Which Color Lab Is The Best? (Comparing Yellow, Black, And Chocolate)

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Key Takeaways

  • There are no significant behavioral or temperament differences between these three lab colors other than minor hyperactivity in chocolate labs.
  • Chocolate labs are proven to live an average of 10.7 years, 1.4 years less than yellow and black labs.
  • Black labs are the most common Labrador Retriever breed color with four possible genotype combinations.
  • Chocolate labs are the least common Labrador Retriever due to the porphyrin pigment from selective breeding techniques, with only two possible genotype combinations.
  • There is no best color lab because they are all so similar, depending on the owner’s preference.

Labs are the most popular dog breed in America, with many coat colors like yellow, black, and chocolate brown. But which one is the best?

The best color lab is a tough question because yellow, black, and chocolate-colored labs are the same in temperament, behavior, size, and health. The only difference is the color of their coat, so choosing the best is difficult. All three color labs are the best, so it comes down to preference.

By gathering research through various studies and years of experience working with this breed, it’s easy to lay out the key differences between each of these dogs. While there’s not much difference, we can help determine the best color lab.

In this article

Which Color Lab Is The Best? (Comparing Yellow, Black, And Chocolate)

Labrador Retrievers are one of the most popular breeds in the US. They are also used as service dogs, hunting dogs, and family pets.

Everybody loves labs, and their color usually classifies them. But there is no best lab based on color, especially for the average dog lover.

This is actually the only difficult question when choosing a lab puppy because they are so adorable and loving starting at a young age. They are the perfect breed with tons of popularity for good reason.

So when looking at the different colors of labs, the genetic makeup is what decides the breed's color. We will explain what all of this means below. Read on to learn more about each and determine which color is the best.

Yellow Lab

Yellow labs are the second most common type of labrador retriever. And there are even variations of the yellow lab, with lighter white coats in some scenarios.

The other thing about yellow labs is the change in the nose and eye color that doesn't exist for both black and chocolate labs.

For example, a Dudley lab references a yellow lab with a pink nose. This is a much rarer version of the yellow lab with an eebb genotype.

All yellow labs are known for their beautiful golden coats and friendly personalities. They are great pets for families, especially children.

Like all labs, they are extremely gentle, eager to please, and love spending time with people. The yellow lab also has a long history, and because of movies like Marley And Me, they have a reputation as the best family dog.

Black Lab

Black labs are the most common type of labrador retriever because there are three B gene combinations they can inherit. This is more than any other lab color.

These dogs are known for their sweet, gentle, and playful personalities. Black labs are great family pets and are great with children.

Black labs often get confused with a black retriever. But, like in the yellow lab case, a gene is present in labs that produces a black porphyrin pigment.

This is what gives black labs their beautiful black coat. Black labs are known for their very dark black coats. However, this does not mean that they are not good pets for children.

These dogs are simply very friendly and love spending time with people.

Chocolate Lab

Chocolate labs are the rarest type of labrador retriever. These dogs have beautiful dark brown coats and fun, playful personalities.

Chocolate labs are great family pets and are especially great with children. They are very gentle, loving, and eager to please.

The chocolate lab genes produce a porphyrin pigment. This is what gives chocolate labs their beautiful dark brown coats.

Unfortunately, chocolate labs are very rare, which is why they are more expensive than yellow or black labs. They still make for great family pets and are very loving, playful, and eager to please. They are great with children and other pets.

The one thing to note about chocolate labs is their higher risk of disease and shorter lifespans. This is partially due to increased health risk and also because of selective breeding.

Comparing Yellow, Black, And Chocolate Lab Genetics

To understand the difference between yellow, black, and chocolate lab genetics, it is important first to understand the history of these colors. The coat color of a lab is determined by the genotype combination they are born with.

The three colors can be traced back to a recessive gene that was originally found in Newfoundland dogs. But exactly how are the different colors decided?

Well, labs are bred by combining E/e and B/b genotypes. When combined, they result in specific coat colors. This chart explains it better.

Genotype Coat Color
EEBB Black
EEBb Black
EEbb Brown
EeBB Black
EeBb Black
Eebb Brown
eeBB Yellow
eeBb Yellow
eebb Yellow

These genotype examples confirm that the black lab is the most popular because there are four total combinations to breed them.

Do Different Color Labs Have Different Temperaments?

The research behind different color labs and their temperaments is still ongoing and in question. There is nothing in depth to support key differences in energy levels, hyperactivity, and training intelligence.

Based on personal experience, chocolate labs are the most hyperactive of the three. But this ultimately relies on the way a dog is raised.

When training is prioritized at a young age, every lab can be brought up to control their hyperactivity and energy. They have hunting genes, so each lab has discipline and loyalty despite the coat color.

The temperament of a Labrador retriever is generally calm, friendly, and outgoing. How a dog gets raised will significantly impact the temperament as they grow, and there’s not much difference based on the color.

Which Color Lab Lives The Longest?

Labradors are well known for their intelligence, loyalty, and affectionate personality. But does the coat type impact how long they live?

Many factors can contribute to the lifespan of a Labrador Retriever. One of the main contributors is genetics. Their coat color impacts how long they will live because of the breeding style.

The difference between Chocolate Labs and black or yellow Labradors is that, on average, Chocolate Labs live 1.4 years less than black or yellow Labradors.

However, this is not always due to an increased risk of developing diseases. Chocolate labs have much more selective breeding, leading to an average lifespan of 10.7 years.

Chocolate labs also have a higher risk of developing ear infections, and this is one of the most common diseases for labs to struggle with.

What Are The Grooming Needs For Each Color Lab?

In general, there is no evidence that one color lab sheds less than the other. However, yellow labs have a reputation for being the worst with shedding, and part of the reason is because of the light color coat.

It’s more noticeable on dark surfaces, whereas black and chocolate lab fur blend in more. But this can change due to many factors like genetics, grooming, diet, weather, and more.

The grooming approach should remain the same for all three lab colors because they still have the same thick coat despite the color difference.

Labs shed most during the spring and fall seasons. At the start of these two seasons, grooming should be increased to handle the added fur buildup. This includes bathing, brushing, trimming, and teeth brushing.


If a lab spends a lot of time outdoors, we recommend a bath every three to four weeks. However, dogs with less outdoor exposure can often go four to six weeks in between each bath.

The light coat on yellow labs also gets dirtier than others, so we recommend a firm four-week maximum between each bath for all yellow or white labs.

Brushing & Combing

With a thick, water-resistant coat that sheds often, regular grooming is critical. This includes brushing at least once weekly regardless of the lab’s coat color.

During the beginning of spring or autumn, this should be increased to 2-3 times weekly to accommodate for the additional shedding they go through.

Brushing a lab 1-2 times per week helps with the rest of their hygiene too. This can even result in less frequent baths because their coat is cared for so well.

Nail Trimming

On average, labs need their nails trimmed once every month but checking them every two weeks is best. Trimming them early is not a big deal if they start to look overgrown.

Listen for loud clicking when the lab walks over a hardwood floor. This is one of the most obvious tells to determine if they are overgrown too.

Teeth Brushing

Brushing a dog's teeth is the most overlooked grooming requirement for most breeds. Experts recommend doing it once daily or at least 2-3 times weekly.

The frequency can be increased if a dog struggles with bad breath too. However, most lab owners often forget about this important task and fail to do it more than once a week.

Does The Color Of A Lab Make A Difference?

There are not many differences between yellow, black, and chocolate labs. However, it is up to the potential owner to decide which one is the best.

The light yellow coat is preferred by many because of how beautiful it looks, and of the three, we believe it grows out the best as the dog ages.

It ultimately comes down to personal preference. But factors like lifestyle and location all tend to matter as well.

For example, black labs are loved in rural areas with lots of outdoor time because they don’t get as dirty as yellow labs. It’s also a more common breed, so they are widely available in more areas.

There is no real difference with scientific evidence to prove any coat color is better than the other. So recommending one color over the other would only be biased and personal preference.


Mark Brunson

Mark Brunson

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