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Silver Lab Retrievers, the 411

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So, why all the controversy over the color of the coat of this Lab Retriever? With the recent unexpected birth of our Silver Lab Retriever Puppies (Silver Lab Puppies here) we have been bombarded with questions regarding the validity of this color of Lab being eligible for registration with the Canadian Kennel Club (CKC). Not having dealt with the topic closely previously, we had a general understanding of where this silver coat color comes from and the controversy surrounding it. We have taken some time to review the literature surrounding this issue and present it here for you.

When a purebred Lab Retriever is registered with the CKC or maybe the AKC (American Kennel Club) that dog is evaluated based on the “Breed Standards.” Breed standards are criteria that outline what a perfect breed looks like and the dog shows are evaluations by experts of how closely your dog comes to meeting the criteria of the breed standard. The CKC criteria for Labrador Retriever color are ” Color: Wholly black, yellow or chocolate. Small white spot on chest permissible. Yellows range from light cream to fox red with variations in the shadings on ears, under parts, hocks, and down the back. Chocolates range from light sedge to dark chocolate. Pigmentation: Black in blacks and yellows; brown or liver in chocolates. Pigmentation fading to a lighter shade in yellows not to be penalized. ” ( Sporting Dog Document Group 1)

So, all three recognized colors of Labs can carry one “d” or “dilute” gene and their standard black, yellow or chocolate colored coats are unaffected. “The dilution factor was not originally a visible part of the genetics of Labrador Retrievers, and therefore, controversy surrounds the topic” ( It is speculated that around the 1940’s a dilute breed such as the  Weimaraner’s genetics were mixed into the gene pool. There is further speculation that the genes were hidden until heavy line breeding in the 1970’s caused this coat color to appear. The color is a result of both parents carrying a “dilute” gene. In a chocolate lab retriever with a silver coat both parents would have carried the dilute gene causing the chocolate coat to fade to a silver metallic color. So, Silver Labrador Retrievers are actually Chocolate Lab Retrievers whose coats have been diluted to their silver color.

All three recognized colors of Labs can carry one “d” or “dilute” gene and their standard black, yellow or chocolate color coats are unaffected. It is when both parents pass on the dilute gene that their offspring’s coat color is diluted. So the entire controversy is due to the pup having one more d gene causing the dilution of their coat color.

Having read through this I feel the confusion is this. The CKC does not recognize a Silver Lab Retriever because a gene for the color Silver doesn’t exist. A Silver Lab is a Chocolate Lab whose coat color has been diluted. Evidence of this is clear many times in the chocolate pigment in a Silver Lab’s nose. The genetics for color of the Silver Lab are diluted chocolate, and therefore are registered as Chocolate Labs, one of the three recognized colors of Purebred Labrador Retrievers. If a Silver Lab was to enter a dog show, it would be penalized for its dilute coat color being outside the breed standard.

In the end, the color of coat of any dog should not make a difference unless you plan to show it. Rather it should be evaluated based on it’s health, intelligence and temperament. Love your dog!

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