Do Chocolate Labradors Look Black When They're Born?

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Chocolate Labs are the rarest of the primary three colors of Labradors (yellow, black, and chocolate). Finding a reputable breeder that sells chocolate Labs can be difficult, especially if the Labs look different from your expectations. Many dogs have different fur colors when they're born, so do these rules apply to chocolate Labs?

Chocolate Labs don't look black when they're born, but they can be such a dark shade of brown that they appear black. They often lighten as they age due to natural discoloration, sunlight exposure, and diet. Some of them have unique markings, but none that would make their coats black.

In this article, I'll show you why your chocolate Lab might look dark brown or almost black, whether or not their coat color will change, and what color they are when they're born.

In this article

Chocolate Lab Puppies Are Chocolate, Not Black

Before you go after the breeder asking why you have a different dog, I want to explain a handful of reasons why your Lab might look like it has a black coat. Young pups often have darker coats, regardless of their breed.

Here's what you should know about a chocolate lab's dark fur:

Chocolate Labs Are Never Born Black

First and foremost, you should know your chocolate Lab shouldn't be born black. If a breeder tries to convince you that it's possible, they're either incorrect or explaining why their coat can be extremely dark. It's often difficult for our eyes to process the difference between dark brown and black, which could be the issue.

They Can Look Black for Many Reasons

Just like any other color, a chocolate Lab can be born a slightly different shade that will change over time. Puppies of all breeds usually have the darkest coat they'll get because they have all of the nutrition they need and haven't been affected by aging problems. If your chocolate Lab has a dark coat, it'll be even darker when they're born.

Genetic Verification Is Crucial for Chocolate Labs

Confirming your dog's breed can be a crucial step. I covered the popular Embark dog genetic test, which is more than worth reading. There's only one gene between a yellow and chocolate Lab, so why not get an official verification? This rare coat color often costs more than other Labradors. You should get what you paid for!

Your chocolate Lab should never be solid black at any time in their life. However, it's easy to see why some people think they might be black when they're born. Their coat's darkness can be deceiving. The good news is you'll quickly be able to tell what color their coat will be as they get older. I'll cover the stages of a chocolate Lab's color below.


Do Chocolate Labs Get Darker as They Age?

You might've noticed many Labradors grow into their coat's shade as they get older. For example, a champagne Lab can look yellow or gray when they're born, but their shimmer becomes more noticeable when they're a few weeks or months old. The same process can happen with chocolate Labs, but they won't necessarily darken.

So, how does aging affect a chocolate Labs coat?

  • All dogs have lighter fur as they get older. Every animal has lighter fur when they get old because it turns white, gray, or a softer shade of their original color—a chocolate Lab experiences similar natural processes. Not only will their coat not darken, but it'll also do quite the opposite!
  • Sunlight exposure can make your chocolate Lab's coat look light brown. UV rays are prone to lightening hair and fur. Your chocolate Lab could have a softer or lighter topcoat if they're always lying in the sun. This process typically takes many years to become evident, though.
  • Their ancestors have a significant impact on how your chocolate Lab's hair looks when they age. If your dog comes from a family of dark black or chocolate Labs, they'll likely look might darker throughout their life.
  • Their diet, exercise, stress, and many other factors influence the shade of their fur. If a dog isn't getting the proper nutrition or they're anxious, depressed, and experiencing other negative emotional issues for a long time, their fur color can change. They might develop dark or light spots, but it's not something you want to happen.
  • It's highly unlikely that your chocolate Labrador's fur will get darker when they're older. All of these factors contribute to your chocolate Labrador's topcoat getting lighter, which is why you'll rarely see their fur darken over time. They might get darker for a couple of weeks or months after birth, but their coat will lighten eventually.

Chocolate Labs typically don't get darker, but you still might believe they look black from time to time. How can a dog get darker or appear black if they're a purebred chocolate Labrador? For more information, read on.


Why Does Your Chocolate Lab Look Black?

Your chocolate Lab might look black when they're born for a number of reasons. Perhaps the most common explanation is they have a darker coat than most chocolate Labs you're used to seeing. However, this reason assumes you're 100% certain that they're a chocolate Lab. It'd be best to avoid adopting a chocolate Lab before they're born because they could come out black.

Try this list of four reasons your chocolate Lab might look black:

  1. They might actually be a black Lab. Adopting a dog before they're born usually isn't an issue. This common practice can result in getting a shade you didn't expect, which might be a bummer if you're set on a specific color. Yellow, black, and chocolate Labs can all have puppies of any color, depending on genetic variables.
  2. Many chocolate Labs are incredibly dark when they're born. Jane Lefler, a professional dog trainer, explains some chocolate Labs can look black in different lighting. Take the pup on a walk or bring them outside to see their true color. It's important to check their coat color in all lighting conditions to know if they're chocolate or black.
  3. If your chocolate Lab has wet fur, it can appear black. Water makes every hair or fur color appear darker than it is. If your chocolate Lab has a dark coat, they might look black when they're swimming or running through the sprinklers. This issue isn't a cause for concern because they'll look like chocolate again once they dry off.
  4. Some chocolate Labs are much darker than others. At the end of the day, your chocolate Lab simply might be one of the dark variants of the same coat color. Some chocolate Labs are dark, some are light, and most are in between. As long as they're verified to be a purebred chocolate Labrador, you're good to go.

Chocolate Labs might look black, but they'll never be darker than dark brown. Your Lab will likely lighten with age, but it'll always have the stunning sought-after chocolate color!

If you're interested in learning more about chocolate Labs, I have a complete guide about them.


Chocolate Labs should never look completely black, but they can be quite dark. Since human eyes can only see a handful of colors, it's understandable that they might look black to some pet owners when they're young. Remember to get genetic confirmation when buying a purebred Lab to ensure you're getting what you paid for.