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Coat Color: Summary & Discussion
By closely examining the coat color prediction squares on page 2, you may have come to the following conclusions:

1) By mating two yellow Labs, you will only get yellow puppies.

2) By mating two chocolate Labs, you will never get black puppies (but you could end up with yellows!)

3) Dudley puppies can arise out of many different combinations of pairings (in the old days it was thought that they
only came from yellow x chocolate breedings, but this is not the case).

4) It is not always enough to just know the phenotype (fur color) of the dogs that you are breeding, you must also
know the genotype (the alleles that each parent carries) in order to accurately know what color of puppies to expect.
Determining Genotype

In some cases you may be able to determine your dog's genotype by knowing the color of the parents dogs. This
does not work in ALL scenarios, but will usually help you narrow down the possibilities. For example, our dog "Onyx"
is a black lab. Her parents were Magic, a yellow male with no history of chocolate labs in his pedigree, and Nestle,
our chocolate Lab. Since Onyx came out black, we know that she did not inherit two copies of either yellow (e) or
chocolate (b) .... or else she would have been born one of those colors. So automatically we can fill in:

E_B_

Now, because her father is yellow eeBB, we know that she must have gotten at least one yellow 'on' allele from him,
since he must donate one allele and that is the only kind he has to offer....

EeB_

The same holds true on her dam's side - Onyx must have received one allele from Nestle and since she only has
chocolate alleles at the B locus, the final allele must be the 'b' gene.

EeBb

Therefore, by knowing Onyx's fur color, and the color of her parent dogs, we are able to know with confidence that
she carries both the yellow gene and chocolate gene, and is in fact known as a 'tri-factored black' Lab.  


But what do you do if you can't figure the genotype out in this manner? Well, there are affordable DNA tests that can
be used to tell you what alleles your Lab carries at each of the E and B loci. Armed with this knowledge,  a breeder
can plan to avoid certain colors, or at least know which colors are possible from a certain combination of parent
dogs.

Here are some sources for DNA color testing. The test is non invasive and can be done by submitting a simple
cheek swab or a blood sample.

Health Gene Canada

Vet Gen
Odd-Colored Labs

We have discussed at length how coat color is inherited in normal, solid colored Labradors. But what about the
mismarks???

If you are looking through "Labs for Sale" ads today, you will notice a growing number that offer supposedly rare
colors, such as silver, charcoal, fox-red, or polar bear white. Likely you have run into other variations of these
shades which I have not. Read what follows to discover the truth about these 'rare' Labradors:

Labs come in three accepted, registrable colors. These are Black, Yellow, and Chocolate. In each shade, the breed
standard permits a small white spot on the chest. However, that does not mean that other colors are not born to
purebred parents: it just means that they are not registerable because they are not true representatives of the
Labrador breed, and should not reproduce.

Silver Labs - The source of the 'silver' lab is up for debate. I have found no reference to any grey or silver colored
labs in any Labrador history book, except in one case where puppies were born grey-ish black but turned normal
black soon after. It is possible, although unlikely, that the silver genes existed all along but were just not found in
large enough concentrations to be seen. Perhaps the original grey Labs were culled, just as the original chocolates
were unfavored. However, the incredibly rapid growth of the silver Lab gene pool, along with the recogniztion that
many so-called silver Labs also look mysteriously mixed, suggests that the silver gene was introduced at some point
in recent history by cross-breeding to a Weimeraner, either accidentally or on purpose. It seems awfully coincidental
that the home of the 'original' silver labs was the home of a breeder who raised both Labradors and Weimeraners.

Breeders  who are selling the silver Lab will never admit this possibility, often because they are people who have
been bamboozled themselves. Silver labs are dishonestly registered as chocolates, because Silver is not a
registerable color.

Genetically, silver labs are represented by E_bbdd..... meaning they must have at least one "off" yellow allele, TWO
chocolate alleles, and TWO dilute alleles. The gene for 'dilute' is found at the D locus. A normal colored lab has a
dominant D (non-dilute) alllele at the D locus. In order to look silver or grey, the dog must have two recessive "d"
(dilute) alleles, one inherited from each parent.

Charcoal Labs are the diluted version of a black Lab, and would be represented by the gentoype E_B_dd - meaning
they have at least one E (yellow-off) allele, one B (dominant Black) allele, and TWO recessive dilute (d) alleles.
Apparently these dogs are registered as black, but I'll bet you don't pay the same price as for a 'regular black Lab!

Regardless of the 'source' of the dilute alleles in the Labrador breed, the fact is that it is rather dishonest to sell
them as a fancy or rare color when they are in fact mis-marked colors who can not be honestly registered.

Nothing but descriptive Names for "Yellow"

Fox-red, white, champagne, cream.... these are all simply shades of yellow that are allowed by the Labrador breed
standard and are perfectly acceptable provided the dog has dark pigmentation. Any of these Labs will have two
recessive "on" alleles at the E locus. Another locus controls the actual shade of the yellow. All yellow Labs are
registered as (you guessed it!) yellow. Providing fancy descriptions  of the shade of yellow may be a good marketing
idea or a useful tool to attract potential buyers that prefer a specific shade of yellow.
The range of "yellow" from Twig, very dark yellow at the left, to Beretta, who is a medium-dark shade, to Kimber on
the right, a pale, nearly white Lab.
More about Yellow

Yellow, or the pigment that causes yellow which is known as Eumelanin, is a temperature sensitive chemical which
gets darker in warmth. You will notice that on almost every shade of yellow lab, the ears and spine of the dog will be
darker than the rest of its body. Black pigment on a yellow Lab is also temperature sensitive - winter nose is the
unofficial name for when a yellow's black nose turns pink during cooler weather
Notice  how both Twig and Kimber have coal black noses in the summer, but
experience 'winter-nose' when it gets cold, and as a result, end up with a rosy
glow.
Mis-Marked Labradors

In Labradors, the only accepted colors, as we've discussed at length, are black, chocolate, and yellow. In each
shade, a small patch of white on the chest is permissible. Spots on the bottom of the feet are also common, and are
referred to as 'Bolo spots' as they are thought to be descended from the Dual Champion Banchory Bolo.
Any other variation of color is outside of the breed standard and represents a puppy not suitable for breeding.
These variations might include any of the following:

  • Brindle - the puppy will have a striped appearance (like a Boxer) over it's whole body, or just on legs and face
  • Tan Points- an otherwise black or chocolate puppy will have tan points, like a Doberman or Rottweiler
  • Mosaic - this happens when a puppy has a random patch of fur of another color. ie a yellow pup with a black
    ear.
  • Large White Spots- while a white spot on the chest is permissible, as are Bolo Spots, white patches anywhere
    else (face, legs, etc) or a very large chest patch are considered mismarks.

***None of these color patterns prevent a puppy from being a great pet, performance dog, or hunting partner.
However, these types of puppies should always be sold on a non-breeding agreement,  should not be represented
as 'unusual' and should not cost you more than a proper colored Lab of the same breeding'***

The above color patterns are found in purebred Labs, even in very high quality litters. If you have a photo of your
purebred Labrador that has one of these mismark patterns, please contact me by
email. Some photos of mismarked
labs can be seen
here.
This is Zeus, a purebred but mismarked  Labrador
bred by a reputable kennel in the U.S. Zeus is
showing the mismark characterized by tan points.
Both parents were solid black.
Bolo Spot -(white on underside of foot)
Very common and typically disappears
with age.
This is a puppy with
chocolate pigment. His
genotype is bbee (a
chocolate lab in a yellow fur
coat!) This color pattern is
often known as 'Dudley'. In
some countries, it is a
disqualification from showing-
that is not the case in
Canada. However, black
pigment is preferred.