A blue Labrador is more commonly known as a silver Labrador. This coloring is quite controversial, as it does not comply with the Labrador’s breed standard. It is caused by dilute genes that reduce the pigmentation in a chocolate Lab, giving their fur a silvery-blue appearance. Some Labrador enthusiasts argue against breeding silver blue Labs, as they believe this coloring is the result of mixed breeding, somewhere in the Labrador line. But, for others, these Labs make wonderful companions!
Do Blue Labrador Retrievers Exist?
According to the Labrador’s breed standard, the dog can come in three acceptable colors – black, chocolate, and yellow. Of course, there are different shades of pigmentation among this, but your chocolate Labs will always be brown in appearance. So according to the breed standard, a blue Lab does not exist.
However, in all dog breeds, we can see individuals that don’t quite fit into the breed standard, through their coloring, size, and other traits. Labradors can inherit certain genes that will turn a chocolate coat into a silver (or blue) color. Since the genes required are recessive, and many breeders will avoid breeding silver Labs, this coloring is quite uncommon. And, some people suggest these dogs are not purebred Labs at all. But, it is possible to see Labs with silver or blue coloring.
Blue Labrador Genetics
All coat colors in dogs come from two base pigments – eumelanin (black) and pheomelanin (red). For brown fur, Labradors must receive two copies of the recessive b gene (bb). However, for this coloring to be further transformed to a silver, Labs need to inherit another recessive gene at the dilute (D) locus.
Labs must receive two recessive d genes to have a silver or blue coat. This means they must receive one from each parent. If they only receive one copy, they will have a brown coat. And, since recessive genes can be carried over generations without showing, blue Labradors can be a complete surprise in some litters.
What Does a Blue Labrador Look Like?
A blue Labrador will have silvery grey fur. Blue is another word commonly used to describe silver or grey dogs. Blue Labs are more commonly called silver. But, in every aspect other than their fur color, they will look like a Labrador – provided they are not a mixed breed.
So, they will measure somewhere between 21.5 and 24.5 inches tall, weighing between 55 and 80 lbs. Females tend to be smaller than males. They will have short, dense fur made up of two layers, an otter tail, and floppy ears.
Dilute coloring is also linked to certain forms of alopecia. So, your blue Labrador may have patches of thinning fur, or patches of no fur at all.
Are Blue Labradors Purebred?
Silver or blue Labradors are quite controversial to many breed enthusiasts. Some claim that it is a natural trait in the breed that stems from early standardization of the Labrador. In fact, many silver Labs have papers documenting their purebred ancestry which goes back over many generations. Dilute coloring can also impact black and yellow fur, turning it to lavender and champagne.
Others suggest that it can only be the result of mixed breeding. For example, introducing another breed who has blue fur, like the Weimaraner.
One thing that’s certain is that some disreputable breeders exist who will try to sell mixed breed Labs as purebred silver Labs. This is because they can market the fur color as “rare” and add a hefty price tag. So, whilst purebred Labs can have dilute coloring, it’s important to choose a reputable breeder. This should be a priority over the color of your dog, as a good breeder will focus on health and good care above all else.
Can Blue Labradors Make Good Pets?
Labradors are energetic, large dogs. They need daily exercise, training and socialization from a young age, and plenty of company. These dogs are very people-oriented, so don’t do well when left alone for long periods. Doing so can result in unwanted behaviors. Equally, not providing enough physical exercise and mental stimulation can result in boredom and its related undesirable behaviors.
Blue Labs will be prone to the same common health issues as all Labs, such as joint problems, ear infections, exercise induced collapse, and so on. But, they may also be at risk of color dilution alopecia, which can lead to thinning fur.
If the blue Labrador you choose is actually a mixed breed, their traits, care needs, and health can all differ depending on the other breed used. So, you should look up the specific mix to find out more information about their suitability.
Where Can I Find a Blue Labrador?
Some breeders may specialize in producing Labradors with dilute coat coloring. But, in many cases, a silver blue Labrador will come as a surprise. These puppies will have blue fur from the time they are born, so they will be easily distinguished from their regular chocolate siblings. Disreputable breeders may jump on this trend to try and gain a quick profit, so be wary of any breeders marketing their puppies as “rare” or “special” – especially if these puppies are being sold at a much higher price.
Blue Labradors cannot compete in shows because they do not fit the breed standard, and there are health complications that can accompany this coloring. So, good breeders will not increase the price of these puppies. In fact, some may even lower their price slightly – especially if their other puppies are of show quality.
Do plenty of research when choosing a breeder, and ask lots of questions. Make sure you see evidence of health testing, and take a look at where the mother dog and puppies are being kept. They should be a loved part of the family home, and should all look healthy. They should also be friendly and confident. Expect the best breeders to ask you plenty of questions in return, to ensure their puppies are going to the right home. They may also wish to discuss the additional issues associated with silver coloring in Labs.
Blue Labrador – A Summary
A silver or blue Labrador Retriever is a controversial dog. Though it cannot qualify for shows, it can make a good family pet, like any Labrador bred for companionship. But, this dilute coloring is linked to certain health issues. And, you may come across bad breeders trying to missell mixed puppies to make a quick profit. So, put in plenty of research before choosing a silver or blue Labrador Retriever!
Do you have a blue Lab at home? We would love to hear your thoughts about this interesting color in the comments.
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References and Resources
- Brancalion, L. (et al), ‘Canine Coat Pigmentation Genetics: A Review’, Animal Genetics (2021)
- Van Buren, S. (et al), ‘A Third MLPH Variant Causing Coat Color Dilution in Dogs’, Genes (2020)
- Hoon Kim, J. (et al), ‘Color-Dilution Alopecia in Dogs’, Journal of Veterinary Sciences (2005)
- Schmutz, S. & Berryere, T. ‘Genes Affecting Coat Color and Pattern in Domestic Dogs: A Review’, Animal Genetics (2007)
- Clements, D. (et al), ‘Dogslife: A Web-Based Longitudinal Study of Labrador Retriever Health in the UK’, BMC Veterinary Research (2013)
- Farrell, L. (et al), ‘The Challenges of Pedigree Dog Health: Approaches to Combating Inherited Disease’, Canine Medicine and Genetics (2015)
The Labrador Site Founder
Pippa Mattinson is the best selling author of The Happy Puppy Handbook, the Labrador Handbook, Choosing The Perfect Puppy, and Total Recall.
She is also the founder of the Gundog Trust and the Dogsnet Online Training Program
Pippa's online training courses were launched in 2019 and you can find the latest course dates on the Dogsnet website