The champagne Lab is a yellow Labrador Retriever with two copies of the color dilution gene. When a dog has a copy of the dilute gene from each parent then their coat will have a reduced tone, giving it a pale hue that makes it look far closer to champagne than the usual Labrador golden yellow.
Interesting this dilute gene although very popular in appearance is the focus of a lot of scepticism. Many Labrador breeders believe it was introduced to the breed by outcrossing with another breed that has dilute fur, like the silver Weimaraner. However, it is possible for a rare recessive gene to go unnoticed for generations before it meets its match and becomes visible.
Champagne Labrador Characteristics
Your champagne Lab will be the same build, height and weight as the average yellow Lab. Their size will vary depending upon whether they are from working or show lines, but they tend to be about 60lbs as adults.
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.
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.
Champagne Lab Coat Color Genetics
The champagne Lab is a diluted or muted 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. And there is a slim chance that this gene could have been caused by spontaneous mutation.
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.
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.
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.
Are Champagne Lab’s Healthy?
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
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
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