs should be a) weighed and b) measured in height… that is the only 2 measurements that cannot be subjective to the judge. I am BETTING that both of these labs greatly exceeded the proper weight standard for a labrador. They may be well cared for and happy, but no way around it they are way too heavy imo. It will impact their health and well being. I once pet sat for a lab breeder who showed labs, they were all overweight, none of them knew how to retrieve and the amt of food each one got per day shocked me. She also had pointers who were also show dogs, they were lean and fit. So why do show labs have to be the exact opposite of what they should be? Labs were bred as hunting dogs, not couch “potatoes” ( pun intended)

  17. I would like to know who it was that decided that “stocky” means built like a pot bellied pig?! And there are people trying to defend this! That dogs waist is the same circumference as its chest and couldnt even trot around a ring without looking like it was having an asthma attack. I get the whole field vs bench type thing, but when the show type begins to no longer be physically able to do the job it was bred to do there is something very wrong happening. I would like to see a requirement that all show dogs earn some kind of performance title before they get their championship. Maybe then we can seedogs go back to looking as they should.

  18. “STOCKY” doesn’t JIGGLE around when the dog moves!!

    • I definitely saw the poor thing jiggle.

  19. I have bred, owned, shown Labradors for 50 years. I have bred over 100 champions, with a number of Junior, senior and master hunters. Those dogs are beyond fat. They are short legged pigs with a dippy top line, low tail set. Not all the blame goes to the breeders. The judges contribute equally when they reward this type of dog. It makes it discouraging for an exhibitor to waste their money coming to Westminister. The parent club does a good job educating prospective new judges, they definitely don’t advocate this type of dog. Head, coat, and tail define a Labrador, not short, fat, and clunky.

    • Thanks for chiming in. We agree the judges have allowed the drift from healthy, fit Labs meant to swim, hunt and retrieve to this place. We need to work to change this. Other retrievers seem to have held the line against it – why not Labs?
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  20. Please don’t want change no ones opinion but inform your self. Is two cain of labs
    Americans= Skinning,tall,and hipper.
    English = the one from the picture they are chunky short legs. Wide chest .calm.
    They should show and teach people the difference bet this two breeds.
    Here is more info.
    American Labradors vs. English Labradors?
    We at Rosewood Retrievers do specialize in the breeding of the American Labradors. What’s the difference? Let me try to explain.

    The American Labradors, also known as ‘Field’ or ‘Hunting’ Labradors, originated in United States and are used more for hunting or field work. Also, they are frequently used in Field Trials or Hunt Test competitions. American Labradors can also be seen in the show ring (or dog shows), but usually don’t do well.
    American Labrador
    Physical Differences
    The American Labrador is more energetic than the English Labrador. They have a longer nose, longer legs, a thinner body and the tail sometimes curls upward and are taller. Probably due to interbreeding, they also come with their own unique set of health problems, including Hip, Eye, Elbow Dysplasia and EIC (Exercise Induced Collapse). EIC is when the dog will just collapse in the field usually after a strenuous exercise. In extreme cases some dogs can even collapse by merely anticipaing a strenuous workout. CNM ( Canine Neuromuscaluar Myopothy) which is similar to Muscular Dystrophy in humans. The EIC and CNM do appear more frequently in the American Labradors over the English Labradors.

    English Labrador
    The English Labrador originated in England and are the Show or Bench Labradors. They are usually the Labradors that are seen in the show ring, although they also can perform in the Field Trials or Hunt Tests and also can be used for hunting. They have shorter noses, blockier heads, thicker bodies, they have a thick otter tail and are shorter and heavier. They also have health problems including the Hip, Eye and Elbow dysplasia. But they are now testing them also for the EIC and the CNM.

    Crossing the American Labrador or Field Lab to the English Labrador or bench Lab, create a new moderate show dog or field dog.

    Personally I wish AKC would recognize both the American Labrador and English Labrador as two different types of Labradors, like the English Cocker and the American Cocker.

    This article is solely the opinion of Rosewood Retrievers, Inc.

    • I had a field lab, he was beautiful, slim, muscular and very vert energi

      I had an American lab! he was beautiful! slim! fast and very well muscled. Couldn’t do a thing in the show ring because of his build. Now I have the English lab. she gets 2 cups of food a day and is a big girl. She is an outdoor dog and in winter I don’t cut down on food. Summer time I will cut her back, she will lose weight, but looks weird? Her head will get a real hollow look. She weights in at 90 lbs. Big heavy bones so she will never be skinny.

  21. As a UK owner of two FCRs and a black Lab, I can attest to the effort required to keep weight off the lab. He is much greedier than the flatties and will eat anything put in front of him. However, it is just a matter of being firm and you will be rewarded with a beautiful well muscled happy lab. These two pictured are simply, massively fat.

  22. Years ago I had one of the top show Shelties in the US and Canada –

    He was a fit and trim 20 pounds – his show handler said he was never going to win at that weight – so she fattened him up, and in a few short months he did crazy well in the show ring, winning groups wins and placements in both countries, was ranked, we retired him. He did all that winning at 28(!) pounds! I knew he was heavier, but wow!

    One of his favorite things to do at his ideal healthy weight was go behind the couch and jump from the floor to the back of the couch, he just thought it was funny to surprise us – he was so sad at that heavier weight, would just look at that couch and sigh…

    The weight came off him quickly, and he was back to his normal silly jumping self in no time : ), but how sad is it that a dog has to be obese to win in the ring?

    When he was older, for fun (as I am no professional handler : ) I showed him in UKC and International at his good weight of 20 lbs, and he was a group winner in those venues – so apparently it is the AKC judges that prefer them fat : )

    • Very interesting – I think there is a propensity in this country to skew towards the heavier – both humans and canines, so we shouldn’t be surprised. Glad your dog got back to being able to jump up on that couch!
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  23. Number one, there’s only one breed standard. There is not a separate breed standard according to which side of the pond you live on. It’s beyond annoying when “breeders” try to excuse the blatant change from the standard in their lines because their Labs are “American” or are “hunting lines”. If the dog differs from the standard, it’s an example of poor breeding. If you can’t produce dogs that can look, act, and perform to breed standard, than you’re not doing it right. Enough with this idea that it’s excusable to be lanky because you’re American, or stocky (not stalky, they aren’t celery) because you’re English.

    There is one breed standard, stick to it, or don’t breed at all. And no, I do not think those Labs are breed standard. It’s easy to look it up, and those judges should lose their jobs because they’re not going according to the standard they claim to know so much about.

  24. The AKC standard for Labs is ridiculous. I’ve had Labs in my life for decades as working dogs and none of them look like these overweight dogs. Mine have always, based on the standard, been too tall, too long, didn’t have that otter tail, nor necessarily been within the weight range. Instead, and what matters, is their marvelous temperament and incredible work ethic. I’ve trained and worked my Labs as gun, search and rescue, therapy, and service dogs. I’ve kept each and every one of them trim, with well-defined muscles and beautiful coats. I stopped watching Westminster years ago, primarily because my favorite breed is so misrepresented.
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  25. You are both right about weight and non being overweight. What everyone needs to realize is that some of the weight you think you see is cost and bone. English labradors have huge coats that make them appear bigger then they really are. My chocolate labrador during the winter is about 85 Pound when he has his winter coat but around 78 during summer. He runs on a treadmill and retrieves ducks. He is in great shape with muscle and all. He has OFA clearances on elbows and hips along with a the other clearances needed. Now on the. Flip side what I have noticed is labradors who are extremly short which makes them look extremly fat and some are. I truely do believe that we are getting away from the standard of what a labrador should look like on AKC website. I mean look at the picture on AKC website. Today’s show labradors do not look anything like that picture. This means one of two things that either the standard has changed and AKC has not updated their picture or the shows are extremly political and wins are based on who you know and not how the lab should look. This makes it extremly a unfair competition. I also believe that just as there is curly cost and long hair retrievers they should have a different class for American labradors because there is a clear difference between American labradors and English labradors.

    • I hope it’s not politics, but you are right – those winners don’t look like the standards on the AKC site.
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      • Agree completely. And will add that I’ve seen lots of field trial Labs that lack a correct double coat and “otter tail” that is required to do “their job” and retriever (they were freeze in icy waters). Unless you put your hands on these dogs you simply are making assumptions and most of the statements here are made by people who do not know the AKC standard but are comparing these two lovely dogs to their pet Labs or perhaps field Labs. These two winners are stunning and I was proud to see them represent the breed I love.

      • These Labs were both handled by owner/breeder/handlers – which a large majority are in our breed. Do not fool yourselves into thinking that there are no politics at play in the dog show world but look at the ones winning and how much MONEY has been spent on handlers, advertising and campaigning of those dogs. Whether you happen to like a dog or not (or even know the standard) please take a look at what has really gone into what makes a winner and at very least have some respect for the breeders who proudly handle their own dogs and can compete at this level. A Lab may never win Westminster or BIS but most of the Lab breeders I know do handle their dogs and will not send them on the road with handlers every weekend, living on the road. It may be fine for some breeds but Labs are people oriented and do not take to that lifestyle well. Kudos to the breeders that live with, train and exhibit their own dogs. At the end of the day the Lab may never win the BIS but I assure you they could care less. The Lab is a lovely breed and those two winners are gorgeous and have won not just at Westminster but also under many very respected Labrador breeder judges.

        • Amen sister!! That bitch was dripping in type and oozing YUMMY, I would take her home ANYDAY of the week and of course the boy was amazing as well!

    • My English Breed male was 102 lbs. without an ounce of fat on him. Everyone wanted to breed with him because of his size. He was sometimes mistaken for a Rottweiler. GORGEOUS. Some dogs are different. The ones pictured are obviously overweight.

      • Our Jack, more of an American Lab was 105 when we rescued him and obviously overweight and uncomfortable – he was showing signs of arthritis as well as anxiety. Jack is now down to 80lbs, looks and feels great, runs with his dad every other day and is the picture of health. I have no problem with a dog weighing 102lbs – health and fitness are the key things we worry about.
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      • If you have a lab that is 102 pounds at a fit weight and is mistaken for a Rottweiler, you may want to re-evaluate either his fitness or if you actually have a Labrador.

        Its no different than the cattle dog people who tell you a 20in dog weighs 104 pounds and is pure muscle.

        At those weights, there isn’t anything “pure” muscle about the dog except in the mind of the owner. Your mind becomes conditioned to recognize something as normal. When fat dogs become normal, people’s minds fail to recognize the dogs as fat.

        And many people, usually men, have a strong desire to see their dogs as muscular which reinforces the delusion that their fat dogs are fit, toned athletes.

  26. I can tell you I show labradors to and my family has shown and worked with dogs before I was born. What I dislike is the politics but also the fact that when you see new comers come in, most people are not very inviting. I know it’s a competition but if you truly love the sport and the dog why would you not want to share your knowledge and experience with new comers. Be proud of what you did and help others to enjoy what you do so they do can not only enjoy but be a reflection of your teachin. Be that mentor and see how good you feel when they accomplish what you have or even get one ribbon. Remember you too at one time were knew. If you truly live the sport keep it alive through generations.

  27. ImImnot sure what you are looking at, but you better put your glasses on……that lab WAS NOT fat….he is an English lab. He was NOT an Americal field lab. I have one of each, and the differences are amazing. They have (owners of labs), been trying to get them put into two separate catergories for quite sometime, because of the differences. They are different in i telligence, in temperment, and in body shape. The English is more intelligent, more laid back and stockier, a ns with a mhch larger head….better do your homework before you make those assumptionxs…you know what they say…when you assume!!!!

    • It wasn’t an assumption, it was an observation after watching the dog in the ring. Labs, english or american are not meant to jiggle under a layer of fat when they walk – no dog is except, maybe the Neopolitan Mastiff. Comparing this, or any dog to the Body Composition charts available at your vet is a true measure of whether a dog is overweight. Each extra pound on your dog shortens their life by days, weeks, years.
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  28. This problem is one of many all over the show circuit. I breed a working line of german shepherds and they look nothing like the show line. It saddens me to see show shepherds because they are all wrong on so many levels.

  29. We have a UK show lab kennel – believe me – the Westminster winners are NOT English type – you would NEVER see such a short legged fat Lab winning in England !!

  30. its definetly overweight in lots of breed is USA loosing standart of the dogs . Doberman , german shepherd, Boxer those are different dogs from original standart. and that will soon or later happednd to Labs

  31. Please read the Labrador standard. Labs are not supposed to have a tuck, it is a fault. The Labs were gorgeous and without actually putting your hands on them you can not tell if they are over weight.

    • The Standard was written by shooting people and requires a dog that can work all day not just once a week but regularly and not break down – these dogs cannot fit the standard. 60-70lb is more than sufficient “bulk/substance/body” to allow the dog to look like a Labrador and work like one. Judges in the UK are now required to report after judging if they feel a problem exists with overly short legs – If I was asked to comment on these dogs both would come into that category!

  32. Karen I never said that labrador was fat please DO NOT put words in my mouth. All I said was that I have seen ( in other words in general) that the show ring is awarding shorter labradors and some fatter labradors that are not fitting the standard with wins and ribbons. So please DO NOT say I called that labrador fat. I agree with you that they should have an American and English group. However intelligence is not limited to the English because I have seen some extremly intelligent American labradors and some extremly extremly dumb English labradors. However I have also seen the reverse. And no I don’t think intelligence is strict genetics either. Just like humans some get looks some get brains some get both LOL

  33. If you read the breed standard, a labrador is NOT supposed to have a tuck up. As Quoted from the breed standard “The underline is almost straight, with little or no tuck-up in mature animals.”

    The coat necessary to be waterproof and keep these dogs warm in the frigid conditions of duck hunting as well as have the otter tail is full and thick. You absolutely CANNOT tell ‘fat’ without getting your hands on these dogs. These are great representatives of the breed but all the other sporting dogs were also GREAT representatives of their breed and only 4 could have group placements!

  34. As a Sporting breed exhibitor I was appalled that a judge would put that dog up as the representative of that breed. It is so heavy it rounded as it moved. These dogs are put in long boats in blinds that I could not see anybody trying to haul the dog back into the boat after the retrieve. I have been told about my dogs having “one to many trips to the cookie jar” (which was
    not true because it was a bitch in false pregnancy) I never got Best of Breed. We have the problem with overweight dogs and Mr. Public sees a overweight dog at a big dog show like Westminster and thinks its OK. I really think some one should have judged a little better.

  35. The Lab standard does not call for this! Don’t blame it on the standard. Blame it on the lazy owners who do not keep their dogs in fit condition, and on judges who reward it. I’ve shown Labs since the mid 80s and mine are always fit, never rolling in fat. The standard does not call for obese dogs.

  36. My vet lets me know when my Labs are overweight. living with them 24 hrs a day I don’t see it until it is pointed out. I appreciate my Vet’s input. He told me to cut serving in half and green beans to make up full portion. That worked for my now deceased chocolate, she was always hungry. But she lost weight to where she should have been and wasn’t as hungry as before. My two Blacks I have now are two different styles one is tall and lanky with blocky head and 118 lbs no fat, other is short and blocky but I have noticed since reading this that he has put on weight here over the winter, guess its time for a change in diet. He is much more active over the other seasons so wears of weight. He loves yo run and swim in the sandpit…..

  37. Great topic, SlimDoggy! Looking forward to your future post on this. I am no expert on what a Lab’s standard is but in my opinion the winning Lab looked very overweight and unhealthy. (And still very cute!) After seeing her, my Lab mix Ace is trying to convince me he’s starving and I need to feed him more!
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  38. I read different comments. I used to show dogs and there is a politics involved. Sometimes the better dog doesn’t win at a show. Once a dog become really popular everyone wants one and that you make money. If it is done right you don’t make money. There are some dog show people that also do what the dog is bred for too. I commend those people it takes a lot of work. I also have to tell that dog show people seen to have more weight. It has been that way for a long time. The Golden Retriever has never won BIS and only got out of group a few times in it’s history. Maybe because of Politics. The Golden seem to get the popular vote. The sad thing is there is so many pure breed dogs in shelter that need homes. If you are breeding dogs just for the money you should be breeding.

  39. I have worked for a large guide dog school for 8 years. We have our own breeding colony, as do most large service dog schools. Our labs are a mix of American and English labs. We have 150 labs in training, at any given point. Our dogs are of a variety of builds. If we had a dog come in looking like these Westminster winners, not only would they be put on low calorie food, but they’d likely have to be put in “fat camp” (staff member takes them home to exercise them consistently). Instantly, you can see that neither dog has the healthy tummy tuck. There is a huge difference of being stocky with muscle and stocky with fat on Labradors. Many of my coworkers and volunteers from the guide dog school I work for made comments on social media about how overweight these labs appeared to be.

  40. Really “Breeders” you say that your correct English Standard labs have abdominal tuck up? What standard are you following exactly? The AKC standard states “The underline is almost straight, with little or no tuck-up in mature animals.” Not a single one of you have had your hands on these dogs therefore know absolutely nothing about what is under all the coat. The bitch that was Best of Breed is in FULL bloom, she is in full coat and looks amazing!! So the reason why a Labrador has never won at Westminster is because they are fat? Is that the same reason why the Golden Retriever , the Dachshund, The Shih Tzu, the Rottweiler, the Miniature Schnauzer, the Chihuahua, the Great Dane, the Shetland Sheepdog and the Boston Terrier have never won?

  41. It’s amazing and sad to me how many commenters are trying to justify what are grossly obese dogs. There is no excuse for it. They’re clearly fat, there’s no amount of coat that can hide it and you don’t need to put hands on them to see it. The excuse that they somehow need the fat as insulation while swimming in cold water is patently ridiculous; not a single field lab is kept like that, nor real hunting dog, and the correct breed coat provides plenty of insulation. I have an English style lab with some big name show dogs in his pedigree, and while it’s some work to keep him in condition, by weighing his food and giving him plenty of exercise he has substance in muscle, not fat, as a lab should. I would attach a photo of him if I could so you could see what the English type looks like without all the extra weight. I did not read every comment, but the lab breed standard as listed on the LRC (AKC parent club) website says, “Labrador Retrievers shall be shown in working condition, well-muscled and without excess fat,” and they’ve even bolded it for emphasis. Showing the dogs in such flabby condition does a disservice to the heritage of this breed as an athletic, working retriever. I really can’t understand why judges put these dogs up, but I commend the breeders who don’t jump on the fat bandwagon.

    • Thanks for your comment – you hit the nail on the head…”muscle not fat”. We don’t understand either.
      mkob recently posted…Jack Looks to WOOF for SupportMy Profile

    • I so agree. I’ve been going through and reading the comments and it’s heart breaking. Just thinking about the health issues that Sydney went through and could have gone through were we not to help her turn it around makes me so sad.

      What it comes down to is making it okay for dogs to be overweight and giving the impression that a little extra junk in the trunk is normal for a breed. It’s not. I do think that Sydney will always be the heaviest of our dogs and we’ll always have to work with her on her weight, because of her joint issues, but I think it’s worth the work to keep her with us longer.

      I’m thankful that I’m not a layman watching this program and thinking “oh, Sydney isn’t that big, look at those dogs.”
      Kimberly Gauthier recently posted…Fur Mom Confessions | I Slather Our Dogs with Coconut OilMy Profile

  42. I am sorry BUT as disgusting as I find the dogs pictured, IMO you canNOT blame the judges. It is the BREEDER’S resposibility to breed for correct dogs. IF the judges were presented with correct example they would be able to reward them BUT it is the BREEDER who is responsible for maintaining the breed and a judge NOT putting it up does NOT remove the responsibility of the breeder!

    • Completely agree with a minor exception. Breeders are the keepers of their breed and any blame for issues should go primarily to them. BUT judges also have a responsibility to reward only dogs who meet the standard and to withhold awards if no dogs are found to be satisfactory. Their choice of winner has an influence on the breed and breeders.

      Its a system of checks and balances. And all involved need to hold up their end. Owners, exhibitors, breeders, and judges.

  43. It is embarrassing what has happened to my favorite breed. As a boarded veterinarian with 27 years of practice and an owner of performance Labs, you are kidding yourself if you think that the weight on these conformation dogs is “normal”. They are indeed obese by every standard that we measure by and, speaking of standards, have you looked recently at photos of Champion Labs from a few decades ago. Those dogs had great bone, coat, muscling and would have been able to do what they were bred to do! These dogs today would have trouble out in the field or swimming but at least they would float! They do indeed LUMBER and I have witnessed that firsthand at the Labrador Retriever Club’s National Specialties.

    • Love hearing from veterinarians who know the Body Conditioning scale for dogs and are more concerned with their health than some arbitrary standard. Thanks for speaking up!
      mkob recently posted…Jack Looks to WOOF for SupportMy Profile

  44. So nice to see that all these people calling these labs “fat” and “obese” had the opportunity to physically examine them in the same way that the judges did. Really, it’s the best way to determine if the lab is overweight, or is carrying the correct amount of weight for the amount of bone it has.

    Then again your ill informed comments really aren’t surprising given the name of your blog.

    • There are things you can see from a photo that will tell you about a dog’s weight.

      Things like rolls over the shoulders. Straight shoulder blades or fat will cause rolls over the shoulder. And its not common to see a show lab with straight shoulder blades.

      The lack of a ribcage outline is another sure indicator of an overweight dog. Fit dogs of all breeds, including Pugs, show a waist and the outline of the ribcage.

      Lack of visible muscle definition (even on a long haired dog) is another one. Labs are not heavily coated dogs. Muscle definition on a lab at a fit weight would be clearly visible.

      The overall mass of the neck in relation to the size of the head is another indicator of an overweight dog. The neck shows no blending into the chest because the heavy amount of fat obscures it and turns the shoulders, chest, and neck into one large block.

  45. And to answer your question as to why a Labrador has never won BIS at Westminster, the show has been an annual event for 138 years, Labradors only recognized in the past 100 years. In those 100 years, they have not all been fat, they have not all been overdone. They just aren’t heavily campaigned like the winners are. How many Labrador Breeders are willing to sink $100,000+ into hiring top handlers and advertising? The Wire Fox Terrier who won, while an amazing dog, has a very wealthy backer or two. I am sure they spent upwards of $500,000/year to campaign this dog. You can not open a dog show publication and not see this dog. A cute campaign that showed the dog kissing the judge who gave it BIS that weekend. There haven’t been too many Labradors that are campaigned like this. Back in the 1950s and 1960s there were BIS winning Labradors (still are today), but even those lighter built dogs were not competitive at Westminster. They do lack flash and they do lack coat. There have been many Labs that have placed in the groups or made the cut (as last years did), but at this level of competition, a Lab will never have what it takes to go all the way. We as breeders accept this and I’d rather win BISS any day!

  46. General Appearance
    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 substance and soundness to hunt waterfowl or upland game for long hours under difficult conditions; the character and quality to win in the show ring; and the temperament to be a family companion. Physical features and mental characteristics should denote a dog bred to perform as an efficient Retriever of game with a stable temperament suitable for a variety of pursuits beyond the hunting environment.

    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.

    Above all, a Labrador Retriever must be well balanced, enabling it to move in the show ring or work in the field with little or no effort. The typical Labrador possesses style and quality without over refinement, and substance without lumber or cloddiness. The Labrador is bred primarily as a working gun dog; structure and soundness are of great importance.

    Size, Proportion and Substance
    Size–The height at the withers for a dog is 22½ to 24½ inches; for a bitch is 21½ to 23½ inches. Any variance greater than ½ inch above or below these heights is a disqualification. Approximate weight of dogs and bitches in working condition: dogs 65 to 80 pounds; bitches 55 to 70 pounds.

    The minimum height ranges set forth in the paragraph above shall not apply to dogs or bitches under twelve months of age.

    Proportion–Short-coupled; length from the point of the shoulder to the point of the rump is equal to or slightly longer than the distance from the withers to the ground. Distance from the elbow to the ground should be equal to one half of the height at the withers. The brisket should extend to the elbows, but not perceptibly deeper. The body must be of sufficient length to permit a straight, free and efficient stride; but the dog should never appear low and long or tall and leggy in outline. Substance–Substance and bone proportionate to the overall dog. Light, “weedy” individuals are definitely incorrect; equally objectionable are cloddy lumbering specimens. Labrador Retrievers shall be shown in working condition well-muscled and without excess fat.

    • It’s interesting that the simple height/weight standards for the Chesapeake Bay Retriever are not that different from the Lab. Weights are actually identical, height for a Chessie is slightly taller than the Lab standard – only 1/2″ for females, but boy do the Chessie winners LOOK much different. ( And their coats are heavier and curlier – if anything making them look bigger. Why have they not devolved to this larger standard and how can judges look at the two and not see the vast difference?
      mkob recently posted…Plyometric Drills with your Dog Update: Ball SlamsMy Profile

      • Its a cultural difference. Chessie breeders tend to be more heavily focused on working and dual championships in comparison to lab breeders who focus on showing and dogs as all-American family pets. You also don’t see the Chessie breeders talking about things like “blocky” while describing their dogs. Its a word that lends itself to the trend of mistaking fatness for fitness.

  47. I showed my yellow lab in UKC and was told by the judge my slender, well muscled field trial ch would need to gain “substantial weight” in order to place.

    No, thank you. I am not going to deliberately risk my dog’s health for a stupid ribbon. We moved on to agility and she always, always beats other labs. They are short, stocky, often overweight, dangerously unfit. And these are dog people who should know better.

    2 cups of food a day, 2 cups of broccoli a day, all the fresh cool water she wants and a yard to run in – plus rousing games of fetch daily keep my dog healthy, happy and my vet loves her.

    Boxy does not equal obese, and a good waterproof coat does not roll like fat does. Those dogs had their coats rolling. And yes, the lights in the Garden are hot, but not so hot as to make the dogs pant excessively like these labs did after the up, back, then around gaiting.

    It was disgusting to watch and the average Joe Dog Owner will think THAT is what his dog should look like and overfeed accordingly. Bad enough Pedigree is a main sponsor, their first ingredient is corn.

    You wouldn’t raise your kid on fritos, why do it to your dog?

  48. I know this has nothing to do with the weight of these dogs, but perhaps someone can tell me why the judge is looking for undercoat along the back, I have been know to ask judges who do that if they are looking for fleas ! Should they not be looking along the ribs and flank.

  49. Did you put your hands on the dogs? Do you know that they are overweight? labs carry their weight differently than other breeds, so unless you put your own hands on the dogs, you cannot properly judge them. Any lab that shows ribs under their coat from a distance is a dog who is unhealthily thin. I once had a lab where the vet says “She needs to lose weight”. Touches her, and then says “Well, maybe not, I guess she’s not as big as I thought.” Why? Because labs bodies are different. It’s what makes them a breed. So don’t judge. I once thought labs were fat in the ring too. Till I looked back on pics of my own dogs that I knew weren’t too heavy and realized they looked just like the ones in the show ring. Don’t throw the stones until you know what the heck you’re talking about!

    • What convinces me even more than the photo of the Westminster BOB is the Sporting Group judging video. Pauli, the Labrador BOB in question, is four years old; and moves with far more effort (and, it seemed to me, less energy) than either the Clumber Spaniel (that one might expect to lumber) or the Golden Retriever (a fairly rectangular, good-sized retriever with bone), or the nearly 12-year-old English Cocker Spaniel. Looking closely at Pauli as she gaited, I saw parts of her midsection jiggling, to the point where I, if I saw her at a local dog park, I would want a closer look to make sure she did not have a fatty tumor. I remember that the show-line Labrador I had as a teenager was often plump; but he never looked that chubby; and at the age of four, he would have moved with more energy. I also remember seeing several Labs in and out of a show ring at a dog show a few years ago, and thinking that most of them were too chunky in the midsection and short on leg. I assume that Pauli is loved; but I have reservations about what the current interpretation of the AKC conformation standard for Labradors is doing to those Labs bred for the show ring (many of whom become pets).

      • Agree 100%. I watched some of the breed judging and was just shocked at how many of the dogs appeared overweight and out of condition.
        mkob recently posted…Wordless Wednesday 2-19-14My Profile

  50. It is good someone has stepped up to say how the Labs are so bad compared to the AKC standard. Labs in the now I have heard are like stuffed sausages. They move with a roll that a Old English has,the front is east west let alone a gait with power. Very very upset to see they probably would not be able to hunt, swim and go go go like dogs of the past.

  51. Congratulations, SlimDoggy, on how well you’ve handled the unprofessional, unkind, and unwarranted attacks on the amazing and important information you shared. I love how you’ve risen above the pettiness and stayed on track. It’s an inspiration and lesson for all of us who want to raise awareness of dog care issues that will lead to longer living friends.
    Kimberly Gauthier recently posted…Fur Mom Confessions | I Slather Our Dogs with Coconut OilMy Profile

    • Thanks Kimberly. Our overriding concern is the HEALTH of the dogs, and managing that health is on us, the owners. You’ve done a great job with Sydney – so kudos to you.
      mkob recently posted…Plyometric Drills with your Dog Update: Ball SlamsMy Profile

  52. My friends and I have long debated this very subject… I have a show male who is almost a finished champion, but continues to loose to flabby dogs with excess skin and fat. However, lately I have seen more fit than fat. Because I work my dogs, they are all fit… Very fit and muscular. I do agree that sometimes it’s hard to tell if a dog has a thick coat or a thick layer of fat unless you have your hands on them, and the females who have had litters will tend to have loose skin… However, I have also watched MANY dogs in which I would like to just see if they could actually go out and retrieve a triple, or chase a cripple around a pond. In other countries, a dog must show his/her hunting ability as well as win in conformation before becoming a champion… I believe that would be a good thing for AKC to adopt.
    Also, even with the split of American Field dogs and English Show dogs, there is a split of Specialty type Show dogs and All Breed Show dogs… Those dogs that win at all breed shows are generally taller than those at Specialty shows – not always, but generally – ESP in the bitches. I do feel that an all breed show Lab has more of a chance a winning Westminster than does a Specialty type because they have a much more elegant flowing gait generally, due to longer legs.
    Which brings me to my last comment:
    Your title “No Wonder a Lab… Blah, blah, blah” has nothing to do with the weight of the Labradors in question. Those judges have all judged the same breeds, the same dogs, the same condition. The Westminster Kennel Club chooses the Best In Show judge, and it’s just a rare case that a sporting dog wins. I think (without looking) Carlee the GSP was the last one.

    • Thank you for the very thoughtful and informative comments.

      Regarding the article title, you are correct. We were being somewhat facetious and wanted a provocative title because we believe that the single biggest, yet treatable health threat to Labs, and to all dogs for that matter, is the obesity/weight problem. Labs happen to be one breed that has a higher obesity rate than the average dog so it is particularly important for Lab owners to take this problem seriously.
      steve recently posted…Plyometric Drills with your Dog Update: Ball SlamsMy Profile

  53. As a lab owner myself I have to agree these dogs are very overweight. The question now becomes, what don’t people see about weight? I’m assuming that the people showing these dogs would be conscientious with their dog’s health and take them tor a veterinarian at least once per year. Why wouldn’t their vet tell them how overweight their dogs are?

    As dog parents it’s sometimes hard to see that our dogs might be overweight, and I would expect my veterinarian to advise me of such!

    I look forward to hearing what the lab folks have to say.
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  54. One can never judge an animal without putting hands on it…its that simple. Nothing more to it.

  55. Have any of the labs of the “show type” placed in groups or won a Best In Show all breed in this condition in the past few years? Do they only show at specialties because Breed wins are the best they can do?

  56. Please stop calling bench bred show type Labradors “English” and field-bred/working type “American.” Anyone that differentiates between the two by these incorrectly used terms are absolute morons. An American Lab is one that is born and bred from American lines. An English Lab is one that is born and bred from English lines. A dog bred for the conformation ring is a show type or bench-bred. A dog bred specifically for working is a working type or field-bred.

  57. Here’s an interesting comparison. I traced, in brown, the outline of a Labrador that is in the breed standard as written. I then traced, also in proportion but slightly shorter because bitches aren’t usually as tall as males, the bitch everybody is talking about. Look at just how far from the standard these dogs are! Not only are they obese, they are very short on leg. So here’s my question: If breeders are trying to, as is said so often, “improve the breed”, can someone please explain how this structure makes it a better field dog than the dog the standard describes?
    Hope this link works:

    • Good point – your observations are spot on (and the link worked). We just posted our follow-up post calling out some of the same questions and looking at past pictures of winners and the current standard. It certainly doesn’t seem like an improvement does it? Obesity causes many health problems, shortens life span and is no fault of the dogs. I’m sure they’d rather be able to run, jump, hunt, swim like they were bred to.
      mkob recently posted…When did Overweight Labs Become the New Normal?My Profile

  58. The labs that have been traced by Sharon are very helpful. Thank you.

  59. The problem is not with the dogs. It lies with the judges and the AKC. When a judge awards a win to a dog outside of the breed standard, in this case a dog NOT in working condition, They should be disciplined. They are, after all, acting as an agent of the AKC. The fact that they are PAID only makes this more egregious, in my opinion.

  60. For all the people trying to “educate regarding English and American Labradors,” you sound like backyard breeders! Go to a top Labrador producing show kennels (Shamrock Acres, Tabatha, Beechcroft, Paradocs, Dickendall, heck even Wit’s End who the BOB is from) and they will correct you for calling their dogs English Labs unless they are really English imports. The Labrador Retriever Club recognizes the two terms as used by the public, but they correct this misconception and recommend the terms bench and field style. The same goes for the top field champion kennels (who don’t agree with what the LRC has done to the breed); they call their dogs field (or field-bred) Labs not American Labs.

    • Thanks for joining the conversation. Do other breeds – sporting dogs – have bench and field ‘types’ that are this diverse? I know we have some Chessie followers out there – what are your thoughts?
      mkob recently posted…When did Overweight Labs Become the New Normal?My Profile

      • The best example is the English Springer Spaniel, but field and show dogs vary greatly in type among nearly every hunting dog (be it a retriever or a spaniel and even poodles). The same is true of non-hunting breeds that have a heavy working component (German Shepherds, Australian Shepherds, Border Collies).

        English Springer Types:

  61. Wow. In the post, I see some genuine concern shown for a dangerous trend in an extremely popular breed of dog. And in the responses I see constructive discussion with some good ol’ sheer insanity peppered in.
    Ahh… the internet. A wonderful place, no?
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    • LOL. Ah yes, the internet. This week’s discussion seems a bit more rational and tempered than last weeks, for which I am grateful – gives me hope.
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  62. Wow. Great topic have you have going on here and it’s taking me quite awhile to read through all the great and not so great comments. I’m not familiar with the lab standards so I don’t think I have anything substantial to add to the conversation except that I saw a few comments about show labs having a different conformation and being bred differently. Shouldn’t they be bred as a retrieving or field dog? In my experience, Newfoundlands are bred as a working dog first, not as a show dog first, so there are no conformation differences in a working Newfoundland vs. a show Newfoundland and that’s the way it should be. Maybe it’s different in the Lab breed.
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  63. Having read a lot of the above…well!!!!….I’m not a breeder but an owner of German shepherd and Labrador. Neither is fat or will be. The above winners are fat, whether people like to admit it or not. I do wonder if the people who can’t see it, don’t want to see it because their dogs are fat or they have issues with weight themselves and therefore do not want to acknowledge obesity full stop.
    It doesn’t matter what anyone says being overweight whether human or animal it IS detrimental to health and well being. You do not have to ‘lay’ hands on to see this!!!!! Obesity whether human,canine,feline or equine not only costs more as in food and vet bills, but causes the animal distress to some degree, either not able to exercise adequately but also in ailments it acquires. All this is down to the owner who has responsibility to ensure health and well being of their animal. Harsh as it may seem, but over feeding is as bad as not feeding animals, and that’s constituted as animal neglect!!!!
    All the arguments above….. Well some people won’t want to accept what they see before their eyes, maybe because they have an animal that’s the same, or worse or they too have weight issues and think fat is normal. After all when you saw someone overweight years ago it was noticed now as people have grown bigger the overweight has become the new norm!!!!!! And so it will go on!!!There is enough research documentation, education and media input there should be no excuse to not know or understand now. At least just accept that obesity who ever it is, is health hazard and a drain on healthcare whether it’s our animals or us.

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