Should Yellow Labradors Have Brown or Black Noses? What Color Tells Us

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Over the years, I've observed quite a number of Labrador Retrievers. One of the things that I look closely at are the subtle variations across the breed. One that always stands out to me is the color of a Lab's nose, particularly Yellow Labs. What color should they be?

Yellow Labs should have black noses according to AKC standards. Occasionally, their nose may take on a pink color, but this is just transitory and is caused by the weather, or the result of aging. Labrador Retrievers with brown noses are often a mixed breed and not pure yellow Lab.

There are a few reasons why a Labrador's nose color may not be black. If yours isn't, you should be aware of the various reasons as uncovering them may help lead you to other important facts about your dog.

In this article

Why Do Yellow Labs Have Black Noses?

Yellow Labradors almost always have black noses, however, their noses can change color seasonally. As they age, you may see their noses sometimes become lighter in color.

This is related to a decrease in melanin synthesis, a pigment that gives the nose its black hue.

Occasionally, the pale coloration is seasonal, owing to the cold weather. But, typically, when the temperature warms up, your dog's nose will revert to black.

Why Does My Yellow Lab Have a Brown Nose? 

The reason why your yellow Lab has a brown nose is that the dog is a light-colored chocolate Labrador or an impure breed. According to the American Kennel Club, yellow Labradors should have black noses.

While some dog owners argue that it is normal for yellow Labradors to have brown noses, competition standards do not accept this.

Perhaps you're wondering how a chocolate Labrador might have such a light coat. This is possible since not all chocolate Labradors are the typical hues of brown.

There is also the silver Labrador Retriever.

This Labrador is a brown Lab with a faded coat that gives a silver shine. In certain instances, its color may be likened to that of a yellow Labrador since both breeds come in various shades.

However, these Labs remain chocolate Labradors and are not classified as a distinct breed.

yellow lab nose

Why Your Yellow Lab Has a Pink Nose

As previously said, your yellow Lab's nose may get lighter in the winter.

Typically, when the color changes owing to the climate, it changes just partly to pink. This color shift is entirely harmless to the dog.

Other reasons may have contributed to your dog's nose turning pink, including the following:

  • Old age. This is nothing to worry about and is totally normal and natural.
  • Nasal de-pigmentation. This skin disease varies in severity but is manageable in most cases.
  • Injury. If a dog sustains damage, such as a scratch, the nose may become pink throughout the healing process. Usually, the pigment returns after some time.
  • Bacterial infections. Not only may the color of the nose fade, but it may also seem irritated, painful, or crusty. If this is the case, you should see a veterinarian.
  • Pemphigus. Pink sores and crusty patches on and around the dog's snout are possible symptoms of this disease. The illness is curable, and you should see a veterinarian.
  • Vitiligo. Not only may this disease cause a dog's nose to become pink, but it is also typical for other parts of the body to lose color. Vitiligo is generally harmless to a dog's health since it primarily affects the dog's look.

A pink nose can also be a consequence of your dog's genetic composition.

For example, Dudley Labradors are yellow Labradors with permanent pink noses. This is a dog with a particular gene mutation that decreases pigmentation in the nose and other places.

What Is a Dudley Labrador?

A Dudley Labrador Retriever is a Labrador that lacks pigmentation:

  • Around the eyes
  • On the snout
  • Around the nose

Additionally, these dogs often have tan or pale pink skin.

And a genuine Dudley is prone to sunburn; therefore, they should not be exposed to excessive amounts of sunshine.

Dudley labrador

According to AKC breed standards, Dudley Labrador Retrievers are deemed unsuitable. They are also generally considered less healthful than other Labs.

Because your Lab's nose may sometimes become pink, you should conduct a test to establish a snow nose or a genuine Dudley Lab.

All that is required is a visual examination of the gum tissue and eye rims. If they are also pale, it is most likely a Dudley Labrador.

This may be confirmed by a veterinarian or an at-home DNA test.  

There are several DNA tests available which will provide you information about your Labrador’s ancestry and any underlying genetic issues which you need to know about.

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How Can I Tell if My Yellow Lab Is Purebred?

You can tell if your yellow Lab is purebred by comparing it to the AKC breed standards. You must examine its coat, tail, and disposition to determine whether it's a Labrador. 

Here’s how to tell if your yellow Lab is purebred:

  1. Check your Lab’s coat for stiffness.
  2. Look for white spots on their fur.
  3. Measure and weigh your dog.
  4. Inspect the thickness of the dog’s tail.
  5. Check its behavior against breed standards.
  6. Use a DNA test.

Examining your dog closely and comparing his characteristics to the breed standard is a simple first step. However, you should keep in mind that some fully purebred dogs do not conform to this standard.

This is especially true when it comes to canine size requirements.

And, although this is not an ideal way of testing, you may be assured that your dog is a pure breed if it satisfies industry requirements.

1. Check Your Lab's Coat For Stiffness

The Labrador Retriever's coat is unique, and it is often the most apparent indication of their breed.

Your dog's hair should be short, straight, and thick, giving the palm a fairly firm sensation.

Coats that are woolly, silky, or scant are not typical of the breed. Therefore a dog with these characteristics is unlikely to be purebred.

2. Look for White Spots on Their Fur

Black, yellow, and chocolate are the coat colors of the Labrador Retriever. Any other hue or combination of colors indicates a mixed breed.

While a purebred Lab may have a little white patch on the chest, no additional coloring is present.

It is normal for your dog to have some white hairs as a result of age or scars.

However, if a supposed Labrador Retriever has white paws or a white patch on the face, he is not a purebred dog.

yellow lab lying on the sofa

3. Measure and Weigh Your Dog

The AKC standard for the Labrador Retriever specifies a male dog with a shoulder height of 22 ½ to 24 ½ in. (57.15 - 62.63 cm.).

Females are somewhat smaller, standing between 21 ½ to 23 ½ in. (54.61 and 62.63 cm.) tall.

Males weigh between 65 and 80 lbs. (29.48 and 36.29 kg.), whereas girls weigh between 55 and 70 pounds (24.95 - 31.75 kg.).

4. Inspect the Thickness of the Dog’s Tail

The tail is a breed characteristic. It should be very thick at the base and taper progressively toward the tip.

Additionally, there should be a slight curve near the end.

For this breed, the tail has a function. It is beneficial for swimming and maintaining balance when walking on land, so it has distinct features.

Tails that are extremely short or long and thin are indications of an impure pet.

5. Check Its Behavior Against Breed Standards

According to the AKC, a typical Lab is energetic, sociable, and outgoing. The Labrador's disposition of loyalty, intelligence, want to please, and adaptability is what makes it such a wonderful companion.

If you do not see these personality characteristics in your dog, you may wish to conduct a more thorough examination.

6. Use a DNA Test

To get a definitive answer, use a simple DNA test that can disclose your dog's genetic heritage.

You can purchase a DNA test kit for your Labrador to see whether they have mixed blood.

A canine genetics testing firm will give you a package containing the equipment necessary to collect a sample, as well as detailed instructions on how to use them.

Typically, all that is needed is a swab from the inside of your dog's mouth. Following that, you can send the sample back to the firm and expect answers within a few weeks.

Final Thoughts

A breeder is the most excellent spot to find a purebred Labrador. You should seek someone who is invested in the breed's care and has a positive reputation.

A genuine yellow Labrador has a few distinct traits, which you should be aware of before looking for your dream dog.

However, if you are already with your pet, you can do a simple test.

If you're not ready for genetic testing but still want to know the breed of your dog, Animal Wise has a video that may help: