Are Brown Labradors Smart? Facts vs Rumors on Intelligence

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Brown Labradors are often rumored to be not as bright as the yellow or black colored Labs. Many people, myself included, may wonder about the intelligence of brown Labs relative to the other two colors. So I went on a mission to get the facts.

Brown Labradors are smart dogs, as is evidenced by the fact that Labradors are consistently ranked among the most intelligent dog breeds. Since research has shown no difference in intelligence among the three Lab coat colors, we can conclude that brown Labradors are smart.

However, the rumors about brown Labs don't stop at coat color. Questions often circulate around differences in sex and training ability. So, make sure you know those truths as well. Lastly, intelligent dogs have requirements that other breeds don't have, and I've got tips on how to handle them!

In this article

How Smart Are Labradors?

Labradors are extremely smart. They consistently rank in the top ten most intelligent dog breeds. Because of their intelligence, they are often used for complex jobs like performing service dog or therapy work, detecting bombs, search and rescue, drug-sniffing teams, and hunting.

Labradors have even been trained to detect cancer in humans. By just using their sense of smell, a Lab can detect the presence of cancer cells up to 98% of the time, compared with the 10% success rate of a standard test for the same type of cancer.

Are Brown Labradors Less Intelligent Than Black or Yellow Labs?

Brown Labradors are not less intelligent than black or yellow Labs. Coat color does not indicate whether the dog is smart or not, nor does it tell you anything about its character. Each dog is an individual, and heredity is far more complicated than that.

There has been a significant amount of coat color bias over the years regarding Labrador retrievers. Yellow Labs have been called lazy, black Labs have been seen as too hyper, and brown Labs have carried the stigma of lower intelligence.

Some of this rumored distinction comes from the idea that many Labradors are bred to be show dogs while others are bred to be hunting dogs. Some think that hunting dogs are bred to be smarter than show dogs.

However, studies have shown that temperament, behavior, and intelligence are not inherently different between the three Labrador colors. One study found that any differences in personality traits were more likely due to the working status of the dog, regardless of color.

Are Male or Female Brown Labradors Smarter?

There is no scientific evidence to suggest that either male or female Labradors are more intelligent than the other, regardless of coat color. 

While there are no inherent differences between male and female Labradors regarding their intelligence, researchers have been looking into some differences that may give insight into how their minds work.

One experiment found that female dogs performed better when determining if they had noticed an unexpected event. Also, female dogs tend to mature faster and might be more attentive than males, making them seem more intelligent.

However, like intelligence and coat color, male and female Labradors' personalities and cognitive traits are too complex to say that one is superior to the other. 

two brown labradors

Are Brown Labradors Easy To Train?

Brown Labradors are very easy to train, which is why they're great for first-time dog owners. There is no evidence to suggest that brown Labs are harder (or easier) to train than those with black or yellow coats. 

Bloodline is the most critical factor in a Labrador's temperament, not it's color. Labs from a working or hunting dog bloodline may respond better to training than a show dog.

However, there are far too many variables to apply this reasoning to individual pups. 

Regardless, it is important to begin training early. You can start training your Labrador as early as eight weeks old.

What You Need To Know About Your Smart Labrador

Having a smarty pants pup can be a great thing. However, there are also disadvantages to choosing a highly intelligent breed.

Activities like playing fetch will likely come naturally as Labradors were bred to hunt. Physical activity and interactive play are both critical to this high-energy breed.

It's essential to make sure that your Lab gets enough exercise, or she may put her smarts to use with undesirable behaviors. Digging, chewing, or even escaping may cross your pup's mind when she is bored and full of pent-up energy.

With enough motivation, you may be surprised at what your Labrador will learn to do to get what she wants. For example, a food-motivated Lab might bypass your efforts to hide the treats by climbing on the counter and opening a cabinet.

Not to mention, all dogs benefit from your attention and affection. Praising your Labrador for a great game of fetch or pulling off a new trick will help to build their loyalty and confidence.

How To Keep Your Brown Labrador Engaged and Entertained

Do you remember the commercials from the early '90s that said, "a mind is a terrible thing to waste?" Well, the same is true for your brown Lab. It's essential to engage your dog's intelligence to keep him healthy and happy.

brown labrador running

Here are some ways to make sure you are meeting your Lab's intellectual and social needs:

  • Play, play, and more play. These pups are active and high-energy, and they have a natural predisposition to want to fetch, retrieve, and carry things in their mouths. A toy mallard is a great way to let your Lab's instincts take over. I like this Multipet 18-Inch Migrators on because it doesn't have stuffing for your pup to tear out. 
  • Obedience or skill training. Your brown Lab is intelligent and eager to please. Learning new skills will enable it to use its brain and physical nature to impress you even more. 
  • Give your Labrador a job. Because of their natural desires, they are delighted to learn a new task and do jobs for your approval. For example, you can have your pup retrieve tennis balls or teach him to pick items up and put them in a container. 
  • Take your Lab on the go. Bringing your four-legged friend with you to run errands or out on your evening jog can be good for both of you. Your Labrador will benefit from seeing new places, things, and faces. Going in public will also help socialize your Lab, which is essential for high-energy dogs.


Brown Labradors are brilliant dogs, and the following is also true:

  • Brown, black, and yellow Labradors are not innately different based on their coat color.
  • Labradors were bred to be working and hunting dogs, so they do very well when they have the opportunity to complete tasks.

However, your brown Lab may get bored and put his energy into naughty behaviors if he doesn't get enough exercise and playtime. It's essential to make sure you give him the time commitment he deserves before taking on such a high-energy and high-intelligence dog.