Do Yellow Labrador Puppies Get Darker With Age?

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The yellow Labrador Retriever's most distinctive feature is its short, thick, and weather-resistant coat. Many pups' coats begin as one hue and gradually change to another as they mature. So, do yellow Lab puppies get darker with age?

Yellow Labradors don't get darker with age. Instead, this breed will get lighter as time goes on. As puppies, their coats will have more of a yellow color to them. As they age, it is common for the coat to fade to a more white hue.

Throughout this article, you'll learn about the variables that contribute to the color of your Labrador's coat and how they're affected by age. Additionally, I will offer methods for determining the hue of your yellow Labrador when they're older.

In this article

Do Fox Red Labrador Puppies Get Darker As They Age?

As a variant of the yellow Labrador, I feel I should mention the exception with the Fox Red Labrador. It is a darker variant of the yellow Labrador, and these puppies' coats do typically darken with age. However, it's also possible for it to stay the same hue throughout its life.

fox red labrador

To have a better estimate of what to expect, invest in a genetic test kit. By understanding your puppy's ancestry, you can better gauge the anticipated coat change. There are also environmental factors that you can try to influence that we will discuss next.

What Contributes to a Yellow Lab’s Coat Color?

A Labrador must possess two recessive alleles of the MC1R gene to be yellow. This indicates that both parents gave a yellow allele to the offspring. Two yellow labs can only produce yellow puppies since they both have the yellow gene.

Certain black and chocolate Labrador Retrievers may have the yellow-causing gene. If they mate with a yellow Lab, some pups may have yellow hair, but they would not be considered yellow Labradors.

Besides genetics, other factors contribute to the shade of a yellow Labrador.

Nutrition Plays a Part

The color of your dog's coat at birth will vary over time, in part owing to their nutrition. Notably, your dog's food is unlikely to bleach or color their hair directly. However, poor nutrition will cause your Lab's hair and skin to appear lighter or darker.

A yellow Labrador with insufficient nutrition will have a dull, dry coat and shed a lot, and excessive shedding may give the appearance of a lighter coat because of its thinness. Additionally, a bad diet may result in oily hair. 

When your dog's coat is very oily, it may seem somewhat darker due to the constant appearance of moisture.

Your dog needs a well-balanced diet rich in digestible proteins, fats, and vitamins to keep the skin and hair healthy. Labradors need more protein than other breeds because they have an active and muscular nature. Additionally, since protein is a component of hair and fur, it directly affects your dog's color.

The optimum meal plan should be tailored to your dog's life stage, whether a puppy, adult, or senior.

The Undercoat May Cause a Different Color at Birth

When dogs are a few months old, their actual color begins to emerge from under the undercoat. Undercoat refers to the layer of hair underneath your dog's guard hairs and it's softer, lighter in color, and more densely packed than guard hairs.

If your dog's hair seems darker, this may be due to the development of their natural coat.

Their hue can shift to darker or lighter shades. And after this transition occurs, you'll be able to anticipate your puppy's adult color.

The Amount of Sun Exposure Can Lighten the Hair

If the weather is consistently bright, a Labrador's coat will lighten.

On the other hand, overcast weather slows the lightening process and contributes to darker tones for more extended periods.

Your dog will look different in various lighting conditions, especially if they're a Fox Red Lab.

Age Can Also Lighten Your Dog's Hair

As your Labrador gets older, it might lighten due to typical aging. In addition, white fur around their paws and mouth typically develops when they're seniors.

Melanin is the most influential factor in this. When your canine has adequate melanin, it'll seem as yellow as it can be. 

But melanin decreases with age, which has an impact on your pet's coat.

yellow lab adult

How To Preserve Your Lab’s Coat Color

While you have no influence over the natural color changes that your pet will go through, you do, however, the Lab's look.

You may use the following techniques to help your Labrador minimize thinning, breakage, and excessive shedding:

  • Bathe your dog as needed. Very filthy canines always look darker.
  • Maintain a pleasant environment for your dog. A stressed dog sheds more naturally.
  • Keep an eye out for brittle fur and areas of baldness. You may address this problem by supplementing your dog's food with a fresh, high-quality protein source.
  • Maintain a weekly regimen of brushing your Lab. This maintenance helps eliminate knots, which may result in matting and a darker look.
  • Keep an eye out for chapped skin, redness, or frequent scratching. If your dog has allergies or skin problems, they may scratch their hair, resulting in light or empty areas.

You can also consult a veterinarian who will be able to give you a detailed plan for giving your dog its best coat possible.

How To Know Which Color Your Labrador Will Be

Puppies often change colors as they mature. However, there are a few ways you can predict the color of your adult Labrador before maturity. It's worth noting that influencing a color shift is difficult since it's the product of years of breeding.

Therefore, your golden Labrador will retain its original hue.

Pay Attention to Their Immediate Family

Each dog receives several gene pairs that contribute to coat determination. Although scientists have not yet identified the number of genes that eventually influence hair color, they agree that close relatives and grandparents contribute to the hue.

For instance, if two yellow Labradors create a Fox Red Labrador, both parents have recessive yellow genes. Still, only the darker genes were passed on.

If both parents and siblings have a similar coat, your pup is likely to follow suit.

Additionally, it would help if you looked at some of the older dogs in their lineage to better understand the coat that will develop over time.

Ask the Breeder

Additionally, you may check with the breeder what color coat your dog will have.

A reputable breeder grooms dogs for years before mating them. They research their DNA background and potential traits they may pass on to their pups.

After all, it's the breeder's responsibility to produce pups with distinct and intended characteristics. So, they should be able to provide you with the most accurate answer.

Final Thoughts

While numerous factors affect the color of your dog's coat, it's unlikely to darken with age. Proper nutrition and genetics will maintain the coat color for an extended period following maturity.

It's essential to keep in mind that it's not easy to anticipate the precise coat color of a yellow Labrador puppy. There are, however, methods for you to make a reasonable estimate.

This YouTube video gives you an introduction to the genetics that make Labradors black, yellow, or brown: