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Colors of Labrador Retrievers
Labradors have black, yellow, white, chocolate, red, and silver coats. Some colors are more common than others. Black labs are by far the most common, being almost half of all labradors.
Some believe black labradors are the calmest, but this might be imaginary or only slightly true. Many differences in behavior based on color are probably not real.
Yellow labs are also common and are said to be friendly. Chocolate labs are less common and are somewhat shorter-lived, which is a real difference.
Red, Silver, and White Labs
Red, silver, and white labs are less common. Since yellow labs vary in color, from almost white to darker, a red lab is a yellow lab that is unusually dark. They are as healthy as yellow labs are.
White labs are also the lightest yellow labs, so light that they appear white. Their yellow color sometimes shows, especially around the paws and ears.
What Are Silver Labradors?
Like red, silver is a rarer color. Silver labs are lighter-colored chocolate labs that appear silver.
Silver labs are a bit hard to find, but they arguably look better than Labradors of any other color. In particular, they look great in the sun.
Different labs from the same litter can have different colors, plus different shades of each color. For example, there could be a mix of black labs and chocolate labs, with one of the chocolate labs being light enough to appear silver.
Are Silver Labradors Very Different From Other Labs?
The main difference is that chocolate and silver labs don't live as long as yellow and black labs. They live about one and a half years less, so this is a significant difference. Differences in behavior may be real even though they are not yet supported by research.
Why Are Silver Labs Great Dogs?
It is not for nothing that Labrador Retrievers are the most popular breed of dog in the United States. A Labrador Retriever can learn quickly, won't bite or behave aggressively to other people, and will bond with everyone in the family and not only one or two people. There are some bad behaviors, such as barking if bored, but labs are very well-behaved and trainable dogs.
Silver and chocolate labs might be more energetic than other breeds. No research proves this, but silver and chocolate labs are thought to be very energetic. This makes up for their somewhat shorter lifespans.
Labradors Have a Great Personality
Labradors are nice, loyal, and social dogs. They love you, love your friends, love your children, and love your other pets. They can even get along with your cats and not chase them around.
Labs Love the Water
Labradors were originally used as hunting dogs. Bird hunters would shoot the birds down, and then Labradors would retrieve them. Often, this involved jumping into a lake or river to get the downed birds.
Some people also used labs as fishing dogs, so they were bred to like the water. They have water-resistant double-layered coats, and their instincts don't tell them to avoid the water. Your lab will love splashing around in the lake or the pool with your family.
Labs Are Energetic
Labrador Retrievers also have a lot of energy, and silver labs might be some of the most energetic. Labs like exciting physical activities that go beyond mere walking. A Lab might not be satisfied with a long walk, but might be very happy if you go jogging with it.
Labs like playing catch or fetch, and can happily spend more than an hour swimming with your family. Labs are so energetic, intelligent, and obedient that they are used as search and rescue dogs and to detect drugs and bombs. They are one of the best breeds if you want a mix of niceness, obedience, and intelligence.
Silver Retrievers May Be the Most Intelligent
Some people believe that silver Labrador Retrievers are more intelligent than other labs. Since labs of any color are intelligent, a silver lab may be particularly easy to train.
Sometimes, it only takes about a minute to teach a silver lab something. You can show a dog what a basic command means, give it a treat for obeying, and the dog may remember the command from then on. Silver labs are wonderfully easy to train.
Silver Labs Need a Lot of Physical Activity
Labradors are not a good breed for people who don't have the time or energy to give them a lot of physical activity. Labs are usually well-behaved, but a lab may start behaving badly if it doesn't use its physical energy. Restless and bored labs will do things like chew furniture to get rid of tension.
If chocolate and silver labs are the most energetic, they need to have at least an hour of physical activity each day. A Labrador that doesn't get enough exercise may attempt to escape from your home or yard.
Physical Activity Keeps Labradors Lean
Labrador Retrievers often have trouble regulating their appetites and will eat as much food as you give them. Overeating plus lack of exercise leads to obesity, which leads to other health problems. Feeding your dog enough nutrition and protein can also prevent obesity.
Walking is not always enough, they need to run and swim also. Labrador Retrievers start out with low exercise needs but get more active as they approach adulthood.
Even if you don't get your dog involved in dog sports, you should play games with your dog. This can train your dog to be obedient as well as help it get rid of physical energy. Some physical activities you can do with your Labrador include:
- Swimming. This is an obvious choice because labs love water.
- Hiking. Instead of merely going for a walk with your dog, take it with you when you go on a long hike. Be careful not to exhaust your dog.
- Play catch with your dog. This is great fun for both of you and intense enough to get rid of your silver lab's physical energy.
- Jogging, running, or sprinting. These things can keep you as well as your lab in shape.
Labradors Love Dog Sports
While physical activity is enough, dogs love to play sports and do other activities if given the opportunity. One of the most popular dog sports is agility, where a dog will run through an obstacle course as quickly as possible.
The dog will jump over hurdles, run through tunnels, and move along walkways to get to the finish line. You can easily get your dog to play this sport at home if you set up a basic agility course yourself. If your dog is great at the game, you can have it compete with other dogs.
There are plenty of other sports your silver lab can play, such as:
- Disc catching, where you throw a frisbee for your dog to catch and you compete with other owner and dog teams.
- Dock jumping, where, your dog runs to the end of a dock and jumps into the water, trying for distance or height.
- Flyball, where your dog jumps over hurdles to get a ball that it returns to you.
- Herding trials, where your dog herds sheep as a competitive sport.
Are Silver Labs a Crossbreed?
Possibly, silver Labrador Retrievers are mixed with another breed of dog. This isn't necessarily true, as they look and act similar to labs of other colors. The somewhat different appearance of the ears makes them seem like they might be a crossbreed.
Why Do Some Breeders not Like Silver Labs?
According to the Australian National Labrador Retriever Breed Council, the Silver Labrador is not a good breed and is a crossbreed. The Silver Labrador may be a cross between a Labrador and a Weimaraner. Apparently, health problems such as epilepsy are common for the breed.
Silver Labs Might not Be a Crossbreed
Some say that Silver Labradors look like Weimaraners or Hounds. However, labs of any color can look like Hounds. Breeders can make them look like hounds without crossing the breeds.
The best argument that Silver Labradors are not a crossbreed is that there is no genetic link. Recent genetic tests have failed to find a link between Silver Labradors and Weimaraners.
I am not sure what is true myself, but I don't like the negative opinion of the silver Labrador. Many of them are very healthy dogs. You can get a healthy dog from a breeder with a good reputation.
Coat Color and Genes
Silver Labradors carry a gene called the dilute gene, which turns their chocolate fur greyish or silvery. A combination of chocolate fur genes and the dilute gene creates silvery fur.
Whether silver labs are a pure breed depends on where the dilute gene comes from. If it was not in the Labrador breed 100 years ago, it must have entered the gene pool by crossbreeding with another dog.
Genes Can Mutate
Possibly, the silver color appeared because of a mutation, not because of crossbreeding. This is unlikely but possible. It is much easier for a gene for silver fur to enter the gene pool from another dog than for a gene to appear spontaneously.
Genes for silver fur might always have been in the breed. Silver Labradors seemed not to exist before the 1950s. However, an uncommon gene can remain hidden for some generations before reappearing.
How Did Silver Labs Originate?
People are not completely sure. However, silver fur genes may have entered the breed before the breed was officially recognized. Pure Labradors with silver coats may exist, and you can avoid dogs with health problems by talking to trustworthy registered breeders.
Are Silver Labs Expensive?
Yes, silver labradors are more expensive than labs of more common colors. This is simply because breeders can charge more for the dogs. If there is more demand for silver labs than there are silver lab puppies, breeders can charge a lot more than normal.
The exact costs vary a lot depending on where you live. A silver lab might cost somewhere around $700 or $1200. This is significantly more than labs of common colors, which cost about $500 or $800.
If you love the appearance of silver labs, as I do, it can be worth it to pay another few hundred dollars. If you barely prefer the appearance, it isn't worth the extra money. While Labrador Retrievers have been the most common breed in the US for a few decades, silver labs are still rare enough to cost extra.
Get Your Dog From a Registered Breeder
Registered breeders must get x-rays of the puppy's parents' bones to check for things like hip dysplasia. You should ask for information about the parent's health before you buy any dog.
About THE AUTHOR
Mark is the founder of Everything Labradors and a husband and father of 3. He enjoys spending time with his family, including his dog Molly, a Labrador/Golden Retriever mix. He’s a big fan of the outdoors and loves to travel to new places.Read more about Mark Brunson