The emperor goose is a waterfowl species. The emperor goose has a stout blue-gray body, with spots of black and white, which cause it to have a “scaled appearance”. Its head and the back of its neck are white and tinged with amber-yellow. The goose is also characterized by a black chin and throat, a white tail, a pink bill, which is tipped with white, and yellow-orange legs and feet.
Goslings (i.e. young shortly after hatching) are grayish-white colored; unlike adults, their bill is black. Goslings are also distinguished from adults by having gray, brown, or black feet and an area of white surrounding the bill for the first three weeks after hatching. Juveniles are mostly gray colored, with a small amount of white on their feathers. Younger juveniles have a dark head and neck, with their head being dusty-colored with patches of white. However, after October, their head and upper neck turn to mostly white, although they still have scattered darker feathers. By the first winter, juveniles have the same coloring and features as adults.
Adult males grow to a total length of 66–71 cm and females 65–70 cm. The goose has a wingspan of 119 cm. Because of its short wings, it flies slowly, requiring quick strokes. Males weigh between 2-3 kg. They have a mean weight of 2.4 kilograms, while females have a mean weight of 2 kilograms. It has a heavy body and short neck compared to other geese.