Silver Lab - How Rare Are They?

Silver Lab - How Rare Are They?

Author WDF Staff | Last updated: May 02 2023


The silver Lab has gained quite a reputation and popularity in recent years. Still, there is a lot of talk between breeders of these dogs and traditional black, yellow, and brown (chocolate) Labrador breeders. Some say that this color enriches the breed and adds additional appeal to the breed, while most believe that this color is a tragedy that struck the most popular dog breed in the world.

The truth behind these dogs can be a bit controversial, but the fact remains that these dogs are rapidly growing in numbers all across the US. We can understand the appeal of a silver Lab and the level of attractiveness silver dogs have, but there is a reason why breed standards allow certain colors, and it hasn’t got much to do with people’s preferences.

So, what is the truth behind silver Labradors? Are they rare specimens within a breed, or are they a genetic fault and a disaster waiting to happen? Let’s find out.

Silver Labrador coat

The biggest controversy around the Silver Labrador is, of course, the color of their coat. Two theories are heavily debated even today and one says that silver Labs are pureblooded and should compete in shows, and the other says that they are a mixed breed with interference in their gene pool.

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Pureblooded theory

The first theory claims that these dogs are pureblooded, and they should be allowed to have all the same rights as the rest of the standard colored Labradors have. This popular theory says that silver color has been present in this breed since their English development in the 19th century. Brits included the Chesapeake Bay Retriever in the Labrador breed’s refinement about 200 years ago, and Chessies have a d-gene responsible for the dilution of color. To learn what registered colors these dogs can come, make sure to check this article - Labrador Retriever - Coat Colors

This theory also claims that silver Labrador puppies have been euthanized after birth because breeders didn’t believe they would be healthy because the color was rare. It basically says that the color didn’t stand a chance because it was immediately blocked from developing. According to this theory, all breeders would have been accused of producing mixed dogs, and their breeding licenses would be taken away.

Do you like black Labradors? Check this article: Black Lab - 10 Fun Facts.

silver lab puppy

Mixed breed theory

The second theory claims that silver Labradors are a mixed breed whose coat color was heavily influenced by the only breed with silver-colored coats - the Weimaraner. Before the 1950s, there was barely any mention of silver Labs until Kellogg’s Kennel started publicly advertising their dogs as silver Labrador puppies for sale. This theory says that breeders hadn’t euthanized silver Lab puppies and that if the color was present in the breed, we would surely know about it by now.

Additional problems can occur when it comes to silver Labradors, and those problems are connected to their health. Because this was an unheard color in the Labrador breed before Kellogg’s Kennel, these dogs had to be inbred to achieve more silver Labrador puppies.

Inbreeding is a term that describes the mating of close relatives to achieve and keep specific physical or psychological characteristics. The only way breeders could keep producing the Weimaraner interfered color was to inbreed those dogs. There are different health issues connected to inbred offspring that could result in the new silver puppies’ mental and physical development. To widen their gene pool, the Weimaraner breed had to be introduced again.

This is a popular theory among registered breeders who believe that people breeding silver Labrador puppies are doing that only because of the money. They say that silver Lab breeders have no interest in helping or properly maintaining healthy Labrador bloodlines and that these dogs should never be allowed to even be registered.

Interested in Labrador Retrievers? Check their full profile here.

The exact genetics of the silver-colored Labs

Sadly, none of the theories have been completely proven or disproven, so we cannot know the exact answer for sure. It all comes down to what sounds more plausible, and all we can do is wait for confirmation from scientists.

By studying their genes, we can understand that the dilution gene is present in the breed, but the silver color doesn’t exist; it is merely a dilution of the chocolate color. Diluted chocolate or silver is an undesirable trait in the breed, and it comes from the D gene. Genes come in pairs, and the D gene has a dominant and a recessive trait. Dominant is labeled as the capital letter D and the recessive as the small letter d.

The recessive gene is just that - recessive and will always be “overshadowed” by the dominant D gene. For a puppy to end up with a silver coat, it needs to inherit recessive genes from both parents, which is extremely rare. Think of it this way;

Chocolate Labrador parents breed

  1. DD genes - Chocolate puppy
  2. Dd genes - Chocolate puppy
  3. dd genes - Diluted chocolate or silver puppy

This is nearly an impossible scenario that could happen within the Chocolate Lab bloodlines. That is why breeders are not prone to accepting the theory that silver Labradors are pureblooded.

If you like this article, take a look at Labrador Retriever Coat Colors.

If you want to check your dog’s DNA, there is a handy tool you could use. The Embark Dog DNA Test Kit can tell you the exact results.

Silver Lab puppies

If you still think that this is the breed and color for you, you probably think about getting a silver Labrador puppy. Remember that if you get a silver Lab, you will not be allowed to enter dog shows or register your dog as a silver Labrador.

If you are thinking about getting a dog as a pet and don’t care about what the standard says as long as your dog is healthy and happy, we recommend getting in touch with a good breeder with excellent breeding practices results. Ask them many questions about their silver Labrador puppies for sale, and ask for advice about different aspects of having a dog that cannot be registered in any major cynology associations.

The next thing you will be thinking about is the price. Whatever the truth is that lies behind the creation of silver Labradors, one thing is still clear - these dogs are rare, and rare dogs tend to go for a higher price. Your average silver Lab puppy costs between $1.000 - $1.500. Make sure you ask for the health results of breeding dogs and take a look at the parents.