Welcome to our extensive article on the silver Lab! Best selling author Pippa Mattinson investigates the controversy over silver Labradors and digs down to the facts!
Find out the truth about your silver Lab, where silver Labs come from, how to buy a healthy silver Labrador Retriever puppy, and why people can’t stop fighting over them!
- What are the recognized Labrador colors?
- What’s a silver Lab?
- What do silver Labs look like?
- When did silver Labradors appear?
- What causes the silver coat?
- Where did the silver Lab come from?
- Are silver Labs Weimaraner cross-breeds?
- Can pedigree Labradors ever be silver?
- What do the Kennel Clubs say?
- What are some reasons for opposing silver Labs?
- How about Labrador breed purity?
- Are silver Labradors inbred?
- What about the honesty of silver Lab breeders?
- Are silver Labradors overpriced?
- Are silver Labradors healthy?
- Is it wise to buy a silver Lab?
- Where can you buy silver Lab puppies?
- Silver Lab facts versus opinions.
Silver Labradors are one of the most controversial topics being discussed within the dog community today.
Along with the purebred vs mixed breed debate, this pale chocolate Lab is the cause of most of the arguments among canine contemporaries.
What’s The Problem With Silver Labs?
You might not realize it if you aren’t immersed in the world of pedigree dogs, but many people believe that the silver Lab is not a true Labrador Retriever.
The general thought is that, in order to gain the dilute color, they were mixed with another breed.
In fact, people have been arguing about these unusual gray Labradors for a decade or more. In some ways we seem no closer to reaching any conclusions.
But are the claims true?
Many breeders of Labrador Retrievers consider these silver dogs to be a disaster for the breed.
Yet many Labrador owners across the world have fallen in love with these unusual pets.
The Silver Lab Arguments Continue
The arguments are not likely to go away anytime soon.
But there are a few things that we know for sure. And we’ll look at these in-depth in this article.
You can jump to some of the most interesting aspects of the discussion using the links in the menu above.
We’ll be studying what is actually known about silver or gray Labs.
Regardless of the controversy surrounding them, we’ll take a look at facts that are scientifically based, rather than fueled by emotions.
But we’ll also be looking at the different opinions of those that love them, and those that hate them!
Coat Color Basics
Extensive research has been done over the years on what determines a certain coat color in a dog.
So when it comes to basic origins silver Labs can easily be pin-pointed.
We’ll start by looking at Labrador coat color as laid down and recognized by international kennel clubs in their breed standards.
Aren’t There Only Three AKC Labrador Colors?
There are three different colors of Labrador recognized by the American Kennel Club.
Those colors are:
Missing from the list, you’ll notice, are:
That’s because the story doesn’t end there.
Although silver is not a recognized color for the show ring, it doesn’t necessarily mean a silver Lab isn’t “registered” with the AKC.
I’ll explain in a moment. Let’s look more closely at what is allowed and what is not.
What About White Patches?
We do sometimes find white patches on Labradors, but strictly speaking, Labradors are supposed to be solid in color.
Any patch of different color, apart from a small spot of white on the chest, is considered a mismark.
So, to fall within the breed standard, a Labrador has to be one of those three basic solid colors: brown, yellow, or black, give or take a tiny spot of white.
Within yellow Labs there is a wide range of “acceptable” shades. These range from the palest cream to rich dark fox red Labradors.
Gray/silver Lab coats were not found within the breed.
What Is A Silver Lab?
Silver Labs look just like any other Labrador, but with a very different coat color.
What is described as silver is in fact a dilute version of the chocolate color.
“Dilute” is a commonly used term for animals. It refers to a gene that causes the color of an animal to show in a lighter variation.
We’ll discuss the science behind it, especially when it comes to silver Labs, a little further on.
The main giveaway of a dilute dog is the color of the nose and eyes.
For silver Labradors, the extent of the dilution varies, so some seem more gray, some more silver, and others on the borderline of chocolate.
Disagreements On Silver Labradors
You will often hear people say, “There is no such thing as a silver Labrador.”
However, there is no doubt that these dogs exist, in the sense that there are certainly dogs that look like Labrador Retrievers, have Labrador Retriever pedigree papers, and are silver in color.
We can all agree on that.
The confusing part of the issue is whether or not a silver Labrador is truly a Labrador, purebred, through and through.
What Does a Silver Lab Look Like?
Instead of the strong original coat color, the silver Labrador has a paler and quite distinctly different shade of fur.
When this “dilution” of color occurs in a chocolate Labrador, his brown coat is lightened and subtly changed to the silver color that gets so many people’s blood boiling.
The color of the silver Lab has a more gray or metallic appearance.
It is a lot like that of a Weimaraner, because the same gene is responsible.
This dilute color occurs in some other breeds too.
But Weimaraners have been silver for generations. Silver Labradors, on the other hand, are a relatively new phenomenon.
Although they appear to be all Lab to most, some people claim that their ears can look longer and make akin to that of a Weimaraner too.
When Did Silver Labs First Appear?
When such a dramatically different shade of coat appears in a long-established breed of dog, it’s only natural that people start asking questions about it.
People want to know where silver Labradors came from and how they were created.
So let’s trek back to the Lab’s beginnings.
The very first Labrador Retrievers were predominantly black.
You may hear people say that chocolate and yellow Labradors are a more recent addition to the Labrador family.
This is sometimes used as an argument in support of silver being a natural part of the Labrador genome.
After all, if the other two colors could remain hidden for so long, why not silver?
Silver Labs Compared To Other Colors
Yellow and chocolate Labradors have been recorded since the late 1800s.
We are confident that the genes that cause the yellow and brown colors have always existed within the Labrador breed. But dogs this color were rare for decades.
You can read about how these genes work in chocolate Labradors in my in-depth article on chocolate Labs.
So why is it that the other colors didn’t grow in popularity until the 1900s? The simple answer is that dogs that weren’t black weren’t considered desirable and fashionable.
No-one bred from them, and sadly they were probably often culled. Over time, people’s views changed. First yellows, and later chocolates, became popular.
Timeline Of The Silver Lab
What about silver Lab origins?
Reports of silver Labradors seem to have first appeared in the United States in the 1950s. Obviously, this was much later than chocolate and yellow.
Exactly how this new color came to be is a question that many people are asking, and arguing about.
Did It Appear Or Was It Created?
Those who cannot believe that this new color occurred naturally believe this time discrepancy is proof that the color was introduced into the breed under false pretenses.
Not everyone agrees with them.
And the capacity of “rare” genes to remain hidden for long periods of time is a phenomenon that most scientists are aware of.
Culo Silver Labs was one of the early kennels to produce this new silver color.
You may be interested to read this report of an interview with the owner Dean Crist giving his account of the history of the silver Lab.
While the exact timing is shrouded in mystery, we do know more about the science aspect.
What Causes The Gray Lab’s Silver Coat?
To understand the arguments and controversy surrounding these dogs, we need to understand how the silver coat color is created.
And now, for the science!
As we mentioned earlier, it’s all about dilution.
Labrador coat color is controlled by a set of genes. You can read about the way B genes and E genes influence coat color in this article on Labrador color inheritance.
However, the silver color is controlled by a different gene, the D gene. The D gene acts as a type of switch.
One type, “big D,” switches coat color to full strength, and the other type, or “little d” switches it to dilute.
But remember, genes come in pairs. And big D overrides little d.
So unless little d is paired with another little d, it will have no effect.
Other Dogs, Other Colors
Weimaraners all have two of the little d genes.
In the same way, the appearance of the double little d gene in chocolate Labradors is what has enabled the silver Lab to appear on the scene.
The dilute gene in the Labrador Retriever does not only produce silver dogs.
The color of the dog with a dilution gene depends on the base color to begin with.
And the gene is not confined to chocolates.
Are Champagne Labradors Like Silver Labs?
When a yellow Lab has two little d genes, his or her coat is diluted to a color that has been described as “champagne.”
Just like in chocolate Labradors, the yellow Lab can also be a carrier of the dilute gene.
Having only one d gene won’t change his coat, but he will be able to pass that gene on to his offspring.
Coat color dilution is not always easy to identify in a champagne Labrador Retriever.
This is because we are accustomed to seeing yellow Labs in quite a range of colors, from palest cream to a rich fox red.
But once you have seen a champagne Labrador, you’ll appreciate the subtle difference.
And What About Charcoal Labradors?
Finally, black Labradors can also have the little d coat color dilution gene.
This produces a color that has been called “charcoal.” It is quite a subtle and slightly silvery effect, but it’s slightly easier to identify than champagne.
If there is any doubt, there is a way to determine for certain what the genetic makeup of any Labrador is.
A simple genetic, or DNA, test will identify carriers of the dilute gene.
The question we need to answer is not so much, “How is the silver coat caused?” but more importantly, “How did the dilution gene get into the Labrador breed?”
Opponents of the silver Lab claim that it simply was not there a hundred years ago. But is this true?
Is it completely impossible that the silver gene arrived on the scene without any mischief on the part of Labrador breeders?
Where Did Silver Labs Really Come From?
There are two ways that a new gene could appear in a closed register of pedigree dogs.
- Spontaneous genetic mutation
Genes can mutate. We know that.
For a mutation that occurred spontaneously to create a new gray Labrador coat color would be unusual, but not impossible.
For the mutation to be identical to a gene that already exists for an unusual coat color in another breed would be something of a coincidence.
Is A Silver Lab Really Just A Weimaraner Mix?
The fact is, the dilution gene found in Labradors now is the exact same gene that gives us the coat dilution in Weimaraners.
Many people feel that the spontaneous appearance of this dd dilution gene in the Labrador Retriever gene pool is, to say the least, unlikely.
Diane Welle of Blue Knight Labs does not go quite so far as to directly accuse the breeders concerned but points out
[T]here have been accusations that these “rare” silver Labradors are actually a cross between a Labrador and a Weimaraner. I will let you be the judge, as there is no evidence at this time, one way or the other.However, it is interesting to note that Silver Labradors can be traced back to two breeders. Those breeders are Dean Crist (Culo) and Beaver Creek Labradors. Both of their lines trace back to Kellogg kennels (LE Kellogg and Harold E Kellogg) Kellogg Kennels began breeding Labradors in 1922. Guess what else they’re famous for breeding? They’re credited for the ‘rare’ pointing Labrador of course!
Her point is that ‘pointing’ is, of course, an HPR (hunt point retriever) trait, and Weimaraners are HPRs.
An update to her original article, however, also notes that she previously claimed that Weimaraners were also bred in those same kennels, but found out that that fact was in doubt.
Those in favor of the Weimaraner outcross theory often claim silvers have a houndy look about them.
To be fair, this is true of many field-bred Labradors of any color.
And while this may have been true in the early days of the silver Lab, most silver Labs today look pretty much the same as any other Labrador – apart from the fact that they are silver.
Do Silver Labs Have A Previously Hidden Gene?
There is a third option, of course.
That is that the silver gene was there all along in a few dogs and that only recently has the chance meeting between two recessive genes carried by their descendants occurred.
“But surely,” you cry, “that is most unlikely!”
Well, actually, it isn’t as unlikely as we might think.
The accidental pairing of two unusual genes to create new genetic blueprints in an individual dog is not that rare at all.
And it is becoming more common in pedigree dogs, as they become more inbred.
Gene Pools In Pedigree Dogs
All pedigree gene pools shrink over time once registers are close because no new genetic material can ever be added.
Over time, there is a natural and constant loss of genetic material.
This is how rare diseases can spring up seemingly out of nowhere.
We also need to consider that Labradors were not always purebred pedigree dogs.
Mixed breeding was common many years ago.
It is likely that there was mixed breeding between Labs and Chesapeake Bay Retrievers on more than one occasion in the past!
Is A Silver Lab A Purebred Dog?
But what does all this mean for the owner of a silver Lab today?
Are their dogs purebred or not?
Some opponents of silver Labradors will claim that silver colored Labradors cannot be registered as pedigree dogs, but at the time of writing, this is not true.
In order to be recognized as purebred, a breed or a dog belonging to that breed must be registered with the appropriate kennel club.
So, Are Silver Labs AKC Recognized?
Many silver Labradors have been registered with the American Kennel Club (AKC).
They have been registered, not as silver but as chocolate. Silver labs are not a permitted color under the Labrador breed standard.
So although these silver dogs are registered and recognized as being true Labradors, the color itself is not recognized in its own right.
The dogs are registered under the color that the dog would have been without the dilute gene.
You do still find people disputing this and claiming that a silver Labrador cannot be registered with the AKC, even if both parents are registered pedigree Labs.
But this is not true.
I have personally seen an email from the AKC stating that silver Labrador puppies should be registered as chocolate.
Many Labrador breeders were outraged by the AKC’s acceptance of these dogs as pedigree.
Some of these people have campaigned vigorously to oppose the registration of silver Labradors in any shape or form.
What Do Kennel Clubs Say About Silver Labs?
Five years ago there was a great deal of confusion over this issue.
More recently, though, several kennel clubs and breed clubs have clarified their views on silver Labradors.
You can find some of these statements in the links below:
There are also campaigns and petitions underway to try and stop the AKC in the USA from registering silver Labrador puppies at all.
If you enjoy your Labradors, silver or otherwise, and don’t care much about coat color, you might well wonder what all the fuss is about.
Where did all this bad feeling over a difference in color come from?
Reasons For Opposing Silver Labradors
Many breeders of Labradors strongly object to the production of silver puppies for a number of reasons:
- They feel that it threatens the purity of the breed
- They’re concerned about inbreeding
- They object to false claims of “rare” and “unique”
- They’re concerned that silver breeders are dishonest about the origins of the silver Labrador
- They feel that silver Labs are overpriced
- They’re concerned about health issues
There are various websites where you can read about the campaigns opposing silver Labradors – here is one of them.
Do Silver Labradors Threaten The Purity Of The Labrador Breed?
Some might say that pedigree Labrador breeders are worried about the competition in terms of sales from those producing silver puppies, but I suspect this is not often the case.
Most Labrador breeders care very deeply about the future of their breed.
Some are concerned about the impact of accepting a genetic change without what they feel to be proper consideration.
Pedigree breeders are also commonly committed to the concept of closed registry breeding.
So they are angry that there seems to have been a dishonest Trojan horse operation to sneak what may be an outcross into the breed line.
Preserving Closed Registers
Most Labrador breeders are in favor of a permanently closed register, preventing outcrossing between different breeds.
So they object strongly to what they see as tampering with tradition and the contamination of the Labrador gene pool.
But with so many concerns being raised over the last few years about closed registry breeding, this is a contentious subject with strong opinions on both sides.
Many scientists are hugely concerned about the restricted gene pools created by pedigrees.
They would like to see them opened, at least in a controlled manner, to allow new genetic material to enter.
However, for those in favor of maintaining breed purity in pedigree breeds, and who believe that silver Labs are cross-breeds, these dogs will always be seen as a threat to breed purity.
Are Silver Labradors Inbred?
In order to establish their silver lines, we could assume that breeders will initially have bred quite closely.
This means they likely mated dogs that were related to each other in order to establish the new color in their puppies.
It would at first glance seem likely, therefore, that the silver Labrador gene pool is fairly small.
And as we’ve just seen, small gene pools are bad news.
One way around this, of course, would be to accept them more widely so that their genetic diversity could be increased!
Inbreeding increases the risk of health problems arising or becoming exacerbated.
But are silver Labs particularly inbred?
Silver Labrador Inbreeding
Former Labrador breeder Jack Vanderwyk, a vehement opposer of silver Labradors, conceded in 2012 that:
Today, in 2012, many, many generations later, the ‘silver’ Labrador population has a fairly viable gene pool, with seven distinct, (almost) unrelated lines. As a result, the average COIs (Coefficient Of Inbreeding) are often not higher than those of other Labrador lines. This means that we shouldn’t underestimate the ‘silver’ population.
So it may be that inbreeding in silver Labradors will not be the problem that it once appeared to be.
But that doesn’t answer everything.
Breeders also object to what they consider to be very high prices charged by breeders of silvers.
Along the same lines, they object to what they believe are untrue claims that silver Labs are rare and unique animals.
Are Silver Labrador Breeders Dishonest?
Many mainstream Labrador breeders feel that silver Labrador breeders lack integrity.
They believe that these breeders are often dishonest about the origins of their dogs.
Woodhaven Labs make this claim in an article by breeder Sharon A. Wagner, hosted on their website:
Silver breeders also blatantly lie. They have information on their websites that talk about DNA testing done by the AKC and a researcher at UC Berkley. Both are not true. AKC never did any genetic mapping of silver Labradors nor do they have any plans to do so since they are a registering body only and the Labrador Club of America writes the standard for the breed.
At the moment the claims to rarity are true. Only a small proportion of Labradors born each year are silver.
Are Silver Labradors Overpriced?
Objections to so-called overpricing are common in dog breeding and not confined to the silver Lab.
Many purebred pedigree dog breeders feel it is outrageous to charge large sums of money for dogs that are crossbred.
As most pedigree Labrador breeders view the silver Lab dog as a crossbreed, this too causes anger.
Others feel it is entirely reasonable to charge whatever you can get for a puppy, no matter what its ancestry, provided that it is healthy and well cared for.
This seems a more logical approach.
Surely it is the quality of the puppy that counts, not the price on his head?
And like most prices in a free world, demand is what drives prices up.
The Price Of Silver Lab Puppies
The price of your pretty gray puppy may be greater than the price of a Lab of one of the three recognized colors.
People are often willing to pay more for something they believe to be unusual.
Bear in mind that despite this high price, you won’t be able to enter your puppy into a conformation show.
And you may cause a bit of a stir if you decide to enter your silver lab puppy in a hunt test or field trial.
But are silver Labradors as healthy as Labradors in the three standard colors?
Silver Lab Health Issues
The color dilution gene, that dd which gives us the pale silvery coat, is sometimes associated with coat problems.
Specifically, it may be linked to a kind of hair loss.
The problem is known as “color dilution alopecia” and is more common in dogs that have the color dilution gene, dogs like Weimaraners, and now, silver Labradors.
It isn’t a life threatening condition, but it also isn’t curable. It can lead to progressive hair loss in young dogs and potentially recurrent infection in the hair follicles.
Coat dilution is, however, caused by one or more mutations within a certain gene, and does not always lead to skin problems.
In most respects however, silver lab health is much the same as that of any purebred Labrador.
Labs do have some inherited problems that breeders should test for, including a tendency to develop hip dysplasia.
You should sure you are aware of all the relevant tests before buying a silver lab puppy.
Should You Buy A Silver Labrador?
The view that silver Labs were originally created by outcrossing one or more Labradors with a Weimaraner does seem to be persistent.
And without absolute proof one way or the other, the argument may never be resolved.
Whether or not that matters to you will depend very much on your own point of view.
Some people who own pedigree Labradors that are silver in color may feel tricked or deceived if they hear these rumors, but many won’t care.
They love their beautiful dogs and that is all that matters to them.
Where To Buy Silver Lab Puppies
It probably pays to be particularly cautious when buying a silver Lab pup.
This is not because purity of color is important in any breed of dog.
It’s because a breeder that falls “outside the fold” of the wider dog breeding community, may not meet the standards we expect of a responsible breeder.
And you definitely should only work with a responsible breeder.
Happily, breeding silver Labrador puppies is not mutually incompatible with being a responsible breeder.
But your choice of breeder is likely to be restricted because of the stigma attached to breeding silver puppies.
When you buy a Labrador of any color, your first priority needs to be health. Do check out our information on buying a healthy puppy.
Remember, your breeder should have their silver Lab health tested before breeding from them.
Finding a reputable breeder that produces pedigree silver Labrador puppies from fully health tested parents may not be the easiest task, but it can be done.
Responsible Silver Lab Breeders
There is a movement underway to bring more silver Labrador breeders into the “responsible breeder” fold. An increasing proportion of silver breeders are now fully health testing all their breeding stock.
Remember that a silver Labrador, if registered with a kennel club, will be registered as chocolate. Check the pedigree and health certificates very carefully.
By now you’re well aware of the ongoing controversy on these dogs. So if you decide to go ahead, be prepared to get some criticism for your decision.
There are also questions regarding the registration of silver Labs born in the future, should the battle to de-register them succeed.
This may affect those who want to breed from their dog, or who want to compete with their dog in the show ring or in obedience or field trial competitions that are only open to registered pedigree dogs.
But again, for most of you, that won’t matter.
An Uncertain Future For Silver Labradors?
The future of the gray Lab is still somewhat uncertain.
But with every year that passes, it seems less likely that they will be excluded from the gene pool of pedigree Labradors in America.
Some people feel that the jury is still out on the origins of the silver Labrador.
However, despite the availability of DNA testing, no one seems to have come forward with any evidence of Weimaraner blood in a modern purebred Lab pedigree.
My personal feeling is that this battle can’t be won, and that the portion of the Labrador community opposed to silver in Labradors is probably going to have to accept defeat.
Your Silver Lab Questions – Answered
This topic is often debated over on our Facebook page.
As many of the debates on Facebook begin by referring to this article, I think it would be helpful to have this summary, which I posted on our page, up here too.
There are two things being confused each time the topic comes up.
One is facts, the other is opinions.
Opinion one: Silver Labradors are not actually Labradors at all, they are mongrels
Some people do not agree with the AKC policy of registering dogs that carry the dilute gene.
They hold the opinion that this is wrong.
And they are of course absolutely entitled to that opinion, and to do whatever they can to persuade the AKC to change their policy.
But it is only an opinion and is not supported by strong evidence.
Fact One: The American Kennel Club does register silver Labradors
The American Kennel Club does at the moment register silver Labradors.
It registers them under the color chocolate, because most Labradors with the dilute gene are dilute chocolate.
It is however, possible to get dilute blacks (charcoal) and dilute yellows (champagne).
The fact that the AKC has this policy means that there are members of our community who own AKC registered pedigree Labradors that are silver in color.
Whether the rest of us approve or not, this is a fact.
Telling these people that their dogs aren’t Labs is both unhelpful and untrue, because they are indeed registered pedigree dogs. Telling the AKC would be more appropriate.
Whether or not the AKC can be persuaded to change their policy is uncertain, but it becomes increasingly unlikely as time goes on.
Many silver Labradors have been born and registered and bloodlines are now becoming well mixed. It is difficult to see how such a policy would be implemented.
Perhaps we will just all have to get used to the color silver?
Opinion two: Silver Labradors were produced by crossing Labs with Weimaraners.
One theory is that silver Labradors are all mongrels and are actually crossed with Weimaraners.
People often post on our Facebook page to say that there is DNA evidence to support this belief.
Fact two: No absolute proof for the origins of the silver Lab has been published, and there are other possible explanations.
The introduction of Weimaraner blood is indeed ONE explanation for the dilute gene in our pedigree Labs.
But it is not the only explanation.
Early on in the history of the Labrador, this breed was crossed with other breeds that contain the dilute gene, most notably the Chesapeake Bay Retriever.
So it is possible, however unlikely, that the dilute gene was carried by one or two individuals early on and has been in the breed for many years.
Recessive genes that are rare can take many generations to appear.
But the chances of two recessive genes meeting increase constantly in a closed register of dogs due to genetic drift.
Which is why of course, we get new genetic diseases appearing all the time in our pedigree breeds.
Fact two, part two: No concrete evidence
While rumors of tests abound, no one has provided published concrete evidence in support of Weimaraner DNA in any individual pedigree Labrador on any of the threads we have had on this topic on this page, nor in any of the many emails I receive about silver Labs.
Weimaraners are one of the breeds that do show up in DNA tests, so this shouldn’t be hard to find if it exists.
On the other hand, I believe we have had someone publish a link on our Facebook page to DNA tests that show that their silver dog is purebred.
If anyone else with a silver Lab has had a DNA test done, perhaps they would post a link to the results in the comments below?
Likewise, if anyone has a link to DNA evidence to the contrary, please post a link.
Without evidence, it simply isn’t possible to progress this aspect of the debate any further.
Opinion three: Silver Labradors have no health clearance.
It is often stated that silver Labrador breeders are all irresponsible and never health test their dogs.
Fact three: There are silver Labrador breeders that health test their breeding stock.
There are silver Labrador breeders that are health testing.
And more of them are likely to follow suit.
You can find them through the web page that I linked to above.
There are also silver breeders that are irresponsible.
In fact, there are irresponsible breeders everywhere.
They are not restricted by color.
Please, people, make sure you get health test evidence before falling in love with your puppy!
Opinion four: Silver Labradors are no use for anything other than pets.
This opinion has been stated a number of times on our Facebook debates.
Fact four: There are lots of roles that silver Labradors can play.
It is true that a silver Lab cannot compete in the show ring. Only three colors are permitted when exhibiting Labradors at shows.
Simply put, if your plan is to show, don’t buy a silver Lab.
However, there are silver Labradors working as hunting companions, competing in hunt tests, obedience competitions and agility.
There is no reason why a silver Lab could not be an assistance dog for the disabled, a military service dog, or a guide dog for the blind.
These are all useful roles, arguably more useful than being exhibited.
Opinion five: Outcrossing (if that is how silver Labs arrived) is bad for the genetic health of our breed.
Some of you have stated that bringing new genetic information into the Lab gene pool (if that is what has been done) is harmful genetically.
Fact five: Genetic health improves with increasing genetic diversity.
The main problem genetically with closed registers (pedigree breeds) is diminishing genetic diversity.
Increasing genetic diversity improves the health of a closed population, not the other way around.
Rudeness Towards Silver Labrador Owners
This is becoming increasingly common.
Silver Labrador owners are referred to as “suckers” for buying their dog, told their dogs are ugly, houndy, and look like mongrels.
These are all very upsetting things to hear about a beloved dog that was bought in good faith and that has genuine legal documents to prove its ancestry.
The AKC has, rightly or wrongly, decided these dogs are Labradors.
So it isn’t reasonable to berate people who have chosen and paid for such a dog legitimately for their actions.
We all love Labradors, even if we differ as to what we think is best for them.
I don’t want the owners of silver Labs to be afraid to post pictures of their dogs on our Facebook page, or afraid to talk about their dogs there or here in our comments section.
I hope you don’t either, and I hope that we can carry on debating this fascinating topic without being mean to one another.
Your Silver Lab
We love all Labradors, no matter how prestigious their pedigree, or what color their coat is.
If you have a silver Lab, we’d love to hear about your dog, and about your experiences in finding him or her.
We’d also like to know if you have experienced any prejudice against your dog because of his unusual coat color.
Whether you love silver Labs or oppose them, your politely expressed views are very welcome! Just drop them into the comments box below.
Let us know what you think and why!
References And Further Reading
- “Purebred Vs. Mutt,” The Labrador Site, 2019
- “Dilute Coat Color D-Locus and New D2-Locus,” Animal Genetics, 2019
- “Dilution D Series,” Dog Genetics
- Welle, M, et al., “MLPH Genotype – Melanin Phenotype Correlation in Dilute Dogs,” Oxford Academic Journal of Heredity, 2009
- “Q And A With Dean Crist,” Silver Labs – Just The Facts
- Welle, D, “No Such Thing – Silver Labradors,” Blue Knight Labrador Retrievers, 1990
- “Breed Color Position Statement,” National Labrador Retriever Breed Council of Australia, 2010
- “Silver Labs,” The Labrador Club of New Zealand
- “What’s In The Gene Pool?” Institute of Canine Biology, 2017
- “How Population Size Affects Inbreeding,” Institute of Canine Biology, 2017
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This article was extensively revised and updated for 2019.