Silver Labradors blew up as the latest fad this spring. Although the Labrador breed has been recognized by the American Kennel Club (AKC) since 1903, there have been reports of a “silver” lab since 1920, however the AKC only recognizes the distinctive yellow, black, and tan colors. There is documented evidence from the 1920’s-1950’s regarding the rarity of silver or gray Labradors and that they were not considered ideal for the breed standard.
Rumors in dog media circles
People are excited about this “new” Labrador style. So let’s look at some of the rumors – people need facts:
Silver Labs Were Bred With Weimaraners – Not correct! While this is still a very active rumor, the evidence is scientifically untenable. Labradors are sporting dogs. They were bred to fetch to help fishermen. Labs are mild tempered, have medium energy, and are more sedentary by nature. Weimaraners are also sporting dogs, they were bred to hunt medium sized game, they are energetic, very active and high energy. The two breed temperaments and purposes are very different. When 2 breeds are bred together, it is to enhance certain beneficial traits. These 2 different dogs have already been selectively bred for their specific beneficial traits.
What really happened to the silver lab is recessive gene selection. See, if you remember a little bit of high school biology, you might remember the different gene variations in the box. Different genes come together, represented by an uppercase and a lowercase letter.
Learn more about genetics and recessive genes on my website. Look under the Simplified Genetics Table
(This is oversimplifying, so if you’re a geneticist you can skip this part!)
Now for the next rumor about this new breed color in the media…
Silver Labs have blue eyes – Silver Labs and Weimaraners can typically have blue eyes as puppies. Also due to recessive genes. But usually this color changes as the dog matures, just like human babies’ eyes. Silver Labrador eye color usually turns amber and Weimaraners usually get a variation of light amber or green or blue.
Silver Labradors Are Selling For Over $1000 And That’s Overpriced – Not necessarily, generally they sell for $1000-1200, I’d say that’s a fair price. Especially amid a global pandemic where dogs are in demand for comfort and company during solitude. Large breed dogs are simply more expensive to buy – because you get more dogs! Get to know the seller or breeder, as long as they’re reputable, it’s fair.
Silver Labradors are sold as impostors – It is possible. Unfortunately, wherever there are opportunities, sometimes some people can take advantage of them. Because of their “rarity,” silver labs can be sold or mortgaged to buyers at much higher prices than other types of dogs, which are more expensive overall than labs. They can be pawned as high quality show dogs at a hefty price. Know your breed, know your breeder. Do your research before you buy.
Silver Labradors are not recognized by the AKC – TRUE! To this day, the silver-coated Labrador is still tested for AKC approval, although the traditionally coated Labradors have been recognized since 1903. To me, this really speaks to the sudden trend of this breed. Now that the public has decided that this silver color is amazing, they are wondering why it is not accepted by the AKC. The AKC bases its standards on breed reputation, personality traits, appearance and repeatability. It is a challenge to seek out these traits in a breed previously thought to be non-viable.
This means for prospective new Silver Lab owners that your Lab cannot currently compete in AKC dog shows and cannot be bred as a Silver Lab supported by AKC show breed standards. But you can have one as a family dog.
The Future of Silver Labradors
The Silver Labrador Retriever still has all the character traits and temperament of a classic Labrador. They make a great family dog. Their grooming and exercise requirements are the same as the traditional Labrador breed. The only thing we don’t know about these Labradors is how they will age and what their quality of life will be like. We can only assume that it will have a lifespan and quality of life similar to that of other Labradors. However, the dual inheritance of the recessive genes raises concerns about potentially greater fragility. Only time can tell. If we consider survival of the fittest, would doubly recessive genes find ways to thrive in this world even if the traits themselves were originally considered undesirable?
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