Dilute Labradors

It all started in 2014 when I decided that I would breed my two Labradors together.  I had a silver Labrador and a Yellow Labrador.  I had purchased full registration on them, but I wasn’t really even sure what that meant at the time.  I was what’s considered a newbie to the breeding world.  I purchased the yellow from a farmer out in east Texas, and the silver was from a small town in Arkansas.   I had done a little research on them but I was unaware of the controversy over the color, at least I didn’t have a clue to what level it would impact my breeding going forward.  And boy did it ever, this has been a roller coaster of an experience.  As I continued to research and do my homework now that I was invested in my two labs, I understood genetics and I understood that with my silver and my yellow, I would only get chocolate and black puppies.  This was ok but I wanted to produce the rainbow of colors, and I started to seek out groups that helped me understand better what I had to do to make that happen.  Then I got introduced to health testing!  Well, that was another eye-opener, where I had to get tests done on my labs and make sure I was breeding healthy labs.  But no one before had explained this to me, I was really picking this up as I went along.  Then I took my two labs to the dog park one day, and I got my first taste of color bigotry from a Labrador fancier right there in the dog park.  They had made a few smart-alecky comments about Weimaraners and then went on their way.   I ventured into some more Facebook sites, and I saw the complete notion of mean-ness coming for the silver folks, but when I looked at the arguments I could see both sides.  The silver breeders took me under their wing, they were kind to me and taught me about testing and color but they didn’t seem to know much about conformation or showing.  There were a lot of hunting labs in the silver world but seemed like the bench-style labs there wasn’t much to choose from with the dilutes.   I decided that I hadn’t really bred too many silvers, and I could start to get more of the show type of Labrador, it would be fun to possibly show one day.   I acquired a female to breed to my yellow, one of the first ones I paid a lot of money for and it had several champions in its pedigree.  I waited my time, got my health testing done on my boy, and my new black female.  I still had one more litter with my silver girl, but then I ended up retiring her and she lives on our farm now with us as a pet.  However I had her on my website, and people started leaving me mean google reviews, and one lady left a nasty note on my Facebook post.  I was trying to get with the breed standard here and move in a good direction, but no matter what it seemed that if I was “associated” with a silver dog I would get hate mail at some level.    So then I went to hiding my pet girl, and my past litters with my silver female.  I removed them from my website.  I had my yellow male and my new black female; I attended two shows here in Texas just to watch and learn.  I could tell even my new show style girl wasn’t at the caliber of most of these dogs in the show ring.  I got a few names, seemed to make some friends, all seemed fine.   I was learning and had tons more to learn.  I started acquiring a nicer male, and then two more females, one black female one and a decent chocolate female from some of the breeders at the Specialty show.  This took a great deal of time and mentoring, and they were all about co-owning which was new to me.  I heard some of the negative comments about silvers, and I hoped under my breath, they would never find out that’s how I started breeding.  I was afraid of the consequences.

Well as time went on I went ahead to breeding and I had kept one of my silver factored pups back, that was black and she was part of my pack as well.  My new show male, my new females, my pup from my silver girl that was far from a showgirl but she was historic for me and part of my early days of understanding labs.  She was my heritage, and so I wanted to bring her along with the others.  Little did I know that would be the end of it all for me.   Several years down the road and many litters later I had been starting to show a little, and people were acquiring my labs.  Even new show folks and it was seeming to go so well when all of a sudden a person who purchased one our Labradors as a pet said they would like to show possibly breed down the road and they wanted to pay for full registration.   I allowed it, I didn’t remember exactly what litter it was from, but it was from one of the offspring of my silver factored girl some time back.  I had not done dilute testing because why would it matter to me I wasn’t breeding for it and only occasionally kept back puppies, and most of the time I sold my Labradors as pets.  Down the road, this person came back after having tested their lab and lost their cookies.  They had been being mentored by a prominent show breeder, and they saw all the nice dogs in the pedigree of this puppy but after the Labrador panel saw that it carried dilute and my whole world came crashing down.   I was literally canceled by the show world.  They were so mean to me, I can’t tell you the hate mail, and messages that I got that were so vitriolic, rude, and patently false.  I feel a sense of PTSD over the whole circumstance, and now my name in the ‘show world’ is mud.   I finally got tired of all of this and stopped breeding Labradors.  I’m sure this made the show people quite happy, but I wasn’t doing this on purpose, this was a fun hobby that turned into a nightmare.  It may have been because of my dilute beginnings but people ascribed all sorts of motives to me and invented all kinds of things, that I was lying and working with dilute breeders, all of which was patently false.   Did I have a few friends which bred dilutes, I did but I tried to keep the lines very clear, and didn’t sell my dogs to them.  But now, in reflection, I should have stuck to possibly breeding in the dilute side of the house, they were far more accepting and kind, and although I would have preferred to try to breed to the standard, once you breed to a silver dog, even if unintentional you have the scarlet letter for life.  That’s my story, I hope some of you found it cathartic, and may it help someone make good choices going forward, there’s no need for this kind of tomfoolery.  Unfortunately, this isn’t just my story but many people’s story across the USA.  How I was shamed by the Labrador Retriever Show community.  I think the internet and social media has exacerbated the problem by not allowing people to say things face to face.  The last thing I would like to say is to pick a different breed if you want to show, the show Labrador folks, although there are some very nice ones, there are far too many who are militant and who act more like terriers than Labradors when new people come along.  Shoot you may want to continue in dilute labs, at least they were nice to me all the way through!

— Anonymous broken