Hailstone Labradors

hailstone labradors

Hailstone Labradors are Labrador Retrievers with white spots over a black base color. Their coat resembles Dalmatian spotting, with the colors reversed.

Many people remain skeptical about this pattern in purebred Labs. But, others believe it comes from original Labrador breed lines.

Hailstoning is extremely uncommon in the Labrador breed. So, it is very difficult to find hailstone Labrador puppies.

Potential owners should beware of poor breeders and puppy mills looking to profit off rare Labrador patterns.

What is a Hailstone Labrador?

Hailstone Labradors are the same as any other Lab, aside from their coloring.

“Hailstone” is simply the term used to describe the pattern of their coat. The white flecks over a black body look like hailstones.

The extent of white flecking will vary from one hailstone Lab to the next.

This pattern is not recognised by any major breed clubs. So, there is no one regulating it, or deciding how much white a Lab needs in order to be considered hailstone.

However, most Labradors with this pattern will have white hailstone markings over the majority of their body.

A small white patch on a black Lab’s chest is one of the most common mismarks in the breed. So, if your Lab only seems to have white flecks on their chest, they may not truly be classed as hailstone.

hailstone labradors

Are Hailstone Labradors Rare?

If you’re hoping to bring a hailstone Labrador into your family, you might be waiting for quite a long time.

This coloring is very uncommon. In fact, most breeders that produce puppies with this pattern do it entirely by accident.

And, mismarks are often considered undesirable, as many will disqualify Labs from show. So, most pedigree breeders will try to avoid creating them.

On top of this, your Lab’s coloring and any markings they have can change in shape, color, and size as they grow older.

So, even if you buy a puppy who seems like a hailstone Lab, their markings may fade or change over time.

Are Hailstone Labradors Purebred?

This is perhaps the biggest area of controversy surrounding this unusual marking.

Many people, when they see a hailstone Labrador, will insist that it is a mixed breed.

But, some hailstone Labs will have evidence of their purebred lineage.

In fact, Mary Rosalin-Williams, author of the influential book Advanced Labrador Breeding (1988), suggests that this coloring descends from original Labrador lines in Solway.

So, if this is true, hailstone Labradors could descend from some of the earliest Labrador lines.

If you’re ever unsure about your own Labrador’s heritage, there are some options available to you, such as DNA tests.

Are Hailstone Labradors Good Pets?

There’s no known connection between hailstone patterning, and temperament.

So hailstone Labs are as good a family pet as any other Lab! And it’s more important to decide whether the Labrador’s temperament and needs generally are a good match for your household and lifestyle.

Labradors are known for their friendly, loving, and affectionate personalities. They tend to get along well with everyone, regardless of their fur color.

If you have a hailstone Lab puppy, socialize and train them well from a young age to encourage the best temperament possible.

Hailstone Labs, like all other types, will do best with active families. They have high energy and very high social needs.

So, they need families that have plenty of time to spend with them. If left alone for too long, or not given enough physical and mental stimulation, they can display destructive behaviors.

Are Hailstone Labradors Unhealthy?

Because this coloring is so uncommon in the breed, there are no studies specifically looking at hereditary health issues in hailstone Labradors.

As far as we are aware, there are no health issues specifically linked to hailstone coloring.

But, these Labs will be at risk of the same issues as any other Lab.

This includes:

Where Can I Find Hailstone Labrador Puppies?

Finding hailstone Labrador puppies is going to be a challenge if your heart is set on this pattern. Simply because it is so uncommon.

And, this means that unscrupulous breeders and puppy mills may jump on the trend to make a profit.

Potential puppy parents need to be aware of mixed breeds being falsely labelled as purebred Labs, and – most importantly – unhealthy puppies.

Ultimately, most people stumble across hailstone Labrador puppies as a complete accident.

If your heart is set on this shade, you will do best to speak to reputable breeders and see if they have come across this coloring before.

They may be able to put you on a waiting list for black puppies with white markings, or at least point you in the direction of other good breeders that can.

The Danger of Puppy Mills

Even if you love the hailstone pattern, it’s better to wait for a puppy from a reputable breeder.

Dogs at puppy mills are often bred more than they should, treated as a means for a profit from puppies.

This leads to distressed and unhealthy mother dogs, as well as unhealthy and unsocialized puppies.

In some cases, the puppies are taken away from their mother too early, which can lead to additional physical and behavioral problems.

The Labrador Handbook by Pippa Mattinson

Ultimately, the health of your dog should come before all else, even if that means going for a Labrador with a different coloring.

They will become just as big a part of your family. And, will be with you for much longer than a puppy from a puppy mill.

Hailstone Labradors – A Summary

Hailstone Labs have a beautiful and uncommon pattern. But, for some it’s a highly controversial coloring.

If you’re lucky enough to own one of these unique dogs, we would love to hear about them in the comments.

What do you think about the hailstone Labrador?

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References and Resources

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. Hey there,
    I think we might have their little sister! Also from a pedigree breeder as we also got our older lab there and both of them are chocolates. Also a Oct 21 pup born in August.

  2. Dear Meg,
    I’m so happy you are raising this subject. We got our own hailstone lab, Harry, in October. The breeder in Ireland warned us, when we called him about the pup, that he had white spots and that is why he was half price as he could not participate in shows. We were just looking for a pet so did not mind about the spots.
    We love his little flecks and posted a picture on a Labrador Facebook group to ask if anyone knew about this pattern. It blew up and we ended up getting connected with Prof. Tosso Leeb, Institute of Genetics, University of Bern, who is interested in mapping the hailstone gene, check it for hereditary diseases and if none, potentially breed the pattern back. I managed to connect some of the hailstone owners I met through FB to Prof. Leeb. I’m sure he would be interested in any hailstone labs you connect with. We never managed to send him the blood sample and documents as we were posted to Lesotho in Southern Africa in middle of December. We want to send the blood for genetic testing at some point. We absolutely love Harry’s spots even if he is not allowed to compete 😉 At the moment he is happy, running around in the “Kingdom in the sky”, as Lesotho is also called, with his beautiful black coat with white spots.

    • Hi Karen, my name is Barbara and I also got my hailstone lab – Lola – in Ireland in October. Lola was born on August 15th, could she be Harry’s brother?