Yellow Lab – Your Guide To The Yellow Labrador Retriever

labradors love to fetch a ball

The yellow Lab is perhaps best known for its role as a guide dog for the blind.

But the iconic Labrador Retriever is also one of the world’s favorite pets.

Perhaps more than any other color, the yellow Lab has become associated with companionship and families. And also with the show ring

English Yellow Labs

Many of the world’s most famous and successful ‘show’ Labs have been yellow and these dogs are often referred to as English Labs.

Yellow Lab - the yellow Labrador Retriever

English Lab is simply the American name for the chunkier type of Lab favored in the show ring – those Labs bred especially for hunting being called American.

You can find out more about the difference between these two strains of Labrador in our article on English Labs

Where do yellow Labs come from?

Your yellow Lab’s ancestors were taken to Newfoundland in the 18th century by the amazingly tough people who travelled from England and settled there.

These early dogs were hunting and fishing companions that split into two different breeds, the large Newfoundland dog, and the St John’s dog, or ancestor of our Labs.

Later, the St John’s dogs were bought back to England where they were bred to create the breed we have today

You probably know that the early Labs were usually black.

This is partly because the genetic information that creates yellow Labs has to be present in both of a Labrador puppy’s parents for the puppy to grow yellow fur.

But there were other, more sinister reasons.

Early yellow Labrador breeders

To begin with, yellow Labs were not liked and many yellow puppies that were born, were probably culled by their breeders.

This meant that for a long time, the yellow color was rare.

The earliest photo of a Yellow lab that we have today, is of Ben of Hyde, the first recognised Yellow Labrador Retriever.

You can find out more about the origins of the Yellow Lab in our article on the history of the Labrador

You can also find out all about how Labrador coat color is inherited in this in-depth guide to coat color inheritance in the Labrador Retriever.

You’ll find charts that show you what color puppies you can expect when Labradors of different colors are mated together

Labrador retriever colors – yellow comes in many shades

You’ll probably have noticed that yellow Labs come in a wide variety of shades, from a creamy white, through pale buttermilk yellow, to gold and even the most intense fox red

For many years the paler dogs were the most sought after,  with light yellow Labrador puppies idealised and popularised through the famous Andrex toilet roll advertisement.

Golden Labradors

Deeper yellow puppies are often referred to as ‘golden labradors’  but most Labrador breeders don’t like the word golden to be used when describing their Labs, and the official term is plain old yellow.

So, no matter what shade of yellow/gold/red your labrador is, it is still ‘officially’ a yellow labrador.

Such is their popularity, the fox red Labs have their very own page here, as does the white Lab.

It’s worth noting though, that all these colors are registered with your Kennel Club under the one heading – yellow Lab.

Do Yellow Labs Shed?

Labradors are well known for their rather excessive shedding tendencies. Yellow Labs shed just like their chocolate or black cousins, although it does tend to show up less on my carpets as the hairs are pale instead of dark.

They do however require just as much grooming and coat attention to keep their shedding under control.

Famous yellow labs

One of the happy memories of my childhood was of reading The Incredible Journey by Sheila Burnford and the desire it planted in me for a yellow Lab like Luath.

There are no shortage of yellow Lab heroes in literature, and on the screen.

No one could forget Marley – in the film Marley and me. And here in the UK possibly the most famous dog of all time is Endal the highly decorated yellow Lab service dog who died in 2009

My own yellow Lab today is a fox-red girl.

She is going grey now and is quite different in appearance from the Luath of my childhood dreams, though her wonderful yellow lab temperament shines through. And like all yellow Lab owners, I wouldn’t part with her for the world.

Yellow Lab rescue

What better way to find the yellow Lab of your dreams than to rescue a beautiful yellow lab from a shelter or Labrador rescue society

Rescuing an adult Lab gives a dog a second chance at love and family life and gives you a chance to have a dog of your own without going through the challenges of puppy raising

We have an extensive list of Labrador Rescue societies for you to browse.

If you’ve set your heart on a yellow lab puppy, you’ll find plenty of help with finding your new friend right here on this website

Searching for yellow lab puppies

Finding a reputable Labrador breeder is an important first step when you are looking for a litter of yellow Lab puppies.

The reason that it is so important to find a good breeder is that Labs of any color can be susceptible to a range of inherited diseases.

The good news is that many of these diseases can be avoided by picking puppies whose parents have been health tested clear of each disease.

The bad news is that not all Labrador breeders of the purebred yellow Labrador Retriever use these tests – the tests are quite expensive and some breeders are ignorant about the importance of them, while others simply don’t care.

So, before you begin your search for the yellow Lab puppy of your dreams, do check out our important information on finding a good breeder.

Female yellow Lab or yellow Lab dog?

If you need some help deciding whether to chose a female yellow Lab, or whether to bring a boy puppy home. We can help

You’ll find an article on the pros and cons of male and female puppies here on our sister site

Pictures of yellow Labs

We never get tired of looking at pictures of yellow labs.

They come in so many beautiful shades – there is a color to suit everyone

One of our most popular articles is a celebration of these beautiful dogs, full of yellow Lab photos in all the different varieties available.

Yellow Labrador names

If you are still undecided as to what to name your new yellow Lab puppy we can help!

Our Labrador names page is packed with suggestions for wonderful puppy names for yellow, red and golden dogs.

You should be able to find what you are looking for there.

Yellow Lab – a perfect companion

In many ways the yellow Lab is simply the perfect companion for any active family with the time and space to enjoy this wonderful breed

If you are not sure whether you are quite ready to bring a yellow Lab into your life, do check out our helpful guides

Yellow Lab - a guide to one of the world's most popular family dogs


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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.



    I HAVE ONE COMPLAINT ABOUT ALL FEMALE dogs. The term they use when referring to the female. I hope one day someone will be able to change it. It sounds, so hard, cruel and nasty when referring to these beautiful creatures. 🙂

  2. Daisy would be a good name for a yellow lab or sunny. Our local rescue has one but cant get my husband on board. We had a chocolate and black siblings I love the Breed.

  3. I am waiting for a senior retriever. I believe senior or adults doggie deserve gentle love.

  4. I have put a few posts over the last couple of years. We have a yellow Labrador cross Golden Retriever. His name is Monty. He is 5 years old. We bought him after a home invasion.. we were at home at the time. I was somewhat reluctant to get a dog because of the break-in. He is the first dog I have ever had in my life which is getting the pointy end my life travels. I had never understood what the fuss was all about with having a dog. Now I do. This beautiful animal has dug a hole in my heart and he has buried himself there forever. I must go back and say he is not a guard dog and I will never ever let him get in harms way. He is a fantastic watchdog with a huge woof…which is enough. I am so grateful to have him. He receives a disproportionate amount of attention. He sleeps on our bed at night. We will not leave him alone for longer than 12 hours. We will not go away for holidays unless he can be included. Over the top…yes.. do we care being over the top…no. The labrador breed is sensational and we are so lucky as human beings to have these wonderful animals as life companions. Thank you Pippa for having a very special forum and site we as Labrador owners can share our love of the these special creatures. Bless

  5. Hello. Hoping someone can assist with my lab. He will be 19 months on 28th July. He barks excessively at night. There are no other dogs barking at the time & sometimes it sounds like he’s grumbling.
    I don’t really want to have him sleep indoors & also don’t wish for him to be neutered.
    Any advice please?

  6. My yellow lab all of a sudden has a pink spot on the ‘eyeliner’ around her eye. is this common and should i be concerned? she’s 2 1/2

  7. Hi there, I have 3 months old yellow Male Lab named “Bruno” ; he is too naughty and always chews some or other thing, despite have lot of toys for him.
    The problem we face is evening after dinner, he goes violent to the extent tries biting us don’t know why…Any suggestion…???

    • Too much energy. My guy did the same thing as a pup. I would think based on what you stated that he is just roughhousing when biting. Most dogs have a “playing” bite as compared to actually trying to bite. There is a huge difference. You need to find ways for him to get rid of the excess energy, walks and going to a dog park to run are what I did and it really helped. Plus, the social aspect of being around other dogs is a good thing. Hope this helps.

  8. I have a 4 and a half year old yellow lab and we enjoy every minute with him. He loves hiking and food very good family dog and well behaved couldn’t as for a better dog. His name is Jersey and he’s a male..

  9. My 6 months and 3 weeks old female yellow lab is 22 inches tall and 55 lbs. will she get any taller? I’m sure she will gain more weight once she starts filling out. When do lab puppies usually start to fill out?

    • Do you mean morally, legally or are they physically capable? If the latter then yes, most Labrador bitches are capable of giving birth to several litters of puppies. If you are thinking of breeding from your bitch, you might want to read this article Kennel Club regulations vary depending on where you are located. Pippa