Did you know that aside from the standard black, yellow, and chocolate shades, there are other Labrador colors out there? If you want to know about them, you’re on the right page!
Described by the American Kennel Club (AKC) as the most popular dog breed in the United States, Labrador Retrievers come in a variety of coat colors, including fox red, charcoal, silver, and even white.
So be sure to stick around to find out more about these different-colored Labs. Furthermore, this article will cover this breed’s coat color genetics, their health concerns regarding their coat color, and more. Let’s begin!
How Many Labrador Colors Are There?
While the American Kennel Club only recognizes three Labrador Retriever colors, Labs generally display 13 distinct fur shades. These include black, yellow, chocolate or brown, black and white, black and tan, chocolate and tan, red fox, silver, charcoal, white, merle, Dudley, and brindle.
Although the Labrador Retriever breed is known for its versatility, this trait is matched by the breed’s diverse color spectrum. In fact, some aspiring owners are having difficulty choosing which Lab color to get.
To make it easier to recall, here’s a list of each Labrador color that you might come across:
- Chocolate or Brown
- Black and White
- Black and Tan
- Chocolate and Tan
- Fox Red
Given the wide variety of coat colorations that Labradors come in, it is easy to see why they are favored by many fur parents in the country and around the world!
13 Labrador Colors
There are a lot of myths surrounding the Labrador Retriever breed. One of the biggest myths is that the yellow Labrador Retriever is a kind of Golden Retriever.
However, while they may look similar, they’re actually two different breeds with distinct personalities and temperaments.
Another misconception is that Labradors only come in three different colors: yellow, chocolate, and black.
To set things straight, here are the 13 different Lab colors you should know about:
1. Black Labrador
With black as the dominant color, the black Labrador is the most popular of all Labrador colors. These black Labradors are born pitch-dark and have a glossy sheen to their fur.
Aside from their extremely dark coat, you will notice that black Labs exhibit black-colored lips, eye rims, noses, paw pads, and nails, too.
In terms of breeding black Labs, though, two dominant black genes are required: one from each parent in order to produce black puppies.
However, do take note that even with just one B-locus gene on an allele pair (i.e., Bb), a black Labrador puppy can still be born within the litter.
As a breeder of Labrador Retrievers for more than seven years, I would have to say that even though black is the most common color, this is also my favorite.
Not only was my first Labrador, Watch, colored black, but she was also my foundation bitch, producing generations after generations of healthy and top-of-the-line Labrador Retrievers.
If you are a budding Labrador breeder, it is always great to start with a black Lab since this color is universal. This means that it may be matched with any other color without fear of producing puppies with faults, so long as you keep your dogs healthy.
2. Yellow Labrador
Following the sought-after black Labrador is the yellow Labrador Retriever.
Yellow Labradors come in a wide range of coat colors, from light honey to light brown, with some yellow Labs having a slight red tint to their coat.
To be recognized by the AKC, however, your yellow Labrador should display a black or dark brown-pigmented nose, eye rims, and lips. If your dog has a pinkish nose, then it is considered to be a Dudley Lab.
On another note, producing yellow puppies is rather simple. All you need is to mate two yellow Labs because they are inherently incapable of creating black or chocolate puppies.
3. Brown or Chocolate Labrador
Looking like it was dipped in a chocolate fountain, the chocolate Lab is one of the standard colors of the breed.
The chocolate Labrador also tends to have a brown nose and lighter eyes, which makes them look even more adorable.
But as the rarest among the three official Labrador hues, you can anticipate that these chocolate puppies are going to cost you more than the black and yellow Labrador.
That said, nothing beats the satisfaction of owning a chocolate puppy!
4. Fox Red Labrador
While red fox Labs are considered a part of the yellow Lab color spectrum, these dogs sport a slightly darker orange tinge. As a result, they appear to be reddish compared to standard yellow Labradors.
Additionally, red Labs are often mistaken for the chocolate Labrador. But keep in mind that the chocolate Lab is a much darker shade of brown than the red fox one.
Moreover, if you look closely at the muzzles and foot pads of red fox Labs, you’ll notice that they’re often black in color instead of brown.
5. Silver Labrador
If rarity is what you are after, look no further than the silver Lab. This canine’s color is the result of a recessive gene or a dilute allele being passed down from both parents.
Specifically, you need to breed two chocolate Lab parents that carry the d gene for this coloring to be passed on to their puppies.
Another point to consider is that the silver Labrador Retriever can be registered with the American Kennel Club as a chocolate Lab.
However, if you are planning to do so, it is recommended to gather all the required documents beforehand. This way, your silver Lab can enter dog shows and competitions without problems.
6. Charcoal Labrador
With its piercing eyes and ghost-like fur, the charcoal Lab is a dog that has no problem standing out from the crowd. In fact, they are so striking they can be intimidating to some.
But as with the silver Lab’s genetic makeup, charcoal Labradors are products of parents carrying dilution genes.
These canines did not retain the dominant gene for black in their coat color, which means they have a muted version of it instead.
Generally, the charcoal Labrador has dark gray or bluish-gray fur with lighter splotches on its back, snout, and limbs.
7. White Labrador
As a paler version of the yellow Labrador, the white Lab is a great choice for those who prefer a pooch with a more subtle appearance.
White Labs can sometimes be mistaken for albinos. However, you should know that they’re not. One telltale difference is that white Labs have black snouts, eye rims, and foot pads — a feature that is not present in albinos.
In addition, the AKC allows white Labs to compete in the yellow Labrador Retriever category.
8. Black and White Labrador
Given that Labradors were descended from St. John’s water dogs, it makes sense that some of them will sport a mainly black coat with white chest markings.
Fortunately, most major canine clubs located in the United States recognize this color variety as part of their breed standards.
So if you own a white and black Labrador, you can rest assured that your dog can easily be registered in most major kennel clubs.
9. Brindle Labrador
Surprisingly, the Labrador Retriever can exhibit a brindle coat. For people who are unfamiliar with the term, “brindle” refers to a pattern of streaks on a canine’s body.
These streaks, which almost resemble tiger stripes, are usually found on the back but may sometimes appear on the face or legs of your brindle Lab as well.
10. Merle Labrador
If you are searching for a puppy with unique markings and an interesting coat color, then take a look at the merle Labrador Retriever.
What sets merle Labradors apart from other Labs is their ability to have different colors within their fur, which gives them a patchwork appearance.
As you can see in the photo above, they also tend to have blue or green eyes instead of brown.
But all these traits are associated with the problematic merle gene and the so-called double merle, which also causes them to be more susceptible to various genetic disorders.
11. Black and Tan Labrador
It may come as a surprise to some canine enthusiasts, but Labrador Retrievers can sport bi-colored coats as well. So, be prepared to meet the black and tan Lab, also known as the black and chocolate Labrador!
This canine has predominantly black hair with light to dark brown patches on its eyebrows, cheeks, chest, belly, and legs. Furthermore, its wide-set eyes usually appear brown or amber in coloration.
12. Chocolate and Tan Labrador
For those who can’t get enough of the black and chocolate Lab’s cuteness, make way for the chocolate and tan Labrador Retriever.
Similar to the black and chocolate Lab, tan and chocolate Labradors possess a bi-colored coat — chocolate coat with tan markings.
However, do take note that these canines’ snouts are lighter than those of their darker-colored counterparts — a distinction that gives them a unique look all their own!
13. Dudley Labrador
The Dudley Lab is a yellow Lab with no pigmentation on its paw pads, nose, eye rims, and nails. Hence, these dogs have light-colored skin on these parts of their body.
However, it should be pointed out that Dudleys are not very different from other Lab colors, such as red Labs and chocolate Labs. They all demand the same dietary, training, and exercise requirements.
That said, these pooches are ineligible for kennel club registrations and conformations.
In the end, whether you opt to own a yellow Lab, a silver Labrador, or a chocolate Labrador, it is vital to know that these dogs are equally adorable and loving family pets.
Labrador Retriever Markings
Ideally, single-colored Labradors are preferred by most major kennel clubs in the country. Still, it is worth noting that different types of markings can be found on these dogs’ chests, legs, and faces.
The following is an overview of the most common patterns and markings associated with Labrador Retrievers:
If your Labrador Retriever exhibits a white marking on its paw, that’s called a bolo marking.
Interestingly, the bolo marking is not present on all Labradors. In fact, it’s only found in certain lines of the breed, especially those descended from the first dual champion dog named Banchory Bolo.
According to breeders and owners, these bolo markings are only visible when the Labs are still puppies or young adults.
After they reach adulthood, the said white marking often fades away completely or becomes less noticeable.
Brindle is a pattern that displays alternating bands of lighter and darker hair. It is most commonly found on the flanks and back of the Labrador Retriever breed; however, it can also appear on their face, chest, limbs, and tail tip.
But remember that if your Lab sports a brindle coat pattern, you can’t register them as a purebred Labrador Retriever in the AKC.
Although it may seem surprising, Labrador Retrievers, particularly black and chocolate Labs, can have tan markings.
These tan markings typically appear on a Lab’s cheeks, eyebrows, legs, and chest area.
In addition, the color of these markings will range from light tan to dark brown, with some pooches having dark chocolate patches.
White Chest Markings
If you are worried that your Labrador sports a white chest marking, rest assured — it is not a health concern. A white chest marking is simply a genetic trait that some Labs inherit.
Moreover, it is not considered a disqualifying trait in the show ring, so there is no need to panic if your Labrador carries this marking.
White Tail Markings
Interestingly, most Labradors are born with a white ring on their tails. Note, however, that these tail markings will eventually fade as the dog ages.
But if your Labrador’s white tail marking is still visible by the time they are six months old, it is likely that they will continue to be marked in this way throughout their lives.
Now that you are familiar with the various markings found on Labrador Retrievers, you will not be surprised to come across a Lab that exhibits more than one color.
Labrador Retriever Breed Standards & Disqualifications
First and foremost, only three Lab colors are accepted by both canine organizations, and these are the black, chocolate, and yellow coat color.
However, keep in mind that cream, light brown, and red fox Labradors, like their yellow cousins, are also acceptable. That said, these dogs are still classified under the three recognized colors — black, chocolate, and yellow.
It is also worth noting that black Lab puppies with white markings on their chests are accepted. On the other hand, Labrador Retrievers exhibiting tan and brindle markings aren’t allowed.
The same goes for charcoal, albino, and merle Labs. These rare-colored dogs may be cute to look at, but they can’t be registered as purebreds as they do not fit within the set standards.
In addition, black Labs, yellow Labs, and chocolate Labradors possessing pink-colored noses are disqualified from registration.
But your dog’s weight, height, and fur type still contribute to its purebred status. Thus, it’s best to refrain from buying from puppy mills to ensure that aspiring owners get healthy dogs with all of their proper paperwork in order.
Labrador Retriever Coat Color Genetics
As complicated as it may seem, Labrador coat color genetics are actually relatively easy to understand. The process starts with the parents and their genes, which are expressed in the offspring.
However, not all genes are expressed equally in the same litter. This is where recessive and dominant genes come into play.
In Labrador Retrievers, three pairs of alleles control the coat color: the B and b pair or bee genes, the E and e pair, and the D and d pair.
The big letters represent dominant alleles, while the small letters represent recessive ones.
Let’s say your potential Lab pup gets a dominant gene, B, from one parent and a b from another. In this case, your puppy, with its Bb genes, will likely display a black coat but will carry the recessive gene for chocolate color.
Similarly, black Labradors crossed with dogs carrying dd genes will not automatically produce puppies with diluted coat colors. For this to happen, the former must also bear at least one d in their genotype.
Meanwhile, if your puppy inherits either a bb or an ee pairing from both parents, expect that it will come in a brown or yellow pigment.
Watch this video for more information about the Labrador Retriever’s coat color genetics:
Do Labrador Colors Affect Behavior and Health?
Despite the many misconceptions surrounding Labrador colors, coloration has no significant impact on the breed’s behavior.
In reality, the overall disposition of Labradors is determined by training, socialization, and environment.
That said, there is nothing to worry about. From being used as therapy dogs to serving as search and rescue dogs, this versatile breed has proven to be an asset to many fields.
To put it plainly, a black Lab puppy can grow up to be just as well-behaved as a yellow dog, especially if they’re raised in an environment that stresses positive reinforcement and proper training techniques.
In terms of health, however, some conditions are more common among specific colors. One example is a genetic condition called color dilution alopecia that generally affects charcoal and silver Labs.
While symptoms of color dilution alopecia won’t appear until later in life, usually at around six months of age, it can be severe enough to cause patchy fur and permanent hair loss in affected dogs.
Their coat’s color production is compromised — which means there isn’t enough pigment to protect their eyes and ears.
Do Labrador Puppies Change Colors as They Grow?
Yes, some Labrador Retriever puppies change coat colors as they grow. For instance, black and chocolate Labs with white markings on their tails or chests may lose these light-colored areas once they reach adulthood.
You should note, however, that abnormal color changes may also be a sign of other health issues or diseases.
Remember that many different aspects, such as nutrition, medication, skin issues, and even sunlight exposure, can all contribute to your Lab’s change in coat color.
What Color Will My Labrador Puppy Be?
While it can be challenging to predict the color of a Labrador puppy, some general rules can help you get a sense of what your puppy’s fur might look like before it’s born.
You can start by examining the parents’ coloring. The color of their coats will give you an idea of how dark or light their resulting puppies will be.
For example, if your Labrador puppy comes from two yellow Labs, it may possess any shade in the yellow Lab color spectrum. But note that no brown or black puppies will come from this particular pairing.
Another way is to perform genetic or DNA testing on both parents. Doing so will allow you to determine whether they carry genes for Labrador sub-colors, such as silver, charcoal, and merle.
Finally, if all else fails, make sure to ask around. Vets and Labrador breeders should be able to tell you what coat colors are likely to come from specific breeding pairs.
This way, if you’re aiming for certain Lab colors, including black, yellow, chocolate, or even silver Labs, you can ensure that you’ll get what you want.
Frequently Asked Questions
Which Labrador Color Is the Best?
Depending on your needs, preferences, and situation, there are several Lab colors that could be the best option for you.
For instance, if you want your Labrador Retriever to compete in dog shows, you’ll want to pick a color recognized by all major kennel clubs in the United States. Such shades include solid black, chocolate, and yellow.
On the other hand, if you wish to own a canine that will stand out from the crowd, consider choosing a silver, charcoal, brindle, or parti-colored Labrador.
Which Lab Color Is the Calmest?
Despite the common belief that yellow Labradors are the calmest of the bunch, note that all colors of Labrador Retrievers can be trained to be amiable and gentle.
All these pooches require puppy training classes, which include potty, crate, and leash training, as well as early socialization to build a positive relationship with humans and other animals.
So if you are looking for a pleasant and easygoing companion, don’t get hung up on fur color, as any Lab will make an excellent family member!
Which Lab Color Is the Smartest?
Keep in mind that regardless of where you stand on the Lab shade debate, one thing is for sure: the intelligence of your canine will rely on the type of training you provide them.
As an example, if you want to see your Labrador Retriever perform tricks like fetching or jumping through hoops, then it’s vital to teach them these skills with patience and consistency.
Fortunately, positive reinforcement techniques, such as giving treats, praise, and toys, work best when training dogs. Just remember that every dog is different — and therefore requires a customized approach.
What Is the Rarest Color of Labrador Retriever?
Of the three recognized colors of the Labrador Retriever breed — black, yellow, and chocolate — chocolate Labradors are by far the rarest.
But if the other ten Labrador colors are included in the mix, silver Labradors actually exhibit the most distinctive fur color.
What Is the Most Common Labrador Color?
Out of all the 13 Labrador colors, the most common coat color is black.
Since black is the dominant color in the Labrador Retriever’s genetic makeup, it is likely that these canines will produce a litter with a high percentage of black-colored puppies.
In addition, many breeders have pointed out that four out of nine gene combinations are capable of producing black Labradors. Hence, it is no wonder that a black Lab can be found in almost every litter.
Labradors, regardless of fur color, are excellent companions with big hearts. They are loyal, energetic, and intelligent dogs that make great pets for families and individuals alike.
Moreover, these canines boast versatility, as they can be trained to perform just about any task you set them to. They are great service dogs, search-and-rescue dogs, and assistance dogs!
So whether you choose to own a Lab with yellow fur or one with black or deep brown fur, you are sure to get years of happiness from this lovely breed.
However, note that some Labs, especially albinos, may have predisposed health problems. Fortunately, getting your dog from a reputable source will ensure that you don’t end up with a sickly pet.
So, are you adding a Labrador to your family soon? Let us know your favorite Labrador colors in the comments!