Last updated February 2017

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 information related to this breed 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 highly undesirable, it must not be rewarded in the show ring.

General appearance

Large, powerful, alert, with much substance and heavy bone.


Large, broad head, with relatively small eyes and erect ears carried forward in line with back of neck; large, curled tail, in balance with head.


Dignified, courageous, aloof; tends to show dominance over other dogs, though the trait is not encouraged.

Head and skull

Large, in balance with body, skull flat, forehead broad, defined stop and clear furrow. Head forms blunt triangle when viewed from above, free from wrinkle. Muzzle broad and strong, cheeks well developed. Nose large and black, bridge straight. Lips tight and black. In white dogs flesh colour pigmentation is permissible on nose and lips. Length from nose to stop is to length from stop to occiput as 2 is to 3.


Relatively small, almond-shaped, clean, moderately set apart and dark brown. Eye rims dark and tight.


Relatively small, thick, triangular, not low set, carried forward in line with the back of the neck when viewed in profile. Moderately set apart, slightly rounded at tips.


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


Thick and muscular, comparatively short, widening gradually toward shoulders. Pronounced crest blends with back of skull.


Shoulders strong and powerful, moderately laid back. Elbows very tight. Forelegs well boned and straight when viewed from front. Pasterns inclining at approximately 15 degrees.


Longer than high, as 10 is to 9 in males, 11 to 9 in bitches. Chest wide and deep, depth of brisket is one-half height of dog at shoulder. Well-developed forechest. Level back, firmly muscled loin, moderate tuck up. Skin pliant but not loose.


Strong and muscular, with moderate angulation. Well-developed thighs, strong hocks, well let down turning neither in nor out.


Thick, well knuckled, very tight, turning neither in nor out. Pads hard. Nails hard.


Large and full, set high, carried over back, full or double curl, always dipping to or below level of back. On a three-quarter curl tail, tip dips down flank. Root large and strong. Hair coarse, straight and full with no appearance of a plume. Sickle or uncurled tail highly undesirable.


Vigorous, powerful and fluent with strides of moderate length. Back remains firm and level. Hindlegs move in line with front legs, whilst gaiting may single track.


Outer coat coarse, straight, and standing off body. Undercoat soft and dense. Coat at withers and rump is approximately 5 cms (2 ins), slightly longer than on rest of body more profuse on tail. No indication of ruff or feathering.


Any colour, except merle, including white brindle or pinto. Colours are brilliant and clear. Markings are well defined with or without mask or blaze.


Height at withers: dogs: 66-71 cms (26-28 ins); bitches: 61-66 cms (24-26 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.