The ever-friendly and outgoing Labrador Retriever has 3 standard colour variations: black, chocolate, and yellow. However, a new colour emerged in the breed that sparked attention and controversy—the Silver Labrador Retriever.
Read on to get to know the unique and much-debated Silver Labrador dog.
Where Do Silver Labs Come From?
Most, if not all, people in the dog community are in the dark about the Silver Labrador’s origins. He is believed to be developed in South Dakota, United States of America.
The Silver Lab’s existence was unknown until his name first appeared in a gun dog magazine in the 1950s. This was when Kellogg Kennel placed an advertisement about “rare Grey Labradors” in the paper.
The answer to when or how long these Silver Labrador dogs have existed is unclear. Old breeding records were inspected to check if Grey or Silver Lab puppies were mentioned.
Detailed accounts of breeding programmes did note “off-colour” Labrador pups. Black, brindle, chocolate, tan, and vitiligo Labrador puppies were cited. However, there was no mention of puppies with silver-coloured coats.
Some speculate that Silver Labrador Retriever puppies were unheard of for a long time because they were culled to keep their genes from sullying the Labrador gene pool. Up to now, how Silver Labradors came to remain a mystery.
What Does a Silver Labrador Look Like?
Silver Labradors do not have much difference from traditional Labradors. They are still the same jolly, lively, and loving dogs with a signature otter tail. However, Silver Labs often have light brown noses and slightly leaner frames.
A male Silver Labrador Retriever measures around 29–36 kilos (65–80 pounds) in weight and 57–62 centimetres (22.5–24.5 inches) in height. A female Silver Labrador Retriever grows about 24–31 kilos (55–70 pounds) in weight and 54–59 centimetres (21.5–23.5 inches) in height.
How Did Silver Labradors Get This Unique Coat Colour?
The Silver Labrador’s coat has various tones that can range from silver and grey to blue. The colour is caused by 2 recessive genes, which is also nicknamed dilute gene. That’s because it waters down the coat colour of the dog.
As you read on, you will understand how it happens.
Normally, the standard Labrador Retriever coat colours are a result of the B and E genes. However, it is a different case when it comes to Silver Labs. The D gene controls their coat colour.
Before we discuss further, know that all genes come in pairs. Thus, the D gene is composed of the big D and small d. The big D is the dominant gene that creates a full-strength coat colour. On the other hand, the small d is a recessive gene that dilutes the coat colour.
When Chocolate Labradors possess 2 recessive small d genes, their chocolate colour lightens and turns into silver. The result is the creation of Silver Labradors.
Did you know that Silver Labs are not the only ones with diluted coat colours? There are also Charcoal Labradors, which are the diluted version of the Black Labs. There are also Champagne Labradors, which are the diluted counterparts of Yellow Labs.
Is a Silver Lab a Purebred?
Whether Silver Labradors are purebred or not is widely debated. Proponents declare that these dogs are indeed purebred.
Thus, there is a possibility that the Labrador Retriever inherited this rare gene. And this could mean that Silver Labs are purebred Labradors.
In some countries, the Silver Labrador can be registered as a pedigree. The Kennel Club in the UK permits the registration of Silver Labs, but they are classified as ”non-recognised.”
Silver Labradors can also be registered with the AKC (American Kennel Club). However, they need to register them as Chocolate Labrador Retrievers.
Do Silver Labs Have Weimaraner in Them?
Mixed breeding is also a possibility on how the Silver Labrador is developed. One of the most common theories is that the Labrador Retriever is crossed with the Weimaraner. Both dog breeds nearly have the same appearance and size but differ in coat colours.
By cross-breeding the 2 breeds, the Weimaraner’s genes are mixed into the Labrador Retriever’s gene pool. Hence, their offspring are likely to inherit the Weimaraner’s silver-grey coat.
Is the Silver Labrador a Result of Inbreeding?
Yes, he is. The Silver Labrador is very uncommon back in the day. Thus, breeders needed to breed their dogs with their close relatives to produce Silver Lab puppies.
Whilst this practice of breeding Silver Labs is done to preserve these dogs, it can cause health problems within the breed. However, the inbreeding waned as the population of Silver Labradors grew. But reputable Silver Lab breeders do not condemn this breeding practice.
According to research, Silver Labradors have 7 distinct bloodlines. This means they have a varied gene pool. Hence, the possible development of health problems due to inbreeding has lower chances of occurring in the past.
What Is a Silver Labrador’s Eye Colour
Another difference between Silver Labs and regular Labrador Retrievers is their eye colour. According to breed standards, Labs should have brown- or hazel-coloured eyes. On the other hand, Silver Labradors are born with blue eyes.
If you are wondering, “Do Silver Labs’ eyes stay blue?” the answer is, most of the time no. When a Silver Lab puppy reaches 8 months to 1 year old, his blue eye colour will gradually change to light yellow.
But in rare cases, some eyes of Silver Labrador puppies stay blue. Others may also possess light green eyes instead of light yellow.
Is the Silver Labrador Friendly and Trainable?
The Silver Lab temperament is similar to the traditional Labrador Retriever. He is an extremely friendly family pet. The Silver Labrador is the life of the party, and his cheerfulness is infectious.
The Silver Lab strives to keep his human companions happy by performing silly antics or cuddling with them. With proper socialisation at a young age, they will learn how to play and interact with children and other animals.
The Labrador Retriever is one of the most popular dog breeds for its friendly personality and high intelligence. Silver Labs possess the smarts too.
Silver Labs can quickly learn commands as they are eager to please their owners. By keeping training sessions short and rewarding them with praises and treats, they will do their best to carry out whatever you ask of them.
How Much Exercise Do Silver Labradors Need?
Silver Labs are high-energy family dogs. They need at least 1 hour of physical and mental exercise. They are originally bred for hunting and retrieving, just like their cousins, the Golden Retrievers. So walks won’t do much in tiring them out.
A wide variety of games and activities is needed to satisfy the Silver Labs’ exercise needs. Jogging, playing fetch, agility training, and obstacle course are great activities to try out with him.
Consider taking the Silver Labrador out for a swim once in a while, as the breed is a natural swimmer and has an innate fondness for water.
What Are the Grooming Needs of Silver Labs?
The Silver Labradors have straight and thick weather-resistant double coats. It protects them from harsh weather and insulates their bodies.
With that said, Silver Labs should don doggy coats and booties if the temperature drops below 20 degrees Fahrenheit (-6 Celsius). They should also be kept in an air-conditioned or cool area if the heat rises above 90 degrees Fahrenheit (32 Celsius).
The Silver Labrador sheds most of the time moderately. However, it becomes heavy around spring and fall.
To manage the Silver Lab’s shedding, he should be brushed 2–3 times a week. Arm yourself with a vacuum cleaner to remove any loose or dead hair that comes off when brushing.
Bathing the Silver Lab should be done sparsely, preferably once a month or as needed. Tooth brushing is advised to be done daily. Ear cleaning and nail trimming can be done once a week.
How Much Should a Silver Labrador Eat?
The Silver Lab is a medium-sized dog. An adult Silver Lab will need around 1,650–2,400 calories per day. He should be given around 3 cups of high-quality dog food every day.
The meals of Silver Labradors should be split into 2 portions to avoid indigestion and the risk of bloat. Adjustments should be made in their diet if they start gaining extra weight.
What Is the Lifespan of the Silver Labrador?
The life expectancy of the Silver Labrador ranges from 10 to 12 years. With proper care and love, he can outlive these ages.
Thus, it is important to provide Silver Labs with a stress-free home, adequate exercise, balanced meals, regular grooming, and human interaction.
What Are the Health Issues of Silver Labradors?
Do Silver Labs have health issues? Yes, they have. Colour dilution alopecia is a prevalent concern in many Silver Labrador owners.
It is a hair-loss condition that occurs in dogs that possess the colour dilution gene. This can be treated through antibiotics.
Another common health issue in Silver Labrador is hip dysplasia and elbow dysplasia. Both are bone and joint problems that cause excruciating pain and lameness. These conditions are not life-threatening and can be cured through medication or surgery.
Are Silver Labs Rare?
Yes, Silver Labradors are rare in most countries as it is considered a new colour variation in the Labrador Retriever breed.
Silver Labs may have become quite common in the United States, but they are still difficult to find compared to black, brown, or yellow Labrador Retrievers.
How Much Does a Silver Labrador Cost?
As the Silver Lab is an uncommon color type of the Labrador breed, this beautiful dog’s price tends to be expensive. A Silver Labrador Retriever puppy may cost from £2,500 to over £5,000.
Be sure to buy only from a reputable Silver Lab breeder. Ask the breeder for your Silver Lab puppy’s health certificate to ensure that he is of good health and less likely to develop any health problems.