Labrador Retrievers are perhaps the most recognizable dogs in the country, and year after year they’re named as the most popular breed in the U.S. Their fun-loving and positive personalities combined with their gentleness and willingness to please their owners makes them the perfect family pet.
Three Lab colors are recognized by the American Kennel Club: Black, Yellow, and Chocolate. Most people know about the three main colors, but if you’re looking for a little rarity and uniqueness in your dog’s coat color, there’s a Lab for you, too! We’re going to take a look at different Lab colors and the differences in each, and we’ll also discuss what makes these dogs so recognizable.
Labrador Retriever Colors:
The 6 Labrador Retriever Colors:
1. Black Labrador
Black Labs have a dark, pure black coat that is sleek and shiny. They’re chosen most often for hunting, but they also make wonderful non-working pets.
Statistically speaking, Black Labs are the most common of all Labrador color variations. This is due to how coat color is inherited in this breed. Without getting too far into a scientific explanation for this, there are nine different possible gene combinations for coat color. Four of these lead to a black coat, three to yellow, and only two to chocolate. Due to random chance, Black Labs make up nearly half of all Labradors.
Some people believe that Black Labs are the calmest and most affectionate of the Labrador breed, but there isn’t any research to back this up.
2. Yellow Labrador
Yellow Labs can have a pretty wide range of coloration, and two other Lab colors we’ll discuss later are really just extremes of the Yellow Lab color spectrum. Yellow Labs often have a very light brown or tan colored coat that can appear yellowish.
They’re regarded as the friendliest of the Labs, but again this isn’t substantiated by any research.
3. Chocolate Labrador
The rarest of the three major Labrador colors, the Chocolate Lab is beautiful and adorable with a deep brown, chocolate-colored coat. The shade or intensity of the chocolate color can vary quite a bit, and even Chocolate Labs from the same litter can range from a light brown to what would be better described as a mix between a Chocolate Lab’s coat and a Black Lab’s coat.
Chocolate Labs are regarded as the most energetic and hardest to train, and while there is no research-based evidence to support this, Chocolate Labs are the only Labs not used as service dogs by the leading dog training organizations. This may be due to a higher energy level.
Their absence from service dog institutions may also be due to the fact that Chocolate Labs experience more health problems and tend to have shorter lifespans than their Black and Yellow counterparts. On average, Chocolate Labs live about a year and a half shorter than other colored Labs.
4. Red Labs
Red Labs, commonly referred to as Red Fox Labs, have a deep red coat that resembles that of a fox. These dogs are not a different genetic coloration at all but rather the extreme of the Yellow Lab’s color spectrum. Simply put, they have the genetics of a Yellow Lab but present a darker coat that appears reddish.
Because their genes are identical to that of their yellow brethren, they don’t carry any additional health issues, and their lifespans and health issues are no different than those of a Yellow or Black Lab.
Red Labs are rarer than Yellow Labs simply because it’s most common to see a light brown or yellowish coat rather than a deeper red coloration.
5. White Labrador Retriever
White Labradors are usually genetically identical to Yellow Labs just like Red Labs are, but their coat is the lighter extreme on the Yellow Lab color spectrum. White Labs usually have very pale brown fur that can appear purely white, especially in the sun. Their fur normally has light brown or yellowish tinges around the ears and paws.
White Labs don’t have any additional health issues unless their white coloration comes from albinism. Albino labs can also be considered White Labs, but they have a genetic mutation that limits their coat’s color production. Albino Labs do carry additional health problems such as deafness, blindness, and other eye issues.
6. Silver Labs
Silver Labs are stunning, regal, and sleek. Their light grey coat shines beautifully in the sun, and their appearance is as striking as it is adorable.
These pups are similar to Red Labs in that they have the same genetics as one of the major three Lab colors. Silver Labs are really Chocolate Labs, even though they may look more like Blue Labs, but their coat is light or diluted, and the result is a silvery appearance.
Like their chocolate siblings, Silver Labs, unfortunately, inherit some additional health issues and tend to live shorter lives than Black and Yellow Labradors. They also are prone to “color dilution alopecia,” which is a genetic disorder that can lead to patchy fur and skin problems.
Defining Physical Characteristics
What is it that makes this breed so recognizable? Labs are often stocky and athletic with a broad chest and a thick, wide skull. They have adorably floppy ears and eyes so expressive you’d swear your pup is trying to speak to you with them.
Labs have short, dense fur that is water-resistant. In fact, they were named after the Labrador Sea off of Newfoundland where they were originally bred to retrieve waterfowl. They have what is referred to as an “otter tail,” which means it appears thick and round due to the fur surrounding it.
Lab Temperament & Behavior
Labradors are often referred to as the perfect breed for a family because they are gentle, protective, and abundantly friendly. You will never have to worry about this breed around young children or strangers, but they also aren’t afraid to stand up to a threat and protect you if the need arises.
Labs are energetic and highly playful, and they’re especially adept at swimming and, of course, retrieving. No matter where they go, Labs seem to bring joy and happiness with them. They are loyal, loving, and affectionate. What more could you ask for in a dog?
Labrador Retriever Grooming & Care ✂️
Whether your pup belongs to one of the major three Lab colors or is a rarer coloration, coat care will be about the same across the board.
Labs have short, dense fur that is prone to heavy shedding and matting, so you should plan to brush your Labrador at least two or three times a week to cut down on shedding and keep their fur looking sleek. Regular brushing will help distribute your pup’s natural skin oils for a healthy and shiny look, but it won’t eliminate shedding. If you don’t have a good vacuum, invest in one before you bring your Lab home!
Labradors of all coat colors should be bathed about once every other month with a dog-friendly shampoo. Bathing more often can eliminate those healthy skin oils we mentioned, so avoid giving your pup a bath more often unless they find their way into some mud.
Final Thoughts: Lab Colors
Labs come in three main colors but can have lots of different coat shading that makes them appear unique and especially striking. Regardless of your Lab’s coloration, your pup will be full of life and positivity, and they’re bound to bring you and your family happiness and laughter for many years.
- Related Read: 10 Best Shampoos for Labs
Featured image credit: Eric Isselee, Shutterstock