Silver Lab: The Controversy Behind Silver Labradors + FAQs

A silver Labrador Retriever with red kerchief lies on gray couch

Silver Labs are Labrador Retrievers famed for their eye-catching coat color. Their coats are a light shade of gray that may sometimes appear bluish.

However, despite their popularity in the pet community, silver Labs have their fair share of controversies.

Many people argue that silver Labradors are not purebreds. On the other hand, many Lab enthusiasts and breeders attest to the pure lineage of these dogs.

But what’s the truth behind this controversy? Are silver Labs hybrids? 

What’s so special about the silver Labrador Retriever, anyway? Are these dogs rarer than other Labradors?

If you have all these questions in your mind, you’d be pleased to know that this guide has all the answers. Stick around to learn more!

What Is a Silver Lab?

Silver Labrador lies elegant on a fluffy blanket

The silver Lab is a variant of the chocolate Labrador Retriever. Silver Labradors carry a dilute gene which makes their coat color a “watered-down” version of the chocolate. Because of their gray-blue coat color, the silver Lab is sometimes called the gray/grey Labrador or blue Labrador.

In case you’re new to Labrador Retrievers, these pooches mainly come in three different coat colors. These colors are black, yellow, and chocolate.

Other colors of the Labrador Retriever breed are merely variants of these three primary colors. 

For example, the red fox Lab and champagne labs are some of the variations of yellow Labs. The same is true for silver Labs.

Silver Labs, however, are variations of the chocolate Labrador Retriever. Simply put, silver Labs are technically chocolate Labs!

According to the AKC breed standards, chocolate Labrador Retrievers can vary in shade from light to dark chocolate.

The greyish-blue color of the silver Labrador falls in between this range of shades. Nevertheless, they also have a double coat just like their other cousins.

Are Silver Labradors Purebred?

Up to this day, there is still an ongoing debate about whether or not the silver Labrador Retriever is purebred.

Sure, AKC recognizes these pups as a variant of chocolate Labradors; however, many people still oppose this recognition saying that these dogs are a product of cross-breeding.

According to the Labrador Retriever Club chairman, Francis O. Smith, there is no such thing as a silver Labrador.

In one of his official statements, Smith warns buyers that silver Labs are merely marketed as rare purebreds so that breeders can sell them for a higher price. 

In reality, it is not at all that simple. It will always depend on who you ask. Ask a silver Lab breeder, and they will always tell you that their dogs are purebred. On the other hand, ask a Labrador Retriever “purist,” and they will tell you otherwise.

Unfortunately, there is no solid evidence that proves whether or not silver Labradors are purebreds.

Of course, there is always the option to scrutinize their origin under the microscope. Still, even science can prove to be inconclusive at times.

That said, you may still register your silver Labrador as a pedigree in major kennel clubs. However, most clubs such as the AKC require proof of at least three generations of purebred Lab breeding.

If you can provide this proof, then you can very quickly have your silver Lab registered.

Controversy Around the Silver Labrador Retriever

The silver Labrador Retriever is arguably the most controversial Lab. Some of the most probable reasons for this are their high price tags and peculiar coat color. But what else is there behind this controversy?

For starters, let’s revisit a brief history of the Labs. The Labrador Retriever breed was first recognized in the United Kingdom in 1903. Meanwhile, the breed was formalized in the United States a few years later, in 1917. 

Before the formalization of the breed, both in the United Kingdom and the United States, the silver Labrador was simply unheard of. No breeders or owners have recorded a Lab with a greyish “silver” color in their litter. 

If there were a “silver” Labrador Retrievers then, it would easily be the talk of the town. News reports and magazine articles about it would have been published. But the silver Labrador Retriever did not make such appearances. 

The controversy began in the 1950s when, out of nowhere, breeders started selling “silver” Labrador Retrievers.

It was also around this time when silver Labs first appeared in the literature. Gun Dog magazine and Kellogg’s Kennel were the first publications to advertise these “rare” pooches.

The controversial part of the story is that silver Labs carry a dilute dd gene. This dilution gene was not found in Labrador Retrievers during the time the breed standards were set. Naturally, this issue blew up in the pet community. 

Adding gas to the flame is the ridiculously high asking price of silver Labs at the time. This made skeptics believe that the silver Lab was only bred for monetary reasons alone.

Some even believe that silver Labs are descendants of Weimaraners and Labrador Retriever hybrids. 

READ NEXT: Dudley Labrador: What Makes This Pink-Nosed Lab So Unique

Silver Lab Appearance: What Does a Silver Labrador Look Like?

Young silver Lab in the summer meadow

Except for their coat color, silver Labs share their appearance with the rest of the Labrador Retriever family. These pooches have broad skulls and wide chests. They also have well-defined muzzles and floppy ears. 

Moreover, silver Labs have an athletic stance. Their bodies are well-balanced, and their muscles are well-distributed. The topline of a silver Labrador is straight, and their tails do not curve upwards. 

In terms of colors, the silver Lab boasts an attractive grey-blue coat. Their color is closely comparable to that of the Weimaraners. However, some silver Labs appear closer in color to a rich chocolate Labrador Retriever. 

In addition, many silver Labs also have blue-colored eyes, especially during their younger years. However, the eye color of these puppies usually changes to dark yellow as they grow old.

Silver Lab Size and Weight: How Big Will a Silver Labrador Get When Fully Grown?

Silver Labs are comparable to other Labrador Retrievers in terms of size. However, gender brings some notable differences in size. In general, a male silver Lab will grow a tad taller and heavier than its female counterpart.

Full-grown male silver Labradors grow about 22 to 25 inches in height and weigh between 65 and 80 pounds.

Meanwhile, full-grown female silver Labradors grow about 21 to 24 inches in height and weigh between 55 and 70 pounds. 

Silver Labs are roughly the same size as full-grown Vizslas, Dalmatians, Shetland Sheepdogs, and Pharaoh Hounds. All of these pooches are considered medium to large dog breeds.

Silver Lab History and Origin: Where Does the Silver Labrador Come From?

Many people believe that Labradors came from Labrador, Canada; however, this statement is only partly true. While Labrador Retrievers are indeed from Canada, they are from the province of Newfoundland. 

Labs are descendants of the St. John’s Water Dog, an extinct dog breed in terms of lineage. Fishermen and hunters initially used Labrador Retrievers as working dogs in the 1800s.

Their intelligence, athleticism, and top-notch swimming skills made them one of the best working dogs at the time.

In the 1830s, migrators brought Labs to England. It was around this period when breeders put keen attention on improving the breed.

Many decades later, the Labrador Retriever breed was officially recognized by The Kennel Club in the UK. After a few more years, they were registered with the AKC.

However, it was only in the 1950s when silver Labs first appeared in the picture. Before silver Labs, there were only three known colors of the Labrador Retriever — black, yellow, and chocolate.

Unfortunately, the pet community is split with regards to the origin of the silver Labrador. Many believe that they share the same roots as other Labrador Retrievers, while others argue that they are a mixed breed.

Silver Lab Coat Color Genetics: How Is a Silver Lab Bred?

Brown and silver Labrador in front of a tree with snow

The silver Labrador is also known as the “diluted chocolate Lab.” The coat color of these dogs is merely a product of a so-called “dilute gene” mixed with the coat genetics of a chocolate Lab.

Let’s work out a bit of science to understand how silver Labs are bred and what makes up their gene pool. 

For starters, many factors affect the coat color of a Labrador Retriever. The majority of these factors are engraved in the set of genes passed on by the parent dogs to their puppies. 

Many types of genes affect the coat color of a dog. There are B genes, E genes, and many more. But for the silver Lab, the most notable gene is the dilute gene or “D gene.”

D genes come in two forms: the dominant dilute “D” and the recessive dilute “d.” An easy way to think about this is that “D” cranks up the intensity of the color while “d” dials it down.

Since every Labrador carries two of these coat color genes, there are three possible combinations of the dilution gene — DD, Dd, and dd.

If the Labrador gene pool has at least one “D” or dilution gene, its coat color will be chocolate. On the other hand, if a Lab carries two “d” genes, its coat will be diluted chocolate color, also known as silver.

Breeding a silver Lab is all about probability because of the existence of recessive genes. It is possible to have a silver Lab puppy by breeding chocolate Labs. However, for a higher success rate, breeders typically breed silver Labs together. 

Are Silver Labs Rare?

Silver Labs are not as rare as they once were in the 1950s. Since their early years, these dogs have gained many fanatics in the pet community.

As a result, there are significantly more silver Lab breeders nowadays compared to the previous years.

However, compared to other Lab colors, there are still fewer silver Labs. The most probable reason behind this is that many countries do not recognize silver Labs as purebreds. In turn, fewer pet owners consider having silver Labs as pets. 

The higher asking price of these pups and their difficulty in breeding also play a role in their rarity. In addition to all these, another possible reason why silver Labs are rare is that they are controversial. 

Many pet enthusiasts opt not to have silver Labs because they do not believe silver Labs are purebred. For these people, owning a silver Lab puts the Labrador Retriever breed at risk.

That said, there are still many fans of the silver Lab breed. While they are rarer than their other Lab cousins, they are not impossible to find.

Silver Lab Kennel Club Recognition: Can Silver Labradors Be AKC Registered?

If you live in the United States, you are lucky because silver Labrador Retrievers are registered as chocolate Labs in the American Kennel Club.

The only requirement is that your silver Lab must have records of at least three generations of pure Lab breeding. 

If you have the files with you, you can easily register your pooch as a pedigree puppy. Similarly, an AKC registration means that your pooch is welcome to join any AKC-organized pet competitions and dog shows. 

However, if you reside outside of the United States, registering a silver Lab might prove to be challenging.

For example, in Belgium, the Fédération Cynologique Internationale (FCI) does not mention the silver Lab in their breed standards. 

The same is true for the United Kennel Club (UKC), The Kennel Club (KC), and Canadian Kennel Club (CKC).

That said, however, you may still try your luck on any of these kennel clubs. Some might be more lenient than others, but don’t expect this breed variety to be show dogs.

Silver Lab Temperament and Personality: Are Silver Labradors Good Family Dogs?

Silver Labrador relaxing on back proch

Similar to other shades, Labs with silver color are fantastic family pets. These pooches are loyal, easy to train, and very affectionate. Plus, they are incredibly intelligent as well!

Moreover, silver Labs are also very friendly. They can quickly get along with kids and other people.

If you have other pets in the house, a silver Lab might act strange around them during the first few days. Just give it some time, and they will get along eventually. 

Silver Labs are playful and often silly. They may chew up on random objects around the house, especially during their younger years. That said, they typically grow out of the habit.

If properly socialized at an early age, a silver Labrador Retriever will grow up as a well-behaved family dog.

You just need to be patient during their puppy years because these intelligent pooches can surely be naughty at times!

READ NEXT: Male vs. Female Labrador Retriever: Which Is Better For You?

Silver Lab Lifespan and Health Issues: Are Silver Labradors Health Dogs?

The average life expectancy of the silver Labrador Retriever is 10 to 12 years. This means their lifespan is around the same as other Labrador Retrievers. For the most part, silver Labs, when well cared for, live long and healthy lives.

However, much like other Labs, silver Labs are also at risk of some health issues. Furthermore, there is also one health issue that only develops in silver Labrador Retrievers.

Below are some common health issues of the silver Labrador Retriever:

  • Color-dilution Alopecia (CDA): Color-dilution alopecia is a skin condition that affects dog breeds that carry the dilute gene. This health issue is characterized by poor coat quality accompanied by hair fall. Unfortunately, CDA is not a curable disease. Luckily, a silver Lab with CDA can still live a full life. 
  • Hip and Elbow Dysplasia: Canine hip and elbow dysplasia are widespread health conditions in Labs. More often than not, these health issues are brought about by genetics. A silver Lab with hip and elbow dysplasia will experience problems with their ball-socket joints, which sometimes leads to inactivity or excruciating pain when moving.
  • Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA): PRA in dogs is characterized by the deterioration of photoreceptor cells in the eyes. Silver Labs with PRA will eventually go blind if left untreated. Unfortunately, compared to other dog breeds, Labrador Retrievers have a relatively high chance of developing PRA.

If you decide to get a silver Labrador Retriever, these are some of the health issues you should look out for.

As always, the best way to keep your silver Lab healthy is by giving it proper nutrition and exercise. Regular vet check-ups are also a must!

How to Take Care of Your Silver Lab?

Silver Labs don’t require a lot when it comes to caring. In fact, these dogs are relatively low maintenance compared to other dogs.

Good food, regular exercise, and occasional cuddles are enough to keep a silver Lab happy and healthy.

Feeding and Diet

Feeding your silver Lab does not require anything special. You just need to make sure you are giving the right kind of dog food for its age.

However, during its first few years, you might need to try out different kibble brands to find which one suits your dog the best. 

Similarly, you can also feed your dog homemade dog meals. You can’t go wrong with white meat and vegetables.

You may also give them fruits as alternatives to treats, but make sure you are not feeding your silver Lab anything from the list of toxic food for dogs

Cleaning and Grooming

Silver Labs have weather-proof coats. Their coats are quick-drying and relatively easy to maintain. However, brushing your pet’s hair at least three times per week is still recommended to keep it from tangling.

In terms of bathing, it is safe to bathe your silver Lab once every four to six weeks. However, if you take your dog on hikes or other activities, you may bathe it more often.

You also have the option to take your silver Lab to a professional groomer twice a year for thorough cleaning. 

Training and Exercise

Silver Labradors are active pooches. It is recommended to bring your dog for a walk for at least one hour per day.

Alternatively, you may also engage your pet in other physical activities such as swimming, hiking, or a simple game of fetch. 

Engaging your dog in mentally challenging training is also a good idea. After all, silver Labs are working dogs. These pups love challenges!

Here’s a video showing how a silver Labrador Retriever is professionally trained:

Cullen - 8 Month Old Silver Lab - Dog Training Omaha Nebraska

How Much Does a Silver Lab Cost? Are Silver Labradors More Expensive Than Other Colors?

Typically, silver Labradors cost more than other Lab colors. The most common price range for silver Labs is between $1,200 and $1,500. But if you are eyeing one from a champion bloodline, you may need to pay upwards of $2,000.

The price of the silver Lab is about the same as the red fox Labrador. These pooches are a few hundred dollars more expensive than traditional, black, chocolate, or yellow Labs. 

The premium asking price of the silver Lab is due to their rarity. Since there are fewer silver Labs than other Lab colors, breeders face more challenges in breeding them. 

If you want to save a little bit of cash, you can always resort to adoption. Try finding silver Labradors in reputable shelters and rescues. This way, you will only need to pay around $300 to $500 in adoption fees.

Another way you can cut down on costs is by choosing a reputable breeder who bundles his Labs with freebies.

Many breeders offer deals inclusive of some pet supplies. These freebies may range from dog toys and dog food to crates and beds. 

Places to Find Silver Lab Puppies for Sale or Adoption

Silver Lab puppy for sale or adoption

If you can’t wait to own a silver Lab puppy, you’d be happy to know that there are plenty of places to find them.

While these dogs are rarer than other Lab colors, finding silver Lab breeders is still reasonably easy. 

Here are some breeders where you can find silver Lab puppies for sale:

  • Worley’s Silver Feathers Labradors – Located in Pennsylvania, Worley’s Silver Feathers Labradors is an AKC-licensed reputable breeder. This breeder raises their Labrador puppies on a 110-acre log cabin property. You can check out their available puppies from time to time to look for some silver Labs!
  • Silver Rose Labs – If you live near the Central California area, Silver Rose Labs is a fantastic place to look for a Lab puppy. This breeder specializes in charcoal, champagne, and silver Labs. Make sure to check out their listings of adult Labs and Lab puppies.
  • Silver in the South Labrador Kennel – Silver in the South Labrador Kennel is another California-based breeder. This breeder is committed to raising and selling high-quality silver Labrador Retrievers. Moreover, all dogs from this breeder come with six weeks’ worth of vaccines and health guarantees.

However, if you are looking to adopt a silver Lab, you might need a little more patience as these pooches are rarely found in shelters and rescues. 

Here are some services where you can find silver Labs for adoption:

  • Adopt-a-Pet – Adopt-a-Pet is one of the most famous adoption websites. This platform has been around since 2000 and has helped thousands of aspiring pet owners. You can check out Adopt-a-Pet’s listing for Labrador Retrievers to see if they have any silver Labs.
  • Petfinder – Petfinder is another reputable adoption website. This website aims to rehome abandoned dogs from shelters and rescues all over the country. Make sure to visit their website regularly to see if they have available silver Labrador Retrievers for adoption!

RELATED: 10 Best Labrador Retriever Rescues for Adoption (2021): Our Top 10 Picks!

When getting a silver Labrador, it is recommended to find one with a health guarantee. This way, you will have full support from the breeder or shelter if your dog encounters some health issues.

If you can find a breeder or shelter that bundles their dogs with pet insurance coverage, that’s also a nice bonus. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Silver Labrador and a charcoal weimaraner

How Bad Do Silver Labs Shed?

On average, silver Labradors are considered moderate to heavy shedders because of their double coats. You should brush your Lab’s fur once or twice a week to keep its shedding under control. 

Regular bathing is also a must to keep your pup’s hair manageable. It is recommended to bathe silver Labrador Retrievers once every four to six weeks. 

Are Silver Labs Overbred?

Many people argue that the silver Labrador is overbred. They blame overbreeding as the leading cause of the common health issues in silver Labs. However, this is not the case. 

The truth is Silver Labs are not overbred. They have the identical genetic make-up to the other Labrador Retrievers.

The only difference is that silver Labs carry a dilute dd gene, which can sometimes increase their risk of some health issues.

Why Do Silver Labs Lose Their Hair?

Some silver Labs develop a disease known as color-dilution alopecia. This skin condition is relatively rare in Labrador Retrievers except for the silver Labs. The main culprit behind this condition is the dilute dd gene, which silver Labs have. 

A silver Lab with color-dilution alopecia will have poor coat quality and severe drying of the coat. Moreover, parts of the coat where color dilution is most prominent will lose hair gradually.

Do Silver Labs Have Weimaraner in Them?

The Labrador Retriever is not known for carrying the dilute dd gene. The breed universally known for carrying this gene is the Weimaraner. This led many skeptics to believe that silver Labs have Weimaraner in them. 

That said, unfortunately, there is no conclusive way to determine whether or not silver Labs have Weimaraner genes.

According to a joint statement from the Labrador Retriever Club and the American Kennel Club, this assessment is beyond the capabilities of parentage testing.

What Is the Difference Between a Weimaraner and a Silver Lab?

On average, Weimaraners are taller and heavier than silver Labrador Retrievers. They also tend to be more active than Labs.

In addition, Weimaraners have a slightly longer lifespan of 12 years, compared to the Lab’s 11 years. 

What Is the Rarest Labrador Color?

Among the three officially recognized Labrador Retriever hues — black, yellow, and chocolate, chocolate is the rarest color variation.

However, if sub-colors of the Labrador Retriever are considered, then silver Labs are easily the most uncommon.

Final Thoughts: Is the Silver Lab the Right Dog for You?

The Labrador Retriever is a fantastic hunting dog and an amazing family pet. It is one of the most recommended choices for aspiring pet owners looking for four-legged best friends.

Luckily, all the praiseworthy traits of the Labrador Retriever are present in silver Labs.

Except for the controversy linked to their coat color, silver Labs are Labrador Retrievers through and through. Just be on the lookout for the early signs of alopecia, and you’re good to go!

John Carter

My name is John Carter and I absolutely love pets, especially cats and dogs. I've got a Bachelor of Science degree in Animal Behaviour and Welfare and have several years’ experience working in animal shelters and rescues. My passion for animals started at a very young age as I grow up on a farm with several horses, cows, cats, chickens, and dogs on our property.

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