Chocolate Lab – Your Guide To The Chocolate Labrador Retriever

chocolate lab - your perfect companion

The chocolate Lab is one of the world’s favorite dogs! Today we will help you to find healthy chocolate Lab puppies from good breeders. We’ll also look at how to care for your dog and raise them to be a happy, well behaved family pet. And let you know what to expect in terms of their breed traits. Focussing on intelligence, sociability, behavior, health and lifespan.

You’ll find out where chocolate Labs came from, and we’ll give you some great tips for adopting or buying your own chocolate Labrador Retriever! We’ll look at temperament and personality, and explore the myths and facts about chocolate Lab puppies of different shades and colors.  We’re going on a journey of discovery, all the way from finding a chocolate Lab puppy to caring for an elderly brown Lab!  Click the links here to jump down the page, or scroll on to find out all about the chocolate Lab:

Chocolate Lab Facts

The Chocolate Lab is a friendly, confident and loving dog. And one that has a huge appeal as a pet. But a recent study has thrown doubt as to whether this cute color is as healthy as his yellow and black Lab cousins. While it’s true that this study suggested chocolate Labs might have a shorter lifespan and be more prone to health problems, the situation isn’t as clear cut as you might imagine. And there is a lot more to the chocolate Lab than just fur-deep.

Throughout the history of the breed, a chocolate Labrador or two (sometimes referred to as liver Labradors) has appeared occasionally in litters of puppies. Way back in the last century, puppies with this then undesirable color were sometimes even simply culled at birth! Black Labs were adored, and black was the only color considered respectable for a Labrador. But fortunately these days those attitudes are well and truly behind us, and the chocolate Lab has gone from strength to strength.

Meet Rachael, my Beautiful Brown Lab

All Labradors are beautiful, of course, but brown Labradors will always hold a special place in my heart. In fact, I am unashamedly biased! You see, I am lucky enough to share my life with Rachael. A three year old female chocolate retriever from a mixture of American and English Lab lines.

Rachael is my beautiful brown lab puppy

This is Rachael as a puppy. This page is a celebration of what is for me, one of the most beautiful dogs in the world. Rachael has been a huge source of inspiration for this website, so this is a little tribute to her and a thank you for all she has taught me. We’ll hear some more about Rachael later. But first of all, we’re going to take a little trip back in time.

Where do Chocolate Labs come from?

Labrador Retrievers were recognised by the UK Kennel Club in 1903 and by the AKC in 1917. But they had been around for some years before that. The Labrador breed was developed mainly by a couple of English aristocrats in the 1800s, from dogs they had imported from North America.

Although our early Labrador Retrievers were predominantly black, some of these original dogs carried the genetic information required to produce chocolate puppies. Just as some also carried the information required to produce yellow puppies. Sadly, a hundred or more years ago, it was commonplace to ‘cull’ puppies that were not a desirable color.

Black was the ‘in’ color for labs, so this meant that mainly black dogs survived to adulthood and mainly black dogs were bred from. If mainly black dogs were bred from, you may wonder how a brown puppy was ever born! To understand that, we need to take a peep at the genes that carry the code for coat color in the Labrador retriever.

How is the Chocolate Color Inherited in Labradors?

The instructions that tell your dog what to look like, and what color to be, come packed in genes. And genes come in pairs. This is true for the gene that determines whether or not the Labrador will be brown (this gene is called b) or black (B). Every Labrador has either two genes for a black coat (BB) or two genes for a brown coat (bb) or one of each (Bb).

The color black in Labradors is dominant. That means that if a Labrador has one gene for the color brown, and one gene for the color black, the dog will be black. This is because his black gene switches off the brown one. The brown gene just sits hidden inside him doing nothing in particular, while the black gene takes control of his coat.

Labrador Chocolate Color - These chocolate labs are having great fun on the beach

What about Chocolate Labs?

The poor old brown gene only gets to be in charge if it is paired with another brown gene – like this ->(bb). So for a chocolate Lab puppy to be born, he needs to have those two chocolate genes, one is not enough. However, a black Labrador can sneakily carry a brown gene (Bb) and pass it along to his children. This is how the color brown can and did remain hidden in generation after generation of black Labradors.

Chocolate Lab Coat Changing Color

You might find as your chocolate Lab grows that their color does not stay the same. Shedding chocolate Labs can appear paler as the undercoat shows through more when deep in shed. In old age their coat can also fade, especially around their face. This isn’t caused by anything genetic or concerning, and is totally normal.

Why were Chocolate Labs not Wanted?

So if there were always brown genes in our Labrador population, there have always been occasional brown puppies. All that was required to produce some chocolate Labrador Retriever puppies was for someone to mate a black dog carrying brown (Bb) with another black dog carrying brown. And hey presto, some of this litter of puppies are brown!

And of course in the days long before DNA tests,, there was no way of knowing for sure that a black dog was carrying brown, until he had made some brown puppies. By which time it was too late!

These brown Labrador puppies were not bred from and no doubt some were quietly ‘disposed of’ without a second thought. We don’t really know why the chocolate dogs were so disliked. It seems bizarre to us now, in a world where chocolate is such a popular color in dogs. But in the early 1900s only black would do.

When did Chocolate Labs become Popular?

By the 1920s and 30s a few brown or liver Labradors as they were then called were making an appearance on the shooting field. But for some years more, brown was not widely acceptable to Labrador enthusiasts. It wasn’t until the 1960s that brown Labs began to really grow in popularity. The demand for these beautiful dogs came from ordinary home owners and they much preferred the word ‘chocolate’ to describe their new companions.

Adorable chocolate lab out in the sunshine
Chocolate Labs are loving dogs, full of warmth and enthusiasm

That preference continues today, and we still often name our brown Labs after favorite snack bars and chocolate flavored drinks! You can however still register chocolate Labradors as ‘liver’ in color.

English Chocolate Lab

English Labs are those which were bred for Shows. The first chocolate English Show Champion Labrador Retriever was Cookridge Tango in 1964. The 1960s was a turning point in the popularity of the chocolate Lab, but interest grew slowly at first.

Gradually, the public began to demand more chocolate Lab puppies, and gradually breeders began to produce them. Over the next few decades, Chocolate Labradors became increasingly popular both in the show ring and as pets. In the shooting community, where Labradors were expected to do a job of work, the preference for black continued. This continued throughout the late 1900s, and into the present day, particularly in the UK.

American Chocolate Lab

American chocolate Labradors were bred to work, and are also known as field Labradors.  The chocolate Lab has now become more established in the working community, but they are harder to find. There is a rumour going around that this is because brown Labradors are a bit stupid! But is it true? Or is the ‘Chocolate Labs are stupid’ claim, a scurrilous lie. You might also have noticed that chocolate Labs are rarely seen as seeing eye dogs. Let’s have a closer look at some of those Labrador characteristics, and find out where they come from.

This brown Labrador loves fetching his bumperChocolate Lab Characteristics

Just like you and me, every dog is a product of both his environment. As well as the genes he is born with. We have seen that many chocolate Labradors come from show Labrador lines, and these bloodlines tend to have certain characteristics in common. Characteristics that are passed along from parent to puppy.

How Big Do Chocolate Labs Get?

Chocolate Lab size varies quite a bit. Show Labradors (English) are often more heavily built, and somewhat slower and physically less agile than their field bred counterparts. Some English brown Labs may reach 80 or 90lbs without being fat or overweight. Whereas American chocolate Labs are often lighter.

My Rachael, for example, weighs less than 60lbs. Most males of her build will weigh five or ten pounds more. English chocolate Labs are also more likely to have a chunky Labrador head and thick otter tail. And while some feel that the chunkiness of the skull has been taken too far in show lines, there is no denying the beauty of a classic Labrador head.

A brown Labrador is more likely to be from these show types of bloodline and are therefore more likely to share these general characteristics. But there is more. It isn’t just body shape that is inherited.

Chocolate lab with her teddy bear. Chocolate Labradors often love to carry soft toys around

Chocolate Lab Temperament

American Labs may have a more intense retrieve drive, or urge to chase and retrieve things than their show bred cousins. They also tend to be not only physically faster and racily built, but more ‘sensitive’ and responsive to training.

American Labs are keen to please

Field bred Labs tend to be quite dependent on their handler’s approval. In short, they are desperate to please. Over many generations this biddable quality has been bred into our working Labs alongside their retrieving and hunting prowess. This has given working dogs a rather different temperament from our show stock.

Chocolate Lab Intelligence

In show dogs you may see a more robust temperament. An English chocolate Lab is often less concerned over the little ups and downs of life. It’s all a bit of fun. Nothing is taken too seriously. Many English chocolate Lab owners report that their dogs are especially playful. And I have certainly found that to be the case with Rachael. She adores soft toys and spends hours playing with her Flat Squirrel!

The more serious nature of the American chocolate Lab doesn’t necessarily mean that field bred labs are more clever. However, they may less distractible, more focused and therefore easier to train. This can certainly give the impression of a dog that is pretty smart. These dogs may also be more likely to be black.

Two old chocolate labrador retrievers

American vs English Chocolate Lab

The important thing to remember is that these differences in ‘trainability’ if you like to call them that, are minimal. English Labs are still highly intelligent, highly trainable dogs. The differences between field and show might give you the edge in competition. However, they are not going to make any difference to your basic obedience training, or your pet’s behavior.

They are also becoming increasingly irrelevant as we switch to more modern methods of training which are much better at motivating dogs to engage in the training process. Now let’s find out why working retrievers are not usually brown.

Any color as long as it’s black!

We mentioned earlier that the color black has long been favoured by the working retriever community. Experienced, working gundog enthusiasts are less likely to buy a puppy that is not from working lines, and when they do, they are more likely to choose a black dog. Unsurprisingly this means that most working lines of Labs are predominantly black.

Black is also a great color for a hunting companion. A yellow dog really stands out in the countryside, even in poor light, so even when yellow dogs became more common, they were not so popular with the hunter.  Brown dogs are better camouflaged but became more numerous much later and were embraced first by the pet and show communities.

Are Chocolate Labs Stupid?

To my knowledge, no study has ever been carried out on the differing intellectual abilities of Labrador of different colors. Everything you hear is based on personal anecdotal stories, often passed along in fun. At least to begin with! I have found my own female chocolate Labrador from mixed lines to be a lot more ‘playful’ and interested in other dogs, than my working bred Labradors generally are.

She has very intense retrieve drive, but is less naturally keen to share the outcome with anyone. She is also easily distracted and because of this she has taken me a little longer to train than my working line Labs. I’ve heard others report the same observations. But it is most unlikely that there is any distinct difference in intelligence between dogs of the same breed that happen to be a different color.

Being chocolate does not make a dog stupid

Even if there were a difference in learning ability between different colored dogs, it does not mean that one caused the other. The answer lies in the behavior and temperament of dogs from different bloodlines.

Types of chocolate Labs

The difference in trainability is in short a feature of the difference between the field bred dog and the show bred dog. Not a feature of the color of the dog. It is a coincidence that many chocolate Labradors are English in type, and many black Labs are American in type. Because of this coincidence the characteristics of the show bred Lab tend to be attributed to our brown friends. While the characteristics of the field bred Lab tend to be attributed to our black dogs.

So you can see how the myth got started. The fact is, that chocolate Labs from working lines are just as easy to train as black Labs from working lines. But you are less likely to meet a chocolate Lab from working lines at the moment. But rest assured, your chocolate friend is not stupid. With modern training methods you can easily teach him to be a well behaved and obedient dog.

Chocolate Labrador Shades

Unlike our yellow Labradors – which come in a wide range of shades, the color chocolate is pretty consistent in puppyhood. Most chocolate Labs are quite similar in color. The color of your adult chocolate Labrador Retriever boy or girl’s coat will however vary depending on whether the coat is newly grown after a moult, or is about to shed. As the old hair dies it starts to lose some of its color, and the dead hair is much paler than the glossy new coat that will soon appear.

And though some chocolate Labs are darker than others, even when taking the stage of moult into account, variations between individuals are fairly small, with one very contentious exception. The Silver Labrador.

An adorable pile of chocolate Lab puppies - great article for anyone dreaming of a brown puppy

Silver Labs Are Chocolate Labs

Silver Labradors have a gene which dilutes the color chocolate and makes it a pale, silvery shade. Some people find this very attractive, while others regard it as an abomination. There is no doubt that a hundred years ago, there was no coat dilution gene in our Labrador Retrievers. We know for sure that this gene has appeared quite recently. What we don’t know for sure, is how it got there.

The strongest theory is that the gene arrived through cross breeding a Labrador with a dog that carries the dilute coat color gene. A breed such as the Weimaraner for example. The other explanation is that the gene causing the silver coat was some kind of genetic ‘accident’ or mutation. This seems rather less likely. Kennel Clubs are currently willing to register silver Labs, despite the dispute over their ancestry, but they can only be registered as ‘chocolate’. Not as silver itself.

A bright Future for the Chocolate Lab

Throughout history, there have been a number of famous black Labradors, and we tend to associate yellow Labs with the all important role of working as assistance dogs. Bill Clinton’s chocolate Labrador Buddy was famous simply for being the president’s dog, but it is harder to find examples of chocolate Labradors who have distinguished themselves.

This is not because chocolate Lab dogs lack the qualities or abilities of black and yellow dogs, but simply because the popularity of the color is a relatively recent phenomenon. There are as we speak, plenty of chocolate Labradors serving in the military, working as assistance dogs and in the shooting field. Their story has only just begun, and as time goes on, we’ll be hearing more of their exploits.

Maybe you have a story to tell about your own chocolate friend, or maybe you are just starting out on your journey to finding a chocolate Lab to share your life. If that’s the case, read on. We have some tips for searching in the right places.

chocolate retriever surfing

How to Find A Chocolate Lab

There are two main ways of bringing a chocolate Labrador retriever into your life. And many people will tell you that the very best way, is to rescue a dog from a shelter or dog’s home. The other way, is to buy a chocolate Lab puppy and raise him yourself. I can’t tell you which is right for your own family, though I will say that it is not as clear cut an issue as some will tell you. If you want to go the puppy route, then you’ll find my book Choosing The Perfect Puppy a helpful guide. There are pros and cons to both rescuing an older dog and raising your own puppy, I go into these in some detail in The Labrador Handbook.
It may well depend on what stage of life your family is at and on how experienced you are with dogs in general, and with Labradors in particular. You can buy both books from Amazon by following links above. If you do, The Labrador Site will receive a small commission which is greatly appreciated and won’t affect the cost to you! If rescuing appeals to you, and you are ready for the challenges and the many benefits of giving a dog a new lease of life, there are plenty of rescue societies that specialise in Labradors.

Rescuing a Chocolate Labrador

The first step is to make contact with your local Labrador Rescue. Most rescues don’t rehome dogs outside their own ‘catchment area’. Rescuing can be a wonderful and fulfilling way of bringing a lovely brown retriever into your life, so do consider it thoroughly. You can find lots more information here: Is a rescue Labrador right for you and here The right dog for you- Puppy or Rescue?

If now is not the right time for you to rescue an older dog. Or if you are getting a Labrador for a special purpose – as a hunting companion for example – you may be better off with a new puppy. Let’s see how that works

Buying a Chocolate Lab Puppy

Chocolate Labrador puppies are ready to go to their permanent homes at around eight weeks old. If someone wants to sell you a puppy much younger than that, alarm bells should be ringing. You also need to make sure you buy your puppy from the right place.

This means choosing the right breeder. And avoiding puppy mills and pet stores. If you want a puppy for hunting, you need to go to a breeder that specialises in field-bred dogs. If you want to get involved in the world of showing, you need to go to a breeder that breeds Labradors for the show ring. It is possible to train a show dog for work, though he or she is unlikely to get far in high level field competitions. It is not normally possible to succeed in the show ring with a field bred dog. Keep this in mind.

chocolate lab facts about your beautiful brown puppy

Chocolate Labrador Puppy Health

Labradors of all colors suffer from inherited disorders. Please, please make sure your puppy is from health tested parents – it may all end in tears if you omit this important step. Their parents should have good hip scores, good elbow scores, clear eye tests and be PRA clear too. If your puppy’s parents are in good health, you increase the odds of having a healthy puppy. But does picking a chocolate Lab puppy set you off on the wrong foot in terms of health from the start?

Are Chocolate Labs Unhealthy?

In 2018 a study hit the headlines hard, and had a lot of chocolate Lab owners in a panic. Their research suggested that there is a link between Lab color and not just health, but lifespan too. Over 33,000 Labs were studies, with 23.8% of them chocolate. Giving a good sample size.

Chocolate Labs in the study were more likely to have dermatitis, which matches with some colloquial findings of owners of silver Labs with skin problems. Ear problems are also more common, and this is in fact something Rachael has even suffered with in the past. Gastrointestinal issues were more common with chocolate Labradors too.

Chocolate Labradors live on average for just 10.7 years, where yellow and black Labs come out at 12.1 years. At least according to this study. Interestingly, they were least likely to have degenerative joint disease or dental problems.

Avoiding Health Problems in Chocolate Labs

Health testing is important for any puppy buyer. It reduces the chances of your pup becoming ill. But it is also important to look at the coefficient of inbreeding.  Chocolate Labs get their color from a recessive gene. This means that to ensure you have a litter of chocolate puppies you need to breed from two chocolate parents. This limits your options further than the average breeder who isn’t interested in the color of their puppies. Reducing gene pools will always increase health problems.

Finding a puppy with a very low coefficient of inbreeding will help you to avoid some of these problems. In addition to health testing, of course. It would also be sensible to avoid a chocolate Lab puppy with parents with a history of ear or skin problems.

You can find out more about health issues in Labradors in this article: Health screening for Labrador Diseases. And there is lots of information on finding a good breeder here: Labrador breeders – how to find a good one

Training and Exercising your Chocolate Labrador

My advice for training and exercising your chocolate Labrador is to figure out what type of lines your dog is from and adjust your expectations accordingly. Then to follow a good positive reinforcement training programme. Make sure you exercise his mind as well as his body. Even if you never intend to take him hunting, he still needs a job to do, retrieves to complete, toys to find, streams to cross and so on.

Training him isn’t just necessary, it will be a whole lot of fun. If your dog is from show lines, he too needs training and plenty of exercise, but he may also need plenty of play. Toys and games, and other dogs to interact with.

Training my Chocolate Lab

Even at seven years old, Rachael still loves to play with other dogs and with people. She is hugely enthusiastic about meeting people (and dogs) and prone to be over-friendly. Whilst we certainly don’t want an aggressive or unfriendly working dog, this extra-friendliness makes the chocolate Lab dog more prone to distraction by humans and other dogs.

The Labrador Handbook by Pippa Mattinson

I have therefore had to spend a bit more time ‘proofing’ basic obedience than I would with one of my yellow or black American Labs. And I have to make a special effort to ensure that she is not allowed to interact with visitors until she is sitting calmly. On the plus side, I have had to spend less time socialising Rachael than I would with a field bred lab. As she takes everything in her stride.

Too friendly!

Pay extra attention to proofing your English chocolate Lab’s obedience in the presence of people and other dogs. You may find she is intensely friendly and rather distractible, so this aspect of his education is important.

Above all, treat your chocolate labrador like an individual. He is far more than just a product of his breeding and environment. He is a unique character, there will never be another quite like him

Caring for an old Chocolate Lab

As the years pass by, we leave behind one set of challenges and they are replaced by new ones. Failing eyesight, stiff joints, and declining hearing. However, these senior years can still be happy and fun filled for many dogs, especially if you keep your dog slim.

If your chocolate friend is quite heavily built as many chocolates are, you need to be extra careful to keep an eye on his weight as he ages. More body weight means more stress and strain on joints, this can aggravate problems like arthritis in older dogs. I personally think that elderly chocolate Labradors are particularly beautiful, with their greying muzzles and kind eyes. Of course, you will want to make your old friend as comfortable as you can.

What is so Special about Chocolate Lab

I have been writing about Labradors for many years now, and there is no doubt in my mind that they are all wonderful dogs. But the chocolate Labrador is special. It is hard to explain why to those who don’t share their lives with one of these beautiful dogs, but if have one, you’ll know exactly what I mean!

I’d love to hear about your own chocolate Lab, so do drop your story in the comments box below. Tell us what is so special about your chocolate Labrador and why you think chocolate Labs are the best.

More about Chocolate Labrador Retrievers!

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


  1. I love reading your articles but this one has to be my favorite! I have always had a love for chocolate labs. I remember getting my first one at the age of 12, I begged and begged for one. A friend of mine’s uncle dog had puppies and there was one left and he happened to be a chocolate lab. He was the cutest, chubbiest little thing. The typical puppy face with those piercing green/honey colored eyes. My parents agreed and we got to keep him. His name was Boomer and we had him up until we had to put him down a few years ago. I was 21 and it was the hardest thing to do. Fast forward a few years later, I wanted another chocolate lab. I had been living alone working and going to school full time and I was on the verge of graduating. A girl I knew from high school advertised on Facebook that she had one male chocolate lab left of her litter and I knew I had to jump at the opportunity. I now have a 1 year old named Cash. He is so much fun to have around the house and the sweetest little cuddler. Him and my late dog Boomer are totally different when it comes to training. To be fair my dad the training for Boomer due to the fact I was younger and didn’t know the first thing about training a dog, but Boomer was always so much calmer than Cash. Cash is more active than Boomer was but I love them both just the same. These articles have been so helpful in training my first dog on my own and Cash is now very well behaved. Just as Pippa states in this article of chocolate labs having a special place in her heart, these dogs do as well for me. I am so thankful to have this 75lb chocolate lab in my life.

      • I have a chocolate lab and he is the biggest baby in the world! I had a yellow lab before my chocolate and there are so many differences in behavior. My chocolate lab (Noah) is so HYPER and bouncy and my yellow lab (Chase) was docile. Noah stands at 5ft on his hind legs where Chase only stood at around 4ft. I am 5’3 and Noah can place his paws on my shoulders with no problem. Also, Noah is much more vocal than Chase was. Noah tends to get alot of skin issues, ear infections and has a chicken allergy. Chase did not.
        Chocolate labs are great!

  2. Bailey is a 16 week and our first chocolate.
    Always had labs . Simba a trained gold passed 12 months ago . Almost 12. Taken me a year to get over him. Beautiful dog.
    But Bailey is his equal and dare i say better. He is as sharp as a tac and so so affectionate.
    Smart loving little man

  3. We just lost our precious chocolate lab, Sammy Hershey, 6 weeks ago. (8-1-05 to 6-16-17) Just a few weeks shy of his 12 th birthday. He had a rather rapid decline his last week and quite eating. He was being treated for an ulcer for that last week, with 3 days spent at the vet getting iv’s with me beside him on the kennel floor.
    The day we found out it was cancer was his last, he was too weak and his breathing was so labored. It went fast and easy, him falling asleep in my arms. Sam was absolutely amazing. We have had some wonderful dogs over the years, collies, shelties, cockers, poodles, shit-tzu ect….but the chocolate lab is by far the best, most loving, forgiving, entertaining, etc…..I can’t find enough good words to say about him. And yes, he was very intelligent. He knew his toys by name. He had 3 baskets full of stuffed toys and never destroyed a single one of them, they were all giant “binkies”. He would lovingly hold them in his paws and nurse on them. He also loved to play fetch with them. We loved and adored Sam immensely, and he us. He taught us so much about life, love, forgiveness, loyalty, how to be happy and seize the moment. He greeted everyone joyfully after first protecting us,when they entered our home. He loved my piano students and would lay under the grand piano while they played or I played. When they were done, I would ask him if they did good and he always responded with an affirmative bark. He also had an incredible sense of humor, the most loving and expressive eyes and a soft, partially wavy, shiny and dark brown coat. He didn’t have the broad flat head, but rather a more narrow rounded one. He was beautiful inside and out. We researched everything we gave him, fed him or did for him medically and he still got cancer. You just never know. All we know is we were very, very blessed to have him for almost 12 years. We cherished our time with him, the silly moments, the moments when we cuddled with him daily before going to work, our joyful reunion when we returned home and so much more.
    We miss him more than words can say, our hearts and lives are so sad, the house is too quiet. We have enough love to give another chocolate lab, but don’t know if we can go through this heart ache again. So to all of you who still have your chocolate, love them while you can, spoil them and cherish them. For they are truly remarkable.

  4. Hi I have a 4 month old chockey lab Sophie she is brilliant very easy to train. Potty trained by 3month. Very playful loves to run.
    Sophie coat is a lovely shiny brown with a light brown across the top of her head and ears.
    She doesn’t think much to water I got her a little paddling pool so she could play but wasn’t interested. Wouldn’t swap her for a million dollars.
    Light of my life.

  5. I have a chocolate lab who is very head strong he was a bit challenging the first two years but he has come a long way since the first day. There was time I wanted to give up play biting was the worst! I realized he was going to be a challenge so when I sat down to really try to understand him and how to corral this energy I make sure he is very busy this seems to help with the energy and it is true that a tired dog is a good dog. Keep them busy as much as possible give him tasks to do and they are very happy! He is turning out to be the greatest dog I have ever owned very lovable and smart. Example he use to bite my vacuum and bark like crazy so I decided to make it a game when he sees me bring the vacuum out he has to get two tennis balls and I play a game while vacuuming it worked he must drop one for me and he keeps the other I will throw the ball so he can chase it and this will go on till we are done hide balls at first it will give them something to retrieve works every time and this will tire him out and he will be happy! By the way yogi (bear) is his name 100lbs of love and not over weight just very big.

  6. We just got Polly last week. Chocolate lab show dog who is AWESOME. She had four litters and the breeder retired her. We were lucky enough to be the first family she asked to take her. I cannot imagine why anyone would want a dog other than a Labrador Retriever. Simply the best dogs on the planet.

  7. Hi, I am researching chocolate Labs for a novel. Could you please tell me if chocolate Labs ever have distinctive marks such as different color patches of fur? Also, could you tell me if it is ever possible to buy a full grown chocolate Lab (not a puppy)? If you were looking to buy a full grown chocolate Lab, where would you go? A pet store? A rescue shelter? Do breeders sell fully grown Labsl? Thanks for any help you can offer.

      • We have a 5 year-old chocolate male with a faint ring around his tail. It is his only marking – no bolos. Most of the time you can barely notice it. It is rare, but not completely uncommon. I’d be happy to send you a picture if you like.

  8. I lost my 13yr old chocolate lab 2 weeks ago. His name was Hemi. He had to be euthanized to stop his pain and suffering. He was crippled and arthritic in his back legs, and developed laryngeal paralysis and his breathing was getting worse. He was the friendliest, sweetest old boy, and didn’t have a gray hair on him when he died. He was the English Lab type and so good with my grandchildren. I miss him terribly. Miss our walks by the Embarrass River, and playing in the water.

  9. My choc lab is 10 yrs old he love laying outside when not out walking but this year he’s not shed he’s winter coat
    he get warm very quick we brush him a lot but can’t get him to loss his winter coat not June just started how can we help him

  10. I have been wanting a chocolate lab for years. As a child we had black labs, and my inlaws and their family has had several of them. I am in touch w a breeder and watching closely for a chocolate lab female! I have been patient and can’t wait to bring her home!! I found your article educational and interesting and you have reinforced my knowing that a chocolate lab is the dog for me!

  11. I have a beautiful male English Chocolate Labrador named Buck. He is the love of my life! I owned two black labs previously and when they passed I decided to try a chocolate. Let me tell you this dog has stolen my heart and has me wrapped around his huge paw. He is very intelligent so I can tell you first hand that chocolate labs being stupid is truly a myth. He knows how to open doors, turn on lights, retrieve things by name, and loves endlessly. He is very protective of his home and family and doesn’t allow anyone in our home unless we tell him its okay. He is so beautiful with his block head and everything on him is brown including his eyes, nose and even dark brown nails. He gives endless love to his family and always wants to be a part everything. Nobody could understand or imagine this kind of special love until they have owned a chocolate lab!

  12. I am a new owner of a 10 week old chocolate lab, Shalee. I just lost my Boxer, who was my best friend. Shalee was given to me as a condolence present. She is so hyper, I’ve wondered if I can handler her, but when she looks at me with those beautiful eyes I melt. Should I put her in obedience classes? She seems to be already attached, but what a handful! Any Ideas?

    • I think she’ll calm down as he gets older and exercises more. Try training her for 15minutes a couple of times a day with simple commands e.g sit, lie, come etc this will exercise her brain. Be careful with feed as some contain additives that may cause her to be a bit hyper. Good luck

  13. Love my misty,eleven month old chocolate Labrador,ihave always had dogs,but she is my first Labrador,i have been told oh,big mistake,worse breed ever to train,so naughty,well,misty has proved them wrong,she always sits,and waits at meal times for us to say,ok,she has done this from the moment we had her at eight weeks, taught herself,never taken any food,even from the grandchildren,who she loves to bits,house trained,never pulled on her lead,walks loosely by our side,sits and waits,the only thing she does is dig, loves twigs,watches the birds,barks at cats,senses when you are unwell,lets you know when strangers are around,oh and bites the plaster in the hall way,i would never,never swap her love her,so,sorry for getting carried away,but I’m so proud of misty,

    • What is it with the plaster. Mine chewed two holes in the drywall. She had several well used chew toys. Luckily she is past it but it was weird at the time.

  14. Greatings from Portugal 🙂

    I have two chocolate labs. Buggy is a one year-old with lots of energy, só smart and very silly. He loves to play and run for hours. Almost a month ago I so this chocolate lab, starving, bitten and sad that his own owner for four years abandoned.. and I kept him. He’s name is Deco. He was so sad, so skinny, so afraid of everything! Nowadays, he’s tail is always waiging, he’s getting stronger everyday and loves to cuddle. Unlike my youngest one, Deco ia super well behaved inside our home, but a real caos while walking on the streets. I think is previously owner neves went to walk him ir train him, os even played with him. Training Deco is way harder than training buggy, who is with us since he was a baby.
    But, the love from both is the same, and they make me happy everyday.
    I have a question: buggy has the average look of a brown lab, with his green eyes. But Deco has hazelnut eyes and a darker brown fur. I’d seen this darker chocolate labs only one time. And I can’t find much info about them. I think there’s only one breeder of this kind in Portugal. I’d like more info on this sO I can get to know Deco a little bit more, since he’s so different.

    Thanks ????

  15. I am raising my second chocolate lab
    My first chocolate lab was Snickers who lived to 14 years and 8 months. Snickers was a loyal companion who loved her daily walks, jumping in the creek to play in the water, playing with others in the park.
    My second one is Gily who is 14 months old. From day one this puppy loved me.
    Both Snickers and Gily were easily trained and posses the best personalities. Both did not have to be taught gentleness with small children and elderly.
    Both were purchased from listings on the AKC website where in 15 years the price had drastically increased and drastically more than what I could get a black lab puppy.
    Like you, I prefer the chocolate.

  16. I adore our 9 Month old chocolate Labrador puppy Brontė, she has brought love, pride and lots of laughter into our lives!! She’s our first puppy, I do agree that chocolate labs are incredibly friendly, she just loves all Humans & Dogs! But if she feels I’m being threatened in any way, she’s right there for me!
    I just wonder when she will go into heat, I’m always trying to work out if she is! I don’t really want her to be spade until she’s 2 and Half years old, so all her hormones have kicked in and she’s fully grown! xx

  17. Just got my first ever choc lab puppy. Couldn’t be happier. Be is responsive and loving and eager go please at just eight weeks old. My two female shitzu are quite taken with him already although he is bigger than them already.
    Can’t praise the breed enough x

  18. Having failed miserably at raising my fave breed ever, German shepherd we decided on a chocolate lab to join our family of three children and two female shitzu
    We have had him only one week and already has learnt to fetch and retrieve his toys and learnt to sit
    He is so loving and eager to please :an utter delightful addition to our family

  19. We lost our yellow lab 5 years ago and we just rescued a 1yr old chocolate! He’s awesome but he’s over weight severely and although he has good manners he’s had no training! Advice welcome!!!!!

    • I to rehomed my chocolate lab at 1 yr. He to had little to no training. She raised and treated him like a baby. Thankfully he wasn’t over weight. The first walk he tried to get to a dog on the other side of the road so I bought a halty and with in a week I could walk him with no worry of being pulled into the road. With in 2 months I could walk him on his collar or harness depending on where we were.

      Advice would be calm instructions continuously. This never stops. Treats every 4 or 5 times due to weight but lots of praise. They do learn really well. A yr after getting him we got he’s 8 week old full blood brother ( black lab). Having trained he from the start he is now one and I can see a big difference from where he is now compared to the chocolate one.

      Alfie the chocolate one is now 3 36kg the sweetest dog u could want to meet. Jumps to give cuddles. If I’m Ill he want leave my side.

      You couldn’t of chose a better dog to rehome. Perseverance and you will have one amazing dog.

  20. I have to leave a comment here, my most beautiful Ted is the love of my life, a very sick puppy who spent weeks in the vet after purchasing him from a non registered breeder, it was heartbreaking to see him so unwell but we finally nursed him back to health and he’s now the most beautiful, kind and loving 2 year old boy, he suffers badly from anxiety and hates being on his own at all but, all of his gorgeous personality traits make up for his neurotic behaviour. Chocolate labs are fabulous, loving and will mend broken hearts and bring thousands of joy to your life. My advice… If you’re thinking about sharing your life with one, do it!!! Best decision I ever EVER made!!
    Loved your article, thank-you. Ruth, Dublin, Ireland… A chocolate Labrador fanatic.

  21. Sadly we just lost our beautiful chocolate lab Chelsea a couple weeks ago. She lived an amazing 16 1/2 years!!! She was an incredible dog who left behind a lifetime of happy and fun memories. Best dog ever!!

  22. I bought a Chocolate Lab from a breeder in Alabama and we got the most beautiful, caring, affectionate well mannered puppy we could wish for. Every morning as he wakes up the first thing he does is greet you with such affection that it is amazing. He is restless, do not take me wrong he is a small baby that all he wants to do is play and play he does. We have my son’s Boston Terriers that run around with him exausting him for us to be able to sleep. He is a beautiful specimen and the whole family is drooling over him. I made a good choice choosing a Choc. Lab.

  23. i. rescured. my. choc lab. she. just. got. over. cancer. 15. months. ago. now. lump. back. i. love. her. so. much. hope. she. pulls. threw. the. next. op.

    • So sorry- you can fall in love with your dog so quickly. She is very blessed to have you. She needed you to help her through this. I hope all goes well for you both. She needs your love especially if her time is short, she will have know kindness and caring.

  24. My chocolate lab, Tank is now 7 yrs old he is the second chocolate lab we have had. We love our labs – the are our children! My husband and I can’t imagine our life without out our chocolate lab. Our first “big boy, Russell Stover” passes at 14 yrs and Tank is a bit smaller at 75 pounds of pure muscle can be crazy excitable or gentle. I enjoyed your article- I’ve had people come up to us and say what a beautiful dog to bad they aren’t smarter! Now I just smile and keep walking. Little do they know our chocolates are smarter then some people we know. They love all dog sports even ones they are not breed for: Tank loved agility even though he was much larger and slower he tackled each event with enthusiasm, he docked jumped with a 19ft best, he a member of the nose work group and no other dog could beat his vehicle search times. He adds joy to our lives and no matter what we do as long as he is with us he is happy. With both our dogs we found attending “positive” reinforced obedience classes for the first two years really made my husband and I better dog owners! We hope to get another “English” chocolate in the next few years and we will take all the classes again and bring Tank. As your article reviewed both our dogs want to please, smart, fun sometimes goofy, and always loyal. We also have a soft spot for the males in the breed – they are larger and seem to keep a high energy level longer. We found to keeping a happy good dog is to spend time doing things they enjoy doing and remember they are big dogs that want to be held like a little dog!

  25. Hi Pippa, We have a big choc. lab, he is 16mos. old and every one keeps saying how big he is. He weighs a little over 100lbs. He is tall and long. His dad is 115lbs. and his mom is 85lbs. Myhusband and I are 71 years old, and some days I think we did the wrong thing. What causes him to get so excited that it seems he is deaf when you give him commands? We did not ask the breeder what kind of Lab he is. Do you have any ideas for me, or are we just to OLD to do right by are Buddy, we love him so.

  26. Just as a comment of interest, my father bred Labradors and reared several and showed several champions (in those days not such a thing as show champions, full champion ) he had a chocolate from a black litter and scoured the country for a chocolate dog to breed with found one in Kent and bred the first all chocolate litter in the country, we showed one at crufts in the 50,s personally love all colours but a big soft spot for my copper beech

  27. Hi Pippa thanks for the great article we have a chocolate labrador named Pippa! She is a great girl loves the kid and the wide open spaces on our 12 acre property she is an important part of our family!

  28. We got Cienna eight months ago. She is the love of my life for sure. No matter where I go I can count on her being just a few feet away. She can’t wait to jump in the truck and go anywhere with me. A couple of weeks after getting her, I took her out the front door to the sidewalk and handed her the newspaper.She turned and ran to the front door with it. Now she gets it every morning without being be told. Our 15 year old cat playes with her and sometimes lays by her side when she sleeps. It’s a sight to behold. I would highly recommend a brown lab to any first time owners. They are simple incredible pets.

  29. We have had 2 male black labs in the past 25 years and just loved them. But in September of 2016 we adopted a 5 year old female chocolate lab from a Labrador rescue in our area. What a complete joy she has been so far!! She is sooo smart and so well behaved; still extremely playful and definitely the most cuddly, lovey lab we’ve ever had. She looks at you with those golden eyes and melts your heart. Which then means she gets whatever she wants, which is usually belly rubs. Our black boys were beautiful guys but there is something very special about our Rosie. The kids call her “our little chocolate truffle.”

  30. HI, I have had 3 labradors since 1993, my first was a gorgeous chocolate show lab purchased from close to Padstow in Cornwall UK, the owner had originally wanted to keep her for breeding but after she (the owner) had a health issue she decided to sell Katie to us at the age of 6months. She was glorious but hated, loathed, detested being left alone…… chewed anything & everything including the kitchen lino flooring!!! We then introduced our new born son to her, she was now 4 years old, she utterly adored him. If he cried she would be there, if I didn’t respond quickly enough to satisfy her she would do a little bark to say “hey look after your puppy”, he learnt to walk using her as his stabiliser. One night she saved his life: we were all fast asleep & she decided to run round the bed whimpering & budging me with her nose, I rolled over and found a very still lad boiling up, he was on the verge of a febrile convulsion —- how did she know? Time passed she aged, developed cataracts, arthritis and a heart condition but she was still willing to go everywhere with us. We then introduced 2 more labs to our pack,( saved from a puppy farm) sisters a yellow (mild, laid back & trainable) & another chocolate( mad, crazy, naughty).Katie brought the pups up: tolerated being crawled all over, having her ears & jowls nipped, but would give a warning growl when the pups had overstepped the mark. Eventually Katie couldn’t follow us & the vet said she will tell you when she’s ready to go: she did, one busy school morning having stepped over her a million times as usual cos she always lay in the doorway near the kids table awaiting “fallout” I realised she hadn’t wagged her tail at me… it was time, it broke my heart to take her to our friend the vet, we both cried as the injection was administered and I hugged my best friend for the last time. The pups & boys missed her terribly but life went on: the pups grew up with distinctly different personalities but fantastic family dogs. Digger(yellow) was so laid back but v v protective she developed mega oesophagus & we managed this awful condition for 3 years until she died aged 9 years old, she saved me having to make the decision & just went to sleep on the sofa. Muddy, her sister, has always lived life at 100mph, she is a child’s dream, but now at her grand old age of nearly 12 she is slowing up, diabetes, cataracts & slightly dodgy back legs are catching up with her but she is now my best friend and I will miss her hugely when the inevitable has to happen. If anyone reading this has any doubts about buying a chocolate lab do not hestitate, you will be getting a loyal, trusting & willing friend that asks very little of you but gives in abundance. Chocolates never grow up they just get slower. I have regretted them when I have been distracted and 24 sausages disappeared in 15 secs, a leg of lamb somehow found its way to the floor, loaves of bread gone, my free ranging ducks dropped at my back door, shocked , feathers ruffled but unharmed, cats chased….. but I would go through all that at a blink of an eye to still have them; I intend to make the most of my time left with my old girl, but I will miss her terribly when the time comes

    • I have a chocolate boy and your post made me cry. He’s a lot at times but wouldn’t change it for the world! They are the best!

  31. I got my male chocolate Lab ( Fred ) at 6 weeks old, from a litter of 10 , He came from breeders on a farm from central New Zealand ,His Mum and Dad are working dogs and also very good gun dogs , Fred is a pet and what we call a tradies dog ,I am a self employed tiler , a tradesman ie he comes to work with me every day, and has done from day 1 , yes he is tied up on a long piece of rope until he is trained enough to be left to his own devices, stay in his designated area while i work , he gets let off at lunchtimes to run around and interact with myself and anyone else who is on site , The plus side to this he is not left at home all day on his own, where dogs get very bored and become destructive and bark and upset the neighbours etc etc and you come home and find half your house and belongings destroyed.At least this way there is always something going on and there are people around all the time , he also gets to sleep a lot as he is now 12 weeks old . But what a great dog he is . Great article , and i would say one of the most intelligent dogs on the planet .Cheers .

  32. I have a chocolate Labrador: Rolo who is beautiful, friendly and absolutely food driven. He loves everyone and everything. He is seven and still plays like a puppy. His companion is a seven year old westie.
    When it comes to food he can get it from anywhere. Placing Paisley’s uneaten food on the back of a switched off hob, it kept going missing…coming back n as I had forgotten my lunch, I caught him using his massive paws to hit the metal dog bowl (he could just reach it) this hit the back and the food came out meaning he could eat it.
    He is intact and kc registered from Sarshan breeders….with 11 champions in his history. I am thinking of let him breed. He is beautiful….but I am biased; how would I go about doing this? Is it worth contacting the original breeders?
    He is such an individual…often looking at me…do I want to do this? He usually does but there is always a glint in his eyes.

  33. We recently lost our 7 year old “Barrel Chested” Chocolate lab in December of 2016. We live remotely in a Northern Ontario Community and Buddy spent most of his life running free in a forested area and within a small community of Dog Lovers. This past December Buddy was either picked up by someone or was lost to the environment. His disappearance has been a burden of despair to me and my wife; a retired couple whose children are several days travel away. If anyone knows of a rescue or unwanted chocolate lab We would be interested in providing this animal with the best of home and environment.

    Ron and Deb

  34. My 4 month old chocolate lab has been getting a thicker coat on top. It has been in colder weather lately is this why.

    • Sort of but not entirely, probably a Newfoundland lab that develops a wavy line of long fur down the spine & into a thick otter like tail…. gorgeous!!

  35. I very much enjoyed this article! We are getting a male chocolate lab, in January. I have always owned larger dog breeds. I am so excited to meet my new puppy!! I read all your articles and receive your newsletter. Thank you so much for all the valuable information!

    I just wanted to comment on the “Are chocolate labs stupid?” thought. Here is the USA, they are considered to be much smarter than most dogs. Isn’t that interesting?

  36. Our brown lab is now 5 years old and we love him. But when the time comes that he has to leave us, we will never take another Brown lab again. All these years he can’t stop eating faeces, and many times he got sick. When we are at the beach, he is not playing with other dogs, but always looking for dogpoop.
    In some parks we can’t take him of the leache because there is to much to eat for him. It makes us very sad!
    Sorry for my bad english, but I am from Holland.

  37. My sister & her husband have 3 Chocolate boys. Baxter will be 12 in January, Mason will be 10 in January & Patton is 5 1/2. I rescued Mabel (formerly called Cocoa) this past summer. She’s just a year old but fits in beautifully with the boys. They spend every work day afternoon together & they see each other over the weekends too. They are just like kids in that they have their own personalities but are so smart & very loving.
    They have enriched our lives so much. Plus they give the best kisses….fat-free chocolate kisses!!!

  38. I lost my beautiful black lab in october. We did say we weren’t getting another dog as he was perfect in every way, he would have been thirteen on 2nd Dec. That didn’t last long, I pick up my new chocolate lab on New Year’s Eve. I am concerned that he won’t be as good as milo was. People are reassuring me that yes he will be different but if I put the same amount of love and training into him as I did with milo he will be just as good. Perhaps it will take a little longer though. I can’t wait for New Year’s Eve to come.

    • We had the perfect female Black lab and lost her in May. We just got our new male chocolate puppy in early December. So far so good. 10 years ago was a long time to remember the “puppy” stage and we didn’t have children at the time. So things can be a little stressful at times. But for he most part he is a great dog! Good luck with your new addition! ????????

  39. I lost my chocolate Barney at 15 1/2 yrs in September this year…we had a terrific summer holiday – 2 weeks away in our camper van (well actually Barneys camper van!). He had been having hydro therapy to assist his arthritis and had responded well but suddenly three weeks after returning home and within 24 hrs he deteriorated badly. He was clearly very distressed (we think a stroke or brain tumour maybe). He and I spent his last night sleeping in his beloved camper van. I know I made the right decision by him but it still broke my heart…he was such a character – steady, dependable, loving, comical and my very best mate…love you forever big boy…gone but not ever forgotten! X

  40. I have a beautiful boy, choko and now when i found your site i saw that we were inspired from them 🙂 I also have a site about Labradors and My boy is ….the reason let’s say 🙂 they are great companions:)) the most lovable dogs :))) thanks for this post and kisses for Rachel:) Are you interested in puppies? to let them know together? :)))
    if you want contact me 🙂

  41. My brother-in-law has had an 11yr old chocolate lab since he was 10 wks old. From day one, this lab has been extremely aggressive and non responsive to any form of kindness, training, etc. Two different obedience instructors kicked him out of their puppy training courses. The dog was & still is very playful only with his master, my B-I-L, but will attack anyone else that enters the yard. The local Veterinarian comes out to the car, gives Buster his vaccinations in his hip while B-I-L holds the muzzled dog facing away from the Dr. This chocolate lab seriously behaves as if he has a “crazy mean” gene. I would appreciate your opinion regarding this unapproachable dog, who acts like a puppy with my B.I.L.

  42. I just lost my lab of 12 years, she could not longer walk. Her back legs gave out. She was loveable, friendly and most awesome pet I had ever had. She was not over weight. but this past week it all caught up with her. She went so peacefully, but there is an empty spot in my heart.

  43. I love my chocolate lab so very much. She has brought so much happiness into our family. She is far from stupid. The things that Maddie knows and does is amazing. I will never own anything else but a beautiful chocolate lab.

  44. What a great site, thank you Pippa 🙂 There definitely is something quite special about chocolate labs!

    I’m caring for my elderly chocolate lab, Rolo with his silver muzzle and eyebrows he is just as gorgeous as he was when he was a snub nosed, grey eyed puppy. He had a challenging start to life, bought from a ‘reputable’ breeder, I found out he had parvovirus a week after bringing him home. The vet didn’t think he’d pull through but he did, and we have the strongest bond having gone through some tough times together, and some days I had to leave him for long periods of time alone, due to unforeseen circumstances.

    He’s now coming up for 12 years old, and I’m trying to give him the best years of his life. I’ve been fortunate enough to be able to work from home for the last few years, and for the last 3 months I’ve been feeding him a 100% natural, home made diet, which I would really recommend – people keep commenting on how well he’s looking 🙂 He has joint problems and kidney disease but since I cut out the shop bought food, he’s flourishing, jumping in & out of the car, and playing with his tennis balls again 🙂

    I can’t imagine not being able to look into those beautiful brown eyes but I’m preparing myself for when the time comes.

    Thank you again for your insight and mutual appreciation of this wonderful, loving, unique breed 🙂

  45. I really enjoyed reading your comments and advice on labs.
    I have been a lab owner all my life and in the last few years have had 1 ‘field’ chocolate and 1 ‘show’ chocolate. Your descriptions of the varied temprament is spot on!
    Thank you for your efforts in educating people about this special breed and the joys they bring.

  46. Today my man convinced me & took me and the kids to see a Choc Labrador puppy…we saw 3 actually, and we chose one. We chose the one that looked more friendly with the kids, the other ones were or afraid or not interested to the kids. Sooo next week our family will have a new addition with the name of Pawlina 😉