The champagne Labrador is the topic of debate and controversy across the internet. Champagne is a pale shade of yellow Labrador. This coat color is produced when a yellow Lab inherits a coat dilution gene from both of its parents. It is unknown if this gene has always been dormant in Labradors, or if the dilute coat is the result of mixed breeding many years ago.
Let’s take a closer look at the champagne Labrador, and what you need to know if you’re choosing a champagne Lab puppy.
Meet the Champagne Lab
We’re answering lots of questions in this guide, so just click the links below if you want answers to something specific!
- Frequently Asked Questions
- Breed At A Glance
- Champagne Lab Characteristics
- History and Origins
- Labrador Coat Color and Genetics
- Champagne Labrador Debate
- Are Champagne Labradors Rare?
- Champagne Lab Price
- How Big Are Champagne Labradors?
- Training and Temperament
- Are Champagne Labs Good Family Dogs?
- Champagne Lab Health
- Puppy Buying Tips
- Pros and Cons of Champagne Lab
Champagne Lab FAQs
- What causes the champagne coat?
- Are champagne Labradors controversial?
- How much do champagne Lab puppies cost?
- How do you find a champagne Lab puppy?
Breed at a Glance
- Popularity: The Labrador breed is the most popular in the USA
- Purpose: Hunting Companion and Retriever
- Weight: 65 – 80 pounds
- Temperament: Friendly, enthusiastic, active
Champagne Labrador Characteristics
The champagne Lab is very similar to any other Labrador. But, there’s one striking difference… Its coat color! The champagne Lab has a very pale yellow coat that sets them apart from standard Labs.
This pale coat is called ‘dilute’. It actually also appears in both brown and black Labs, creating silver Labs and charcoal Labs. The dilute gene will also affect your Lab’s nose color. So, a champagne Labrador will have a lighter nose than a standard yellow Lab. The discovery of this gene in Labrador Retrievers has been quite recent. But, it has been present in other breeds for a much longer time.
Where Do Champagne Labradors Come From?
There is quite a good deal of debate over the origins of the champagne coat color in Labradors. Many people believe that this color is naturally occurring in the Labrador breed, and that champagne Labs are still Labrador through and through. However, others believe that the dilute gene that causes this color was introduced by another breed. The most commonly accused culprit being the Weimaraner.
Either way, champagne Labradors have started to show up increasingly throughout the last century. They have been most common in America. And, many of them have lineage histories going back several generations, showing they are purebred Labs.
History of the Breed
We will look at this debate in more detail in a moment. But first, let’s find out more about the Labrador breed as a whole. This dog started out working alongside people in Canada. It was used to help local fishermen catch fish. But, it was soon brought across to Britain by visiting noblemen. Once in Britain, breeders worked on the breed to standardise it, and create the Labrador we know and love today.
Labrador Coat Color and Genetics
The standard Labrador coat comes in three colors: black, brown, and yellow. However, each of these colors has a spectrum of shades. Some brown coats may be darker than others, and so on.
The champagne coat color is a diluted version of the yellow coat. The gene that controls coat color is the ‘D’ gene. To get a dilute version, the gene must be recessive (d). A puppy won’t have a dilute coat unless it inherits the recessive d gene from both parents.
A Closer Look
Genes are made up of pairs of alleles. Your dog will receive an allele from each parent to form a gene. So, let’s look at the allele combinations possible to cause coat colors.
- DD – A yellow Labrador
- Dd – A yellow Labrador
- or dd – A champagne Labrador
How did the Dilute Gene get into Labradors?
There are two main ways that the dilute gene could have found its way into the modern Labrador. These are: mixed breeding and hidden genes. There is a slim chance that this gene could have been caused by spontaneous mutation. But this theory is less popular than the two mentioned above.
The origins of this coat color and gene have sparked a great deal of debate amongst Labrador lovers. If you look at any forum post about champagne Labs or silver Labs, you’ll find people with quite strong views either way. So let’s take a look at the two main standpoints.
Champagne Labs are the Result of Mixed Breeds
Many people believe that the dilute gene in Labradors is the result of mixed breeding. Some people have suggested the Labrador was bred with breeds like the Weimaraner to introduce the dilute gene. This is an especially popular theory for the silver Lab.
Introducing a new color to the Labrador Retriever breed could have provided breeders with more money for ‘rare colors’. Or, it could have had more innocent motives, just as a bit of fun or curiosity. However, genetic testing on silver Labs has failed to show a link to Weimaraner dogs. So, this theory has recently lost some credibility.
Champagne Labs are the Result of Hidden Genes
The other side of the debate focuses on hidden genes that have always been present in Labradors. This has been seen in the inheritance of rare diseases, but is also possible with coat color. In fact, even the ‘chocolate’, or brown, coat color for Labs is recessive. So, many breeders in the past would breed chocolate Labradors together to create brown puppies. Many people suggest this is also the case for dilute Labradors. That champagne Labradors only came about when the ever-present dilute gene had the chance to show itself.
A Third Option
A final option that we should take note of is the fact that this gene could have been introduced before the Labrador Retriever was officially recognised by the Kennel Club, or AKC. Labradors were first registered with the AKC in 1917. So, it’s very possible that Labradors were being outcrossed with other breeds before then. This could have resulted in a dilute gene being inherited before Labrador pedigree registers were closed.
Are Champagne Labradors Rare?
Because a puppy needs to inherit two recessive alleles in order to have a dilute coat color, champagne color Labs are naturally less common than darker shades of yellow. But, any two Labs that have the recessive gene can produce a champagne Labrador puppy.
Many kennel clubs won’t recognise dilute colors in Labradors. So, this can cause champagne Lab puppies to seem more uncommon or rare. Some disreputable breeders will also market their puppies as ‘rare’ in order to sell them for a higher price. So, it’s important to do your research on any breeder. No matter how desperate you are to get a champagne Lab puppy, choosing a healthy dog from a reputable breeder is more important.
Champagne Lab Price
Champagne Labrador puppies will probably cost more than a standard Lab puppy. This is partly because of their ‘rare’ reputation. These puppies are likely to cost a minimum of $1000. However, you may see adverts where champagne puppies cost $2000 or even $3000.
It is important to remember that price doesn’t equal reputation or good breeding. You need to do plenty of research, and go to your breeder with lots of questions. Make sure your breeder is reputable, and the puppies healthy before spending your money!
Are Champagne Labradors Overpriced?
Some people believe that the prices above are simply too much for a puppy! But, many people are willing to spend a little more to get a ‘unique’ dog. Disreputable breeders may put their prices up to make the most of new trends. For example, breeding Poodle mixes has become very popular. You’ve probably seen hundreds of ads for Labradoodle puppies selling for thousands of dollars! No matter what the price, make sure you are going to a reputable breeder if you are buying a champagne Labrador puppy.
How Big Are Champagne Labs?
Champagne Labradors will be the same size as other colors of Labrador. The only thing that makes them different is their coloring. Labrador Retrievers are medium sized dogs. They will grow to be between 21.5 and 24.5 inches tall as an adult. And, they will most likely weigh from 55 to 80 pounds. Males are generally larger than females. But, this breed is prone to obesity. So, make sure to check your champagne Lab is a healthy size by attending regular check ups at the vet.
Champagne Labrador Training and Temperament
Labradors are known for having a lovable temperament. So, you can expect your champagne Labrador to be friendly, affectionate, and active. Their temperaments make them ideal for a family who leads an active lifestyle. And, it also makes training much easier.
Champagne Labrador puppies will respond well to positive reinforcement training. They are very easily trained, which is why they are popular in hunting roles and as working dogs. Labradors are commonly found as assistance dogs, and even military dogs, thanks to their great temperament and ease of training.
Are Champagne Labs Good Family Dogs?
Labradors are a social breed, so if you’re an active family that is looking to spend lots of time with a new dog, a champagne Lab will fit in well. They can suffer from separation anxiety. So, it’s important to make sure you have enough time to dedicate to a champagne Labrador.
Labradors love to spend lots of time outdoors, running around, and even swimming! So, they will suit an active family, or someone looking to get a sporting or hunting dog. Labrador puppies can be quite a handful for some families. They do tend to explore with their mouths, and some people can think they have an aggressive puppy. But, they will calm down after a few months. If you want to avoid this stage of life, you should consider adopting an older champagne Lab.
Champagne Labrador Health
Like any other dog, the champagne Labrador does suffer from some health problems. They are generally healthy, but they may be prone to hip and elbow dysplasia, degenerative joint disease, bloat, over-eating, and cancer. Unfortunately, all Labs are at risk of these issues, no matter what their color. However, dilute Labradors, like the champagne Lab, are also at risk of some coat-related problems.
Color Dilution Alopecia
Labs who have inherited the dilute color gene are at risk of developing an issue called color dilution alopecia. This is a noninflammatory type of hair loss found in dogs with the dilute gene. Hair loss often begins between 4 and 18 months of age. Plus, skin can become scaly, or even develop bacterial infections. Unfortunately there is no cure for this problem. But, treatments can help to control scaly skin and prevent infection. So, if you notice hair loss in your champagne Labrador puppy, take them to the vet.
Champagne Labrador Puppy Buying Tips
If you’ve decided you want to welcome a champagne Labrador into your home, you will need to wait until you can find a reputable breeder. Make sure you have enough space in your home, and enough time to dedicate to this social dog. Go to a breeder with a long list of questions, and ask to see where the puppies are raised, as well as to meet both parent dogs if possible.
Expect reputable breeders to ask you lots of questions too. They will want to make sure they are sending their puppies to good homes! Plus, avoid getting a puppy from puppy mills or pet stores. These places often put profits before the health of puppies and their adult dogs. Take a look at our full guide for more tips on finding a healthy puppy from a reputable breeder.
Pros and Cons of a Champagne Labrador
We’ve taken in a lot of information in this guide! So, let’s recap the pros and cons of the champagne Lab.
- Purebred enthusiasts are critical that champagne Labs may be the result of cross breeding.
- Like any Lab, it will need lots of exercise and company
- Dilute coat colors are linked with color dilution alopecia, which has no cure
- It can be hard to find a champagne Labrador puppy
- Champagne Lab puppies are often very expensive
- Champagne Labs will be friendly, social, and confident dogs
- Labrador Retrievers take to training well
- These dogs are relatively healthy when looked after properly
- If you’re looking for a hunting or sporting dog, Labradors are a great choice
- A Champagne Lab offers you the chance to own an unusual dog
Champagne Labrador Summary
So, what are your opinions on the champagne Lab? Are you thinking of welcoming one into your family? If you own a champagne Lab, make sure to tell us all about them in the comments!
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References and Resources
- Jae-Hoon, K. (et al), ‘Color-Dilution Alopecia in Dogs’, Journal of Veterinary Science (2005)
- Institute of Canine Biology, ‘What’s in the Gene Pool?’
- Drogemuller, C. (et al), ‘A Noncoding Melanophilin Gene (MLPH) SNP at the Splice Donor of Exon 1 Represents a Candidate Causal Mutation for Coat Color Dilution in Dogs’ (2007)
- Buzhardt, L. ‘Genetics Basics – Coat Color Genetics in Dogs’, VCA (2016)
- McGreevy, P. (et al), ‘Labrador Retrievers Under Primary Veterinary Care in the UK: Demography, Mortality, and Disorders’, Canine Genetics and Epidemiology (2018)
- ’Best Labrador Color: Does Coat Make a Difference?’ The Field (2016)
- O’Smith, F. ‘The Issue of the Silver Labrador’, Labrador Retriever Club Inc, Genetics Committee.
- ‘Dilute Coat Color D-Locus and New D2 Locus’, Animal Genetics
- ‘Dilution, D Series’, Dog Genetics
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