Chocolate Labradors: The Ultimate Guide

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Chocolate Labradors are known for their distinctive coloration and over time have become a desirable choice for prospective Lab owners. In fact, I've recently been considering adding a chocolate Lab to our family.


So, I've been researching quite a bit to see if there truly are differences beyond the coat color. Surprisingly, there seems to be some which I'll cover in this article.

In this article

Identifying a Chocolate Labrador

Let’s start by learning more about what a chocolate Labrador looks like. Their most distinctive feature is the color of their coat. It is a rich brown, the same shade as a bar of chocolate, hence the name. 

Blue eyes are a thing

Another feature is the color of their eyes. All Labrador dogs will have brown eyes. But, when a Chocolate Labrador is born, they will have blue eyes. Within the first 16 weeks of their life, they would have transitioned into brown eyes. Don’t be worried; this is normal and doesn’t lead to any vision problems in the future. 

Body physique

Like most working dogs, the chocolate Lab is built to live an active life that shows in its physicality. Often, they will have developed muscles. Their bodies won’t be too low to the ground. They tend to have a longer neck, which makes it easier for them to retrieve essential items. 

Height and weight

Most male Labs will be between 23 to 24 inches tall and weigh around 70 pounds. Females will be a little shorter, measuring around 22 inches and weighing about 60 pounds.

For more info on Labrador growth, check out How Big Do Labs Get?

The Temperament of a Chocolate Labrador

The first thing that many families want to know is how a Chocolate Labrador will act when introduced to their home. Are chocolate Labs good dogs? Generally, Labs have gotten a reputation for being good family dogs. There are a few reasons for this. 

First, they are easy to train. This likely stems from the breed's history. As we mentioned, they originated in Newfoundland, where they were used as working dogs. Farmers frequently used them to help them pull in fishing nets and complete other manual tasks. As a result, they are wired to want to please humans and have a high level of intelligence. This has manifested in studies as a high fetching score

Another element that makes them a good pet is their calm personalities. They tend to be sociable and are at low risk of becoming anxious. This makes them a safe option for being around a family. But there are a few guidelines that you should always follow. 

  • Monitor small children with dogs. Sometimes, they can think that they are patting a dog when they are really hitting it. 
  • If you are going to have multiple dogs in the house, introduce them first. This will let you make sure that they are going to be a good fit. 

Chocolate Labs tend to be more anxious

Because the Lab is one of the most intelligent breeds, you will be able to leave them on their own. However, many chocolate Lab owners report that their dogs get more anxious when separated than other Lab coat colors. However, this hasn’t been validated by scientific studies.

On a more positive note, the same study noted that chocolate Labs were observed to be less reactive to loud noises and sudden movements. This means that they can cope better with thunder and fireworks, though all dogs will want to cuddle with their owners during these events. 

Lastly, it’s important to note that chocolate Labs grow very quickly. As they do, they have a lot of energy. Because of this, you must start training them when they are young.

Start introducing them to other dogs and make sure that they are socialized. Because of their size, it’s best to take them to a puppy school, or use an online training program. You can do this from a young age, often just a few months old. 

If you start this training young, you will be able to eliminate many potential problems. Remember the genetic background of the dog only accounts for part of their behavior. The type of training you give them will play the most significant role in determining how your Chocolate Labrador will behave. 

Color of the Labrador Coat

There are three primary colors for Labrador coats: 

labrador multi colors
  1. Yellow 
  2. Black
  3. Chocolate 

Though some dogs combine these colors, examples being the "silver" or "fox red" Labradors. These are newer and more difficult to find. As a result, silver and fox red Labradors tend to be the two most expensive varieties.

We’ll take a closer look at how much you need to pay to own a Chocolate Labrador a little later. 

Are Chocolate Labs Harder to Find?

Chocolate Labradors are more difficult to find than yellow and black Labs. To understand why this is, we need to know a little about genetics.

There are two ways that you can get a black Lab. They can either have a BB or Bb gene. The only time the chocolate color will be expressed is when a dog that has both recessive genes (bb) is born. Additionally, there is still a chance that a dog with recessive genes will turn out to be yellow. 

Because of these genetic factors, the chances of getting a brown dog are 2/9. As a result, they are one of the rarest Labrador shades, which increases their value. 

How to Increase the Probability of Chocolate Coat

Often, it can be difficult to tell the color that the Lab will be based on the colors of the parents. Two black Labs can produce a chocolate coat. Your best option will be to breed two chocolate Labs. This will give you a ¾ chance of getting a chocolate Lab and a ¼ chance of getting a yellow Lab. 

If you are looking to buy a Chocolate Labrador, you might be able to find a breeder that specializes in Labrador Retrievers. Just make sure that you are using a reputable breeder rather than a puppy farm. We’ll discuss more tips on finding the right dog for you a little later. 

The Lifespan of a Chocolate Lab

I hate to think about the day when my beloved pet will die, but it’s a reality that we all need to face eventually. The good news is that Labradors are one of the longest living dog breeds, with most living for 12 years. The bad news is that Chocolate Labradors will have a shorter lifespan than average. According to a study of over 33,000 dogs, the average lifespan is 10.7 years.

Unfortunately, they are also more likely to have health problems. These included;

  • Twice as likely to get an ear infection
  • Four times the risk of dermatitis
  • Twice the number of hot spots

The reason why they are likely to get these health problems isn’t related to the color of the skin. Remember, to get a chocolate Lab, you need a pair of recessive genes. Because of this, it’s believed that these issues were introduced during the selective breeding process. 

The good news is that there are lots of simple things you can do to keep your Chocolate Labrador healthy. First, you’ll want to keep them at a healthy weight. This is a combination of diet and exercise. It’s also important to take them to the vet regularly. The quicker you can spot potential health problems the more potential solutions you can explore. 

Taking Care of a Chocolate Labrador

Before getting a Chocolate Labrador it’s vital to consider their requirements. This will ensure that you are capable of giving them everything they need to stay healthy. 

Getting the Right Amount of Exercise 

The Labrador Retriever is known for having a lot of energy, and the Chocolate Labrador is no exception. These dogs will love to be able to go outside and play. This will let them burn off that energy. Make sure you are giving them enough exercise per day. 

If you want to have some fun, take them to the lake. They will love to dive into the water, using their powerful legs to propel them through the water. Interestingly, they can also use their tail as a rudder, helping them travel in the right direction. 

chocolate lab

You will know whether or not you are meeting this energy requirement. If you aren’t, they will be prone to chewing your furniture. They might also start to bark. Like most dogs, the puppies will have the most energy. But, as they get older, their energy requirements will begin to dwindle. 


All dogs will need some grooming to keep them looking and feeling good. They have a relatively short coat but don't be fooled. Shedding can be a real problem if you don't take it seriously. This means both preventive and reactive maintenance. I've covered this extensively in this article.

Housing a Chocolate Labrador

This an active breed, so it’s essential to make sure that you are giving your dogs some space to run around. To house a Labrador Retriever there are a few things you need to do;

  • Set up a strong fence. While it is rare for Labrador Retrievers to run away when trained properly, it happens. The best way to make sure that your dog is returned safely is by registering them and installing a microchip. This is often the first thing that a vet will check. 
  • They will need a yard large enough to run around in. Because of this, they often won’t be suitable to stay in an apartment
  • You might need to get a crate. This is a place where they can go when they are feeling stressed. This type of training is most common for puppies. 


Labrador Retrievers, regardless of the color of their coat, have big appetites. Because of this, there is a risk that they could become overfed. When this happens, there is the chance that they will put on more weight. This can lead to some health problems down the road. 

There are ways to prevent this, starting with making sure that you are feeding them a healthy diet. You can give them treats, but try to limit them to one or two.

chocolate labrador with red collar

Some Chocolate Labrador owners report that they can even go through the trash to get a few scraps, so keep an eye on them. Lastly, make sure that they are getting the right amount of exercise. 

History of the Chocolate Labrador

Initially, Labs were known as the Saint John’s dogs and originated in Newfoundland. This breed was known for being excellent in the water and having short black hair. Because of their hunting skill, the breed gained popularity. 

As time went on, the recessive gene started to emerge, producing the chocolate colorings that we know today. In the 1940s, the American Kennel Club first registered a Chocolate Labrador. At first, the color wasn’t well-liked. Over time it started to grow more popular. 

Today, these are one of the most popular colors for Labrador Retrievers. People love them not just for the stunning color of their coats but also for their fun-loving, playful personalities. 

Average Price of a Labrador

Hopefully, you now have a better idea of whether or not a Chocolate Labrador is the right fit for your home. Now the question is around cost.

I analyzed several Labrador breeder websites to get a sense of whether chocolate Lab puppies are more expensive.

On average, Labrador puppies that have yellow, black, or chocolate-colored coats tend to be priced the same by breeders. Costs typically range between $800-$1200 for the three primary coat colors. More rare color variations, such as silver and fox-red, tend to be priced slightly higher.

Many factors can influence the price of a dog. These include;

  • Whether they are purebred or not
  • Where you are getting them from
  • The color of their coat
  • Their age
  • Their temperament

It’s important to remember that this is just a rough guide and will often depend on the economic conditions in your local area. 

Labrador Coat Color Price Estimate
Black, Chocolate, and Yellow $800-$1200
Silver, White & Fox Red $1000-$3000

Finding a Good Chocolate Labrador

If you want to add a Chocolate Labrador to your life, there are a few things that you should think about before you decide whether you want to purchase the dog. 

Cute chocolate Labrador asleep on the sofa
Shot of a Cute chocolate labrador asleep on the sofa

Breeder reputation

The most important aspect to consider is where you are buying it from. Try to steer clear of puppy farms. While they might be able to offer a good deal, it comes at a price.

They have a greater risk of developing behavioral issues. Sometimes, this can lead to health problems as they age. Therefore, if cost is of great concern, you might want to consider adopting a dog from a shelter.

Healthcare costs

The next thing to consider is the health of the dog. If you are purchasing from a respected breeder, it’s unlikely that there will be any undisclosed issues.

Regardless, you will likely need to see your vet very frequently during the first year. This is typical to ensure she is growing and healthy. The costs will add up, so you need to plan accordingly.

Other pets

When possible, you want to make sure that they will be compatible with any existing pets. This will let you see how they interact. There shouldn’t be any problems, Chocolate Labradors are known for their friendly temperament, but it’s best to keep an eye on them just in case. 

Other Costs of Buying a Chocolate Labrador

The good news is that, as they become more mainstream, the breeders have focused on producing more Chocolate Labradors. This has helped drive the cost of purchasing them down, especially compared to rarer colors like silver and red fox.

But the costs of buying the dog aren’t the only things that you need to consider. Here are some of the other costs that you will encounter;

  • Microchipping
  • Toys
  • Food and treats
  • Crate/cage and leash/harness
  • Emergencies and/or pet insurance
  • Training
  • Spay/neutering

These costs add up, and sadly many owners don't factor them in. Unfortunately, this often results in puppy abandonment as the costs become too great.

Final Thoughts

One of the most defining aspects of the Chocolate Labrador is the color of its coat. However, there are plenty of other reasons why this might be the ideal dog for an active family.

They have a warm, friendly temperament and are quite intelligent and trainable.

Chocolate Labs do differ from traditional yellow and black variations in a few ways. Fortunately, since they've become a mainstream option they are easier to find than they once were.