Silver Lab – The Facts About Silver Labrador Retrievers

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silver labrador puppy

The Silver Lab is a variation of the chocolate Labrador, bred to have a gene that dilutes their usual brown coat color.

A great companion, the silver Labrador has the same lively, fun and adorable personality as other Labs.

But that attractive silvery grey coat is surprisingly controversial!

Best selling author Pippa Mattinson investigates the controversy over silver Labradors and digs down to the facts!

What’s in this guide?

We’ll take a look at where silver Labs come from and how to buy a healthy silver Labrador Retriever puppy.

As well as finding out why people can’t stop fighting over them!

This is a BIG guide, so use the links to jump to the sections that interest you!

Some of the gorgeous silver Lab photos in this article have been provided by our readers,

Beautiful Silver Lab Phoebe
Silver Lab Phoebe – by kind permission of Courtney Woods Carr

You’ll find information about submitting your dog’s photo at the foot of this article

Silver Lab FAQ

Some long established 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 them.

silver labrador puppy
Price is just one of the many aspects of these Labs that causes lively debate among our readers!

How much is a silver Lab?

Expect to pay upwards of $1000 for a silver Labrador puppy.

The price of your pretty gray puppy may be greater than the price of a Lab of one of the three recognized colors.
Beautiful young silver lab galloping towards his master, unaware of the controversy that surrounds his ancestry
People are often willing to pay more for something they believe to be unusual. We’ll look at just how rare silver Labradors are in a moment.

Are Silver Labradors Overpriced?

You may have heard that silver Labs are overpriced.

Objections to so-called overpricing are common in dog breeding and not confined to the silver Lab.

The same accusations are often aimed at Labradoodle breeders and Cockapoo breeders.

Many purebred dog breeders feel it is outrageous to charge large sums of money for dogs that are crossbred.

And view the silver Labrador Retriever as a cross breed too.

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.

Their view is that 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.

It’s an interesting debate!

Are silver Labs good family dogs?

Silver Labradors make great family dogs. They are ideally suited to active, outdoor loving families with children over five.

12 week old silver lab puppy
Emma, pictured at 12 weeks old, is a wonderful family pet.

Labradors can be very bouncy when young so a silver Lab puppy isn’t always a great match for toddlers or those unsteady on their feet.

But an older, calmer, rescue Lab can make a perfect companion for younger children.

Labradors are very sociable dogs that love company.

A silver Lab is likely to be happier in a family where there are people at home for part or most of the day.

How big do silver Labs get?

The recommended breed standard height for a Labrador is up to 24 and a half inches for a male. And an inch shorter for a female.

However, individuals can vary a couple of inches or more either side of that.
Silver Lab lying in long grass

When it comes to body weight, the variations can be even greater and will depend on which of two groups (American or English) a silver Lab falls into.

Male Labs often reach about 70lbs in weight. Females about 10lb lighter.

But there can be as much as 20lbs difference either side of that average.

American Labs bred for hunting and retrieving are slimmer, taller and often lighter than the chunkier English type that you see in the show ring

Are silver Labs rare?

As a relatively new color variation silver Labs are rare in some countries.

Partly because registration of silver puppies is not widely permitted.

Some national kennel clubs and breed clubs have clarified their views on silver Labradors.

You can find some of these statements in the links below:

silver lab

However, the silver Lab is no longer particularly rare in the USA where it is registered under the color Chocolate.

While not rare, It is still a more unusual color and silver puppies can be harder to find than black, yellow or brown.

The breed at a glance

  • Popularity: The Labrador is the most popular breed in the USA
  • Purpose: Hunting companion and retriever
  • Weight: 65-80lbs
  • Temperament:Co-operative, friendly, enthusiastic

Note that we don’t have individual figures for different colors of Labrador as these numbers are not published by the AKC

Silver Lab characteristics

As ‘dilute’ versions of a standard Lab, many silver Labs look just like any other Labrador, but for their distinctive coat color.

“Dilute” is a commonly used term for variations in animal fur color.

It refers to a specific gene that causes the color of an animal to show in a lighter or ‘watered down’ variation.

Another feature of a dilute dog is the color of the nose and eyes.

The dilute gene is normal in many dog breeds but has only appeared quite recently in Labrador retrievers

Controversy!

We’ll discuss the science behind it, and the arguments that surround it, especially when it comes to the silver Lab, a little further on.

Although they appear to be all Lab to most, there are claims that the ears of some silver Labs can look longer than those of a regular Lab.

Others describe them as a bit ‘houndy’ in appearance.

And many have compared the silver Lab with the Weimaraner.

A naturally silver breed that has always carried the dilute gene.

Before we get into discussing how the dilute gene got into Labradors, let’s take a quick look at how it works

Labrador coat color and the dilute gene

There are three different colors of Labrador recognized by the American Kennel Club.

Those colors are:

Missing from the list, you’ll notice, are:

  • silver
  • charcoal
  • champagne

Just as the silver coat is a diluted version of chocolate, so the charcoal is a diluted version of black, and champagne is a diluted version of yellow.

How the dilute gene works

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.

silver lab
Some would like to see silver labs banned

In simple terms, genes come in pairs. Big D produces full strength coat color. Little d produces a dilute color.

Gene Combinations

A Chocolate Labrador can have three possible combinations of the D gene

  • DD – chocolate Lab
  • or, Dd – chocolate Lab
  • alternatively, Dd – silver Lab

And big D always overrides little d. This means that a Labrador needs two copies of the dilute gene in order to have dilute fur.

Only the third combination would produce a silver coat.

Unless little d is paired with another little d, it will have no effect.

In some breeds of dog, all individuals have two little d genes. Weimaraners, for example.

And the recent appearance of the double little d gene in chocolate Labradors is what has enabled the silver Lab to appear on the scene.

The big question is – “how did it get there?”

And that question lies at the heart of that debate into the true origins of the silver Labrador Retriever.

Where do silver Labs come from?

Reports of silver Labradors seem to have first appeared in the United States in the 1950s.

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.

Exactly how this new color came to be is a question that many people are asking, and arguing about.

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.
silver labs and the controversy that surrounds them

In particular, they want to know how the double dd gene got into the purebred Labrador.

How did the dilute gene get into Labradors?

There are a number of options that can explain the appearance of a new gene in a purebred dog

  1. mixed breeding
  2. spontaneous mutation
  3. hidden genes

The first and most obvious explanation is that at some point, an outcross occurred, between a Labrador and a breed of dog that carries the dilute gene. A Weimaraner for example

#1 Mixed breeding

Many people believe that the first silver Labs were crossbreeds.

Not only is this theory plausible, there are clear motives for dog breeders to create a new color variation in an existing breed.

Motives could include financial gain (though they couldn’t have known initially how popular the color would be), attention, or just the sheer fun of creating something new.

silver lab puppy

Diane Welle of Blue Knight Labs does not go quite so far as to directly accuse the breeders concerned

She wrote:

“There 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 most silver Labs today look pretty much the same as any other Labrador – apart from the fact that they are silver.
silver labrador retriever laying down

The cross-breeding theory has been a very popular one. But recently it has lost some credibility due to genetic testing of silver Labs which has failed to show a link to Weimaraners.

#2 Spontaneous mutation

It is not uncommon for genes to mutate.

This is another way that a rare or unusual characteristic can appear in a family of dogs that were previously unaffected by it.

This isn’t a popular theory for the appearance of the dilute gene in the silver Labrador.

Partly because the other two explanations are both so plausible.

For a mutation to be identical to a gene that already exists for an unusual coat color in another breed would be something of a coincidence.

Many people feel that the spontaneous appearance of this dd dilution gene in the Labrador Retriever gene pool is, to say the least, unlikely.

However, it cannot be entirely ruled out.

# Hidden genes

The capacity of “rare” genes to remain hidden for long periods of time is a phenomenon that most scientists are aware of.

This explanation for the appearance of the silver Lab in the 1950s is perhaps the most valid alternative to the cross breeding theory.

We know that some genes are dominant over others. And can mask or hide them. We call the masked or hidden genes recessive.

Many diseases are caused by recessive genes and only appear when the unfortunate individual inherits two copies

Genes carrying rare diseases can remain hidden for decades, only to appear when closely related dogs are mated together.

This happens more frequently when gene pools are small, as they are in our pedigree dog populations.

Colors can be dominant or recessive too

The B color gene that determines whether or not a Lab is basically black or brown, and favors black dogs.

Brown is recessive and a Lab needs two copies of the little b brown gene to have a brown coat.

Brown labradors only became common when breeders deliberately set about mating them to one another.

Some people argue that the rare dilute gene has also been present in Labradors all along, and that it only appeared, as rare diseases sometimes do, when two closely related dogs were bred.

The first Labradors were not registered by the AKC until 1917. Before then there would have been regular outcrossing with other similar breeds.

Including the Chesapeake Bay Retriever, a breed that does have the dilute gene.

So it is entirely plausible that the little d gene passed from Chesapeakes into one or two Labs before the Labrador pedigree registers were closed and remained hidden in the breed only to reappear in the 1950s when the demand for Chocolates was beginning to rise.

Silver Lab temperament and training

Whatever the origins of the silver Lab, the silver Labs we see today are very much Labrador in both temperament and conformation

Training a silver Lab puppy is a huge amount of fun.

It takes a little time and patience as Labs can be rather bitey when small and rather bouncy as they grow into teenagers.

You’ll need to set aside some time for training each day, and you’ll find the following sections of this website helpful in raising your silver puppy

Silver Labrador health and longevity

Silver Labs suffer from the same health issues as other purebred Labs. Including a predisposition to joint problems and to over-eating!

Two studies record Labrador lifespan at between 11 and 12 years of age and Labs also have a higher rate of cancer (at 31% of all deaths) than some other breed

On balance though, Labs are a fairly healthy and well constructed breed, free from some of the disabilities that plague some other purebred dogs.

There is a potential health issue associated with the coat color dilution gene which you need to be aware of.

Color dilution alopecia

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 usually 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 dilutiondoes not always lead to skin problems.

Not all dogs with the dd gene carry the faulty alopecia version and most silver Labradors are, in fact, free from alopecia.

In most respects therefore, silver Lab health is much the same as that of any purebred Labrador.

The silver Labrador debate

Silver Labradors are one of the most controversial topics being discussed within the dog community today.

Each time we discuss this topic on the Labrador Site’s Facebook page there is some anger expressed by those that are opposed to the very existence of silver Labradors.

They object because they hold one or more of the following beliefs. They believe that silver Labs:

  • threaten breed purity
  • are not recognized by the AKC
  • to be inbred
  • are overpriced
  • to be bred by the wrong people

Are Silver Labs Pure Bred?

There is no definitive proof that silver labs were created by cross breeding but even if they were, that is not necessarily a problem from a health or welfare point of view.

However, 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.

They are angry at what they see as a dishonest Trojan horse operation to sneak what may be an outcross into the breed line.

Pedigree breeders are also commonly committed to the concept of closed registry breeding.

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.

Restricted gene pools

Many scientists are hugely concerned about the restricted gene pools created by pedigrees.

And would like to see pedigree registers opened, at least in a controlled manner, to allow new genetic material to enter.

Sadly, 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.

Do the AKC Recognize Silver Labs?

With regard to the AKC, many silver Labs have been registered as pedigree purebred Labrador Retrievers.

Silver is not recognized as a color and not permitted in the show ring.

However, a silver Lab can be registered (as chocolate Labs) and entered into field trials and hunt tests provided that both its parents are registered with the AKC

Are Silver Labs Inbred?

The problems associated with inbreeding are a major concern for all those who care about canine welfare.

Inbreeding increases the risk of health problems arising or becoming exacerbated.

When a rare or unusual color becomes popular and demand rises there is always a risk that inbred puppies will be produced.

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.

It is worth remembering that any risk of inbreeding can be reduced by ensuring a low co-efficient of breeding between the parents of each litter. A knowledgeable breeder will be able to help you with this.

Bad breeders

There have been concerns that many silver Labrador puppies are irresponsibly bred by backyard breeders or in puppy mills

Lovely Silver Lab puppy Lola - you can choose between an English silver Lab and an American silver Lab
Beautiful silver Lab puppy Lola

These concerns can of course apply to any popular breed but as silver Labs become more mainstream, there are clear signs that responsible breeding practices are being adopted.

Silver Labrador puppy: buying tips

If you decide to bring a silver Lab puppy into your life, it is very important to find a responsible Labrador breeder.

You’ll need a breeder who health tests all their dogs before breeding, and whose dogs are a part of their lives, not just breeding machines.

Happily, breeding silver Labrador puppies is not mutually incompatible with being a responsible breeder.

But you will need to be diligent in order to avoid puppy mills and bad breeding practices.

Silver Labrador puppies should only be purchased from breeders that have tested the puppy’s parents for hip and elbow dysplasia, PRA (inherited blindness) and CNM (a muscle wasting disease.

The Labrador Handbook by Pippa Mattinson

Remember that a silver Labrador, if registered with a kennel club, will be registered as chocolate.

Check the pedigree and health certificates very carefully.

Do also check out our information on buying a healthy puppy.
You can find out more about how to find a good Labrador breeder in this article.

Pros and cons of silver Labs

One of the downsides to bringing a silver Lab into your life is that you may experience unpleasant reactions from those that think silver Labs are ‘ruining the breed’.

Or who believe that they should be banned.

Cons

  • Some people may be rude about your dog
  • You won’t be able to compete your dog in the show ring
  • You may have to pay a higher price than you would for a regular color Lab
  • It might be harder to find a responsible breeder in your area
  • There may be a risk that your dog will get alopecia

Pros

  • Your silver Lab is likely to have the health and fitness of any other Lab
  • This Lab will be as lovable and trainable as any other Lab
  • Your Lab will probably be a great family pet
  • You will have the pleasure of owning an unusual dog

There are also questions regarding the registration of silver Labs born in the future. You should be aware that there are people campaigning to have silver Labs de-registered.

Should they succeed it could affect those who want to breed from their dog, or who want to compete with their dog in obedience or field trial competitions that are only open to registered pedigree dogs.

Silver Labs – summary

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.

On the other hand, acceptance of silver Labs does seem to be steadily growing.

We love all Labradors, no matter how lowly their pedigree, or what controversial their coat color is.

If you have a silver Lab, we’d love to hear about your dog, and about your experiences in finding him or her.

And if you’d like us to consider his or her picture for inclusion on this page, please send an email to enquiries@redcatmedia.net with the words silver lab photo as the subject.

Don’t forget to tell us your dog’s name and age – and your name if you wish to be credited as the photographer

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
  • Wagner, S, “The Truth Behind ‘Silver’ Labradors,” Woodhaven Labrador Retrievers
  • Hered, J, “A noncoding melanophilin gene (MLPH) SNP at the splice donor of exon 1 represents a candidate causal mutation for coat color dilution in dogs,” 2007
  • “Color Dilution Alopecia,” Animal Dermatology Clinic, 2010
  • Philipp, U, et al., “Chromosomal assignment of the canine melanophilin gene (MLPH): a candidate gene for coat color dilution in Pinschers,” 2005
  • Philipp, U, et al., “Polymorphisms within the canine MLPH gene are associated with dilute coat color in dogs,” 2005
  • “Silver Labs – Improvement Movement,” Silver Labs Blog
  • Zeirath et al Frequency of five disease-causing genetic mutations in a large mixed-breed dog population. Plos one (2011–2012)

This article was extensively revised and updated for 2019.

230 COMMENTS

  1. Smokey our 6 year old Silver Lab was rescued from an animal shelter when he was 3 years old. He had an issue with his coat, and with the help of our vet we’ve gotten his coat back, but instead of a fur, it’s more of a soft silver down. He’s one of the most loving dogs we have ever owned, is super smart, and seems to want to keep everybody happy! If there are ever squabbles going on between any other dogs, he seems to have this need to step in and end whatever the differences are between the dogs(most often works too).

  2. I have no issue with the recessive color labs. However I believe in adoption. If I could adopt a silver or charcoal I would.

  3. Correct me if I’m wrong but in my research about the silver lab. From my understanding the Newfoundland had the recessive color Gene dd which is the labrador as we know it today. Also in my research I found that the skin issues is not dd but is d1.

  4. I haven’t read all the comments – so please forgive me if someone has already answered this – but if you do genetic breed testing on a Silver/Champagne or Charcoal Labrador (which I think are gorgeous, by the way), would it not come up either 100% Labrador or Labrador with a degree of Weimaraner (if that is in fact the case). Has no-one genetically tested their “dd” Labrador?

    • Maryb: An ordinary breed identification DNA test doesn’t typically look at enough genetic markers to be as reliable as one might like in ruling out possible cross-breeding many generations ago. However, Dean Crist, the American Labrador Retriever breeder credited with first popularizing silver Labs, had his dogs studied by a university professor who was able to do advanced DNA studies to determine that his silver Labs were indeed purebred. Subsequently, Crist offered a $100,000 silver Lab challenge to anyone who could prove his silver dogs were not purebred Labs. Despite all of the dishonest people who claim they know for a fact that silvers are Weimeraner hybrids, no one has accepted Christ’s challenge. You can guess why.

  5. I stumbled upon this article because my family wants a dog. We aren’t purists and I’m looking at shelters to rescue a dog. A silver lab puppy stopped me in my tracks and I want to inquire, but I’m concerned about the puppy’s health. How do I go about finding the health info out without knowing who mom and dad are?

  6. We have 2 Labradors, 1 Red & 1 Silver. Gracie Lou, our almost 4 yr old Red lab is super smart, happy, & loves to play catch. She is very competitive when it comes to running, she will race you anytime & loves to win!
    She seems petite (60 lbs) compared to parents & litter mates.

    Together we have figured out a few hand signals without really trying…she can sit, lay, roll, high five & stand without me saying a word. We love her dearly & our daughter has certified her as an emotional support dog.

    Now our Silver, Daisy May is almost 1 yr old is completely different! She is a solid 80 lbs of fun loving happiness & very friendly but a bit defiant at times.
    She has learned a lot from Gracie whom Daisy adores but can be also be very dominant over her when it comes to playing with toys.
    Daisy is on a daily medication for allergies or she turns bright red all over her body & gets a rash on her belly plus ear troubles.
    We love both our dogs very much & plan to add a third within the next year.

  7. We recently purchased a silver. My husband fell in love with her color she is the seeetest dog ever and we wouldn’t change her for the world. We drove 3 hours to get her at 20 weeks old. Took her to vet last week and they said she’s perfectly healthy and they fell in love with her also !!! Everyone loves their dog for different reasons . If you don’t like silver that’s fine there are many colors of labs!! But we wouldn’t trade Skylar for anything and are actually thinking about letting her have one litter when she’s old enough .

  8. I have been curious about the silver labs and any health problems …. in Utah we have lots of silver breeders, but we are partial to yellow so we purchased a female ended up being champagne golden and she has blue eyes/silver eyes from parents 1)female yellow ( from two yellow parents ) shown championed AKC both conformation ( open and junior) and field trials As well as family companion to a family of 5 children. 2 ) Champagne AKC golden male avid duck hunting retriever and service dog ( from yellow and chocolate parent) to their son with autism -both have brown eyes both black noses. 3 pups ( one female 2 males) came out champagne yellow with blue silver eyes others came out yellow with brown eyes and black noses, not outrageously expensive, AKC application, all tested with vet checked and parents ofa certified. Yes rare will she be loved -tremendously! She is very smart too already taken out with older labs and will be eager to retrieve by fall as well as very gentle with my grandchildren and no one is not welcome for attention like most labs. So just wondering how pups like this affect the long term lab breeding genetics ( this female will be fixed-but assuming others would find this very marketable )

  9. As breeders, the color of a Labrador should be very low in order of important qualities.
    As prospective buyers, the color of the Labrador should be very low in order of important qualities.
    I’ve seen a lot of problems from both sides. This is what I try to stress to buyers.

  10. I have a beautiful silver girl. She is health tested and clear of all Labrador diseases. She has her OFA clearances as well. She is hunt titled in AKC and UKC. She also has her Canine Good Citizen title. I have had Labradors for 40+ years. She is a Labrador. The best I have ever had.

  11. We have had our silver female for 6 years. We happened to come across a breeder that was selling them, and we fell in love with her immediately. We have always had labs, and did not choose her because of her “designer color”, but because she was beautiful! Never had any intent on breeding her, or care what she was registered as, we just wanted a friend, a loyal companion, and a puppy we could make part of our family. She has lived up to those expectations, and far surpassed them. I could care less what our girl was bred with to become who she is, because I love her for being one of the best dogs we have ever had!
    Lighten up world and just let people be happy!

  12. I’ve been researching about having a puppy trained as a service dog for my 9 year old son who has high functioning autism. Absolutely love how beautiful silver labs are but I’ve never seen one trained as a service dog. Anyone with experience know if a silver lab would be a suitable fit for a life long companion and support dog?

    • I’ve seen a handful of silver labs used as service dogs, however choosing an appropriate service dog is much more involved than simply choosing a breed and color. Finding an appropriate breeder and then even the right puppy is still a challenge since it’s a rare dog that will end up being suitable and being able to successfully pass once all of the training is complete.

      If I were you, I would get in touch with a reputable trainer as well as a behaviorist to have BOTH of them help choose the appropriate dog to be trained. Be aware however that if you go the route where you choose the dog yourself you still might end up with a dog that doesn’t end up passing (called a wash out) and will have a pet that might not be completely suitable as a service dog for your son. What this most likely would mean is that the dog wouldn’t be capable of joining your son in public. You’ll be much better off if you can find a program which will provide you with an already trained dog. This would also be a faster route as training a dog from scratch takes about 2 years.

      I completely understand however how difficult it is to find any programs that have availability due to the number of people who need assistance. Please be careful as there are also a number of nefarious people out there who will steal your money and not provide you with the appropriately trained dog for your son. I’d also suggest seeking out groups on Facebook for advice and assistance. Either search for service dog groups, service dogs for people with invisible disabilities, parents of children with autism, etc.

      Also, check out Becca and Frannie on YouTube for suggestions on finding a service dog and training tips if you do choose to get your own pup. All my best to you and your son (from someone w/ high functioning autism).!

  13. well I personally don’t care if my lab is black green or purple but mine is a year and a half old black lab with white marking and we love her. If you get a lab make sure you keep it mentally and physically challenged or it won’t be happy they get bored easy. but my true comment is that the AKC and there in breeding for look has ruined the gene pool in this country if you want a healthy dog look outside the U S got our German Shepard from Germany and never had a health issue

  14. I’m confused as to how a champagne labrador with the dilute gene can be considered genuine and yet it’s questionable as to where the dilute gene could have come from within a silver fox labrador.

    Surely if you took a champagne labrador with two diluted genes and bred it with a chocolate or black labrador the offspring would then contain the dilute gene (even though they’ve both come from labradors), at that stage they would probably be all chocolate (or black) labradors because they’d receive the diluted d gene from champagne side and the full D gene from the chocolate (or black) side. But then if you took another set from another group of dogs that had also been bred in the same way, then some of the dogs at the end would come out silver as they might gain a dilute gene from both of the previous dogs rather than one dilute gene and one full gene… eg.

    Grandmother 1 = Champagne Lab = dd
    Granddad 1 = Chocolate Lab = DD
    Dad = Chocolate Lab = Dd

    Grandmother 2 = Champagne Lab = dd
    Granddad 2 = Chocolate Lab = DD
    Mum = Chocolate Lab = Dd

    Dad Chocolate Lab (Dd) + Mum Chocolate Lab (Dd) = Pup Chocolate Lab (dd) = Lab with dilute coat.

    There is of course many other combinations in that situation that you could also end up with too but as the dilute gene is already in the breed then there is no reason why it can’t spread across the breed, but it could take time considering the chances of firstly someone mating a yellow lab with a black lab, which as yellow labs weren’t that popular before the 1800’s was unlikely to happen, and then for that labs siblings to go be bred with another labs siblings that have been mated in the same way. There was only 150 years (1950’s) between the yellow lab appearing and the silver fox appearing so this it’s highly plausible that this could have happened.

  15. Many of the silver Labs that I see have either blue or pale green eyes (although nearly as many display a light brown color). Are these “Weimariner” eye colors consistent with Labrador d/d genetics or are they clearly evidence of outcrosses?

    • Labradors do not have blue eyes period! It comes from the weimaraner which also carry the dilute gene. The dilutes arose from a cross between Weimaraners and Labradors by an idiot breeder in the 1950’s.

  16. For me as just a dog lover (regardless if those puppies are pure or not), as long as the dog is intelligent and healthy and can protect me and my family and can love us more than we love each other i can still care and love him no matter what… i know this is all about business to all labrador breeders but just in reality they are smart and very loving animals..Actually i have one silver labrador and he is one of the sweetest and protective dogs i have he made my parents and family happy all the times…

  17. we have a 3 year old silver he is very smart and beautiful we’ve had people argue with us about him not being a lab he is registered with the AKC but as chocolate i don’t think it’s fair, but my vet made me feel better when she said you can tell the difference between a lab and the weinmer silver labs have wavy fur down their spine .we got him when he was 8 weeks old and she knew the first time he went into her for shots, what he was without asking. so i think the AKC should register accordingly

  18. I think it’s with all breeds, some owners interbreed and some do their best to keep the breeds pure. It’s a money market and you have to be very careful who you get your puppy from. I think the Silver labs are beautiful, I think the chocolate, black and yellow are beautiful as well. I bought my granddaughters a chocolate lab. And I’d like to own a silver lab someday. People are cruel. I don’t think it should matter, there is proof that they have been around since 1922. So, I feel that if you do your research on the type of puppy you’d like to bring home, then do it, love him/her, treat him/her right and you will be surprised at what you will receive in return.
    Have a Heart!
    And don’t even get me started on the AKC.

  19. We have a one year old female silver lab. She is smart, sweet, and beautiful. Training her for basic obedience was quite easy, as she is intelligent and easily motivated by food and praise. We have had nothing but positive interactions from folks. Many people have asked if she is a silver lab, so perhaps knowledge of the breed is spreading. A few have asked what kind of dog she is because the color is that of a Weimaraner, but the shape is not. Not one single person has said anything negative to us about her. We have only had positive interactions. We have even had interest expressed in breeding her (which we do not intend to do.) She is a joy. We did not search out this particular color. We just happened to know the breeder, and knew several people who have gotten his dogs over the years. The folks we know use them as hunting dogs and/or companion dogs, and all have been very happy with them. We have no regrets. She is a joy, and we are completely smitten!

  20. We discovered “silver labs” about 3 months ago. We had never heard of one before, never seen one before. We found one fairly close by and made the purchase, having never been dog owners, we didn’t know what we didn’t know. We were told he was the “smallest male of the litter” and he was, at 5 months he was only 22 pounds. We figuered he just needed some “fattening up” and not competing for food would take care of that. Fast forward a month and we discover that he had a congenital defect and we needed to put him down. It was horrible and heartbreaking. We decided we’d never do that again, but there was such a hole left behind, we ended up getting another! He came with health certificates and OFA certs and DNA profiles on the parents, we bought him, had him examined and tested top to bottom and he’s been a great and loyal dog! Every bit a lab!! Our oldest son then bought our dogs sister, same litter—within a week of the purchase, with all the same certifications, she too had to be put down due to mega esophagus! My only point here is this: dogs get sick, we have not had good luck, 2 of 3 dogs had to be put down, but that’s the way it goes. These dogs could have suffered the same fate had we rescued them or bought them—but to say they aren’t Labs is just crazy talk. These are Labs by any standard applied, EXCEPT coat color—we were very unlucky in our situation. But that does not mean there is a defect with the breed, it just means “crap happens” and it happened to us.

  21. We have a 10 month old Silver Lab that we are putting down day. His name is CAMO, he was dealt a bad hand of cards. His hips and front elbows are shot. We reached out to Ohio State, VA Tech, and several Vet’s in our area. We were told it would be inhumane to put him through surgery. That said, we love him to death and will place him under his favorite place today, the pear tree’s. It’s going to be a sad day today, our Little DUDE was a joy and blessing. He will be missed. I highly recommend researching your breeder in depth, asking for a ton of references, and contacting a few of the current owner’s (purchased within the past two years) to see how their puppy’s are doing. We don’t want anyone else to go through with what we our dealing with, our hearts are broken.

  22. I have purchased 10 Silver Lab pups, starting in 2006. All males and defiantly LABS. I have had Labs since the early 1970s. No difference, other than color. Beautiful heads, coats, and minds. I purchased my first two full brothers, in 2006. They did have some slight skin issues, but none of the others have. I am getting ready to train one, of my current pups, as a Companion Dog, for my disabled husband. I will certify one, or maybe two, as Therapy Dogs, which I have done, with Labs, before. I have pups 8 months, 4 months, and 8 weeks. I have purchased all my Silvers, from the same breeder, who I think is great. I remember when she started breeding the Silvers. She traveled all over the US to get her males. She then bread them to her chocolate females. Then, she would breed those female chocolate pus back to another silver male. These produced the silver pups. Usually mixed liters, but eventually, she got all silver/charcoal litters. It was a painful process. I have total confidence in this breeder. No questions, on my part.

  23. We have had yellow labs for 29 years. Now we have a chocolate lab sand silver lab who are both 18 months. There is a big difference between our yellow and chocolate labs to being smart. Our silver lab is the dimmest dog compared to the others. He lacks being smart. Is this common with silver labs?

  24. Judy H, where do you get your misinformation? Can you cite sources? Do you realize how self-defeating your argument is that the nefarious alleged cross-breeding occurred too long ago to be detected by DNA testing, but recently enough that the temperament of the silvers allegedly “could be anything and will not be consistent?” Those who aren’t sure that silvers are purebred Labs with genes that have been in the breed since the beginning are invited to do their own research. Please Google “images of dilute Newfoundland dogs” and “founding breeds of Labrador Retrievers.” The AKC recognizes dilute Newfoundlands; they are registered as “grey.” In addition to Newfoundlands, there are other founding breeds who may have been the source(s) for dilute genes that have been in the Labrador Retriever breed since the beginning. The AKC used to register silver Labs as silvers (there were silvers whose AKC pedigrees and registrations formally listed silver as their color) and switched in the 1980s to registering them as chocolates because that is what modern science revealed they are, dilute chocolates. It is similar to how the AKC doesn’t register red (informally known as “fox red”) Labs as red, they register as yellow because these beauties are genetically a shade of yellow.

  25. I have a four year old silver lab. Previous to her we had a Yellow lab, which passed away at 13 years of age, To say the silver lab is not a true lab is insane. She in every way represents the beauty and loyalty of this awesome breed. and is just as much a lab as my yellow boy was. It is sad that this is even a debate.

    • I agree Amy. I have a 12 week Okd Silver Lab and he is AKC registered and is beautiful. I have gotten pushback from people though. It’s insane.

  26. I do not bash the dog, I bash the breeder.. AKC does not accept the color silver- at all. Fox red is a yellow lab hence the standard reads that a yellow is anything from a cream to a fox red in color. Black is black, period, chocolate is brown, period. Yellows and chocolates appeared in England ages ago. However silvers did not appear until the 1980’s and they first appeared a the home of a breeder who bred both Weimereiners and Labradors- big surprise. If we had only had dna testing for dogs in the 1980’s we could have nipped this in the bud, but now too many generations have passed. If you wonder what the big hoopla is about , welll here it is. You are not getting a Labrador temperaments. You are not getting a Weimie temperament. You are getting a mixed breed temperament which could be anything and will not be consistent. You will get the skin problems of the dilute gene.. The dilute gene and the chocolate or yellow gene are not the same. If you think that AKC accepts the silver color just try registering your Labrador as a silver or a charcoal or a champagne and good luck with that.

  27. I had never heard of this new introduction to the breed. My uncle breed labs in the 1970s-80s, and we owned a pup from his breeding dam.

    Recently a strange dog appeared on my farm property and committed a heinous act which I witnessed. The authorities asked me what kind of dog it was, and I said it was a maybe a lab mix that was gray. Weimeraner was in the back of my mind, so when I looked up Weimeraner attributes, I felt convinced that the dog was a Weimeraner.

    My husband who did not grow up with purebred labs, thought it was a chocolate lab.

    The dog did indeed look more houndlike. It had longer legs, a slimmer appearance, a no characteristic head shape that was broader (I even wondered if there was a trace of pit bull blood), a coat that didn’t look like chocolate at all… and yet this creature bore an AKC tag, so I thought it had to be Weimeraner.

    The owners revealed it was a “rare and expensive Labrador.”

    I must admit that it felt pretty outrageous to me. I couldn’t even recognize it as a purebred lab, and inexperienced laypeople can’t tell the difference.

    No one mentions temperament. They may be cute, but how trainable and obedient are silvers?

    As for me, I definitely am convinced by my own eyes that this is a “designer dog” lab/Weimeraner outcross.

    I do find it outrageous that the AKC has lowered their own standards to turn an extremely blind eye in this case. I agree that some breeder was able to slip them through.

    This has definitely lowered my respect for the AKC.

    • Hi Racine,
      I am a registered CKC breeder of conformation or “English” Labradors. You are definitely right to think it has Weimaraner in it as that is exactly where the grey colour comes from. These dogs have the dilute “d” gene from the weimaraner in them. They are not a rare colour of Labrador at all! I am horrified at what unethical breeders are doing to the beloved Labrador breed. The only recognized colours are black, yellow and chocolate. The dilutes are advertised as silver (chocolate), charcoal (black) and champagne (yellow). They get registered by the AKC and CKC and other registering bodies as their base colour because the forms do not have a space for the dilute colour. This is fraud! The parent Labrador club sets the breed standard and all of them denounce and don’t recognize these coloured dogs as purebred Labradors. All the AKC and CKC does is register them from what the “breeder” fills in.
      These dilute dogs come with a host of issues including severe alopecia and skin problems. The people that buy into this rare colour are ignorant and won’t believe facts. They are paying enormous amounts of money for a mutt. Ethical breeders like myself will keep advocating for testing before registration so any dilute dog cannot be registered as purebred Labrador. We test our breeding stock for the dilute gene as unethical breeders have been able to fraudulently tap into the gene pool of pure non dilute dogs.

  28. Months after losing our yellow lab, we got a darling charcoal female lab puppy and she has all the physical characteristics as our yellow lab (except color). She is turning out to be a great dog; smart, sweet and man, does she have a nose on her. She would be a great hunter but my hubby’s a fisherman.

    We do get stopped a lot asking what kind of dog she is, simply because of her grey coat, yet she clearly looks like a lab puppy. No one has ever said anything negative directly to us but those who have never heard of or seen grey labs do seem rather puzzled. I often refer them to this website and article, which is so well written and thorough, thank you!!

    The only comment that we overheard from earshot was ‘designer dog’ which was frustrating. My understanding of designer dogs if you will, were those who are deliberately cross bred, such as labradoodles. Our girl has her AKC papers and just because she is a different color than the traditional black, yellow or chocolate, doesn’t mean she is any less a purebred lab.

    We live in Western Washington and got our dog from a very reputable breeder (Circle B) who breeds all colors of labs. We paid a premium for our pup but the breeding parents have all the genetic testing and OFA certifications so we feel confident in her health and pedigree. And with many things in life, you get what you pay for.

    Labs are the best family dogs and we are looking forward to many great years with our grey girl!

    • There is no need to pay a “premium” for a puppy because the parents were health tested!! This is standard for ANY ethical breeder! I do all the health clearances and genetic testing on my dogs ( including testing for the dilute gene because I don’t want it in my stock) and we must breed clear of it! You paid a “premium” because your very unethical breeder is in it for the money and you have a puppy that is fraudulently registered as the base colour (black) when in fact she is supposed to be charcoal, but there is no “charcoal” box on the form! You have been taken for a ride if you believe your puppy is all Labrador. The dilute breeders are greedy, unethical people out to destroy the Labrador breed. Every parent Labrador Retriever Club advertises that their position is the dilutes are NOT purebred Labradors and those colours are NOT recognized! Just educate yourself and look up the Labrador Retriever Club of America.

  29. I have a silver lab male. He is very loyal, loving, and obedient. He can spell(ride, out, treat, etc) and understand many words. I have only had labs because of their loyalty, friendship, and kid tolerance! Best breed ever!

  30. I am a proud owner of a male silver lab he is now 13 months he is a full breed I purchased him in PA his name is Apollo and he is such a beautiful dog he absolutely loves people I’ve never received any bad comments from anyone when people see him they automatically wanna pet him .. I luv this dog 2 death it was the best move I’ve ever made and any1 who bashes this breed of dog is heartless and rude… this dog is so smart and loveable I have nothin negative 2 say..

    • I have a 12 week old Silver Lab registered through AKC. He is beautiful and smart and very healthy. I’ve been befriended by someone on FB because of his color lol. We love him above and beyond. I’m going to a pet expo today with him. I’m hoping I get out alive lol.

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