Is a white Lab puppy really a possibility? In this article we separate white Lab pup fact from fiction, and answer all your questions about Lab pups with colorless coats.
- Do white Labrador Retriever puppies exist?
- Will a white Lab puppy’s color change?
- What will an adult white Labrador puppy look like?
- Do white Lab puppies have different temperaments?
- Are white Labrador puppies healthy?
- How much does a white Lab puppy cost?
A white Lab puppy is a yellow Lab puppy with an exceptionally pale coat. If they can prove their ancestry, there’s no reason they can’t receive their own pedigree papers. Ultra pale coats are usually most associated with English breeding lines, which means they are likely to have distinctive personalities too.
Do white Labrador Retriever puppies exist?
White is not an officially recognized standard color for Labrador Retrievers. But nonetheless, it’s not hard to find white Labrador puppies for sale – sometimes at extremely high prices! So clearly puppies exist which breeders feel confident describing as white Labs. And prospective owners agree enough to part with some pretty large sums of cash. But what is actually being sold?
The answer is very pale yellow Labrador puppies. Yellow is one of the three standard colors for Labrador Retrievers. Their fur color is caused by low concentrations of a reddish pigment called pheomelanin in their fur. Pheomelanin levels aren’t uniform from one yellow Lab to the next though. Some make a lot, and their fur is a rich fox red color. Others produce so little that they can even be described as white. This variation is a natural and accepted part of the Labrador breed.
Champagne white Lab pups – dilute yellow coats
Another way a yellow Lab can have an exceptionally pale coat is if they inherit the color dilution gene from their parents. Puppies who inherit the color dilution gene from both parents have their ability to make coat pigments suppressed. Yellow Labs with color dilution are known as champagne Labs, but their exact color depends upon how much pheomelanin they would have produced otherwise. Dilute fox red coats are still darker than dilute golden yellow coats, and so on.
Color dilution has a controversial status in the Labrador breed. Some breeders believe it was present in the breed before the studbook was closed, so it’s a legitimately occurring trait. Other breeders insist that it must have been introduced later – probably by crossing Labs with Weimaraners. Whatever your view, it’s important to note that yellow Labs don’t have to have color dilution to appear white. Non-dilute yellow coats can also be so pale they appear as white.
Is a white Lab puppy albino?
No. Albinism is the complete inability to make any pigment at all, anywhere in the body. This means albino dogs have white fur, and pink eyes, nose, eye rims, lips and paw pads. Albinism is unheard of in Labradors, and white Labradors usually have a black nose, eye rims, lips and paw pads.
Will a white Lab puppy’s color change?
When you meet a litter of fluffy white Lab puppies, can you be sure they will stay white all the way into adulthood? Alas, not really. Labradors are born with a puppy coat which is softer and finer than their adult coat. Their adult coat starts to come through from about 6 months of age. According to their breed standard, their coat should be dense and ‘hard’, not woolly or silky – quite different in texture to their puppy coat. This change in texture can make the color catch the light differently too. Realistically, most white Labs do have some subtle shading in their coat, like Banjo above, and the gorgeous puppy in our pictures. The color of their parents’ coats will give you the best idea of how a white puppy’s adult coat will turn out.
What will an adult white Labrador puppy look like?
Very pale yellow coats are most associated with English Labrador breeding lines. Also known as show or bench-type Labs, these dogs are bred to match as closely as possible the physical ideal for Labrador Retrievers, as described by their breed standard. By contrast, American Labs (also known as working or field-type) are breeding lines noted for their working ability. It’s important to note that ‘English’ and ‘American’ are just labels for types of Labrador in this context – and they don’t necessarily mean a dog comes from England or America!
English Labs tend to be fractionally shorter and heavier than American Labs, which means they look broader and more heavy set too. Their coat is usually slightly longer and denser, and they’re more likely to have the classic, wide and straight ‘otter tail’. Being English or American type doesn’t determine which colors a Lab can be (or vice versa). But traditionally white Labrador puppies tend to come from English Lab breeding lines, so they’re likely to have the other physical traits of English Labs too.
Do white Lab puppies have special temperaments?
Like all Labs, a white Lab puppy is likely to be energetic, people-focussed, and love physical activity. At the time of writing, there is no evidence that having a white coat is directly responsible for any specific personality traits in Labradors. But, being of English type (which they are likely to be) does have a well-recognized effect on their personality.
Specifically, working ability is not a priority for English type Lab breeders. But patience and tolerance for spending long days in convention centers, awaiting their moment on the show bench, is. So, English Labs tend to be slightly less demanding in terms of how much mental stimulation they need, and a bit more laid back. English Labs also achieve slightly lower scores for trainability in behavior studies. But they are still extremely intelligent – the difference is only likely to be significant for Lab owners aspiring to take part in competitive field trials at a high level.
Are white Labrador puppies healthy?
White Labrador puppy health is comparable to yellow Lab health. They usually live for between 10 and 14 years. Their overall average life expectancy is 12 years, and most long lived dogs reach about 16 years old. This is comparable to black Labs, and slightly higher than for chocolate Labs. Over the course of their lifetime, Labradors are most likely to need veterinary treatment for:
- Hip dysplasia
- Elbow dysplasia
- Ear infections
The best way to secure the future health of your white Lab pup is to purchase them from a reputable breeder, who only uses health tested parents. At a minimum, breeding dogs should be tested for hip dysplasia and the faulty gene which causes exercise induced collapse. They should also have had an eye exam in the last year.
How much does a white Lab puppy cost?
The right price for a white Labrador puppy is a somewhat controversial matter. Some Labrador breeders strongly believe that white Lab puppy price should reflect things like:
- the number of show champions in their family tree
- the cost of health testing their parents
- and veterinary care during and immediately after pregnancy
But not their color. This is because setting a precedent that some colors are more valuable than others could make Labs in that color more vulnerable to exploitation by puppy farmers. Puppy farmers often hone in on easily replicable desirable traits (like unusual colors) but skip important aspects of responsible breeding such as health testing. Then they can undercut responsible breeders on price, but still make a profit. Ultimately though, their puppies are likely to suffer physically and mentally. And eventually so will the whole breed, if those puppies go on to become parents themselves.
At the time of writing in 2022, Labrador puppies cost anywhere in the region of $1,000 – $3,000, depending on how many health tests their parents had, and how prestigious their ancestry is. However, white puppies are often offered for sale for even more than that, on the basis that they are unusual. You’ll need to decide for yourself whether you think that is reasonable.
White Labrador puppies – summary
White Labradors are yellow Labradors with extremely low pigment density in their coat. Sometimes their color is an expression of the controversial color dilution gene, but not necessarily. Most white Labs come from English-type pedigrees, so they are likely to have other English type traits. Such as a stocky build, and relatively laid back temperament. When looking for a white Lab puppy, it’s important to be vigilant for puppy farmers trying to trade off their unusual color.
Do you already have a white Labrador at home? Tell us all about them in the comments box down below!
Discover the other Labrador colors
- Black Lab – A Complete Guide To The Black Labrador Retriever
- Chocolate Lab – Your Guide To The Chocolate Labrador Retriever
- Yellow Lab – Your Guide To The Yellow Labrador Retriever
- Red Fox Lab Traits, Appearance and Characteristics
- Charcoal Lab: The Dilute Black Labrador Retriever
- Silver Lab – The Facts About Silver Labrador Retrievers
- Champagne Labrador – A Guide To This Controversial Coat Color
- Grey Lab Coat Colors Explained
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Vredegoor et al. Can f 1 levels in hair and homes of different dog breeds: Lack of evidence to describe any dog breed as hypoallergenic. Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology. 2012.
Wauthier et al. Using the mini C-BARQ to investigate the effects of puppy farming on dog behaviour. Applied Animal Behavior Science. 2018.
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