Color Myth

We are breeders to preserve the pureness of the breed, we are stewards of the breed always protecting our beloved Labrador. The goal of breeding is to improve. Responsible breeders never have, never would, never will **purposely** produce disqualifications in color that are not recognized by the AKC, nor would they knowingly advertise these disqualified colors as being a true, pure bred Labrador.

There are 3 colors of the Labrador Retriever, black, yellow (which can have an appearance of light cream to fox red) and chocolate (which can be a lighter chocolate or darker chocolate). Silver is NOT a color, Champagne is not a color (at times you may see a yellow being referred to as having a shade variation that matches what champagne, or Dom Perignon, looks like), white is not a color (this is a lightest shade variation of yellow) and Charcoal is not a color. Regardless of the catch words and buzz words that unscrupulous people (who call themselves “breeders”) are using to dupe the public into thinking the rhetoric spewed means responsible breeders are wrong and liars about their “truth,” is false. It has been argued the dilute gene causing these shades is in all Labradors rather than understanding the silver Labrador is a cross between a Weimaraner and Labrador. This argument is futile. If this were true, breeders of yesteryear, breeders of today who have been breeding for 20, 30, 40, 50 years, wonderful examples and teachers for the new breeder (both in show conformation and field work) would also have been producing this. They are not. For these same people that pretend this is a pure bred Labrador and who also say these true stewards of the breed, hundreds and thousands of people around the world, are actually producing this “color” but “cull” them out (kill them), is preposterous. Please do not fall for this scam. Please protect the Labrador Retriever which comes in three colors with different shades, black, yellow, and chocolate.

History of the Labrador Retriever by Margaret Wilson, Shadowglen Labradors

The Labrador is descended from the St. John’s dog, not a breed, but a landrace from Newfoundland, Canada. A number of St. John’s dogs were imported by sportsmen into Great Britain where the lines remained basically pure in the breeding Kennels under the dedication and care of the Earl of Malmesbury and and Duke of Buccleuch. The St. John’s dog was not a dilute dog and was the progenitor for all the modern retrieving breeds developed in Great Britain at that time, most notably the Labrador Retriever, the Golden Retriever, and the Flat Coated Retriever ( colors produced in these breeds were limited to black, liver, and yellow). Despite what some dilute supporters claim, as evidenced in meticulous record keeping, breeding and whelping logs, and descriptions of all colors, markings, etc, there was never any mention of dilutes appearing in any of the Retriever breeds based on the St. John’s dog.

The Labrador Retriever was officially recognized and registered first in the country where it was developed, Great Britain, in 1903. The predominant color was ( as it remains today) black, but chocolates and yellows have always been legitimately in the breed. Subsequently, the Labrador Retriever was imported into North America and gained recognition and registration by the AKC in 1917. The rest of the world soon followed suit and Labradors have since grown in popularity from 23 dogs in the USA in 1928 to 40 Labs registered in 1931, and went on to become the number one dog in AKC registrations for over the past 2 decades. The Labrador has become the world’s most popular breed, described by every breed standard and registry in virtually identical terms throughout the world. There is no Labrador Breed standard which describes any color other than Black, Yellow, and Chocolate.

It was not until 1985 that the AKC registered the first “Silver”, which began the incestuous practice of inbreeding siblings, parents and offspring, etc. by an individual to “establish” dilutes. The dilute lines can all be traced back through pedigree information to two particular dogs from a kennel in the midwest during the latter part of the 20th century. The overwhelming consensus among breed experts from legitimate Labrador Clubs, the position of these accredited Labrador clubs and a growing number of recognized purebred dog registries, is that the dilutes are the result of a cross breeding, with Weimaraner being the source of the dilute allele, and are therefore not registerable in a purebred registry

It was not until 2006 that the first “silver” was born in Great Britain, from dilute parents imported from the United States. There was no “silver” born in Australia until the same time, also from dilute parents imported from the United States. There have been no dilutes of any kind born anywhere else in the world until within the past decade and that was to dilute parents imported from the United States. Any reference to writings which addresses shades or coloring which the dilute supporters claim describes a dilute dog, have been taken out of context, misquoted or otherwise misapplied to create an incorrect scenario which did not exist.

The Newfoundland dog during the days of the St. John’s dog was not the contemporary breed as we recognize it. The Newfoundland is a distinctly Canadian breed and yet even today, the Newfoundland in Canada remains true to its origins and only comes in two colors, Black, and Landseer, neither of which is dilute. The dilute allele was likely introduced into the Canadian Newfoundland after it was exported to Europe and crossed with mastiff breeds after the Labrador was already established as an individual breed. Since the first Chesapeake Bay Retriever ( a bitch) was imported to Great Britain by Dr. Helen Inglesby in the 1930’s, this is also evidence debunking the claim that the Labrador was developed by crossing the Newfoundland with the Chesapeake Bay Retriever, and is patently not accurate.

Despite multiple references to “research” gleaned from a particular silver breeder site, none of the writings on that site are credible since most of them are grossly inaccurate or outright false. In addition to erroneous information on breed purity, the genetics involved in producing dilute carriers and dilute affecteds, another example is the claim that dilute labradors are accepted and recognized by most clubs and registries. The author includes the ANKC, the CKC, the UKC, the NKC, the FCI, and the NZKC, which, in fact, prohibit the registration and breeding of dilutes. Any dog falsely registered as a recognized and accepted color in many of these registries will have the registrations revoked, progeny will be revoked, the dog will not be exportable or breedable, etc.

The bottom line is that with the presence of so much incorrect information being cited as “fact” any of the information being put forth by dilute promoters needs to be treated with extreme prejudice and skepticism. We have all seen in the outright lies which come so vehemently from the dilute supporters. Why anyone would blindly believe anything else coming from them defies wisdom and logic.

There was never any mention in the meticulous and exhaustive breeding records, whelping logs, descriptions of markings colors, etc., and stud books kept by gentlemen of unimpeachable integrity of any dog being produced that was, in fact or in fantasy, a dilute. Not in ANY of the retriever breeds developed from the St. John’s dog during that time in Great Britain. The dilute allele was introduced after the establishment of the recognized breeds. In the case of the Labrador this introduction occurred in the USA during the latter part of the 20th century. Chocolates and yellows, regardless of their popularity, and unlike the dilutes, have always been recognized as legitimate Labrador Retrievers and have NEVER been a non-accepted color or a disqualification. The early days of the St.Johns dog, and the development of the Labrador Retriever breed are not recorded with enough authority to be absolutely reliable. It was not until the Duke of Buccleuch and the Earl of Malmsbury dedicated themselves to maintaining meticulous breeding and whelping logs that we have reliable records, and on these we must rely and be forever thankful.

black
Black
light-cream
Yellow: Light Cream

chocolate-lighter
Chocolate: Light
classic-yellow
Yellow: Classic

chocolate
Chocolate: Dark
fox-red
Yellow: Fox Red
(from Internet)

The AKC Labrador Standard reads as follows:

BLACK: The basic color. Black Labradors are solid black. A small white spot on the chest is permissible. Sparse white hairs in between the toes and footpads are common in some of the blacks. Some mature black Labradors will have a red or orange hue to their coats at certain times of the year. This is known as casting. Casting can occur when the Lab is shedding and the hair is dead but also can be a result of bleaching from prolonged exposure to the sun.

CHOCOLATE: Chocolate Labradors can range in shade from a light to very dark chocolate color. A small white spot on the chest is permissible. Eye color on chocolates should range from a hazel to a brown.

YELLOW: Yellow Labradors can range in shade from a very light cream all the way to a fox red color with various darker shading along the ears, top line, tail and hocks. A small white spot on the chest is permissible, however will not be noticeable in the lighter shades of yellow. Yellow Labradors should have black pigment on the nose, lips and eye rims with the exception of newborn yellow as they are born without pigment but within the first few days of life, the black pigment will begin to come in. Some yellows because of the chocolate gene factor may have no black pigment. Although this is not for the show ring, as a wonderful pet puppy it just does not matter. This puppy is called a “Dudley.” The black pigment on the nose of a Labrador can fade in the winter to a brown or pink color. This is referred to as “snow nose.” This is different than “no black pigment” and returns when the weather warms.

There are so many scams out in the world today;  people who are looking to do nothing but make a buck off of something rare. It is so easy for anyone to just turn on their computer, do a search for Labradors and get sucked right into the web sites that say “rare” or “dilute gene” or “we are the first to produce x color champions, it’s rather scary. Make no mistake, there are 3 colors and 3 colors ONLY of the Labrador. The “Silver,” “White,” “Champagne,” and “Charcoal” words are the be-all-end-all words these days that attract the person that is not educated on this breed.

People have the lingo down so beautifully now. They know exactly what to say, what to print, when to say it, and who to say it to, in order to make the sale. Those that produce “Silver” Labradors hide behind the dilute gene which does not even exist and are able to get away with this because the AKC will register them under the color “chocolate.” Regardless of anything anyone says or prints, there is one way to know what is accepted and what is not, what is real and what is not. Go to an AKC or FCI dog show. You will never, ever see a Silver Labrador allowed because the color is not even real, nor is it part of Labrador Standard.

Below are actual standards from all over the world. One does not need to be fooled by the wolf in sheep’s clothing out there. One needs only to do their homework, paying attention what the legitimate Labrador clubs and registries around the world have in their “bibles.” I hope the following will help make you more aware of the stance on the fake Silver and White Labrador Retriever …

American Kennel Club – The Labrador Retriever

The gentle, intelligent and family-friendly Labrador Retriever from Canada continues to be the most popular breed in the United States, according to AKC® registration statistics. This versatile hunting breed comes in three colors – yellow, black and chocolate – and because of his aptitude to please his master they excel as guide dogs for the blind, as part of search-and-rescue teams or in narcotics detection with law enforcement.

The AKC Breed Standard

Color: The Labrador Retriever coat colors are black, yellow and chocolate. Any other color or a combination of colors is a disqualification. A small white spot on the chest is permissible, but not desirable. White hairs from aging or scarring are not to be misinterpreted as brindling. Black–Blacks are all black. A black with brindle markings or a black with tan markings is a disqualification. Yellow–Yellows may range in color from fox-red to light cream, with variations in shading on the ears, back, and under parts of the dog. Chocolate–Chocolates can vary in shade from light to dark chocolate. Chocolate with brindle or tan markings is a disqualification. Disqualifications: Any other color or a combination of colors other than black, yellow or chocolate as described in the Standard.

The AKC Parent Club of the Labrador Retriever – position on Silvers

SILVER coat color in LABRADORS—Official Statement

There is no genetic basis for the silver gene in Labradors. The silver color is a disqualification under the Standard for the breed. The LRC does not recognize, accept or condone the sale or advertising of any Labrador as a silver Labrador. The Club opposes the practice of registering silver as chocolate.

Labrador Retriever Club, Inc.:

Is opposed to cross-breeding of dogs and is particularly opposed to the deliberate crossing of Labrador Retrievers with any other breed. These crossbreeds are a deliberate attempt to mislead the public with the idea that there is an advantage to these designer dogs. The crossbred dogs are prone to all of the genetic disease of both breeds and offer none of the advantages that owning a purebred dog has to offer.

The Canadian Kennel Club Breed Standard

  • Black: All black with a small white spot on chest permissible. Eyes to be of medium size, expressing intelligence and good temper, preferably brown or hazel. although black or yellow is permissible.
  • Yellows: Yellow may vary in color from fox-red to light cream with variations in the shading of the coat on ears, the under parts of the dog or beneath the tail. A small white spot on chest is permissible. Eye coloring and expression should be the same as that of the blacks, with black or dark brown eye rims. The nose should also be black or dark brown, although ‘fading’ to pink in winter weather is not serious.
  • Chocolates: Shades ranging from light sedge to chocolate. A small white spot on chest is permissible. Eyes to be light brown to clear yellow. Nose and eye rim pigmentation dark brown or liver colored. ‘Fading’ to pink in winter weather not serious.

The Labrador Retriever Club of Canada position on Silver: “Silvers are not a breed standard recognized color for the Labrador Retriever.”

The British Breed Standard: Wholly black, yellow or liver/chocolate. Yellows range from light cream to red fox. Small white spot on chest permissible.

FCI Breed Standard: Wholly black, yellow or liver/chocolate. Yellows range from light cream to red fox. Small white spot on chest permissible.

Australian Breed Standard: Wholly black, yellow or liver/chocolate. Yellows range from light cream to red fox. Small white spot on chest permissible.

The National Labrador Retriever Council of Australia Position on Silver.

No to Silver Labradors