Which Labrador Color?

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Wondering which Labrador color is best? Or which color Labrador you should get?

We take a look at the different colors of Labrador.

Helping you to find out more about the chocolate, black and yellow Labrador Retrievers.

And the various shades that these Labrador colours can be.

To help you to decide which is the best Labrador color for you and your family.

Do Labrador Dog Colors Matter?

The three different colours of Labrador are often associated with different roles.

The yellow Labrador has become associated with Guide Dogs for the Blind, the black Labrador with gundog work and the chocolate Labrador with pet homes and the show ring.

We look at how different colors of Labrador have become associated with different roles and help you choose between themBut of course these are just broad generalisations and in reality,  Labradors of each colour have embraced all the many roles at which these amazing dogs excel.

Labrador Colour Inheritance

There are three main Labrador colours, and a huge variety of shades of colour too.

To find out much more about where these Labrador colors came from, and how they inherited their lovely coats, head over to our in-depth article on Labrador colour inheritance.

Yellow Labradors

Yellow Labradors are well known for a variety of roles, but perhaps best of all for being Service Dogs. They are nice tempered, easy to train and full of love.

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Although popular for highly trained roles, and of course very photogenic and therefore frequently used on charities literature, the yellow Labrador can still make a magnificant pet and be popular in the show ring too.

You can find out more about the wonderful Yellow Labrador in this article.

Fox Red Labradors

Fox Red Labradors are officially a section of the much more common Yellow Labradors.

Puppy dog laying on the grass.

These dogs tend to come from working lines, and have a more orange hue to their coats.

They are still classed however on Kennel Club documentation as yellow Labradors.

Fawn Labradors

In recent years some people have begun to refer to yellow Labradors as fawn Labradors.

If your Lab pup colour is slightly darker than the traditional yellow, but not as orange as a Fox Red Labrador, you might well refer to him as being a Fawn Labrador.

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However, this is not an official Labrador color, nor indeed is it really one which is referred to by Labrador breeders in the way that Fox Red now is.

Black Labradors

Black Labradors have long been favoured as gundogs, but also make wonderful pets, companions and agility dogs too.

Studio portrait puppy labrador on a colored background

They are the most common colour of Labrador, due to the way in which their colour genes are inherited. Perhaps for this reason, they are a little overlooked when it comes to people’s top picks for the best Labrador colour, but they are still really remarkable dogs.

You can find out more about our wonderful black Labradors in this article.

Chocolate Labradors

Chocolate Labradors make great family pets, as well as playing a role in the Show Ring.

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In America, chocolate Labradors are quite firmly established in hunting lines. However, it is worth bearing in mind that in the UK, Chocolate Labradors have only recently been achieving awards in the field. Black and yellow Labradors still taking more prominence at least in Field Trial circuits.

In our extensive article on Chocolate Labradors we will let you know all about the chocolate Labrador. Where he comes from, his pet suitability and much more.

Silver Labradors

Silver Labradors are a fairly new trend in Labrador breeding. This amazing color inspires a lot of comments from Labrador fans, both positive and negative.

silver labrador puppy

The color varation from chocolate is caused by a diluting gene, but how this got into the breed is the source of some controversy.

In our extensive article on Silver Labradors we take a look at where they come from and how to buy a healthy silver Labrador Retriever puppy.

Which Is The Best Labrador Colour?

Some people have a strong preference for a particular colour, but others are quite happy with either.

If you are not fussy about colour, you will have more choice of Labrador breeders to put on your shortlist when setting about choosing the right dog.

Although you might love one particular colour to look at, do think carefully about your prorities when it comes to picking a puppy.

Perhaps what really matters is your Labradors breeding: his parents temperaments, roles and health.

Show vs Field Bred Labradors

Whatever your colour preference it is worth bearing in mind that Labradors have become divided into two quite distinct types,  show,  and field.

Finding a suitable dog will probably depend more on choosing the right type, than on choosing the right colour.

With some colours you will have more choice in one type rather than the other.

And with some types you will have more choice in one colour than the others.

To find out more about the differences between show and working bred Labradors, check out this article comparing the Bench and Field varieties of Labrador here.

Rescue Labradors

When picking your new Labrador, you might be looking for an adult rather than a puppy. When rehoming from rescue centers you won’t in all likelihood have a choice of colour, but you will be getting the opportunity to give a lovely Labrador a better life.

The Labrador Handbook by Pippa Mattinson

To find out whether a rescue Labrador might be right for you and your family, take a look at this article.

Which Labrador Colour Is Your Favourite ?

Which Labrador colour do you prefer?   Why not share your reasons with us in the comments box below!

More information on Labradors

labrador-jacket-800If you’d like all of our best Labrador information together in one place, then get your copy of The Labrador Handbook today.

The Labrador Handbook looks at all aspects owning a Labrador, through daily care, to health and training at each stage of their life.

The Labrador Handbook is available worldwide.

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

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Pippa Mattinson is the best selling author of several books on dogs. She is the founder of the Labrador Site and a regular contributor. She is passionate about helping people enjoy their Labradors and lives in Hampshire with her husband and four dogs.

117 COMMENTS

  1. I grew up with and love black labs and felt like a trader when I got a yellow lab but Charlie is the best dog I know and it is so much easier in the summer time because I don’t feel I have to cool him down with a hose like I did my black labs. He may have the best breeding of any lab I have had except one I had as a toddler which was an actual fields champion. Easiest lab of all time, no hyper activity except when he rides in a truck or goes somewhere he has an annoying whimper from excitement. He is never treated much like a dog because he is so much more but like a child and a spoiled grand child by my parents. I am a retired Army combat vet and I think he is exactly what GOD felt I needed and I have no reason to question other wise! P.S. Lab man for life!!

  2. We have a beautiful 2 1/2 year old male black lab. He is the most loving, beautiful soul and our best friend. We train together, hike together, travel together and it’s very rare that he’s not snuggled up on our bed when we wake up in the morning. If I’m sick, he knows and never leaves my side. I doubt that his wonderful personality is directly linked to his coat colour, but that expressive little black furry face puts me firmly in the “preference for black labs” camp.

  3. We are planning to adopt a black guy in a week. We haven’t seen the parents of the dog. Is it necessary to track down their parents before getting the dog? Please help.We are pretty confused .

  4. We have always had black labs……and would always have, just our personal preference. We cannot really comment on the yellow and brown types. Apparently Black was the original colour, or so we have read (originating from Newfoundlands) and is the dominant gene. There is just something about them……

    The biggest difference we have found between the show labrador and gundog lines. In our experience, gun dogs are (unsurprisingly) more biddable, quick to learn and sensitive, whereas the Show lines have been more independent and stubborn.
    We have found boy and girl gun dogs equally intelligent, athletic and sensitive

  5. I have had yellows and blacks in the past. I have a chocolate now. I don’t see much difference based on color. I do see a huge difference between males and females. No better breed, I love them all!

    • I was wondering about the huge difference between male and female ? I’m currently looking for a lab for my special needs son . Thank you !

  6. From personal experience:
    Choc boys are big and slothy
    Choc girls are eccentric (but also the most loyal and hooman like)
    Yellow girls are independent and happy
    Yellow boys are big toddlers and sooky at times
    Black girls have to be around humans and hate going outside
    Black boys are the ratbags!

    I currently have a 19 month gold boy and a 6 month black boy 🙂

  7. Why choose, I had my yellow, red nose for 14 years, a black girl for 10, they have been gone three years now; so I got a Fox girl, black boy (just got him fixed) and now a silver baby boy. And I have to sat three puppies under 9 months and red is hyper, black is the thief, and silver is cool and calm! Love them all and fox and silver deserve to be their own colors only like 25 years the chocolate dogs were not their own color remember!

  8. The author made a good point about the difference in Chocolate labs in the UK and the US and as I live in the US my comments are based on Labs here. All colors are lovely dogs. Chocolates are most defiantly breed as field/gun dogs in the US and as a whole if you want a good gun dog, Chocolate is the best. As they are excellent gun dogs they often are a bit too squirrelly to make a companion animal unless you own a farm or ranch. Yellow does make the best service dog and they are ver sweet as well as are the chocolates. My preference is black English Labs are to me, as I have always had a female, they seem to be the sweetest and most devoted to their family. Just my opinion and everyone has their favorite color.

  9. There are 3 colors that are accepted. Black, yellow which ranges in shades of fox red to light cream. Fawn is not a shade. Chocolate ranges in 4 shades of brown. Silver is not accepted. All labs that carry the dilute gene, silver, are not pure. All silvers have to be registered at akc as chocolate because the parent club does not allow silver. In fact some European countries now require testing for the dilute gene before registering them because they are not pure.

  10. my favorite is the yellow lab I have had 3 so far a girl who was the sweetest thing and very smart but she died of old age. Then I got a male yellow lab who new how to sit and stay and all sorts of things he was potty trained then we started keeping him out side and one night he ran out of his electric fence and got hit by a car. When we got the male a year later we got his sister 2 generations apart its hard to train two dogs at a time especially to pups so she knows how to sit and she was potty trained overall I think yellow labs are the best.

  11. My favourite lab is black because they are so cute and they have very good personality traits. My family is thinking about getting a lab but we are stuck on the colour, we have 3 children one 16 one 10 and one 6 we also have a cat called bells she is also black. She is a little shy and she is 4

    If u could help us pick out the colour lab that would be much appreciated.

    Many thanks

  12. We have a wonderful 11 year old Fox Red called Rigby who is a real character with a lovely temperament.

  13. i have a black lab puppy 13w/o and a young whippet yhey ar always fighting, but nve hurt each other.is this normal behaviour?

  14. My beautiful Bonnie is fox red, she is just adorable, her dad was fix red and her mum was yellow. We always wanted a fox red but I hate it that people do not recognise this colour, I am forever being asked if she is a pedigree because of her colour, I feel like tying her papers around her neck, the only people that know she is a lab and from working stock are other fellow working stock lab owners.

  15. I choose choclate in a heartbeat! I have a choclate lab named Reno (male) and i have had him since he was 8 weeks old. I have had one yellow lab before and one black, but they don’t compare to Reno! I don’t care about shiny coats, so go choclate labs!

    • Im getting a chocolate lab puppy in a few days and boy am I excited! I have had a yellow (my current is a 4 year old female- DJ) and a black (Sam) but never chocolate. Ive been told by many friends their a bit more squirelly and eager to work so im so excited to see what shell bring to the table.

  16. We are about to get our 5th Labrador. The first was a black, Ebony. We found out after we got her that she was a puppy mill puppy, and she had many health issues, and died when she was only 4. Second Lab was also black, Cheyenne, she was my angel. She had all the wonderful characteristics you hear about in a Lab. Poor thing dealt w/seizures, but otherwise healthy and she owned our hearts. Third Lab was a beautiful yellow girl. SOOOO SWEET….so smart, but w/many allergies and health issues (also had seizures), because of her health issues I learned to feed her human grade food, but I cooked it, I wasn’t ready to do raw. I loved her so much. Current Lab is a 17 month old chocolate…we call her “the brown clown” because she is very high energy, and full of fun and LOVE. We began DAY ONE feeding her raw food. Her coat just gleams. She is awesome w/my grandchildren, and especially w/my disabled son. She’s a “daddy’s girl” and thinks she’s a lap dog. She sleeps on my husband’s lap w/her head on his shoulder, when he sits in his recliner chair. Does she love us more than we love her? Debatable. Our new “baby” was born on Valentine’s Day and should be able to come home in four more weeks. She is a yellow girl, and we really look forward to having her join our family…we have an 8 year old kitty (born under our front porch) who rounds out our family. Which color Lab is best? We LOVE them all.

  17. We have two yellow girls, one more of a fox red. Our first lab was yellow too. I just can’t get away from the puppies on the UK toilet roll adverts! Our carpets are fawns coloured, so black would be worse for us!!

  18. I am one of the lucky ones that has a beautiful Fox Red lab. She comes from very good bloodlines and has the best temperament in the world. She has already been trained as a service dog and for fun will soon start training in agility. I would love some suggestions on a good book/video on beginner agility to get her started. Wherever we go people always comment on how awesome she looks and that they love her colour, not to mention what a great dog she is, that goes without saying, she’s a Lab!!!

  19. I don’t have a preference, they’re all so darned cute! Right now I have a yellow and a silver. My silver is a service dog, and the only problem I have is she gets so much attention from people when we’re or in public because of her unusual color.

  20. I have all 3 colors all good bloodlines. Buffy is yellow she is 12 years old. she is not a hunter ever but more less a great companion and very loyal. bently is black she is 6 years old and she is a great hunter and keeps to herself very independent…and bf then theirs Rex he is a 2.5 years old chocolate he is very smart and willing to learn what ever you wanna teach him and has short attention span..all and all their all good dogs and family members

  21. Really think the Kennel Club need to wake up and realize that Fox red Labrador’s do exsist ! ………before you all say it I know technically the difference , but white/ yellow/red are different colours.
    Put it another way……you would soon ask for a exchange if B&Q gave you red paint if you asked for yellow …….becouse they are different !
    Just becouse a club deems it this way and sites like this take there info from them……does not make it correct !
    Love Labrador’s of all colours by the way 🙂

  22. I think all labs are gorgeous, yellows and chocs are cute, but a sleek, shiny, fit black lab is really beautiful, we have a handsome boy and seeing him in the fields and out on the moors is the most amazing sight.

  23. We have two labs at the moment, a 9yo yellow and a 10month old black, both rehomed. The black has quite a number of white flecks in her coat, in no particular area. They’re just small patches of white hairs rather than distinct spots, will these grow out as she ages? Our previous yellow lab ended up being put to sleep at 2yo on veterinary advice after displaying ever more severe canine rage episodes that resulted in a couple of very nasty attacks that went on for hours.

  24. Pls help anyone in buying a lab i hv no knowledge regarding dogs which color n how to know that dog is a good breed

    • I know this is late, but from my experience, all colors are great. Black is a little shinier then he others, so if that is what you want, go ahead. The only problems with the darker colors in labs is that they shed, so that will be very noticeable. Personally, I like chocolates, but they are all beautiful and strong dogs.

  25. We lost our Lab a month ago to cancer, and are thinking of getting another one. The pups we are looking at have a white mark on the chest like their father. Can you tell me a little about this chest mark on a black Lab? Thanks

    • Hey i want to buy a lab but confused in buying which one i will be giving my bf as a birthday gift pls help which color and how to know the dog is a pure breed

  26. I have an 11 yr old fox red labrador named Bonnie who has the most beautiful laid back temperament and is extremely obedient. She has had marvellous health and never cost us a penny apart from speying. She is still playful, happy and enjoying her life. I love all labs but do think the yellow shades are far more attractive than black or chocolate.

  27. I myself do not yet have a lab yet but not too far into the future I will though. I myself do prefer the Black coat because they in my opinion look sleeker and I like the deep color. I was just wondering though will coat color affect it being a good therapy dog as I am planing on training one for that purpose. It’ll be my first time training a dog by myself.

  28. Ihave had 4 labs 2 yellow 2 blk and loved them all equally.the yellow were more scatty by far i have a blk one now and would like one more yellow in time.

  29. i have always rescued female black Labradors and so, when my last old girl died, I decided to foster and had a preference for an older black female lab. Buddy, a bouncy out of control 6 month old yellow lab burst his way into my house 2 years ago, chewing up everything in sight and knocking everyone flying – I was only supposed to foster him for 2 weeks but fell in love with him and kept him. He now has a female playmate – another yellow lab and another rescue. Labradors are so lovely whatever the colour, especially if they’re rescued 🙂

  30. We have 3 labs, a choc called Indie (male) 4 yrs old, a black called Penny 3yrs and a cream called Bonnie 2 yrs they are the love of our lives. Indie now that he has been castrated is much more calm but still has his wacky side. Penny has all of a sudden decided she wants to play fetch with the ball and Bonnie, well she is the baby of the family but the most dominant she keeps us all on our toes. They are the most loving dogs anyone could meet and do settle after meeting people for the first time (eventually). They love nothing better than to snuggle with us, but play well altogether when out and indoors!!

  31. I have 2 gundogs 1 yellow and 1 black, they are both good gundogs but the black one was far easier to train and is still the better of the two. To be honest I wouldn’t get another yellow dog and as for brown in ten years of shooting all over the country I’ve yet to see a brown Labrador that’s any good.

  32. Initially when I was looking to buy my puppy I was looking for a black or chocolate lab. But I found Bailey, who is registered as Liver coloured, and fell in love with him and his personality. Wouldn’t change anything about him

  33. We have an 8 year old chocolate female called Casie, love her to bits, we got her from a re homing place in Ireland 2 years ago, she is intelligent, loving and extremely loyal.
    Last week, we fostered a 21 month old yellow dog called Marley, he is just like Casie but stronger and more playful.

    Never really been a fan of the Black ones though.

  34. We had our first labrador, black for 15 years. She was so good with our kids and very intelligent. Then we raised yellow labradors for 21 years now. They are all difference, with difference intellectual differences. Both all labradors are great with children. Very protective and and have been our lives for 38 years! All AKC registered.

  35. I see some of you saying that certain color labs are smarter than others. I have been an avid duck hunter for many years. I have seen very smart Black, Chocolate & Yellow Labs. I have also seen very stupid Black, Chocolate & Yellow Labs. The difference is in the training and the people that they are exposed to. They are like people, they have different personalities, different strengths and different weaknesses. Labs just want to do what their people teach them. They want to please.

  36. Black for me all day long. We lost our fourteen year old black lab Daisy in October 2013, we had her from 8 weeks old, a year before our first born arrived. She was the the perfect companion, playmate and protector for both our kids. We have a couple of weeks ago picked up Gus, our new black lab pup. We would choose black every time, to me they are just the best looking. Let the the madness commence :-).

    • Hi Daniel

      We too lost our very dear and much loved black lab, Daisy, in December. Sadly she was only 6 and developed a life limiting illness. We were devastated and miss her so. We have an opportunity to have a puppy in August and I think we will choose a yellow lab this time but who knows. I’m a great believer in the puppy choosing the owner! Good luck with your newest family member

  37. My husband and I bought a chocolate lab puppy 6 weeks ago at the time we bought her she was 3 months old. This is our 4 lab, the other 3 were black ones. She is now 4 1/2 months old, she was a very mellow dog when we went to see her and her 3 sisters they were all that was left out of the of 14. All was going well until one day when we were on vacation my husband tried to take a raw hide bone away from her and she growled at him, we kinda of thought new surroundings that could be the reason. But last night my husband was lying on the floor with her just hugging her and he thought she growled at him and I thought it was just a moan. He then tried hugging her again and she not only growled but she jumped up and snapped at him and actually bit him on the nose. We are both still in total shock over this and have lots of concerns about her now. We have a little granddaughter I’m concerned about. We just had someone tell us that the chocolate labs are the more aggressive ones is this true. We both think this is very strange for a 4 1/2 old puppy especially a lab to to this. Can you please tell me your thoughts on our situation.

    • Hi, there is no evidence that I am aware of, linking coat colour with aggression. It is difficult to say without seeing the dog, but genuine aggression is very rare in young puppies. It is more likely that your puppy was frightened and panicked. Many dogs do not like being cuddled or hugged. You can gradually get your dog used to hugged, but close or tight cuddling is not something that most dogs will ever enjoy. It is a good idea to have a chat with your vet who can check your pup over to make sure she isn’t in pain (another cause of aggression) and perhaps recommend a behaviourist who will assess your dog. In the meantime, you’ll need to supervise any interaction between the puppy and your grand-daughter.

  38. I have a 16 week old chocolate boy called Neo, I had read they’re not the brightest but been amazed at how clever he is. He’s been retrieving and dropping toys then sitting for his reward from about 12 weeks. He sit’s, gives a paw, lies down, will walk to heal in the garden. We’re going to a puppy class and the trainer has even said what a clever boy he is. Of course being a lab he loves his food and will do anything for a treat! This is my first dog I waited a long time for him ( I’m a young 63!!) and couldn’t have asked for better….I love my chocolate lab!

  39. I own the lovely Rolo, aka Pendorric Hotlegs. He is a show line chocolate Labrador. He is as thick as two short planks but has the best temperament you can imagine. He is happy, waggy and we love him to bits. Just don’t throw a ball for him.

    • We have a beautiful yellow labrador, Wallace. One comment I have – a yellow or light colored labrador and dark hardwood floors or black/ navy pants are a bad combination. His hair shows on everything. In hindsight a chocolate or black would have been easier to hide the shedding – but I love him – what can I say?

  40. I prefer Black Labradors as their coats shine. I feel they are more intelligent than chocolate labs. I have a Black labrador called Nero and he 9months old. He is growing into such a handsome dog. He is a joy to have. I had a Black labrador when I was at home with parents. I would never have any other colour.

  41. Everything pippa writes on her website is 100% !

    I’ve got a fox red lab currently training him to be a gun dog he is coming on great also got a few people wanting him for stud

    Was also wondering most fox red lab I’ve seen have the White star on their chest more than black and chocolate labs?

    • Hi Aron, thank you for your kind comment. White chest marks do seem to be more common in yellow labs. Possibly because they are less obvious and therefore less attempt has been made to breed away from them in dogs of this colour. Pippa

  42. Hi I bought a Brown Choco Lab and name Frazy(Female) I am little confused that she is an lab breed or not..So please suggest how can i confirm it..whether all labs will be having only one color of its distinct or else it will be in mixed

  43. We have recently brought ourselves a Black lab pup called Monty. The reason for choosing this colour was simply because that’s what I grew up with and I love them to bits.

  44. this website has got it’s facts WRONG. atchuatlly their are 5 types of labrador:
    silver
    fox red
    yellow
    brown
    and black
    get your fact RIGHT next time please!

    • Labradors can be registered in only three colours – yellow, black or chocolate (also sometimes called ‘liver’) Silver labs have to be registered as dilute chocolates. Fox red Labradors are registered as yellow. Check with your country’s Kennel Club if you doubt our information. 🙂

  45. hi,i am planning to buy a white lab,and i need it as a field dog?so is it preferrable for me to chose white colour lab?and white colour is not a perfect breed of labrodar ,,?is it so?is it recommended to buy a white la?rather than a lite fawn colour lab?

    • What kind of shooting are you going to be doing? Black is the most popular colour for working retrievers at the moment and will give you most choice of good working lines.

      • Having recently asked about a white puppy from a gundog trainer, there aren’t many white puppies that come from working dog lines here in the US. White has generally not been a desirable characteristic for hunting dogs, so that appearance has been breed around.

  46. I inherited my dog, Lady, when she was 6 months old so I wasn’t the primary colour chooser when she was bought from the breeder. She’s a small black working dog with a trace of a white medallion on her chest. I’d have chosen black anyway, though, because I like that colour more than chocolate and yellow in that order.

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