Breed Standard

Last updated January 2009

A Breed Standard is the guideline which describes the ideal characteristics, temperament and appearance including the correct colour of a breed and ensures that the breed is fit for function. Absolute soundness is essential. Breeders and judges should at all times be careful to avoid obvious conditions or exaggerations which would be detrimental in any way to the health, welfare or soundness of this breed. From time to time certain conditions or exaggerations may be considered to have the potential to affect dogs in some breeds adversely, and judges and breeders are requested to refer to the Breed Watch section of the Kennel Club website here for details of any such current issues. If a feature or quality is desirable it should only be present in the right measure. However if a dog possesses a feature, characteristic or colour described as undesirable or highly undesirable it is strongly recommended that it should not be rewarded in the show ring.

General Appearance

Strong, sturdy working dog, active, alert, well boned, of striking colour.


A multi-purpose farm dog capable of draught work. A kind and devoted family dog. Slow to mature.


Self-confident, good-natured, friendly and fearless. Aggressiveness not to be tolerated.

Head and Skull

Strong with flat skull, very slight furrow, well defined stop; strong straight muzzle. Lips slightly developed.


Dark brown, almond-shaped, well fitting eyelids.


Medium-sized; set high, triangular-shaped, lying flat in repose, when alert brought slightly forward and raised at base.


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


Strong, muscular and medium length.


Shoulders long, strong and sloping, with upper arm forming a distinct angle, flat lying, well muscled. Forelegs straight from all sides. Pasterns flexing slightly.


Compact rather than long. Height to length 9:10. Broad chest, good depth of brisket reaching at least to elbow. Well ribbed; strong loins. Firm, straight back. Rump smoothly rounded.


Broad, strong and well muscled. Stifles well bent. Hock strong, well let down and turning neither in nor out.


Short, round and compact.


Bushy, reaching just below hock. Raised when alert or moving but never curled or carried over back.


Stride reaching out well in front, following well through behind, balanced stride in all gaits.


Soft, silky with bright natural sheen, long, slightly wavy but should not curl when mature.


Jet black, with rich reddish-brown on cheeks, over eyes, on all four legs and on chest. Slight to medium-sized symmetrical white head marking (blaze) and white chest marking (cross) are essential. Preferred but not essential, white paws, white not reaching higher than pastern, white tip to tail. A few white hairs at nape of neck, and white anal patch undesirable but tolerated.


Height: dogs: 64-70 cms (25-271/2 ins); bitches: 58-66 cms (23-26 ins).


Any departure from the foregoing points should be considered a fault and the seriousness with which the fault should be regarded should be in exact proportion to its degree and its effect upon the health and welfare of the dog and on the dog’s ability to perform its traditional work.


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

*Note for prospective puppy buyers

Size – the Kennel Club Breed Standard is a guide and description of the ideal for the breed; the Size as described does not imply that a dog will match the measurements given (height or weight). A dog might be larger or smaller than the Size measurements stated in the Breed Standard.

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