There’s No Such thing as a Silver Labrador Retriever

Do you have questions about the validity of “silver” Labrador retrievers?

The following paragraph has been circulated on the website of nearly every dilute breeder around the world:

The registry of the American Kennel Club is based on parentage and not the coat color of a member of any breed. In 1987 the AKC, in corporation with the Labrador Retriever Club of America, conducted an inquiry into the breeding of litters that contained members that were registered as silver. An AKC representative was sent to observe these dogs. The report and color photographs of these dogs were reviewed by AKC staff and representatives of the Labrador Retriever Club of America. Both Parties were satisfied that there was no reason to doubt that the dogs were purebred Labrador Retrievers, however they felt that the dogs were incorrectly registered as silver. Since the breed standard at the time described chocolate as ranging in shade form sedge to chocolate, it was felt that the dogs could more accurately be described as chocolate rather than silver. This remains the current policy of the American Kennel Club.

–  Jack Norton  Special Services Dept  AKC

What has really taken place here? What does this mean?

With the AKC registry ruling above, AKC has redefined the definition of Black, Yellow and Chocolate for the LRC. It is commonplace for the parent club of a breed (in this case the Labrador Retriever Club, known as “LRC”) to petition for a breed, create the standard, and then proceed through the lengthy process of becoming established and recognized as a specific breed. In actuality, AKC simply pulled the rug out from underneath the LRC by this redefinition of color. As a result, this gives the LRC no official ground upon which to stand in terms of color variations. In short, it’s the same thing as was done with the Fox Red Labrador retrievers (which were determined to be a shade of yellow, rather than a distinct color of their own). Because they have allowed the latitude within the Chocolates to be defined from one scale to the other, one being a dark chocolate and the other being ‘silver’ in color as also meaning chocolate, AKC in effect reclassified the meaning of the colors within the breed standard for the LRC.

We can debate origin of the dilution gene (I seriously doubt that debate will ever end). However, this ruling has placed the LRC in a quite a predicament, requiring them to either acknowledge the dilute gene within the Labrador pool, or continue to perpetuate strife and hatred within the breed, further alienating Labrador lovers and owners who love the dilute Labs.

What does the ruling mean for the registration for dilute Labradors? Simply put, dilute Labrador retrievers are to be AKC registered under their “base” coat color; Charcoal Labradors have been registered as black Labradors, Silver Labradors have been registered as Chocolates, and Champagne Labradors have been registered as yellows. Again, because AKC has interpreted their color to be a “shade” of the base coat color, they fall within the LRC parent club standards for color.

Unfortunately, those who do not support the dilute Labrador retriever have resorted to smear campaigns, online bullying, falsification of history and perpetual name calling in an attempt to discredit all breeders of dilute Labrador retrievers. They feel that the perpetuation of lies and the practice of calling every dilute breeder a “puppy mill” is somehow going to exterminate the existence of the dilute Labrador retriever. In their attempts to discredit reputable breeders of dilute Labs, they have taken the worst examples of poorly bred dogs (most of them from American Field breedings) and attempted to compare them to Weimaraners. Please keep in mind these are acts of desperation and cannot be construed as constructive for either side.

History shows us that Chocolate Labrador retrievers were, at one time, not well accepted. The same bodes true for the Fox Red Labrador retrievers. Both of these color variations began to gain in popularity and were eventually accepted and even embraced by some within the Labrador retriever show community. It is our hope that the LRC will at some point (sooner is better) resign themselves to the existence of the dilution gene within the Labrador retriever community, and discard their efforts of mudslinging to more focus on more productive efforts for the breed.

Therefore, technically by AKC redefinition of colors there is no such thing as a Silver Labrador, or Fox Red or Polar White, but there are Black, Yellow, and Chocolates who by parentage have brought in the dilute gene which manifest themselves into shades of the base coat colors, and therefore technically they still fall within “LRC” breed standards for the Labrador Retriever.  This will allow for the continual registration of these coat colors for the remaining future of the breed.  Whether or not they are accepted in the show ring, well only time will tell that story.