Silver Labrador Retriever: Making Old New Again

Silver Labrador Retriever: Making Old New Again

Silver Labradors blew up as the latest fad in spring this year. Although the Labrador breed has been recognized by the American Kennel Club (AKC) since 1903, there have been reports of a “Silver” lab since as early as 1920, however, the AKC only recognizes the typical yellow, black and brown colors. There is documented evidence in 1920-1950 regarding the rarity of the silver or grey colored Labradors and that they were not seen as ideal for breed standard.

Rumors in Dog Media Circles

People are in a frenzy about this “new” style of Labrador. So let’s look at some of the rumors – people need facts:

Silver Labs were bred with Weimaraners – Wrong! Although this is still a very active rumor, scientifically the evidence does not stand. Labradors are sporting dogs. They were bred to retrieve, to work to assist fisherman. Labs are mild tempered, medium energy and more settled by nature. Weimaraners are also sporting dogs, they were bred to hunt medium sized game, they are high energy, very active, and high strung. The two breed temperaments and purpose are very different. When 2 breeds are bred together it is to enhance specific favorable traits. These 2 different dogs have already been selectively bred for their specific favorable traits.

What really happened with the silver lab is recessive gene selection. You see, if you remember a little bit of high school biology, you may remember the different gene variations in the box. Various genes come together represented by an upper case letter and a lower case letter.

Find out more about the genetics and recessive genes on my site. Look under the Simplified Genetics Table

( This is over simplified, so if you are a geneticist you can skip this part!)

Now on to the next rumor regarding this new breed color in the media…

Silver Labs have blue eyes – Silver labs and Weimaraner may typically have blue eyes as puppies. Also due to recessive genes. But usually this color changes as the dog matures, same as the eyes of human babies. Silver Labrador eye color usually becomes amber and Weimaraners usually get a variation of light amber, or green or blue.

Silver Labradors are being sold for 1000$+ and this is overpriced – Not necessarily, generally they sell for 1000-1200$, I would say this is a fair price. Especially amidst a global pandemic where dogs are in demand for comfort and companionship during loneliness. Large breed dogs are more expensive to buy simply – because you are getting more dog! Get to know the seller or breeder as long as they are reputable, it’s fair.

Silver Labradors are being sold as impostors – It’s possible. Unfortunately, anywhere there is opportunity, sometimes some people may take advantage. Silver labs may be sold at much higher prices due to their “rarity” or being pawned to buyers as other types of dogs altogether that are more expensive than labs. They may be pawned off as being a high quality show dog for high price. Know you bred, know your breeder. Research before you buy.

Silver Labradors are not recognized by the AKC – True! As of today, the silver coated Labrador is still under review for acceptance by the AKC, although the traditional coated labs have been recognized since 1903. To me, this really speaks to the sudden trend of this breed. Now that the public has decided this silver color is amazing, they are questioning why it is not accepted by the AKC. The AKC bases their standards on breed reputation, character traits, appearance and reproduciblity. It is challenging to trace these attributes in a breed that was not considered viable up until now.

What this means for potential new Silver Lab owners is that your lab can not compete in AKC dog shows at this time and can not be bred as a Silver Lab backed by AKC show breed standards. But you can have a one as a family dog.

The Future of Silver Labradors

The Silver Labrador Retriever still has all the character traits and temperament of classic Labradors. They make a great family dog. Their grooming and exercise requirements are the same as for the traditional Labrador breed. The only thing we do not know about these Labradors is how they will age and what their quality of life will be like? We can only assume it will be similar to the lifespan and quality of life as other Labradors. However, the double inheritance of the recessive genes does raise some concern for potentially more fragility. Only time will tell. When we consider survival of the fittest, would double recessive genes find ways to thrive in this world, even if the traits themselves were originally deemed undesirable?

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