A rebuttal to “So You Want to Buy a Silver, Charcoal or Champagne Labrador Retriever?” (Jack Vanderwyk, February 2014)

Desperation is defined as a loss of hope, or a great need that can make you act irrationally. In life, it’s important to remember that desperate people will indeed commit acts of desperation. A recent article by the self-proclaimed oracle of Labrador retrievers (Jack Vanderwyk) epitomizes this very concept.

You see, “haters” of dilute Labrador retrievers are finally grasping the fact that they have lost their battle. Dilute Labrador retrievers are surging in popularity and a multitude of breeders have emerged who health test their breeding stock. In addition, many breeders (and non- breeders) are competing with their dilute Labrador retrievers and doing quite well! There are multiple title holders, including hunt test titles, obedience titles and dock diving titles. Many of these dilute and dilute factored title holders not only compete well, but are at the top of their competitive fields.

To demonstrate the acts of desperation being expressed by these “haters”, I’ve provided a rebuttal to Jack Vanderwyk’s article. I’ve broken it down, listing each statement from his article, along with my response.

Jack: You will pay a fortune for a mutt. Every dilute “Labrador” or it’s “normal” littermates carry the dilution (d) gene, which is alien to the Labrador Retriever breed, so your puppy CAN NOT be a purebred Labrador, whatever it’s pedigree certificate says. Nor can its “normal” littermates.

Kristi: In a rather pompous move, Jack appears to claim to be more informed than the American Kennel Club. AKC has stated again and again that they consider dilute and dilute factored Labrador retrievers to be absolutely purebred. In fact, the United Kennel Club (UKC) has followed suit and taken a similar position. They now allow dilutes to compete and earn titles under a “performance listing” and instruct that the dogs be listed as purebred “Labrador retrievers” on the registration application.   Also (I can’t believe we are rehashing this), it is proven and documented that there are a plethora of potential sources for the appearance of the dilution gene in the Labrador retriever pool. To name a few, Chesapeake Bay retriever, Greyhound, Foxhound and Sheepdog were all used in the creation of the Labrador retriever breed as we now know it. All of these breeds naturally carry the dilution gene.

Jack: Your dog will be disqualified at every official dog show. It will probably be the most humiliating experience of your life.

Kristi: The dilute chocolate color is considered to be a disqualifying fault in AKC and UKC conformation events only. But really …. how many Labrador retriever owners actually compete in conformation dog shows? Dilutes are allowed (and even welcomed) at all other competitive events, including AKC & UKC hunt tests, field trials, obedience competitions, rally competitions, and dock diving. I’ve seen photos of many “silver” dogs and their owners, proudly holding the ribbons they’ve won. They appear to be anything BUT humiliated.

Jack: Breeders of so-called “silver”, “charcoal” and “champagne” “Labradors” are not in any way respected or valued by reputable breeders of the Labrador Retriever. As you will see below, there’s a good reason for this.

Kristi: I disagree with this. I’ve been approached by many breeders of standard colors. They respect the fact that we are doing everything in our power to improve the dilute lines (through health testing and competitive events). In fact, they’ve often stated, “You know, the chocolates went through similar difficulties twenty to thirty years ago. This too shall pass”.

Jack: Breeders of so-called “silver”, “charcoal” and “champagne” “Labradors” are all frauds. They sell you a “silver”, “charcoal” or “champagne” Labrador, but they register them with the Kennel Club as chocolate, black, or yellow, the only recognized colors of the Labrador Retriever breed.

Kristi: Seriously, Jack? Are you still relying on semantics to make your fraudulent point? Have you contacted AKC to ask under which color option they direct “silver”, “charcoal” and “champagne” Labrador retrievers to be registered? If you would do so (I have, on several occasions), you would receive a response that these dogs are to be registered under their base coat colors of chocolate, black and yellow. Remember, dilute dogs have diluted coat colors. The underlying/base coat color IS black, chocolate or yellow. Just ask AKC, instead of spouting off a fraudulent fact. Summary: AKC directs owners of silver, charcoal and champagne dogs to register them as chocolate, black and yellow. Breeders of these dogs pass along that information to buyers.

Jack: Most breeders of so-called “silver”, “charcoal” and “champagne” “Labradors” advertise their litters as “from Champion bloodlines”. Don’t you believe for a second that these Champions were “silver”, “charcoal” or “champagne” Labradors, or that these dilute breeders had anything to do with these championships.

Kristi: Let’s see. If there is a Champion very close in the pedigree, any breeder will refer to this as a “Champion bloodline”. That’s because it is a bloodline, and it contains a Champion. If my dog’s sire and dam are AKC Master Hunters, and I bought my puppy from the owners of these dogs, of course I didn’t have anything to do with these championships. That’s how it works! Besides, many dilute breeders (as mentioned above) are creating their own Champions! I’ve even heard of Champagne Labrador retrievers winning conformation events! (In many circumstances, it’s very difficult to discern a “champagne” Labrador retriever from a standard yellow).

Jack: A lot of breeders of so-called “silver”, “charcoal” and “champagne” “Labradors” will try to do anything to get Champion bloodlines into their pedigrees, and by anything I mean anything. Their problem is that no reputable breeder will ever consider to give them a breeding with their dogs, let alone let them have a puppy, so these dilute breeders will try to fool reputable Labrador breeders, with fake identities, fake buyers, fake websites, fake kennel names, and sometimes intimidation. They are nothing more than crooks; some of them are intelligent crooks, or even very nice crooks, but still crooks.

Kristi: I really think Jack would have made a great author of conspiracy theory novels (fiction, of course). While many “anti-dilute” breeders do indeed refuse to entertain breedings between their dogs and dilute carriers, I have been told by standard breeders, “Your money is as green as anyone else’s”. As a breeder, I refuse to clandestinely breed to another dog. There are plenty of dogs to which we can breed, without having to be underhanded about it. Recently, I had a Field Champion sired female in my possession. The thought of infusing her bloodlines into mine never entered my mind because I knew the creators of her bloodline (Ten Bears) would not support such an action.

Jack: A lot of breeders of so-called “silver”, “charcoal” and “champagne” “Labradors” are gathered in a criminal organization called “Council of Purebred Labrador Retrievers” (CPLR). That’s is where they learn how to trick reputable breeders, to get their Champion bloodlines into their own worthless pedigrees, and how to trick ignorant people to buy their “rare designer Labs”.

Kristi: As chairman of the “Council for Purebred Labrador Retrievers”, this one really caused me to chuckle. First of all, I’ve never had so much as a traffic ticket. So, the accusation of criminal activity seems rather harsh. As a matter of fact, it’s preposterous. We are a non-profit organization which adamantly supports and lobbies for our beloved dilutes. We have an active member Facebook page where we exchange information. However, it’s merely innocuous discussion about health testing, brag photos of litters, kennel design etc. Never have I witnessed any discussion of unscrupulous ideas or behavior. Again, Jack’s really grasping at straws here…

Jack: You don’t want to be known as the person who bought something that “fell off the back of a lorry”, but that’s what you will be known as if you acquire a “rare silver, charcoal or champagne Labrador”. And a stupid one at that, because no sensible person would pay a fortune for a mutt.

Kristi: What’s a lorry? My puppies all arrive the traditional way (not by lorry nor under a cabbage leaf). I think it has become quite obvious that people love dilute Labrador retrievers. The demand for them is very high, which is why it is so important to have quality breeders producing healthy puppies. Buyers are becoming very educated and searching for puppies from well bred, genetically diverse, health tested lines. I think we all can see who the person is here with the “stupid” ideas. Sorry, Jack. You lose.