Are Chocolate Labradors Less Intelligent Than Others?

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When looking to add our next family dog, we knew we wanted a breed that was intelligent. As we started looking into Labradors, we were leaning toward a chocolate Lab. One question that we had was whether coat color had any impact on intelligence.

Chocolate Labs are not less intelligent than other Labs. The shooting world typically avoids chocolate Labs, which has given them a reputation for being less intelligent. However, the Labrador breed is smart, and with proper breeding and training, their intelligence is equivalent to other Lab colors.

You should be aware of the research that shows just how smart Labradors are. No conclusive evidence exists to suggest one coat color is more intelligent than the others. There’s also an effective approach that you can take to decide which Labrador is right for you.

In this article

How Smart Are Labradors?

According to Stanley Coren in his book 'The Intelligence of Dogs,' Labs ranked the 7th brightest dogs out of 138 breeds tested. That means Labs are highly trainable, which is why they commonly serve as service dogs. It's also common to see Labs in dog shows or competitions. 

Most Labradors find their calling in hunting sports. Labradors started as duck hunters; however, they were then used for hunting other animals such as deer and hogs. Black and yellow Labs are popularly used in hunting sports, whereas chocolate Labs are more common in dog shows. However, each activity requires a high level of intelligence.

Why Are Chocolate Labs Rumored To Be Less Intelligent?

So, where did the stereotype of chocolates being less intelligent than other Labs originate? 

Perhaps the misconception came from the hunting world, where black Labs are particularly more favored. And because chocolate Labs are typically only active in dog shows, they're considered by many as being the least intelligent.

While it is true that on average, Chocolate Labs tend to have a shorter lifespan, there is no solid evidence to confirm that there's a correlation between a Lab's intelligence and its coat.

Despite the insults about their intelligence, chocolate Labs are just as popular as their black and yellow counterparts. Due to the increasing demands for chocolate coats, many breeders focus on breeding chocolate Labs with chocolate Labs.

Breeders focused on making money by breeding chocolate Labs may disregard important factors that can heavily impact Labradors’ intelligence.

Most chocolate Labs were not bred for hunting. As a result, they may not display the standard intelligence, passion, or athleticism required for hunting. Labs have to be trained in specific skills, which they will then pass down to future offspring. 

So when it comes to hunting, chocolate Labs may less effective. However, it is not a reflection of intelligence, but instead improper training.

Are Most Chocolate Labs English Labs?

Many chocolate Labs happen to be English Labradors, while many black Labs are American Labradors. The two types are the same breed but differ by their physical characteristics and how they were bred.

Below is a comparison chart between English and American Labradors:

English Labs American Labs
About 21.5 to 22.5” (54.61 to 57.15 cm)Heavier and more muscularShorter legs and body About 21.5 to 24.5” (54.61 to 62.23 cm)Slimmer, athletic physiqueLonger legs

Historically, American Labs were bred to work in fields. So, breeding a black coat made it easier for farmers to spot their dogs in the grass. Since American Labs were bred as working dogs, their physiques are more suitable for hunting.

English Labs were also bred for working. However, they are heavier and not as agile as their American cousins. Thus, they aren't as good at hunting. As time passed, people became more accepting towards Labs of other colors, not only black. 

When this happened, more chocolate Labs were born.

Since most hunters used to favor black Labs, American Labs (favored for hunting) were strictly and mostly black.

More breeders started to breed chocolate Labs for the public thanks to the color’s increasing popularity. That is why today, many chocolate Labs are English Labs.

Of course, there are American Labs that were also born chocolate, although not common.

Is It Easy to Find Chocolate Labs That Can Hunt?

It is not easy to find chocolate Labs that can hunt. When it comes to hunting, agility and stamina are vital. Since American Labs have physical attributes that are better for hunting, they make better hunting dogs than English Labs.

For many generations, American Labs have been trained to hunt.

English Labs are also used for hunting. However, they are not as easy to train for hunting. Therefore, most of them are more active in dog shows and competitions. This led to the belief that chocolate Labs are not as smart as black Labs. 

chocolate lab on the grass

How To Pick the Right Lab for You

Every Labrador is unique, so one Lab may be better than another in certain things. However, a Labrador's genetics plays an important role in the dog's coat, temperament, or trainability.

Despite the different genetics, Labs are generally smarter than many other dog breeds around. 

Not everyone requires their Labradors to hunt or work as they also make wonderful family pets. Whether they are fit for work or otherwise, it is a Labrador's nature to always want to impress their owners.

Choose a Lab Puppy From a Good Breeder

A good breeder will be able to tell you which puppy will suit your character and lifestyle. 

Ask your breeder to show you the evidence of their puppies' ancestry. This can help uncover whether or not the pups are from a working bloodline.

If you are planning to adopt a chocolate Lab, ask the breeder to share the dog's history. 

Final Thoughts

Labradors are a highly intelligent breed. With proper breeding and training they can excel at various activities. In addition, while the most popular working Labs are black, their coat colors can vary. 

Many backyard breeders breed chocolate Labs mainly for their color while disregarding other essential factors that make an intelligent Lab. Check a Lab puppy's bloodline to ensure that you'll get a Lab that will best suit you.