Can Purebred Labradors Have White Markings on Them?

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There's a common misconception among Labrador enthusiasts that purebred Labs have flawless coats. However, after looking through numerous photos of Labradors I found that it simply isn't true. Some Labs have white markings on their chest, back, face, and other areas.

Purebred Labs can have white markings on them due to a condition known as mismarks from their ancestors. The genetic mutation causes unique discolorations, including rings, white circles, and many other appearance alterations. Both full-blooded and cross-bred Labs can experience these beautiful markings.

You should understand the various reasons white markings may be present. It would also help to distinguish what a mismarked Labrador looks like, and what you should keep an eye out for when researching.

In this article

What Is a Mismarked Lab?

A mismarked dog has different markings unfound on most other pups in the breed. For example, a black Lab with a white circle on its chest likely has a mismarking. While these alterations are uncommon, many breeds have them based on their ancestry. Labradors have had mismarkings for many generations.

Here’s what you should know about mismarked Labs:

Purebred Labradors Can Have Many Markings

The markings found on Labrador retrievers can be circles, rings, and almost any other shape imaginable. A Lab can have several markings all over the place or none at all. The placement can be impacted by their ancestry, but they’re unpredictable. Just because the parents have markings doesn’t mean their puppies will.

Mismarked Labs Are Genetic Mutations

The primary reason Labradors have mismarks is due to a genetic mutation from long ago. If a couple of mismarked dogs have a litter, that litter can have mismarkings and breed with other dogs. This mutation goes through several generations, similar to the way huskies can have separate eye colors.

These Marks Can Be Anywhere On Their Body

According to Greenstone Labradors, Labs can have rings or spots on their tails, noses, ears, chest, and more. These discolorations can be white, brown, and many other colors. If your dog has white marks from the moment they’re born, they’re not alone! Many Labs have these marks, all of which look wonderful.

The term ‘mismarked’ might sound a bit deceiving; These dogs don’t have anything wrong with them. The white, brown, and other colors found on their coat won’t affect how long they live or anything else relating to their quality of life. Interestingly, Labs can have several solid colors, such as a chocolate and black Lab. Read on to learn more about them.

black lab with white marking

Can a Full-Blooded Lab Be Two Colors?

A full-blooded Lab can be two colors based on their parents, genetic mutations, cross-breeds between the same Labradors (they’re still purebred, even if it’s a chocolate Lab and black Lab as the parents), and more. Below, I’ll show you everything you should know about full-blooded Labs with two or more colors in their coat.

  • Two black Labs can have chocolate Labrador puppies. Wide Open Pets explains two Labrador retrievers with the same coat colors and can have a litter with a different shade. Furthermore, a purebred black Lab can have chocolate and black Lab parents. These Labs are still considered purebred, despite having different coat colors than their parents.
  • Multiple colors can change the gene pool without making them not purebred dogs. As I briefly explained above, your Labrador can have a different color than other pups in the litter or their parents. If you’re unsure if your dog is purebred due to this common occurrence, review my article about a popular dog genetic testing kit.
  • Silver Labradors weren’t originally purebred (it’s still up for debate). Many silver Labs have other breeds in their genetic ancestry. If your dog is mostly silver with other colors on their fur, they might not be a full-blooded Labrador. Silver Labs can look slightly brown or black, depending on their relatives.
  • Light undertones can show brown hair on black Labs. Look at your dog in the sunlight to see if they have brown fur overlapped with their natural coat. This difference can be caused by a handful of factors, but it’s not uncommon. Many dogs have a couple of colors in their coat.
  • You can learn more about a puppy’s potential color by talking to the breeder. We’ve already learned that their parents’ coat isn’t always the best indicator of what they’ll look like. Some people put a deposit on unborn Labrador puppies, especially if they’re purebred or part of a champion bloodline (for competitions, good genetics, and so on).

Although most of these explanations are natural, there’s a list of unnatural reasons your Lab might have white markings on their coat. If they show up randomly, it’s worth finding out what caused these spots. In the next section, I’ll break down a list of possible reasons they’re showing up.

What Else Causes White Markings on a Labrador?

big labrador

There are many other reasons aside from genetic mismarkings that cause white (and other) spots, rings, and similar cosmetic splotches on their fur. If your pup never had spots or discolorations and they’re suddenly developing them, there might be a few causes for concern. You’ll learn all you need to know about them in the following list of five explanations:

  1. Excess exposure to sunlight can lighten their fur. All hair and fur are susceptible to turning lighter if it’s in the sun for too long. A black Lab can have white or gray marks if they’re always lounging in the sun. This isn’t a cause for concern as long as they’re drinking plenty of water to prevent exhaustion.
  2. Old age is a common cause for white markings on any dog. Unfortunately, all dogs get old. If your Labrador is showing white marks, they might be experiencing normal signs of aging. Labradors and all other dog breeds can have white spots in their fur at a very young age, too. As they age, these spots become more prominent.
  3. Certain medications can change their fur color. The Birch Bark Foundation claims some medications can alter your Lab’s coat shade, which isn’t always an issue. These cosmetic alterations are very rare but often not a cause for concern. Talk to the vet if your pup experiences these issues.
  4. Some illnesses can alter your Labrador’s skin and fur appearance. If your Lab is acting sick, tired, or different than their normal energetic behavior while also changing their coat color, it might be a sign of a severe health condition. These problems can cause white and gray patches all over the pup.
  5. The food they eat will directly impact their fur. Your dog’s diet, including their water intake, will make their coat shiny, dull, or lighter than usual. Ensure they’re getting enough protein in their diet since it’s the building block of hair and skin. Lack of proper hydration can make their hair brittle, dull, and lose color, which can make it look white.

White markings on a purebred Labrador can be seen as signs of beauty, uniqueness, dietary issues, and many other possibilities. Identifying the cause can bring peace of mind, but rest assured, many full-blooded Labs naturally have these marks and spots.


Identifying a purebred Lab takes a lot of work unless you use a test kit. White marks, brindle rings, and similar mismarkings aren’t a reliable way to know if your Labrador is full-blooded since these marks go back hundreds of years in their ancestry. However, their unique appearance is something we can all appreciate!