Silver Lab – Origin, Traits, & Temperament

A silver Labrador Retriever puppy lying on green grass.

It’s common knowledge that Labrador Retrievers can have a black, yellow, or chocolate coat. So where do the Silver Labs fit into the equation? 

What is a Silver Lab? A Silver Lab is a Labrador Retriever with a diluted chocolate coat that appears silver or faded brown in color. While the origin of the silver color is hotly debated, a Silver Lab will possess the same physical features and temperament traits common to the Labrador breed.

As you read the following information about the gorgeous Silver Lab, you can decide for yourself whether the mystery and debate surrounding these dogs is justified or not.

More importantly, you’ll have what you need to decide if this Lab is right for you.

Silver Lab Origin and Controversy 

The earliest Silver Labs produced can be traced back to the 1920s.

However, it wasn’t until the 1950s when an advertisement for Gray Labs appeared in a magazine that people began to take notice and question whether or not these strangely colored dogs were indeed Labradors.

Many people don’t know that in the breed’s early days, Labrador puppies who were not black were culled at birth.

Even when the yellow variety gained popularity, this practice persisted with chocolate puppies.

Could it be that, along with other variations such as brindle that sometimes appeared, Silver Labs existed this whole time but were cruelly killed at birth?

Could it be that another breed was added recently?

Could the dilute gene have come from one of the breeds, such as the Chesapeake Bay Retriever, used in the creation of Labs and simply remained hidden for years? 

Are Silver Labs Purebred? 

Many breeders of Silver Labs adamantly believe that the silver color occurs naturally and no other breeds were added in order to achieve it.

Others claim that the recessive “d” gene was introduced by the addition of another breed.

In an interview with Dean Crist of Crist Culo Kennels, one of the two kennels to produce Silver Labs in the 1980s, the breeder claims that Silver Labs popped up after breeding his Chocolate Lab to one purchased from Beaver Creek Kennels, the other kennel that saw the silver color appear.

He denies that any other breeds were used in his lines, as does Beaver Creek.

Interestingly, dogs from both kennels can be traced back to Kellogg Kennels, the same kennel that advertised for Gray Labs back in the ‘50s.

After investigating, in 1987 the American Kennel Club and the Labrador Retriever Club, Inc. concurred that, “there was no proof that these silver dogs were not purebred.”

Are Silver Labs Inbred? 

When two silver-carrying Labs are bred, some of the resulting puppies may be silver. However, when two Silver Labs are bred, all of the resulting puppies will be silver.

For this reason, several decades ago when Silver Labs were still uncommon, there’s a good chance that some unscrupulous breeders practiced some degree of inbreeding to produce as many Silver puppies as possible.

Do Silver Labs Have Weimaraner in Them? 

Although the limited testing that has been done on the silver-colored Labs showed no evidence of Weimaraners ever being added to the lines, some people believe that they were.

Their stance is that the “dd” combination does not occur naturally in Labs, and that because the Weimaraner does carry the diluting combination and is quite similar in appearance and temperament, this is the only logical explanation.

The truth is that, at this point in time, there’s no hard evidence to confirm that Weimaraners were once added, and the idea that Weimaraners account for the presence of the dilution gene is simply a theory.

Are Silver Labs Actually Labs? 

Silver Labs are, at the very least, mostly purebred Labs.

Depending on your belief regarding the color’s origin, Silver Labs are either entirely purebred or were mixed with Weimaraner long ago.

Regardless, Silver Labs look like and behave like a full-blooded Labrador Retriever in every way.

Silver Labrador Retriever Genetics

The silver color is the result of a puppy inheriting two copies of the dilution gene, “d,” one from each parent.

If a dog only receives one copy, he is referred to as being silver factored (Dd) and when paired with a Silver Lab or another silver-factored Lab could produce silver puppies.

This same dilution gene is also responsible for the charcoal (a dilute black) and champagne (a dilute yellow) Labs that have been gaining popularity.

Can Silver Labs Be Registered?

Surprisingly, considering the controversy surrounding the Silver Labrador, this variation can be registered with the American Kennel Club.

However, they must be registered as a chocolate and are not able to compete in conformation events, though they may participate in hunting trials.

What Does a Silver Lab Look Like? 

An adult Silver Labrador Retriever with a field in the background.

Appearance 

Except for the color of the coat, a Silver Lab has the same physical features and body type of any other Lab.

Even if Weimaraners were added at some point, the breeds are so similar in terms of type and the addition was so many generations ago that any slight physical differences have long since vanished.

Are Silver Labs Born Silver? 

Silver Labs are born silver and are easily distinguished from their traditionally colored littermates.

The silver shade can vary, however, and while some puppies do indeed have a silver hue, most have a washed-out brown color that will only look gray or silver in certain lighting.

Do Silver Labs Stay Silver? 

While some Silver Labs will darken a shade or two once their adult coat comes in, many will remain fairly close to the silver shade present at birth.

No Silver Lab, however, will turn a totally different color. A Silver Lab will never become a Black or Chocolate Lab. The dilution genes make it physically impossible.

Are Silver Labs English or American?

Silver varieties can be found in both American and English Labs.

When viewing an American and English Lab side by side, the differences are clear with the English Labs being shorter, stockier, and blockier in appearance.

However, they are simply the result of different lines and are both full-blooded Labradors, so the dilution gene will be expressed the same way regardless of the “type” of Lab.

Size 

Male Silver Labradors should be 65 to 80 pounds and stand 22 ½ to 24 ½ inches tall at the highest point of the shoulder.

Females are usually a bit smaller, weighing 55 to 70 pounds and measuring 21 ½ to 23 ½ inches tall at the withers.

Some English-type Silver Labs may grow quite a bit larger than the norm.

When Do Silver Labs Stop Growing?

Like all Labs, Silver Labs grow rapidly for the first six months of life. After that, they’ll keep growing but at a slower rate.

By 9 – 12 months of age, typically 90% of the dog’s final height has been reached, though he’ll continue to fill out and gain weight up until the 18th month mark.

Mental maturity, however, can take as long as four years to complete.

Coat 

The Silver Labrador Retriever has a thick double coat consisting of a soft, fuzzy undercoat and a coarser outer layer of longer hairs.

Silver Labs actually appear to be silver in certain light, but in other lighting situations, they may look more like a washed-out or diluted chocolate color, which is exactly what they are.

Do Silver Labs Shed? 

Silver Labs have a double coat that will shed moderately throughout the year and profusely in the spring as temperatures start to climb.

Routine brushing with a slicker brush (try this self-cleaning brush with a comfort grip) will remove loose hairs from the coat before they’re spread throughout the house, and an undercoat rake or deshedding tool will be quite useful in the spring.

Are Silver Labs Hypoallergenic? 

No dog is truly hypoallergenic.

Silver Labs do shed and produce proteins found in their dander, saliva, and urine which could trigger allergic responses in those with dog allergies.

Each time a Lab scratches, licks himself, or splashes a bit of urine back on the coat, potential allergens are spread and the risk of an allergic response is increased.

Eye Color 

Many Silver Labs will have stunning light blue eyes, but others may have a shade of light green, light yellow, or very light brown.

The dark brown eyes so typical in the breed are absent in Silver Labs due to the fact that the dilution gene that affects coat color has an impact on eye color as well.

Do Silver Labs’ Blue Eyes Stay Blue?

Most puppies, including Silver Labs, are born with blue eyes. In many cases, a Silver Lab’s eyes will remain blue permanently.

Other Silver Labrador’s eyes will change to a green, yellow, or light brown color around the age of 3 – 4 months old.

Knowing what color eyes the parents have can give you an idea of what to expect in your Silver Lab puppy.

Silver Lab Temperament

Certainly the Lab’s good looks and trainability play a role in the breed’s popularity, but most people would agree that it is the unmatched Labrador temperament that has endeared these dogs to so many and kept the breed at the #1 spot on popularity charts for the past three decades.

Silver Labs possess the classic, beloved Labrador Retriever temperament in every way.

They are friendly, super affectionate, loyal beyond measure, playful, patient, and quick to forgive.

Training comes naturally, and they typically get along well with other pets too.

Silver Labs are great with children and make ideal family dogs with boundless energy, love to spare, and a steady temperament.

Are Silver Labs Smart? 

Silver Labs are every bit as intelligent as the other Lab color varieties. Of course, intelligence can vary from dog to dog, even within the same breed.

A dog’s degree of intelligence is dependent on that of the parents, and the color of the coat does not have any bearing on intelligence levels. 

Are Silver Labs Easy to Train? 

Because of their intelligence and extreme desire to please their owners, Silver Labs are very easy to train for a wide variety of commands and tasks given the proper motivation, i.e. praise and food rewards.

Hunting, guide dog, therapy, search and rescue, and drug detection are a few of the jobs for which Silver Labs can be trained.

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Do Silver Labs Make Good Hunting Dogs?

A Silver Lab can be successfully trained as a hunting dog and perform just as well as the traditionally colored Labs.

However, because of the tremendous controversy surrounding the color, owners should be aware that in some hunting clubs and trials the silver variety is often mocked and may not be judged fairly.

Also, the silver coloring may not provide adequate camouflage in the field.

Are Silver Labs Aggressive? 

Aggression is possible with any dog regardless of breed.

However, Labs of all colors are held in high regard for their friendliness and lack of aggression toward both people and other pets.

The silver coat has no impact whatsoever on the Lab’s disposition.

Do Silver Labs Get Along With Other Dogs?

As a breed, Labradors are known for their supremely friendly nature and ability to get along with other dogs.

This applies to the Silver Labrador Retriever as well.

Of course, remaining with his littermates for at least eight weeks and early socialization are critical to ensure that the dog understands how to properly relate to and interact with fellow canines.

Are Silver Labs Good With Cats?

Generally, Silver Labradors will have no trouble getting along with family cats, especially if they have been properly socialized and introduced at a young age.

However, few dogs can resist the opportunity to chase a neighbor’s cat out of the yard, but with Labs it’s usually just for fun and no damage results. 

Are Silver Labs Protective? 

Like all Labs, Silver Labs form a strong bond with their family and won’t hesitate to come to their defense should the need arise.

However, being overprotective, such as not allowing anyone else to approach their owner, is not typical Lab behavior.  

Most Silver Labs are excellent watchdogs, instantly alerting you to anything suspicious around the house, but they’re just too friendly to serve as vicious guard dogs.   

Silver Lab Price 

On average, you can expect to pay more for a Silver Lab than you would for one with a traditionally colored coat, in some cases, a lot more.

Purebred Labs bred strictly for pets generally cost anywhere from $400 to $1,200, but it’s not unusual for Silver Labs to be priced well over $2,000.

How Much Does a Silver Lab Cost? 

Most Silver Labs are priced between $1,200 and $1,500, though it’s certainly possible to find a puppy priced either well below or far above this range.

Here are examples of actual prices from real breeders.

Breeder Location Price
Lankas Labs Kansas $1,500
Shimmering Labs North Carolina $1,200
Silver and Charcoal Kennels Mississippi $2,500
Coleman Silver Lab Puppies California $1,500 – $2,000
Dogwood Silver Labs Arkansas $1,300 – $1,500

Do Silver Labs Have Health Issues? 

Silver Labs have the same predispositions to certain health conditions as any other Labrador Retriever.

Obesity is very common in this breed (discover the interesting reason why here) and could lead to a host of other issues.

Other conditions to be aware of include:

  • Progressive retinal atrophy and retinal dysplasia.
  • Hip and elbow dysplasia.
  • Hypothyroidism.
  • Centronuclear myopathy.
  • Heart defects and disease.
  • Bloat.
  • Ear infections.
  • Exercise-induced collapse (EIC).
  • Cancer.
  • Epilepsy.
  • Allergies.

Silver Labrador Retriever Skin Issues and Hair Loss

Like all Labs, Silver Labs can suffer from several conditions that affect the skin and lead to hair loss.

Unfortunately, food, environmental, and pest allergies are fairly common in this breed, and symptoms are manifested within the layers of the skin.

Other possible skin conditions include the effects of hypothyroidism, seborrhea, bacterial or yeast infections, and color dilution alopecia, a disorder associated with the dilution gene. 

Silver Lab Lifespan 

Most Silver Labs will live to be 10 – 12 years old.

For a Silver Lab to reach his expected life expectancy, routine veterinary care, sufficient levels of daily exercise, adequate shelter, and a nutrient-dense diet (preferably a formulation free of grains and additives) are required.

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Is a Silver Lab Right for Me?

If you’re at all familiar with Labrador Retrievers, then you know what incredibly wonderful, devoted, sweet dogs they are.

After all, there’s a good reason that they rank as the most popular breed year after year.

However, with only three color variations currently accepted by the breed club, options are somewhat limited as far as appearance is concerned.

If you have a taste for the unusual and don’t mind turning heads as you’re out and about with your dog but still want the reliable, gentle temperament the Lab is famous for, then the Silver Lab might be the answer. 

Before you make up your mind, consider carefully if you have what it takes to successfully raise a Silver Lab and are willing to be in it for the long haul as they can live up to 12 years.

Silver Lab Pros

  • Excellent temperament – Gentle, sweet natured, cheerful, affectionate, and loyal.
  • Easy to train – Even first-time dog owners can accomplish basic obedience training and housebreaking easily.
  • Enjoys all outdoor activities – Walks, hikes, jogging, swimming, playing fetch or tug-of-war, you name it, he’ll be ready and willing.
  • Good watchdog – Alert and protective, he won’t hesitate to sound the alarm when someone approaches the house.
  • Great with kids and household pets – Of course, training and socialization are necessary, but this breed naturally gets along well with all members of the family.
  • Grooming is easy – Brushing the entire coat only takes a few minutes and costly trips to the groomer are not necessary. 
  • Intuitive – Silver Labs are excellent at reading your moods and responding accordingly. He’ll celebrate with you when you’re happy and work hard to cheer you up when you’re feeling blue.
  • Playful – Always ready for fun, this breed is great for getting you off the couch and helping you stay fit.

Silver Lab Cons

  • Surrounded by a good deal of controversy – Be prepared to hear various unsolicited opinions regarding your dog.
  • Needs lots of exercise – An hour or more of vigorous activity each day is necessary.
  • Takes a long time to mature mentally – Labs are known to get into frequent trouble their first two years of life and often don’t calm down until their 3rd or 4th birthday.
  • Cost more than a “regular” Lab – Don’t be surprised to have to shell out a couple hundred more dollars for this unusual color.
  • Big appetites – Labs are often seemingly bottomless pits when it comes to food, and obesity can become an issue easily.
  • Size – That classic otter Lab tail is just the right height to effortlessly swipe coffee tables and nightstands clear of all decor or swat children directly in the face.
  • Shedding – Frequent brushing and vacuuming are required to keep the mess to a minimum.
  • Chewing – A variety of indestructible toys (Kong toys are perfect) is a must to prevent furniture, shoes, phones, etc. from being destroyed.

Related Questions:

What Is the Rarest Labrador Color? 

Although not technically a color, albino Labs are the rarest.

Within the yellow Lab group, there are extreme variations on both ends of the spectrum: white being the palest form and fox red being the deepest, richest yellow.

Also rare are the dilute colors of silver, charcoal, and champagne. 

What’s the Difference Between a Silver Lab and Weimaraner? 

Though Labradors and Weimaraners are similar in appearance, they are two distinct breeds.

Weimaraners were created in Germany for hunting big game. Labs are a Newfoundland breed developed to work aboard fishing boats and retrieve.

Weimaraners usually have docked tails and are lankier with a shorter and sleeker coat, more refined bone structure, and larger ears than Labs.

What Color Lab Has the Best Temperament?

Biologically speaking, the color of the Labrador Retriever’s coat has no impact whatsoever on temperament.

Temperament is impacted, to a certain degree, by the temperament of the dog’s parents, but the way in which a dog is raised plays a much larger role in determining what type of temperament will be seen as the dog matures.

Sources:

http://silverlabs.blogspot.com/p/culo-interview.html

https://thelabradorclub.com/news/akc-lrc-joint-statement-on-alleged-silver-labradors/

Last update on 2021-04-17 at 11:40 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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