Ask AKC with Lisa Peterson
October 2007

Dear Lisa: Can you please tell me the low and high weight of a male Golden Retriever that is 2 1/2 years old? What should his weight be? – Tipping the Scales

Dear Tipping: According to the Golden Retriever Club of America, which publishes the breed standard (a written document which describes an ideal adult specimen) males should be 23-24 inches in height at withers and weigh between 65-75 pounds.

To be sure your dog is not overweight, there is a more hands-on approach to knowing if your dog is too fat or not. There are two ways to determine if Fido is fit. First, have someone stand your dog in a profile view, then look at him from the side, or if you are alone, stand him in front of a mirror. Then look to the dog’s loin (the indented waist area just past the ribcage before the hips). Does that area seem to “tuck up” towards the rear of the dog or can you run an imaginary straight line along the bottom of your dog’s belly from chest to hind end. If there is no visible “waistline” then your dog is overweight.

Take the Rib Cage Test
You can get the same view of the loin from above. Looking down over your dog’s back is there a discernable indentation? A place where you can place your hands? Or does your dog look like a sausage, all bloated and round with nowhere for your hands to fit nicely behind the rib cage?

And speaking of rib cages, my favorite weight check is what I call the rib cage test. Gently place you fingers on your dog’s side and run your hand from front to back along the rib cage, pressing gently. If you can feel your dog’s ribs then he is in good weight, if you need to press down hard or cannot feel anything but flab between your hand and the dog’s bones, its time to take you pet for some much needed exercise. Working in conjunction with your veterinarian, a sensible weight loss program for your pet with will add years to his life and reduce the risk of injury to his bones.

Highs and Lows
To determine if your dog is underweight, you would easily see his protruding ribs and feel the deep grooves between them with your hand. His hip bones become pronounced as well. But it does depend on the breed, since some sight hounds like Greyhounds, Salukis and Ibzian Hounds, are naturally on the trim side with a hint of rib cage showing.

Dear Lisa: I would like to get a dog, however my mom is allergic to the dander, so I am trying to find a breed that is more "hypoallergenic" so she doesn't have a reaction when she visits. I know that no dog is 100% hypoallergenic, but after looking through the AKC's website, I'm seeing a lot of small breeds that come up as being hypoallergenic. Are there any larger dogs, more specifically hunting-type dogs that would be less likely to cause an allergic reaction?– Searching for Sneeze-Free Breeds

Dear Hunting: I see you’ve done your homework on the AKC web site and found the information on the hypoallergenic breeds. My two choices for larger hunting/working dogs from the list would be the Standard Poodle and the Portuguese Water Dog.

Portuguese Water Dog
This breed from the Working Group was nearly extinct in the 1970s. Originally he once worked with fisherman along Portugal's coast herding fish into the nets and retrieving lost tackle. These hardy dogs also swam from ship to ship, or ship to shore as a courier.

According to the breed description it’s a “calm, intelligent breed of fine temperament, rugged and robust, with a pro-fuse non-allergenic, non-shedding, waterproof coat and webbed feet, he is an ideal outdoor dog, capable of limitless work.” Go to the Portuguese Water Dog Club of America web site to find an event or breeder in your area to learn more about this fascinating breed including all the wonderful water work they excel at.

Standard Poodle
Another favorite of mine off this list would be the Standard Poodle. The Standard variety of this breed (the other varieties being the Miniature and Toy) is more than 15 inches tall at the top of the shoulders. Most Standards I know are between 21 and 27 inches tall, so you will get a good-sized dog with the Standard.

At the Poodle Club of America web site, there is a fabulous picture of the most recent dogs that passed their AKC hunt tests at the National Specialty, which goes to show you what a great hunting dog the Poodle is. Hunting Tests evaluate a dog's hunting abilities and Standard Poodles are eligible for AKC retriever hunting tests.

I’m sure between these two breeds you will find an active companion for you and a dog your Mom can breathe easy about.

Lisa Peterson, a long-time owner/breeder/handler of Norwegian Elkhounds, is the AKC Director of Club Communications. If you have a question, send it to Lisa at and she may select it to be answered here in Ask AKC.

© 2007 The American Kennel Club, Inc.