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Labs


The Silver Labrador Retriever


You may find yourself asking questions, such as, "What is so special about a 'Silver' Lab?", "Why have I never heard of them before now?", "Are they pure blood?", "Why does the Labrador Retriever Club of America not accept them?"  I once asked myself these same questions, but with a little research, it was easy to know that these Labradors truly are something special. 

Let's review some Labrador history.  The Labrador Retrievers that we so love today originated from the Canadian island of Newfoundland of the province Newfoundland and Labrador.  The breed emerged from the St. John's Waterdog.  The area of St. John was settled mostly by the Irish and English.  These dogs were used by local fishermen to carry ropes on boats and to help retrieve fishing nets from the water. 

The St. John's Waterdog was such a great worker and companion that some settlers returned home to England with these dogs in the early 19th century.  In England, they became highly prized sporting and waterfowl dogs.  This is where they got their name "Labrador."  The English named it after the geographic location where the dogs originated.

In 1822, W. E. Cormack and his dogs crossed the rugged island of Newfoundland by foot.  In his journal he recorded, "The dogs are admirably trained as retrievers in fowling..."

In the early stages of breeding these dogs, it was thought that only black puppies were acceptable.  Any other color that was produced was "culled" out of breeding programs.  Breeders tried to hide the fact that they were producing anything other than black puppies.  Around 1900, the yellow Lab was accepted, and around 1930 the chocolates became acceptable.

With Labrador population on the rise, there would undoubtedly be a rise in silver or "diluted" coat colors.  Since these colors were not the typical black, yellow, or chocolate, they were quietly culled out of breeding programs.  Breeders were afraid that if one was produced, people would not see there bloodlines as being pure. 

In the 1980s, a breeder began producing the Silver Labrador on purpose.  The genetic makeup of this coat color was very rare and no doubt nearly nonexistant, because breeders were quietly culling them out of their programs.  With many years of work, the Silver Lab population began to grow.  In 1987 the American Kennel Club recognized the color and added it to the coat color registry next to black, yellow, and chocolate.  This, of course, caused an uproar among the traditional Labrador breeders, because they saw their market shares fall through the floor.  With much opposition from these breeders and the Labrador Retriever Club of America (controlled by these breeders), the AKC removed the silver color from the registry and began registering the silvers as chocolates by stating that any shade from light to dark chocolate is acceptable.  They never said that silvers are not pure blood, registerable Labradors, in fact, if you were to ask anyone from the AKC they would tell you that they most definitely are pure.  The AKC accepts yellow ranging from fox-red to cream, including the rare champagne color, also unaccepted by the LRCA.  Blacks can be any shade of black, including charcoal.

The founder of Silver Labrador breeding was so eager to prove the purity of these Labradors, that he put $100,000 up for anyone who could prove unpurity or crossbreeding to produce this beautiful color.  Not one person was willing to stand behind their "flat earth" accusations against the ancestry of the Silver Lab.

After much investigation and research, the AKC stated, "...there was no reason to doubt that the dogs were pure bred Labrador Retrievers."